GM Week 2015 – Candidate Information

Every year, The Polytechnic produces a special Grand Marshal Week issue that provides information about the week’s festivities and gives the opportunity for candidates for student government offices to present themselves to the student body. Inclusion in this special issue is completely voluntary, although we feel that it is a valuable and efficient way to reach a large number of voters, and we encourage all candidates to take advantage of it. The special issue will be published and distributed around campus on Monday, April 13, 2015.


PacketButton PortraitButton GMPUButton


Click on the buttons above to go to their corresponding pages.


  • Portraits for all candidates must be taken by Friday, April 10, 2015 at 6 pm.
  • Grand Marshal and President of the Union candidates must sign up for interviews by Thursday, April 2, 2015.

Late submissions may or may not be accepted, at the discretion of the Poly editorial board. Please refer to the Candidate Information Packet for further details, or contact us at





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President reviews state of Institute in semiannual Town Hall Meeting

PRESIDENT SHIRLEY ANN JACKSON SPEAKS at the annual spring Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, March 12.

A large crowd was in attendance this past Thursday afternoon to hear Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s President Shirley Ann Jackson speak as part of the annual President’s Spring Town Hall Meeting, held in the Experimental Media Performing and Arts Center Theater. Provost Prabhat Hajela introduced Jackson to the stage, where she began the meeting discussing how she recently attended the 2015 World Economic Forum in Switzerland with nearly 1,500 other people as a way to learn more about public-private cooperation. She went on to introduce her cabinet, then discussed several numerical figures regarding the upcoming 2015–2016 academic year, as well as the 2016 fiscal year.

There were 17,713 undergraduate applications, with a 5.8 percent increase in woman applicants. Recently, the RPI engineering school was ranked number 39 in nation by U.S. News & World Reports. Additionally, the tuition for next year will be $48,100, an increase of 3 percent; however, 9.3% more financial aid will be given to assist students. The search for more faculty members to fill certain positions will continue as the faculty renewal hire plan for fiscal year 2016 has been proposed. Jackson encourages all to follow the Rensselaer Alumni Association on all social media to stay updated with upcoming events happening here at RPI.

The meeting then shifted to discussing the goals and progress made with The New Polytechnic. The main goal of this set of initiatives is to develop a transformative learning experience that will directly the impact lives of many. One segment of The New Polytechnic is the recently launched Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications, which advances data-driven research across campus. The IDEA couples with newly-formed cooperative agreements with corporations and other universities. The Advanced Multiprocessing Optimized System, the largest supercomputer at an American private institute, is here at RPI as a way of promoting “engineering design made by real stuff and real people,” according to Jackson. IBM’s Watson system is here at Rensselaer to promote students to develop new hypothesizes, too. Recently, the United States Air Force provided a grant for two Rensselaer IDEA professors to perform neuromorphic computing research. The Cognitive and Immersive Systems Laboratory will soon open at EMPAC with the help of IBM. This new implementation will consist of situation rooms that will respond automatically to its occupants.

In addition to research and new ideas, the Knowledge and Innovation Program has begun, in which the “Rensselaer Office of Research has awarded four grants to spur multidisciplinary research in the areas of the built environment, environmental resilience, advanced cyber-infrastructure, and bio-innovation.” Jackson stated that students at RPI need to be well-disciplined in art and science and mentioned how the curriculum has shifted to capture this notion, as well as focusing on enabling students to be more data analytic. Many new ways of learning and teaching have been sprouting over the last few years, as cyber enabled learning is becoming more popular. The Virtual Calculus Bridge is an example of this type of learning, as it was offered this past summer and will be offered again, in addition to the new Virtual Physics Bridge. These virtual learning programs are to help students through experimentation and problem solving.

Recently, a $1.2 million grant was provided for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics research at RPI by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. As a way of leading incoming freshman to success in STEM, the mentor program will be extended from Calculus I to Physics I and Chemistry I. Jackson also explained that student engagement with faculty is necessary for success.

The meeting concluded with the presentation of four honorary degree recipients, one of which is Admiral Michelle J. Howard from the United States Navy, who will be a speaker for the upcoming 2015 Commencement. A question and answer time was provided at the end, but no questions were asked.

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Staff Editorial

Town Hall Meeting requires increased accessibility

Last week, our staff editorial urged the Rensselaer community to attend President Shirley Ann Jackson’s annual Spring Town Hall Meeting, which was held last Thursday. For the past few years, the meeting has garnered robust attendance from cabinet-level administration and Environmental and Site Services employees, but we think the meeting has fallen short of what should be its intended target demographic: students.

