Dear RPI Alumni,
We urge you to vote “YES” in favor of our proposed amendments to the RAA Bylaws.
Those who will attend the RAA’s virtual Annual Meeting on June 25th at 3 pm ET may vote during the meeting. Alternatively, alumni may vote in advance by proxy ballot prior to 5 pm ET on June 24th. You should have received an email from email@example.com for a link for proxy voting. Also, check the RAA’s website for Webex instructions and procedures for participating in the meeting.
Your participation and support is especially important. In addition to voting for RAA Trustees, you have the opportunity to vote to approve a series of bylaw amendments put forward by Renew Rensselaer. If passed, these amendments will bring about competitive elections for trustees and officers in future elections, therefore making the RAA Board more responsive to the will of rank-and-file alumni.
The Importance of Voting – Renew Rensselaer has endeavored to increase the voice of RPI alumni in the governance of our alumni association. We have now reached a critical juncture, the outcome of which will determine whether we allow the status quo to be maintained or we build a new foundation for greater alumni support of RPI as it enters its third century. The cornerstone of this foundation is improved governance, as embodied by the proposed bylaw amendments. By voting to adopt them you help to renew confidence in the RAA, its board, and its mission.
Not surprisingly the RAA Board has voiced its strong opposition to our proposed bylaw amendments. The RAA Board made a major amendment to the bylaws shortly after Renew Rensselaer submitted our proposals. This amendment delays the effectiveness of member-initiated bylaws for 90 days. We suspect this was done to give the Board time to counteract any amendments passed by the membership at the upcoming Annual Meeting. We believe this action by the Board, only just announced to the membership a few days ago, is indicative of the Board’s continued resistance to being accountable to RAA members.
Renew Rensselaer began to focus on the weaknesses in RAA governance practices in earnest in the spring of 2018 after twice being denied in our request to address the Board at one of its scheduled meetings. A quick review of the history of RAA governance is in order:
- Prior to December 2018, the RAA had not held an annual meeting of the Members for at least five years.
- Up to that point, the Board had been secretly electing its own successors without a legal quorum of 100 Members present.
- At the December 2018 Annual Meeting and Trustee election did not have a legal quorum present.
- Despite the pledge of the prior RAA President to increase transparency, the Board has stopped posting its meeting minutes to the secure documents section of its website.
- The current RAA President, purportedly elected at the December 2018 meeting as President Elect as part of a slate, “won” by a one vote margin, with the deciding vote being cast after the conclusion of the meeting.
- When members attempted to challenge the December 2018 election, we were stonewalled and cut short on time, despite the members having the right to challenge the results.
- At the 2019 RAA Annual Meeting we were denied our legal right to put forward proposed amendments to the bylaws.
- In May 2020, a NYS court judge affirmed that the members have such a right, so now is the time to exercise it.
- The RAA Board amended the Bylaws to remove the members’ right to elect officers, including RAA President.
- We submitted five proposals for the upcoming Annual Meeting, but the Board deleted one of them without our consent.
A Big First Step Toward Renewal – RPI is only as strong as the support and involvement of its alumni. Renew Rensselaer believes alumni support for the Institute will improve should better governance practices be implemented. By voting to approve the proposed amendments to RAA bylaws, you join fellow alumni in taking a big first step toward increasing the voice of alumni and improving governance.
Please vote “YES” to approve all of the RAA bylaw amendments!
Bill Criss ’68, ’69G