Institute receives new VP for Student Life

Frank E. Ross III possesses extensive student life and related experience

NEW VICE PRESIDENT FOR STUDENT LIFE FRANK E. ROSS III SERVED in a similar position at Northeastern Illinois University.

On June 22, 2015, RPI welcomed a new vice president for student life to campus. Dr. Frank E. Ross III was announced as the new vice president after the previous vice president, Timothy Sams, moved to a new position at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. In a statement released on May 15, President Shirley Ann Jackson detailed Ross’s responsibilities in the position to be “providing the strategic direction, vision, and leadership for the Division of Student Life. As the Institute’s chief student life officer, Ross will assume oversight, coordination, and management of all student programs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.”

Ross previously served as vice president for student affairs at Northeastern Illinois University. In that position, Ross provided leadership and oversight for over twenty student organizations on campus, including student government, student rights groups, cultural groups, and other student programs. Prior to that, he served as associate provost for student success and dean of students at University of North Texas at Dallas. Additionally, he served as multiple positions, including assistant vice chancellor for student life, for more than 10 years at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Ross received his Ph.D from Indiana University, a Master of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from Ball State University. Additionally, he took part in the Higher Education Management Development Program at Harvard University.

Since assuming the role just a few weeks ago, Ross has taken an active position in RPI’s social media presences, most prominently with his personal Twitter account, @DrFrankERoss. Ross has interacted with the Rensselaer social media ambassadors, tweeted and retweeted about upcoming events and student life activities at RPI, and has even begun promoting season tickets for RPI Engineers Hockey teams.

In the email announcing his appointment, Ross praised Rensselaer for “contributing to a preeminent research university with global reach and global impact.” He also expressed that he has “been impressed with the transformation of Rensselaer under President Jackson’s leadership, and appreciates her very strong commitment to students.” He concluded his statement by saying, “I look forward to leading the Student Life team and supporting the Rensselaer Plan 2024 while advancing a robust student experience through Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students.”

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Staff Editorial

Calendar inconveniences

This year, classes began on Monday, January 26, for the Spring 2015 semester, one week later than classes usually start. This slightly longer winter break caused all following weeks in the academic year to be pushed forward as well. For example, the Fall 2015 semester will now begin on the very last day of August and the coming winter break will begin two days before Christmas. As a result, it will be much shorter, making work difficult for students that must over the short winter vacation. Additionally, the later spring finals week forces some students to start internships or work immediately after their last exam.

The Poly believes that this scheduling is not efficient or consistent with scheduling in past years. We wonder why RPI moved the academic calendar forward when similar schools maintained the second or third weeks of January as their starting dates for the spring semester. Worchester Polytechnic Institute began its spring semester on Thursday, January 15; Carnegie Mellon on Monday, January 12; and Lehigh University on Monday, January 19. This one week schedule change in the academic calendar has caused headaches for students and staff alike.

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Inside Out paints vivid, emotional picture

RILEY ANDERSEN’S PERSONIFIED EMOTIONS INFLUENCE Riley’s mind. The characters are Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear, and Sadness, from left to right.

Since a substantial part of my major has to do with animation stuff, as well as making stuff in my free time, you could say I was excited to see what Pixar had up their sleeve with Inside Out. Pixar is one of the few animation companies I’ve found that has the ability to consistently put out original animation movies, and when they do happen to make sequels, they don’t compromise the originals, if you ignore Cars 2 of course. And after watching the movie, I have to say, it does not disappoint. This is probably one of the most visually striking and emotional pieces Pixar has made to date, and not just because it stars a young girl’s feelings as the main protagonists.

The film follows Riley, a native Minnesotan and otherwise happy 11-year-old girl who is finding it hard to transition to a sudden move to San Francisco. Making matters worse, her emotions have started losing control over how Riley acts in these tough scenarios, with Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, attempting to rein in Riley and stop Sadness, portrayed by Phyllis Smith, from taking control of Riley and making her sad. Through this short time in Riley’s life, we mostly follow Joy and Sadness as they are accidentally expelled from their control room and attempt to return Riley to normal.

What I found interesting first and foremost was the similarities to the animated film Osmosis Jones. Having parts of your body anthropomorphized such as your feelings or white blood cells, then having them journey throughout your body trying to figure out how to fix you is a very striking resemblance to have. However, Inside Out combats this resemblance by creating moments that makes the viewer think about their own mind, like how a song gets stuck in one’s head, or how we dream. It’s moments like these that poke at the heart of the movie, a young girl who is alienated and isn’t sure how to feel.

In terms of art and animation, Pixar made something completely new. I felt like Riley’s mind was a cross between The Jetsons and a children’s pop-up book. And while the scenery was striking, I always found myself way more interested on the emotions, especially Joy and Sadness. Many remember Poehler as Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation and Smith as Phyllis Lapin-Vance on The Office, and I’ve got to say, they killed it in not only their portrayals, but their chemistry as a pair of opposing emotions. With Riley usually being a happy girl, Joy is used to being in charge with Sadness as the submissive lesser used emotion that sits to the side and reads the manuals, and when this dynamic is shifted, it is difficult for all feelings involved.