There will always be students that don’t care about goings-on around campus, but there are a large cohort of students who do. But then, why did our article’s writer and photographer see very few—fewer than 10, that is—students at the meeting? Why was the student turnout so low?

The biannual event has a few logistical problems. First of all, for the past many years, the meetings have been held right around midterm week. Rather than holding it at the beginning of the semester and subsequently setting an almost pep rally-type tone for the term, the president’s office has scheduled the meeting during students’ second-busiest and stressful week. We realize that there are some announcements made at the spring meeting that couldn’t be made earlier (e.g. budget numbers and Commencement speakers), but those announcements could be made in other ways.

Aside from being held during a major testing period, this year, the meeting took place on a Thursday afternoon, unlike the Wednesday dates it previously had. As most RPI students know, Wednesday is usually a light class day, due to the Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday schedule that most classes follow. Furthermore, why would the office of the President organize an event at 1 pm that students are encouraged to go to when most of them are in class? We feel that an evening meeting (with dinner served afterwards, perhaps) would increase student attendance dramatically.

Once held in the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Concert Hall, the forum is now held in the EMPAC theater. While a nice enough venue, the latter is a much smaller space, and filling it is much less difficult. The president’s office can take credit for a standing room-only crowd, regardless of the fact that the meeting is in a room one-third the size of its first locale.

Jackson has always fielded questions from the community at her meetings. The timing of the meeting caused low student turnout, and low student turnout often means low question volume. On Thursday, not a single member in the audience asked a question, even though the student populace likely had questions. Students have traditionally been the voice of the community, when no students attend, no questions get asked.

In the end, for students, it is important to make an effort to attend and be informed, and for the administration, it would be best if meetings such as this were scheduled at better times so the student population could be better informed.

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Cosplays bring Genericon together

ATTENDEES OF GENERICON PERFORM at the convention on Saturday, March 14. The annual RPI-hosted convention attracts anime, science fiction, and gaming fans from both RPI and outside the community.

Confession: I’m not a convention person. It’s not that I have anything against them, I’ve just never been particularly interested in them. It doesn’t help that I’ve hardly ever watched much anime and know next to nothing about gaming and most of what is discussed at conventions in general. Confession number two: I didn’t think I’d enjoy it much. Admission: I was wrong.

The Genericon 2015 cosplay competition started with a skit competition and moved on to the general costume contest. It was hosted by Karl ‘Uncle Yo’ Custer, an improv comedian who specializes in geek culture. Getting him was definitely a great call by the organizers. He also has a YouTube channel, “Uncle Yo,” and he mentioned that he’d put up a video specifically for Genericon, although I haven’t been able to find it yet. The skits included Phantom of the Opera duet sung by Amu and Ikura from the Shugo Chara series, a Frozen skit :”Let it Go: The Aftermath,” a dance from Medusa and Stein from Soul Eater, and an Invader Zim skit. Not only were the skits hilarious, but the commentary was too, and the fact that I, who understood a precious few of the references, enjoyed it so much is an indication of how entertaining it all was. The skits were well done, and when Zoe McLean ’16, as Elsa from Frozen, asked the giant snowman she’d named Marshmallow (because he looked like a marshmallow on steroids, you see) regarding her (black and blue) dress, “do you like it? It’s kind of a nice … white and gold color”, the crowd did let out a collective moan, but they also laughed generously because it was pulled off so well. It was the same with the other skits.

The participants certainly put in a lot of effort. McLean said that she’d gotten the idea a few months ago, written the skit three weeks ago, and had been practicing pretty much ever since. She’d made the dress entirely herself too. Her efforts were rewarded; Uncle Yo, who said he’d “seen the same Frozen skit 50 times since 2013”, declared that hers was best one. She also placed third in the skit competition. Morgan, who played Medusa from Soul Eater with Kenny who was Stein, had made stitched both her and her partner’s costumes herself. The couple-who were a crowd favorite and placed first in the skit competition—said they’d been practicing for a week. In a short chat after the competition ended, they revealed that they had met at another convention July of last year and this cosplay was in the works since then. They both came from Glen Falls, about 45 minutes from RPI. When asked what the appeal of Genericon was, Morgan—who has attended conventions with over 26,000 participants-said that it felt like her ’home convention’ and that the crowd here was very supportive. According to her, “Especially recently, bullying has become a concern in the cosplay world, but here I feel I can just step on stage and do a skit and I won’t have to worry about lack of support from the crowd. I feel I can spread my wings here.” She also added that she has Lyme disease, and cosplay is an escape for her. “I can be this powerful, sexy character. I’m not this sick person.” It’s wonderful to see how Genericon can enable people to be strong like that. Morgan’s sentiment regarding the ‘homebase’ feel and supportiveness of the crowd at Genericon were shared by McLean (the wonderful Elsa) who said that Genericon was the first convention she had attended and she felt quite at home here. She also added that this year’s event was much better organized and an improvement from last year. All this points to the merits of Genericon and that its organizers deserve a lot of praise.

