Dear Alumni and Supporters,
A Special Meeting of the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) has been scheduled by the Jackson Administration for Monday, October 8th at 8:30 am in the Harkness Room of ECAV. This was in response to the Petition orchestrated by Renew Rensselaer in May. An RPI email announcing the Special Meeting was sent to some alumni, but not all.
The purpose for this meeting was for Renew Rensselaer to explain who we are, our motives, details of the deteriorating situation at RPI – which we researched and posted on our website – and to vote on resolutions that may be proposed at the meeting.
After discussions with RAA President Kareem Muhammad ’01 and a review of past RAA minutes, we learned that the RAA has not followed its own Bylaws and applicable New York statutes. Had the RAA conducted itself properly and followed its Bylaws, the Special Meeting would be held during the weekend of Reunion & Homecoming (R&HC), as we petitioned. The Bylaws also require that only business of the stated purposes included in the Petition be transacted at the Special Meeting. Despite these facts, the format will not consist of a presentation by Renew Rensselaer to the assembled members of the RAA and its Board. Instead, the administration has chosen to hold the meeting on a Monday morning in the format of a “town hall meeting” between the administration and alumni.
For those of your planning to attend R&HC, Renew Rensselaer will hold an informational meeting on Saturday, September 29th at 2:00 pm at the Oakwood Community Center in Troy, with a social gathering to follow. All alumni, students, and supporters of Renew Rensselaer are welcome. We look forward to meeting and speaking with you at that time. Click below for additional information and directions.
Importantly, as we attempted to schedule a proper Special Meeting of the RAA (in accordance with its Bylaws), we learned the following:
Muhammad and RPI’s Vice President for Institute Advancement, Graig Eastin, inhibited our ability to have the Special Meeting when we petitioned for it, and when it would have been most convenient for the greatest number of alumni – during R&HC weekend. Their objective was clearly to set the date and format to benefit only the RPI administration.
The RAA Bylaws and past meeting minutes, upon careful study, reveal its structure and conduct inhibits and suppresses, rather than listens to and carefully considers, the voices of alumni.
The Bylaws also reveal a governance structure of elections, committees, ex-officio Board Members and appointed Officers that allow the administration to control the composition of the RAA Board, its operations, and activities.
The administration, through its appointment of the Executive Director to the Board, controls all RAA communications with alumni and also controls the “purse strings” of its operations.
The RAA has not been following the provisions of its Bylaws in recent years, especially to properly notice alumni of the required Annual Meeting (for the election of Board Members). It appears your right to vote, as alumni, for RAA Board Members has been denied for many years.
We believe the RAA’s communications with alumni follow ONLY the behest of the RPI administration and deliberately restrict the flow of accurate information. For example, the purposes of the Special Meeting were censored in RPI’s meeting “notice,” and we are also aware of Class Notes being censored in Rensselaer Magazine.
- We have questions about the legality of the election of the Board Members, Officers, and, therefore, any/all actions taken by the RAA.
We find no fault with the many generous and well-meaning alumni volunteers who serve and have served the RAA because they have had to work within this carefully planned and controlled organization. But at present, the RAA is not organized, structured, or managed primarily for the benefit of RPI alumni.
We believe Renew Rensselaer communicated in good faith with the RAA to schedule the Special Meeting, consistent with our Petition. However, we do not feel the RAA’s leadership in conjunction with the administration has done the same. We are continuing our efforts to enforce the rights of the Petitioners to have a proper meeting, pursuant to the RAA Bylaws and New York Statutes.
We recommend that you send emails to Muhammad, the RAA President, and Eastin, the Executive Director of the RAA, demanding there be strict adherence to applicable Bylaws and statutes for the purposes stated in the Petition, that the meeting follow Roberts Rules of Order as specified in the RAA Bylaws, and that only RAA Members be permitted to speak and vote.
The Special Meeting, as currently “noticed” by the RAA and Jackson Administration will NOT follow the RAA Bylaws. Providing a forum for the administration to furnish a self-assessment is neither what was envisioned by Renew Rensselaer nor outlined in our Petition (the legal “demand” for the meeting), which many of you signed. What we stipulate is that the RAA leadership allow us to make our presentation and conduct open discussion with the assembled Board Members and alumni, among other things.
On September 5th, we wrote to the RAA Board, requesting specifics as to the required conduct of the Special Meeting. We have yet to receive a response.
As always, we urge you to share the Renew Rensselaer website with fellow alumni and ask that they sign our Platform, and be sure to stay connected with us on social media via the links below for the latest updates. We will continue our efforts to invoke positive change at our alma mater and greatly appreciate your support.
Lastly, we wish to be clear in stating that the meeting will not occur as it was envisioned by Renew Rensselaer and as outlined in the Petition. Regardless, we will continue to communicate with RPI alumni and supporters to provide information about our alma mater as accurately and reliably as possible, a goal from the start.