So, I almost always have one caveat with every film, and here’s mine with Inside Out. I liked it, and thought it was very good, but I don’t think I would want to see it again. This isn’t a bad thing for a movie, but I consider it similar, but obviously not on the same level, as a film like Requiem for a Dream. Both are fantastic movies, but also emotionally draining. That’s not to say I don’t rewatch sad movies and that Pixar hasn’t made any sad movies, Up and the Toy Story trilogy are obvious examples of both accounts. While Inside Out, like other Pixar movies, end happily, this film hit emotional lows that none of the previous films had before with a sense of loss and emptiness in moments that were very powerful. Meaning, my recommendation is that this a must see at the very least once, because it is one of the most powerful animated movies to date.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Local pizza sign causes misunderstanding

THE CUSATO’S SIGN WAS ORIGINALLY CHANGED on June 16, 11 days before the photo was posted on Facebook.

On June 27, a photo surfaced on an online RPI-related Facebook group that showed a Cusato’s Pizzeria sign with a message that read “HAPPY 4TH / GOD PLEASE / FORGIVE N BLESS / USA.” The sign, found outside the Schenectady location of the company that also operates a store in the Rathskellar dining area of the Rensselaer Union, caused discomfort with some students because of the close proximity of the posting to the recent Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage across the United States. By the following day, the post had been deleted from the Facebook group from violating the group’s posting guidelines.

RPI students and alumni appear to have mixed opinions about the sign’s intentions. “I can see why some might consider it to be offensive if they relate it to any specific current event in the United States. However, I couldn’t see this before I read the comments in the Facebook thread relating to the photo. I don’t think it is an inherently offensive message, however,” believes recent graduate Eric Penniman ’15. “I don’t see any evidence to prove that it was intended to be offensive. In my opinion, there are people trying to find reasons to be offended, but anything can be offensive if you try hard enough. In my opinion, there are far better issues to focus our time and energy on such as the national debt, net neutrality, and more others than is possible to name.”

Conversely, Theo Browne ’16 believes that “the Cusato’s sign, in the perspective of an LGBT person observing it, is both offensive and oppressive. After a conversation with the owner of the store, it was made very clear that his interest was more in defending his rights than considering others, and I don’t believe RPI should support a business with these beliefs.”

Other students expressed a similar sentiment to that of Penniman. “When I first saw the sign, I thought the worst, that the owner was being homophobic, but when I found out it had been up for several days before the decision I realized that was not the intent,” said Noah Roby ’17. “The owner meant nothing offensive by it, and it had nothing to do with the decision on gay marriage. So at that point I don’t think there’s any reason to be offended by it or to really care about it at all. And I think anyone who chooses to be offended by it, despite knowing the context of it, is being ridiculous. There are more important things to worry about than a completely innocent sign put up by a pizza parlor.”

Alex Roumanidakis ’13 believes that, regardless of the sign’s intentions, attacking the poster of the sign would not be the appropriate response. “I think they are jumping to conclusions since the sign could easily be otherwise construed and was posted days in advance. It is admirable that students are working to further LGBT issues, but going on witch hunts isn’t going to convince the business owner or anyone else who disagrees that gay people deserve love like anyone else. It’s mob mentality, and we shouldn’t sacrifice the right to speak an unsavory political opinion for a world where everyone is safe from being offended. Rather, if the owner meant ill will, he is someone who most needs to be shown sexual orientation does not change your value as a person. If love wins, why aren’t we using it?”

To determine the true purpose of the sign, a member of The Polytechnic reached out to the owner of the store to comment on the sign. The owner began by apologizing for any offense he unintentionally caused, and proceeded to explain that the sign had been placed on June 16, ten days prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling. He clarified that the use of the word “forgive” was intended as a commonly-used word in Christianity to ask God for a blessing with the national holiday approaching. He explained that he commonly includes religious messages when both national and Christian holidays approach, as he feels it appeals to both his faith and his Christian customers.

The store owner also made a post on the store’s Facebook page about the incident to clarify, “To anyone who I may have unintentionally offended, I am sorry. To anyone who questions why I posted these words … on June 16, 2015—it’s simple. We all need forgiveness. And anyone who knows me, knows that I post statements of faith throughout the year and will continue to do so with no intent to offend anyone else. Also, anyone who knows me, knows that I struggle with being ‘politically correct.’ I spoke the truth, but never with malicious intent. It is my belief that we, as Americans, are too afraid to speak the truth, to each other because of the possible aftermath that may ensue.”

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Five tips for starting at RPI

Hi 2019! If you’re reading this, you’re probably going through one of the exciting segments of Student Orientation, or maybe even NRB! Regardless, welcome to RPI! I know that myself and all of the current students are very excited to meet you all! I’d like to take this time to provide you with some advice that I think will help you all out over the upcoming year. Take this from a former freshman that had quite an interesting year. From meeting incredible people and taking part in amazing student activities to joining the exciting roller coaster of the Student Senate and unintentionally landing up in the midst of a spring election crisis, I think it’s safe to say my year wasn’t average. So, here are my five tips that I believe will help you make this year your best yet!