Second prize in the skit competition went to Caitlin Ching and Darbie Clegg playing Amu and Ikuro from the series Shugo Chara who sang the duet “Phantom of the Opera.” Giving props to the organizers again, it should be mentioned that the goodies the winners got were apparently so enticing that upon seeing them, Uncle Yo demanded his rendition of a Dr. Who speech be entered in the running. This rendition, incidentally, was so engaging that even I, not really a Dr. Who fan (yes, tar and feather me, it’s true), found it very good.

As the skits ended, the costume contest began and over 35 extremely impressive cosplayers marched across the stage to house music. Notable among them were Belle (Lysander) from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the 10th Doctor (Jeff Bianchine), with a nice bit of monologue thrown in, and Dipper (Shaylin Collins), Stan (Michael Smith), and Mabel Pincs (Emily Smith) from Gravity Falls. While the judges made their decisions, the crowd was treated to a round of improv from Uncle Yo. The crowd, like the participants, was very enthusiastic and energetic. Overall, there was a great energy to the event and it was fun and entertaining to be part of.

The winners of the contest are as follows:

Youth category: Rachel Ulrich as Felicity from American Girl. Christopher as Garen from League of Legends.

Novice category: Angelina Greene as John Edward from Homestuck.

Best in show: Melinda Que as Ashe from League of Legends. (announcement accompanied by Uncle Yo’s comment “That Ash though”).

Judges choice awards: Christina as Plummer from Homestuck, Grace as Alba from DRAMAtical Murder, and Salith as Merry from The Lord of the Rings.

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Engineers fall to St. Lawrence in quarters

After defeating Clarkson University in three games in the opening round of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, Rensselaer set its sights on the St. Lawrence University Saints. Just two weeks prior, RPI defeated St. Lawrence 4-3 behind the great goaltending of senior Scott Diebold. This time was different, though. The games were on St. Lawrence’s home ice and both teams needed to win in order to keep their hopes alive for an NCAA tournament berth.

In the first game of the best-of-three series, both teams defended their own nets tenaciously. St. Lawrence’s Kyle Hayton made six saves in the first five minutes of the game. Then, during the next two minutes, the Saints moved the puck down onto RPI’s end and fired four shots on the Engineer net, all of which were saved by junior goalie Jason Kasdorf.

Late in the first period, St. Lawrence went on a power play after RPI freshman forward Lou Nanne was penalized two minutes for elbowing. The Saints fired off three shots with a man advantage but were stymied by an impassioned Engineer defense. Two were saved by Kasdorf and the other was blocked by senior forward Mark McGowan. After one period, the game remained scoreless.

Three more power plays, two in favor of RPI, occurred during the next 38 minutes, but all three were killed and neither team broke the scoreless tie. Then, with 52 seconds to play in the final period, St. Lawrence defender Chris Martin scored, assisted by forwards Alex Hagen and Woody Hudson.

The Engineers urgently tried to tie the score, but there simply wasn’t enough time to create a good scoring chance. The Saints took advantage of a momentary lapse by the RPI defense to win game one, 1-0.

Kasdorf played magnificently in defeat, stopping 33 of 34 shots on the RPI goal. On the other side of the net, Hayton saved all 27 shots on the Saints’ goal.

In game two, the Saints scored twice in a span of 65 seconds to take an early 2-0 lead. Then, two minutes into the second period, Engineer junior forward Mark Miller lit the lamp to bring the score to 2-1. The goal was assisted by Nanne and junior defender Chris Bradley.

St. Lawrence wouldn’t be outdone, though, scoring one goal late in the second and two more in the third to knock the Engineers out of ECAC contention in convincing fashion, 5-1.

The Engineers finished the season with a record of 12-26-3 and a conference record of 8-12-1. They did, however, advance to the quarterfinal round of the ECAC tournament for the first time since the 2012 season. In addition, Kasdorf finished fourth in the ECAC in total saves with 831 in 33 games played.

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Senate approves student petition website

The 45th Student Senate met last week to discuss the last of the Grand Marshal Week amendments, as well as a presentation of the new petitions website and the formal vote on electronic voting for GM Week.

Amendment seven dealt with referendums and removals. The amendment would allow the Senate to remove a voting member by a two-thirds vote with good cause. It would also allow an issue to be brought to a direct vote to the Senate either by a two-thirds vote or by receiving a petition signed by 10 percent of all members of the Rensselaer Union.

Michael Han ’16 asked what the process would be to remove a non-voting member, such as the parliamentarian. Nathan James ’15 explained that since those roles are not covered in the Constitution, their removal, therefore, is not covered in the Constitution. There was also concern that a two-thirds majority vote would be easier to achieve, if three members voted and the rest abstained. Tina Gilliland ’15 proposed removing the word voting and make it two thirds vote of its total voting membership. Paul Ilori ’17 opposed the change, saying that having 18 members, which is one fourth of a percent of the student body, granted the power to remove the president of the student body is giving the senators too much power. The amendment failed 2-12-5. Mason Cooper ’17 proposed adding “of the student senate’s total voting membership” to the end of the amendment. This passed 10-6-3, leading to the total amendment to pass 14-3-2.

Next, there was a motion to reconsider amendment six, which dealt with judicial procedures. Justin Etzine ’18 explained to the Senate that he initially voted no because he thought the handbook mirrored what the Constitution said, but that is not the case. Andrew Sudano ’17 was concerned that leaving the judicial procedures in the Constitution, which would not be updated to mirror the Student Handbook, could cause students to incorrectly prepare. The motion passed 14-1-4, concluding the Senate’s discussion on amendments for GM Week.

Ilori then presented the new petition website, which allows students to create petitions that other students can sign. Petitions can have descriptions, be tagged, and also shared on social media so that, as Ilori put it, “people that are hiring you can know you give a crap.” The petition website, which was displayed on the projector, was quickly filled with silly petitions written by senators. One of the most popular was making Ilori’s glasses the new GM. Seeing this, Sudano was concerned that the website would get flooded with meaningless petitions. Kyle Keraga ’15 stated that this system was modeled after RIT’s petition system. Their moderation team consists of four members, and even though their student body is three times the size of RPI, they do not have trouble. The Senate approved the new petitions website 17-1-0.

Finally, the Senate voted on using electronic voters for GM Week. Since it was highly discussed last semester, the motion was immediately called a vote, and then passed 16-1-1. Before closing, the Senate approved previous meeting minutes and heard reports.

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Enjoying the gift of skiing

When I climbed off the bus Saturday the 14th in Killington, Vermont, it was drizzling and warm. Most of the mountain was hidden in a cloud. By the time I got off my first lift ride of the day my jacket and snow pants were damp. In my first turns, I found that it wasn’t snow but more of a slushie I was skiing on. Half way down the mountain I had to stop because my goggles fogged up, which continued to happen for the rest of the day.

For most people, rain on the lift ride up would mean a terrible day for them. The snow conditions would make them frustrated and foggy goggles would be the last straw before turning in. But for me all I could do was smile and think “this is what it means to be an East Coast skier.” For fans of East Coast skiing, we’ve had an awesome season. Huge dumps in February left all our mountains with a solid base for the rest of the season. But Saturday reminded that this season is an exception, not the norm. Fresh snow week after week and constantly cold temperatures is not what the East Coast is used to. Skiing in those conditions brought back fond memories of all the other terrible condition days I had. Days and days desperately trying to hold and edge on sheets of ice at my local mountain. Negative windchills in Vermont. Most of the time it sucks, but for some reason I still love every minute.