Don’t be afraid to say hi to anyone and everyone. College, especially freshman year, is one of the few venues of life in which almost everyone is new to his or her surroundings and to e each other, and, therefore, it is completely acceptable to say hi to those around you, even if you weren’t introduced to each other before. Who knows, the person sitting next to you in class or the dining hall or even that club meeting may become one of your best friends, but you won’t know unless you start with a ‘hi!’

It’s okay to be the ‘Over-involved Freshman.’ It’s no doubt that time management is one of the most important skills you need to know (or learn) for college—class responsibilities and homework can be a big burden alone, so extracurriculars should be included in time not needed for studying. But, with that in mind, it’s not the end of the world to join multiple clubs at the start of the year. With about 250 student organizations at RPI and about a dozen new ones being formed every year, attending meetings of many different groups is a great way to ‘window shop’ clubs and find those that best fit your interests and personality! Just make sure that, when your classes get tough, you pick the ones you’re most interested in and focus the majority of your time on what matters most: schoolwork.

Stuck on a thought or idea? Go for a walk. With hours of back to back homework, projects, meetings, classes, and/or studying, you will eventually hit a mental roadblock and won’t be able to keep focusing. Or, maybe after a long day, you may feel stressed or annoyed with something. One of the best ways to deal with either of these issue is to take a walk through campus. We’re lucky to be living full-time on an incredibly photogenic campus, even during the middle of winter, and it’s in our best interests to take advantage of that. The change of scenery, weather, and the movement will all play into helping you feel better and getting you back to being as productive, or lack thereof, as you need to be!

Don’t let anyone rain on your parade. People you meet at RPI, and at any point in life, may have different life experiences that may give them a different outlook on any given situation. Sometimes, sadly, some individuals will have a more negative view on a topic than you do, and that is totally alright. But, if you’re feeling confident or excited about a class, a project, an extracurricular, or any upcoming event or opportunity, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Often times, the best way to get the most out of an experience is to approach it with realistic positivity and to do your best to enjoy all of your time at RPI.

Take advice with a grain of salt. This last piece of advice ties similarly with the previous one in that, once again, people may have had different experiences that can impact the advice and guidance they will give to their peers. This goes for items as small as laptop choices to as large as picking majors and finding a company that best fits you. Remember that, even though all advice can be useful in some form, it’s also important to keep your intuition at hand because, ultimately, you are the one who knows what’s best for yourself.

So, with that in mind, feel free to take this entire editorial with a grain of salt! Try these pieces of advice if you’d like and, who knows, maybe you’ll be the one writing an advice article to the Class of 2020 in a year’s time! Best of luck with your first few months; enjoy everything that RPI offers during SO and NRB, and I look forward to meeting you all come August!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Scream reboot proves promising on TV scream

SCREAM: THE TV SERIES PREMIERED on MTV on June 20, 2015. The show is an adaptation of the film series Scream , which was first released on December 12, 1997.

There have been so many reboots of classic movies over the past couple of years, and honestly I’m getting a little sick of it. So when I heard that MTV was going to air a TV series version of Scream this summer, I was not exactly happy. Of course I had to watch it though, just to see if they would tarnish the reputation of the Scream franchise. Scream revitalized the horror genre in the late 90s by combining the concept of a slasher film with a little bit of humor and a clever plot and cast. The TV series has big shoes to fill, and even though it’s only two episodes in, I’m intrigued by what the show has had to offer so far. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this article, so read on!

Scream: The TV Series, follows completely different characters than the original film, but is similar as the show follows a group of attractive, trouble making teenagers who can’t seem to get their heads out of their asses. The opening scene of the first episode basically reenacts the (in)famous scene with Drew Barrymore as a nod to the original series. Thinking that they were going to botch it, I was pleasantly surprised with how they handled it. I was also taken aback by how much gore was shown, not that I mind. This scene left me intrigued by what else they had up their sleeves to contrast the series with the films, so I kept watching.

Ghostface in the TV series is imitating a serial killer, Brandon James, from the past (not the same killers as in Scream) and who also donned the ghost face mask. What differentiates this killer from previous versions is his unpredictability and technological savviness. While in the movies it was obvious that those who were killed were connected in some way, those who have been murdered thus far in the TV series seemingly have no connection to each other. I’m also finding that figuring out who the killer is to be much more difficult than when I watched the films because of this unsureness of who he will go after next, and that’s definitely a good thing.

The characters aren’t half bad either, especially for an MTV show. The closest thing we have to a Sidney Prescott is Emma Duval, and she hasn’t annoyed me yet like Prescott often did. I also am enjoying Noah Foster, the horror film junkie who compliments Randy Meeks from Scream. I’m almost rooting for these characters to make it out okay. The plot has many other parallels to the first film, so I’m always looking for subtle references to Scream within the conversations and scenes and trying to match the characters and plot with those from the original.