Reddit user DougFromBuf gave the best explanation of what it means to ski the East:

“Though found in many varieties from gnarly back country tree ripper finding a sweet fallen tree for jibbing to minivan driving dad trying to get on a lift before 11AM, there is a common thread that binds them all. They have all endured and will forever endure. The east coast skier is hard. He was a child on his first -10 wind-chill day. He skied with freezing rain stinging his face. The east coast skier may not love all conditions but he loves skiing in all conditions. He will rip all day on ice. He will slide on slush. He will savor any fresh snow and love a powder day whether or not he is adept at skiing it. This creature does not scoff at a small 500ft vertical hill. He knows it’s not all about the vertical, it’s how you use it. The east coast skier is proud. He may always talk about his trip to Vail (or Whistler, or Snowbird, or Telluride), but he will never deny his love for his local hill, even if it is 4 hours away and had lifts on wind delay the last two weekends. No matter what he faces, he simply skis and loves it.

In the end, the East coast skier is defined by one thing, that no matter what the obstacle, inconvenience or conditions he will ski, and he will love whatever mountain and whatever frozen substance he is lucky enough to slide on for he knows and has known from a young age that every day skiing is a precious gift.”

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Carmen’s spices up local cuisine with Cuban-Spanish flavor

Like a hidden gem, Carmen’s appears unassumingly on First Street in downtown Troy. I wouldn’t even have heard about this place if it weren’t for a mention from a couple of friends. On the corner of First and Adams Streets, this Cuban-Spanish café boasts a rich selection of high quality tapas and entrées, made from locally grown ingredients.

I went last Sunday, at 2 pm, with a particular hunger for empanadas. With their spiced meat insides and crispy outer shell, yet soft and doughy mantle, empanadas make the perfect dish to reinvigorate those that perhaps wanted to sleep in a bit more on Sunday mornings. I couldn’t wait as I briskly paced towards Carmen’s front step. Quaint, but in an appealing way, is the only way I can describe the outside. Light tan bricks with marine blue windows, the restaurant stands out from the surrounding buildings. As I walked in, I was greeted by a unique, yellowish bar with dim, navy blue lights hanging over it and a brick fireplace. Photographs lined the walls and the counter space behind the bar looked neat, uncluttered by bottles or glassware. I don’t know anyone that owns a restaurant, but this felt like I was at a friend’s house enjoying some weekend brunch.

I sat down at a bar height table and ordered huevos flamenco and an empanada. The huevos flamenco were two sunny side up eggs on top of a rich tomato based stew of peppers, chorizo, onions, and potatoes. Now, what typically happens with most people when they eat is that the first bite is the most memorable. The rest of the meal is uneventful. But when I say that this stew was so packed with hearty chorizo and full-bodied spicy flavor, I remember every single spoonful. I honestly haven’t had a meal like that in months. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had real Hispanic cuisine or maybe it’s because all the ingredients are local. But the whole meal was a sensory rollercoaster for my tastebuds. As for the empanadas, it’s all I could have asked for. When I cut the empanada in half, the sweet, comforting smell of paprika and chili meat gently nuzzled my nose, begging me to taste it. Obliging, I spread a small bit of creamy chipotle sauce atop the steaming open pocket. I blinked and suddenly, the small, doughy delight was gone. Words can’t even describe. Needless to say, I’m going back sometime soon.

How I haven’t discovered Carmen’s sooner is beyond me. It’s probably the far out location and lack of information. But the whole experience and quality of food assures that I’ll be taking my family here the next time they come up. Carmen’s gives that comforting resolve that I don’t get from modern food anymore.

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Rensselaer dominant against Camels

FRESHMAN MIDFIELDER LANE MEYER MOVES into the Connecticut College zone with the ball. The Engineers defeated the Camels 17-3 at East Campus Stadium last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, Rensselaer men’s lacrosse dominated the Connecticut College Camels at East Campus Stadium.

After Camels attacker Barton Briggs scored to put Connecticut College up 1-0 five minutes into the first quarter, the Engineers scored 12 unanswered goals to put the game out of reach early. Then, following a second Camels goal, RPI scored five more consecutive goals en route to a 17-3 victory.

Sophomore attacker Breanainn McNeally scored three goals in the second period, including a last second score at the end of the half to lead the Engineers to a 10-1 halftime lead. Junior attacker Patrick Finn led the team in scoring with two goals and four assists, all of which occurred in the first 30 minutes of play. Sophomore midfielder Jake Weidner and sophomore attacker Matt Hall each added three goals of their own to further help the Engineers roll over the Camels.

Sophomore goalie David Gibbs stopped 10 of 12 shots he faced in 44 minutes of action and earned the victory.

Then, on Saturday, RPI played a neutral-site game in Cold Spring Harbor, NY against Ursinus College, holding the lead for all but two minutes of the game. Finn scored four times and RPI won 10-6 to boost its record to 5-2.

Next up for the Engineers is a road trip to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY this Saturday.

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Solar-powered plane takes flight

THE SOLAR IMPULSE 2’S CREW PLANS to circumnavigate the globe in 25 flight days.

The Swiss solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 took off from Oman and headed for India last week. The mission of its two-man crew—pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borcheberg—is to complete the first round-the-world flight with a fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power. The first iteration of Solar Impulse, which broke records for height and distanced traveled by a solar-powered plane, was also a project led and privately funded by Piccard and Borcheberg; SI was a single-seat plane that had the ability to stay aloft for up to 36 hours at a time. Having completed flight missions in Europe and the US, Piccard and Borcheberg later built upon the experience of their first prototype in the design and construction of SI2, which took 12 years.

Only slightly larger than its predecessor, SI2 has a wingspan slightly less than that of an Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial airliner. In contrast to the bulky A380, SI2 weighs in at 5,100 lb, which is about the weight of an average car. Improvements from its predecessor include a larger cockpit and more advanced avionics, which provide the crew with an autopilot option. Additionally, environmental support systems allow for flight at 39,000 feet. SI2 is able to fly at speeds between 30 and 60 miles per hour for five consecutive days and nights without a single drop of oil by utilizing lithium ion batteries powered by its 17,000 solar cells during day. Flying at an average speed of 30 knots, SI2’s crew will alternate piloting responsibilities in their mission to circumnavigate the globe in 25 flight days.

With its point of origin in United Arab Emirates, SI2’s itinerary includes the following destinations: UAE, Oman, India, Myanmar, China, the US, and a yet to be determined location in southern Europe, after which the plane will return to its starting point. SI2 has already bested the world record for longest flight distance flown by a solar-powered plane, which was previously set by SI, in its 912-mile flight from Oman to India. The longest leg of the trip, however, is yet to come; SI2 is scheduled to travel across the Pacific from Nanjing, China to Hawaii. SI2 has been grounded for several days in Ahmedabad, India, due to unfavorable weather conditions.

In addition to their quest to circumnavigate the globe on SI2, Piccard and Borcheberg also hope to draw attention to renewable energy technologies that will allow for decreased dependence on fossil fuel.

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Consider how you handle stress

There are more than seven billion people in this world. We have different cultures, traditions, and values. Yet, sickness is something we all have in common. With a struggling economic situation in all parts of the world, prevention seems to be better than cure in terms of the medical aspect. Fitness, eating right, and a healthy lifestyle are just a few ways to help ourselves.

Being an RPI student, I definitely agree that life at RPI is stressful. Almost every week, there seems to be never ending assignments, torturous exams where the averages are 60 percent, and a lack of smiles across campus. RPI expects you to manage stress in an efficient way and maintain productivity at the highest level possible. Now, everyone has different ways to deal with stressful times. Some people watch movies, some people exercise, some people play sports, and some spend hours doing club activities. One way I suggest to manage stress is to spend at least 30 minutes a day listening to music.

Stress is an in-built response to a situation. The adrenal glands, situated above the kidneys, secrete the hormone adrenaline. This is also responsible for the fight or flight response and is secreted in tense situations such as during a difficult examination, a near death experience, public speaking, or can even develop due to lack of sleep. Music is an aid to reduce stress, a factor that may lead to other illnesses, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity in our later adult lives.

Science has proven time and again the plasticity of our brain. Music has been used extensively to rewire the brain. Listening to music stimulates different areas of the brain and has shown a lot of promise in helping the geriatric population, calming at-risk kids, helping in motor coordination, and soothing neonatal babies. The playing of wind instruments, like the age-old Australian didgeridoo, have been shown to help in opening the lungs of asthmatics.

In closing, most of us have different methods to reduce stress. Some methods work for some people and some do not. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to find the right balance in your life. It will improve your mind, social life, and academic life. Whenever I feel like I am stressed, I play the piano or create my own music. Not only am I getting my mind off my stressor, but I am also having fun. I personally feel like I am able to learn better in my classes, do better on my exams, and still have time to hang out with my friends. The next time you are starting to have a bad day, pick up those headphones and start listening to music. It doesn’t matter what kind of music it is, just as long as you are happy. Listen to music while you are walking to class, right after an exam, studying, or even while you are just doing laundry. I can assure you that you will become a much happier person both on the outside as well as the inside.