While the TV reboot has some good things going for it, I’m not sure how the concept will work in the long term. The show is only two episodes in, and there have been a lot of revelations about the pasts of the older characters and their relationships with the first killer. I think that this could have been drawn out more, leaving some mystery about the past. There are ten episodes total, but there isn’t much more to find out about the connections with the first killer, which leaves the focus only on the present day killer. How many episodes can there be about Ghostface murdering one of the teenagers and then go on to tormenting Duval? It could get old pretty fast, unless there is a serious plot twist coming up in the next few episodes.

As far as what could happen after the first season, the writers/producers could either go the American Horror Story route, and switch up the plot but maintain similar underlying themes each season, or they could go the Pretty Little Liars route. If they do end up like PLL, the show will undoubtedly be cancelled. I couldn’t make it through the second season of PLL because of how ridiculous the show was getting in order to avoid revealing who the villain was. In my opinion, that kind of thing will not work for something like this.

I still have a lot of questions about how Scream: The TV Series will live up to one of the best horror franchises. With what has been shown in the two episodes, I’m not completely disgusted with how it’s being handled. I’m a little wary for what’s to come, but I do see some potential. I’ll be watching the rest of the season, keeping a close eye on things. I would recommend Scream lovers to give it a chance, even if only to see the references to the film.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Uncle Sam’s birthplace proud of its stars and stripes

A HISTORICAL TROY FIRE DEPARTMENT FIRE ENGINE MAKES ITS WAY down 4th Street in Troy’s annual Flag Day parade. The parade included numerous pieces of TFD’s apparatus, the Patriot Guard Riders, the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, Melrose Fire Department, marching bands and drum corps, and many other local groups.
Posted in News | Leave a comment
Staff Editorial

StuGov transparency

Over the past few terms, student leaders across many organizations have worked hard to create a more transparent student union. The Poly began covering Executive Board meetings regularly, the Student Senate and the E-Board both began using social media frequently to keep students informed, and initiatives like the RPI Petitions service were created to empower students to take a more active role in the Rensselaer Union and student government.

Since the Union does continue to function during the summer months and though its members are dispersed across the country, the Executive Board still needs to hold meetings. With the bookstore situation that unfolded in May, the current E-Board has worked towards a more transparent operation, utilizing social media such as reddit, Facebook, and the Rensselaer Union website. Additionally, open motions have been uploaded to the E-Board dropbox. To this end, The Poly encourages timely updates prior to and after significant decisions are made, in order to keep Student Activity Fee paying students informed.

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones deviates from books

TYRION LANNISTER, PLAYED BY PETER DINKLAGE, PLAYS a major part in season five of Game of Thrones .

Since I’ve written on Game of Thrones multiple times for the paper, it should be known I am a huge fan of the show and books. As I’ve said before, I believe both mediums allow for George R.R. Martin to explore the characters, themes, and moments he wishes to create or revisit. And while I usually am all for both, this season was the exception, in a very bad way.

For those who read the books, people will start to realize things have started to get a bit jumbled in terms of placement within the story, but most things within this season have been from book five, A Dance with Dragons. Personally, this is one of my favorite books in the series with lots of action, betrayals, and all that stuff you would expect from GRRM. And just to be safe, I will not include any spoilers from the books or this most recent season. But for those who haven’t read the book, or watched the show, let me tell you that the problem is not in how they clash.

In fact, the problem lies in how it is portrayed, the most important parts of the book I found to be the most boring. Dorne wasn’t the incredible side story we were expecting, but rather a pretty predictable plotline that was stretched for much too long. The best part of the Wall was a scene not even written about in the books, involving a large fight scene with Wildlings, Jon Snow, and even White Walkers. Even Tyrion, probably the most beloved and interesting character, got shafted with some pretty terrible supporting characters that did not make his scenes that memorable. The best moments I found were the ones not in the books, like the Jon scene I mentioned before, as well as some important ones with Sansa and Stannis. I don’t know if they were trying to highlight the scenes especially because they were new, but they stood out especially because of their quality of emotion and build up, which made the book scenes portrayed look even worse by comparison.

However, I would say that any Game of Thrones fan should watch this season, while it doesn’t display its important scenes with the right amount of passion, it does include some very pivotal events that would catch even book readers by surprise. I celebrate the times where the book series has evolved past being a simple copy and paste scripting of the text, but disliked when the show couldn’t live up to the moments from the book like they did in previous seasons.

This season is dark and full of terrors, but if you burn away the fat, of which there is a lot, you will still be entertained. If you’ve gotten this far in the series, there’s still no reason to drop it, and I remain faithfully optimistic for the next season.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

E-Board communicates electronically over summer

THE RENSSELAER UNION BOOKSTORE HAS BEEN VACATED in preparation of the upcoming opening of the Rensselaer Collegiate Store.

The Executive Board communicated electronically in the past few weeks to resolve issues surrounding the Rensselaer Union Bookstore just before the end of the semester. Because most E-Board members are away from Rensselaer during the summer, President of the Union Nick Dvorak determined it would be necessary to adopt special rules of order, as stated in Article V section 7 of their bylaws, to allow easier electronic voting for proxy meetings. The Policy Committee, a subcommittee of the E-Board, approved the change to the special rules of order 3-0-0. It was then approved 11-0-0 by the E-Board.