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DJs visit Genericon, bring hip tunes to dance

T2KAZUYA HYPES UP the crowd during his set. One of the four DJs at the Genericon Dance, T2Kazuya’s set brought the biggest crowd of the night to the dance floor.

To those of you who were burning the midnight oil in the Rensselaer Union on Saturday, March 14, 2015, I’m sorry. I apologize to you because you missed one of the most uplifting events all year. I’m sorry that you didn’t come and enjoy yourself with the many Genericon-goers as they danced the night away in the McNeil room. And most of all, I’m sorry about the bumping, bass-boosted, and, most importantly, loud music that enticed many to get on the dance floor. But it was for the best, because the Genericon Dance at this year’s annual RPI-hosted convention was definitely the best dance put on by RPI yet this school year.

The dance had a line-up of four DJs, hailing from the Northeastern area. Each with their own style, they brought raging music with some serious twists. Up first, DJ Scratchin’ kicked the show off with a set of smooth dance tunes with hard bass lines that had the crowd jumping. His stage performance could use some work, but for the most part, he did a great job opening the show. Next up was T2Kazuya, who has been to Genericon before. T2Kazuya was definitely the most engaging DJ of the night and his mix was the most energetic, with faster builds, more ruthless synth, and an overall more cutting edge sound. The third DJ was Michael V, who brought the hardcore sound to the show. Accompanied by a megaphone and face mask, Michael V crushed a long set with some surprise sounds, such as tracks with Japanese vocals and some sweet interludes. Closing out the night was MaidenV, an all-around DJ, who finished off the night with what I thought was one of the best sets of the night, topped only by T2Kazuya and his spot-on energy builds. MaidenV brought out many different styles of dance music and brought the crowd back together after a particularly low attendance of Michael V’s set. The four DJs rallied on stage to finish off the show with a crowd-favorite remix of Caramelldansen by Caramell.

Genericon planners this year expected a mere 40 or fewer people to show up to the dance this year. The crowd that showed up Saturday night, though, was several times that size. It turned out that an estimated 200 people made their way in and out of the doors to the dance. The crowd was littered with dancers in an array of costumes, from Raven of Teen Titans fame, several Homestuck characters, and four or five people in full fur costumes complete with ears and tails. However, none of the fandoms mattered when it came to dancing, as the crowd would shake it with just about anyone who joined them. The night saw a conga line, the Macarena, and numerous dance circles break out and unite the crowd. The number of dancers fluctuated between sparse and severely crowded on the floor, but no one seemed to mind at all.

I didn’t participate much in the dancing so much as just listening to the music, and watching so many people have a genuinely good time made me really enthusiastic about the whole thing. It’s always heartening to see that it doesn’t matter if you’re different; you can have fun all the same. Because under the capes, furry ears, and makeup, under the masks that are put on, we’re really not that different after all. Thank you, Genericon, for making Saturday night one of the most fun nights that you could have at this institute.

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Grand Marshal explains coming election process

Good afternoon, RPI.

This is my last Top Hat for the next two weeks, for as we should all be aware, Spring Break is almost here! This time, the weather seems to know it: at last the snow and the cold have given way to a great thaw and more reasonable temperatures. Over Spring Break, we may see sunny skies and green weather at last.

Before we return home, the Senate will be considering another important motion: a decision whether to endorse proposed revisions to the Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities on the topic of sexual misconduct policy. Throughout the year, we have strived to seek public input on this critical topic, and if you still wish to have your voice heard in the Senate’s decision, please attend our meeting this Thursday, at 8 pm in the Union’s Shelnutt Gallery.

As of 8 am this morning, campaigning for Grand Marshal Week elections has officially begun! The elections process is open to any Student Activity Fee-paying student, and by no means restricted to those with Student Government experience. If you’re at all interested in getting involved in the Senate process or the work of the Class Councils, I encourage you to attend an info session and learn more. If you have your sights on the Derby or the Top Hat, I recommend you reach out to the current President of the Union Erin Amarello ’15 or myself for a neutral perspective on the top roles, and feedback on your platforms and ideas. Any candidates are encouraged to connect to Director of the Archer Center Linda McCloskey, a strong advocate for aspiring leaders.

This year’s process will be familiar to many, and entirely new to some—many innovations and reforms have occurred this year under the leadership of Rules and Elections Chairman Paul Ilori ’17, and will be detailed here. As per usual, anyone wishing to run for office should read the GM Week 2015 Elections Handbook, available online at, or in the document holders in the Student Government Suite, Union Room 3120. Students intending to run for any office must submit a candidacy form to the Rules and Elections Committee and attend one information session—the times and places for each session are listed in the Elections Handbook.