The full text of the special rules of order, including revisions, is available in the summer E-Board Dropbox at

On June 6, there was a motion to allow a closed discussion relating to the bookstore and allow Joe Cassidy, Ron Moraski, Rasika Ekhalikar ’17, and Ines Roman ’16 to be present for the discussion. This motion passed 10-3-0.

On June 8, there was a motion to “approve the contract allowing Follett Higher Education Group Inc. to operate the Rensselaer Union Bookstore in accordance with the terms presented to the Board.” This motion passed 7-3-0.

The bookstore has been temporarily moved next to the games room while Follett renovates the space. The bookstore will return to its previous location in the Fall 2015 semester.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Editorial Notebook

Jumping into new experiences

Here’s a quick story I would like to share with you. I was nervous to leave home to come to RPI, but one week later after arriving on August 19, 2014, I found myself getting mustard poured on my head during the annual weR SLIMED event. Soon enough, I joined the club weR: The Spirit of Rensselaer Society. Additionally, one day of Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond, I spent the entire day playing volleyball outdoors near the Robinson Pool, and within the first month I joined the Club Volleyball Team.

One night, I even decided to walk into the newspaper office after hearing about it at the activities fair. In high school, I think I wrote two or three articles, now I’m writing for The Poly much more. You will receive a bunch of emails from clubs regarding meeting times; don’t feel overwhelmed, pick and choose a few, and check those out first. Then decide whether you want to continue going or not, as simple as that.

Incoming freshman, explore RPI, especially during NRB. There are so many clubs here. Continue what you loved during high school, and also try new things. And don’t forget, you’re here to study hard and learn a lot. Do well in your classes. You may be given a chance to do some research, ranging over a variety of fields. I did well in my introductory Science, Technology, and Society class first semester and had the opportunity to join a team of researchers on an ethnographic project during my second semester. I plan on returning to it this upcoming semester.

And freshmen, there is an upcoming career fair in September. Don’t feel like you are pressured to go. You’re only a freshman, adjust to school first. A summer internship will eventually find you, if you would like one.

Lastly, there are many opportunities outside the classroom. During the weekends, go to hall events (which I highly suggest joining your hall council early on), check out our solar system at the observatory Saturday nights, and most importantly, socialize.

Overall, it’s okay to be nervous and afraid to leave what you’ve known your entire life. But you’ll quickly adjust and laugh about that pre-college anxiety once you get going. And don’t forget to call back home once in a while. Enjoy the rest of your summer and GET PUMPED RPI, 2019!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Hudson Mohawke lights up summer with Lantern

ELECTRONIC ARTIST HUDSON MOHAWKE RELEASED his second album, Lantern, which offers both faster and slower BPMs, with a slight chiptune influence.

Preceded by an ominous trailer and an unfathomable amount of hype, the album Lantern was released by Hudson Mohawke on June 15. Lantern features a unique combination of haunting sounds, chiptune melodies, and piercing vocals that has never been heard before. The man behind the moniker, Ross Birchard, is no newcomer to the electronic scene. He is currently signed to Kanye West’s label, GOOD Music, and was half of the world famous electronic duo TNGHT. Lantern is his second studio album and his first since the relatively unknown 2009 release Butter. Due to the success of his TNGHT collaboration and the six year gap between albums, the expectations were high for Lantern. I was very satisfied with Birchard’s latest release. Its seemless flow and unique sound is something to remember.

The 14 song release starts off with the title song, “Lantern.” The two minute intro is the song that was featured in the trailer for the album. The trailer presented nothing but a 90-second-long slow motion Ronald McDonald running down a dark, snowy alley. One of the darkest, yet most interesting album trailers I have witnessed sets the theme well for the album. Although I don’t particularly enjoy the intro as a song, its distinct sound is a good mood setter.

The second song on the album is perhaps the biggest hit. “Very First Breath” is possibly the most perfect form of the sound that Birchard seems to be going for in Lantern. Vocals unlike any I’ve heard before are put over a track with subtle chiptune influences and extremely solid drums. The follow up track, “Ryderz,” is very similar. Birchard certainly hits hard in the beginning of the his second studio album.

The following two tracks, “Warriors” and “Kettles,” are a bit of the dropoff. Personally, I don’t hear any interesting elements in these songs. Things pick up, however, in the sixth song, “Scud Books.” The song opens immediately with a catchy beat and solid drums. The song sounds victorious and uplifting, something I personally enjoy in music. The track gloriously builds for over three minutes, successfully adding onto its best elements until its conclusion.

Lantern then features a mellow section with three tracks that slow the pace. “Indian Steps,” “Lil Djembe,” and “Deepspace” are nothing particularly special but still worth listening to. You can certainly vibe to these pieces with a late night listen, but I wouldn’t consider them the best of the album. They do, however, contribute well to the album as a whole.

One of my favorite songs on the album, “Shadows,” is featured as the tenth song. Very similar to “Scud Books,” it has a catchy beat and hard hitting drums. But on top of this, “Shadows” is beautifully composed as a chiptune song. First listening to this song, I couldn’t help but picture a legendary boss fight. The choppy vocals and muffled background sounds make for a unique track that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to.

Birchard slows it down once again for the track “Resistance.” Featuring solid vocals but falling flat on production, the album falls off a bit at this point. The concluding three tracks, “Portrait Of Luci,” “System,” and “Brand New World,” are certainly of a higher quality. “Portrait Of Luci” is one of the few slower songs on the album that I enjoy. The ending melody is especially a delightful listen. The penultimate song of the album, “System,” is another chiptune song that is uplifting and inspiring. Although, at this point in Lantern, it’s playing second fiddle to the first half of the album. The concluding song, “Brand New World,” fits well, embodying the theme of the album. With a high BPM and unique sounds, the album ends on a positive note.

After several listens and some time to let my opinion settle, Lantern is a very solid album with a lot of positives and few shortcomings. I absolutely love new sounds and experimental tracks, which this album has an abundance of. However, the slower parts of the album present nothing new to the table. They’re not bad, but not particularly interesting either. Overall, I’d give Hudson Mohawke’s second studio release, Lantern, a 3/5.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Incident blotter: Student punched in face during Senior Week Cruise, odor of gasoline in JEC

Information provided by Public Safety Investigator Terrance Burns

Thursday, May 14

East Campus Athletic Village

Suspicious Person: A student reported that an unknown individual asked for the location of Lake George from a vehicle. The reporting person claimed the person driving the car was acting suspiciously, and ran away. The driver did not follow the person. The Department of Public Safety and the Dean of Student’s Office were notified.

Beman Lane

Harassment: A student reported being harassed via Facebook by a fellow student. The harassing content was not of a threatening manner, but the harasser was making false claims against the student. The student filed a harassment complaint in late April or early May, but the harasser was not known at that time. A harassment report was completed, and Residence Life and DOSO were notified.

Friday, May 22

Peoples Avenue Complex

Vandalism: A cleaner working in the J-Building reported instances of vandalism that occurred overnight, including overturned chairs, pictures removed from the walls, and pizza boxes left across the building. An incident report was filed.

Saturday, May 23

Mueller Center

Larceny: A student reported that a wallet with cash, a set of car keys, and various credit cards had been stolen from a cubby. A video of incident was obtained from the Mueller Center and a copy was sent to the Troy Police Department. The suspect was using a stolen device to take pictures, and the pictures of the suspect were accessible from the student’s tablet.

Larceny: Another wallet was stolen from a cubby. The wallet contained a military ID, a credit card, and a small amount of cash. As a precaution, the responding DPS officer instructed Mueller Center front desk staff to discourage students from using the cubbies. The officer also proceeded to man the Mueller Center desk in plain clothes. The surveillance footage was reviewed, but the cubby containing the reporting person’s wallet was out of the view of the camera.
Larceny: A DPS officer reported seeing an individual matching the description of the suspect from the previous larceny incidents. The person was seen walking on 15th Street, headed towards the Mueller Center, wearing shorts and a striped shirt. The individual left campus and was stopped by TPD and DPS. A TPD officer completed a field investigation with the individual, and a follow-up was done.

Wednesday, May 27

Mueller Center

Injury: An elderly individual fell out of a wheelchair. The person was conscious, breathing, and alert, and there was no bleeding. Troy Fire Department transported the patient to Samaritan Hospital, and a medical report was filed.

Off-Campus Location

Battery: A student was punched in the face by a fellow student on the Senior Week cruise. TPD was notified, and a DPS officer completed a report on the arrest of a student.

Saturday, June 13

On-Campus Location

Drug Abuse: A student under the influence of LSD punched out a window with a bare hand and was bleeding. TFD and DPS officers responded to the person. The call also mentioned a domestic incident, so TPD also responded for a report. The subject was transported to Samaritan Hospital by TFD. The other individual involved in the domestic violence incident was provided with information about domestic violence. The individual declined to press charges. A medical report was filed for the medical incident, an incident report was filed for the domestic violence incident, and a grounds for disciplinary action report was also filed. DOSO was notified about the incidents.

Sunday, June 21

Ricketts Building

Chemical Incident: A fire alarm was received. Upon arrival, DPS officers discovered an injured subject outside the building, who stated that two chemicals, ammonium perchlorate and aluminum nanoparticles, that were being mixed together exploded in the subject’s face. TFD responded to the scene. DPS left a message for the Department of Environmental Health and Safety. The patient was transported to Samaritan Hospital by TFD. DOSO was notified. DPS put a “do not enter” sign on the door to the room and taped the area off.

Wednesday, July 8

Jonsson Engineering Center

Gas Leak: An odor of gasoline was coming from a room in the building. The reporting person was unable to locate the source or the cause. TFD responded and Rensselaer County was notified. National Grid responded as well, but by then, the odor had dissipated. No gas was located at the location. A fire report was completed.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Top Hat

Rensselaer includes more than just academics

Hey future and present students,

Since the majority of you left me in Troy, I’m going to write about what you should look forward to in the coming year if you’re a new student, and touch on what is the most important area of student government.

For all new students, your RPI career really starts with Student Orientation, despite the mountain of information that will be thrown at you. You’ll end up meeting a whole bunch of people, nearly all of whom are just as confused as you are for what’s ahead, and sign up for classes that will take your educational challenge to the next level. When all the future challenges come up, just remember that your SO advisors are students just like you, and are an amazing source of information throughout the school year.

Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond (NRB in order to reduce our oxygen consumption) is the biggest and best introduction to student life at RPI. When every club is putting on their best to get more members, don’t feel limited by the number of events you can attend at NRB. If you see something that you want to go to that conflicts with your schedule, join that group’s email list (trust me, they’ll always have an email list) and keep your eyes peeled for their next event. There’s gaming touraments, sports scrimmages, flying planes, theatre productions, multi-cultural celebrations, and much more from our 200+ clubs, as well as our iconic Greek fraternities and sororities. Whether it’s your first year at RPI or your third, I encourage you to check out every event that you can.

Student government’s heart and soul comes not from meetings at (unnecessarily) long tables, but from the group of students who gather on the couches and work together on what they feel is important. These groups are our committees, and the flavor of each committee changes with new leadership, new projects, and new members. The most important, number one rule (that I will continue to repeat as long as there is rain in Troy) is that there is no requirement for being a member of a committee except showing up to the meetings. This is where we get our real work done, and we want to include every student possible in these meetings. If you can think of something that you would like to see on RPI campus, there is a committee that can help you figure out where to take the next steps. Academics, facilities, residence, policy, technology, and hospitality are some of our biggest areas.

Now, some students ask why we work on these projects when we could be spending our time going to other clubs or getting a few more hours of sleep. The reason I joined is that I heard that I could tackle problems affecting a large number of people, and I wanted to act as a casual point of contact for anyone who runs into an issue on campus. The reason I stayed is that when I brought information back to students on why certain changes have or haven’t been made, or told them how we can guide the change in a different direction, they expressed genuine gratitude that there were students working for their benefit. Plus, I’ve always liked top hats since I was a kid.

That’s all for my summer article. If you have questions, comments, concerns, ideas, jokes, insight, arguments, criticisms, or any form of communication that you want to reach me, email me at, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Quad undertakes summer renovations

Duncan and Cahill, Inc. replaces windows, bathrooms, sheetrock and plaster, and furniture

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS MOVE in and out of Quad Residence Hall during the summer renovations. Phase I is currently underway, with phase II scheduled for next summer.

New renovations in Quad Residence Hall will update some of the 100-year-old facilities with dorms receiving their first major overhaul since the 1970s, and almost everything but the internal walls are being replaced.

Duncan and Cahill, Inc., a Troy-based company, was hired by the Institute for the renovations which include new windows, bathrooms, sheetrock and plaster, paint, and furniture. The company was hired by RPI in the past to renovate the Rensselaer Apartment Housing Projects and “improve campus compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Duncan and Cahill project superintendent William Bornt.

“The renovations over the next several years will help to update Quad and make it even more desirable for students to live in,” said Kyle Neumann ’17, Class of 2017 president and former two term Quad Hall Council chairman. Neumann lived in the dorms during his freshman and sophomore years, and he plans to live in them for the 2015–16 year. Other past Quad residents attributed its popularity to its proximity to academic parts of campus.

The hall is broken up into 19 stacks, each with its own entrance. Several pairs of the stacks connect on the top floor. Officially called The Quadrangle, its name is a bit of a misnomer as the buildings form a three-sided shape with 18 of the stacks, leaving Church VI alone near Russell Sage Dining Hall. According to RPI folklore, the Quad was actually intended to be a quadrangle, but Rensselaer couldn’t find enough donors after whom to name the stacks. Because donors wanted the prominent locations, i.e. the corner stacks, Church VI was paid for. No buildings around it could be funded, so it was left alone as a standalone building.

This summer’s project is phase I of the Quad renovations and includes Quad stacks White I, II, III, and IV and Hunt I and II. Phase II will be undertaken next summer.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Wexler appointed VP

VP of Enrollment will oversee Office of Financial Aid

JONATHAN WEXLER HAS HELD admissions-related positions at other institutions.

President Jackson announced the appointment of Jonathan Wexler to the position of vice president for enrollment management. Wexler will assume the role on Wednesday, July 15 after serving as vice president for enrollment management for Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. During his time at Fairleigh Dickinson, he brought enrollment for the incoming freshman class to a record high for the university, and oversaw the enrollment of the incoming class in Fall 2015, which will be the university’s strongest academically accomplished class ever.

In an email to the RPI community on May 15, 2015, President Jackson described the position’s responsibilities as “setting long- and short-range strategies for the Office of Enrollment Management in the recruitment of undergraduate, full- and part-time graduate, and international students, for both the Troy and Hartford campuses.” Wexler will also be responsible for overseeing the Office of Financial Aid.

Wexler was quoted in Jackson’s email, saying, “I am honored to have been selected to lead the enrollment management division at a premier national institution such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I look forward to working with President Jackson, academic and administrative leaders, faculty, staff, students, and alumni and alumnae in continuing to build on the outstanding academic reputation of Rensselaer and the pursuit of accomplishing the goals outlined in the Rensselaer Plan 2024.”

In addition to his time at Fairleigh Dickinson, Wexler has also held admissions-related positions at the University of Puget Sound, at Polytechnic University, and at Drexel University. He received a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of South Carolina. He received a dual bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from Goucher College.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Brond resigns

DAVID BROND OVERSAW the creation of the student social media ambassador program at RPI.

On June 1, 2015, President Shirley Ann Jackson announced the resignation of David Brond from the position of vice president for strategic communications and external relations, which took effect on June 12, 2015. Brond, who assumed the position on April 14, 2014, accepted a position as director of account services at Aloysius Butler & Clark Creative Intelligence in Wilmington, Delaware.

In a short email to the RPI community, Jackson described the importance of the position, calling it “responsible for advancing public understanding and advocacy for Rensselaer, its educational opportunities and research discoveries, and its growing position of importance in science, technology, and public policy.” Jackson proceeded to announce that a nationwide search for Brond’s replacement has begun.

In his time at Rensselaer, Brond saw the creation of the student social media ambassador program, which enables students to present their personal views of RPI using Twitter. The program has continued since Brond’s departure. Additionally, the RPI home page saw a redesign that many students have called “a much needed face-lift.”

RPI also found itself in a national media spotlight after UPAC Cinema postponed the showing of American Sniper to include a medium for educational discourse prior to the movie’s showing. Some media outlets reported this as censorship.

It is unclear why Brond departed after his short time at RPI. However, during and following his transition, Brond has proven to be on positive terms with RPI, occasionally tweeting about the university.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Full issue: July 13, 2015


Click on the links below to access the PDF of the full issue or each section!

FullIssue News EdOp Features Comics

Posted in Editorial/Opinion, Features, News, PDF archives | Leave a comment
Rensselaer Union

J-Board rules Executive Board actions unconstitutional

Closed meeting minutes to be released; adherence to Constitution and bylaws advised

Judicial Board Chairman Anthony Barbieri ’15 released a formal decision on the constitutionality of actions taken by the previous Executive Board with regards to the RPI Bookstore on Friday, May 22. The ruling comes ten days after The Polytechnic released a breaking news article detailing the changes to the bookstore, which can be found at

The voting members of J-Board in attendance for the ruling were Orlando Hernandez ’16, graduate student Nathan James, graduate student Timothy Krentz, Christopher Norticola ’16, and Spencer Pilcher ’16. Barbieri presided over the meeting. Additionally, 125th President of the Union Erin Amarello ’15 was in attendance, and the author of the case, Christopher Picone ’15, was available via phone call to answer questions. The J-Board decisions were passed unanimously.

The full text of the ruling is as follows:

Upon review of actions taken in regards to negotiations surrounding the bookstore, the Judicial Board finds:

The Executive Board conducted business in a manner subversive to the operation of said body as outlined in the Union Constitution and the Executive board’s bylaws. Specifically, the following acts of The Executive Board are unconstitutional:

  • Closed meetings without passing a motion.
  • Allowed non-Board members to be present in said closed meetings without passing a motion.
  • Authorized the Director of the Union to enter into negotiations without passing a motion.
  • Approved the signing of a letter of intent without passing a motion.

In light of these actions, the Judicial Board:

  • Instructs that all minutes from improperly closed meetings be released immediately excluding any details that would violate pertinent non-disclosure agreements.
  • Advises that the Executive Board follows the procedures outlined in their Bylaws and the Rensselaer Union Constitution.
  • Recognizes that Motion 6 passed by the Executive Board on May 15th 2015, allows for further negotiation to proceed.
  • Recommends that procedures surrounding contract negotiations be formally established.

The rulings can be found online at

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Rensselaer Union

BREAKING: E-Board passes motion on Bookstore in unpublicized meeting

J-Board case reportedly submitted against E-Board

The Executive Board convened for a meeting at 1 pm on Friday, May 15. In the meeting, the status of negotiations related to the bookstore were discussed, and a motion regarding the bookstore was passed unanimously. Unfortunately, because The Polytechnic was not notified about the meeting, reporters were not able to be in attendance. The full text of the motion, which was moved by Jeremy Feldman ’16 and seconded by Gregory Bartell ’17, reads as follows:

I move that the Rensselaer Union Executive Board:

  1. Issue a formal apology to the Student Body for willfully subverting the Executive Board Bylaws by holding an unofficial and secret vote to pursue the negotiation of contract management of the Union Bookstore.
  2. Authorize the Director of the Union to negotiate the terms of contracts, on behalf of the Rensselaer Union Executive Board, relating to the operation and management of the Union Bookstore by an outside company; such contracts shall only be valid and binding upon an affirmative vote by this Board once the terms of the contracts are finalized.
  3. Release all relevant and pertinent information regarding the current state of such contracts to the Student Body that does not violate any non-disclosure agreements entered into by the Union or their representatives.

The Polytechnic has also received reports that a Judicial Board case has been submitted to Dean of Students Mark Smith regarding the actions taken by the E-Board. The Poly is currently investigating the details of the case.

Posted in News | Leave a comment