Elections will be different in several ways this year: first, due to Spring Break arriving two weeks later than usual, the campaign will start before we go home on vacation. Candidates, remember this, as you’re seeking nominations, there are only two weeks after Break and before GM Week Second, election forms have been redesigned to match new Union branding: if you have any confusion, you may reach Ilori ’17 at

Additionally, in an exciting development promoting sustainability and efficiency in the voting process, the Student Senate has approved the Rensselaer Union Voting System, designed by the Rules and Elections Committee and Union system administrators, as our official election procedures beginning in GM Week 2015. This electronic voting system eliminates the need for paper balloting and unreliable scantron machines, improving the accuracy, security, and reliability of the election process. Not to worry, of course: the system will only be accessible from designated pollsites, so you will still be able to come out and get your mug!

Campaigning is a Student Government process, but our Student Government, like the Rensselaer Union it runs, is responsible first and foremost to the students. I urge you to get to know the candidates as the weeks progress. Talk to them and question them as they discuss their plans, thoughts, and ideas. Encourage them to be thoughtful in their campaigns, and challenge them to speak about the real issues facing the student body. When you go to vote, you’ll know the right decisions to make, and the candidates will be all the more prepared to hold office.

If you’re interested in running for an office or have any questions about the election process, you may reach me at

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House of Cards falls the right way

On February 27, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright made a triumphant return in the third season of House of Cards as Francis and Claire Underwood. The season is 13 episodes long, running an average of 45 minutes per episode, meaning it takes almost 10 hours to complete the season. Not that I or anyone has watched the entire third season in one sitting, but it is possible. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Season three kicks off with Underwood visiting his father’s grave. According to him, the stop makes him seems more human, as President of the United States. However, during an aside, Underwood reveals to the viewer that he doesn’t care much for his deceased paternal figure and urinates on his gravestone. This act reaffirms a popular theme throughout the series: façades. Characters in the show frequently deliberate allegiances, favors, and ambitions, but their words often contradict their actions. A critical example appeals to Claire and foreshadows the Underwoods’ inevitable downfall.

The example occurs during the American visit to Moscow in an attempt to negotiate for peace in the Jordan Valley. Michael Corrigan, a gay activist who was arrested for protesting Russian President Viktor Petrov’s gay rights policies, is incarcerated in a Russian jail at the start of episode six. Claire takes it upon herself to convince Corrigan to make a plea speech, apologizing to the Petrov administration, even saying, “You don’t have to mean it, you just have to say it.” However, when she tries to guilt him for hurting his husband by staying imprisoned, Claire finds herself in his shoes and realizes that they are not so different. Corrigan and his husband were married for 21 years, while Claire and Frank were nearing their 28th. Each couple used their significant others to grow and “rub off on each other well.” However, in the case of the Underwoods, Claire gives Frank emotional and political power, and though Frank reciprocates in his appointing power as president, it seems this is not enough for Claire. Claire sees Frank feeding off of her, becoming stronger, as Claire grows feeble with each consumption.

In addition, over dinner, Corrigan shoots through her façade and even states that she is not as happy in her current marital state, after inadvertently striking a chord by stating that he hasn’t slept with his husband in over two years. This comes from the fact that Claire and Frank have not slept in the same bedroom during Frank’s tenure as interim president. Corrigan follows by saying, “It takes one to know one.” Corrigan’s hard-hitting statements, coupled with his martyrly suicide, plant the seeds of Claire’s discontent, with his death metaphorically representing her emancipated emotions from the clutches of Frank’s incarceration.

Corrigan’s suicide, along with a certain mother on the Iowan campaign trail in episode 12, instilled concrete doubts in Claire’s mind about her marriage. “Two minutes … that’s all it would take and I could go.” But enough about that, I’d like to move on to special guests on the show. Stephen Colbert had a fitting cameo in episode 1, in which he was one-on-one roasting Frank on his America Works bill. Additionally, Lars Mikkelsen played the role of Russian President Viktor Petrov, based off of actual Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mikkelsen portrays Petrov admirably, coming right off the bat as a corrupt, unrelenting, First-lady smooching, Slavic thug. For anyone paying attention, he also played Charles Augustus Magnussen on BBC’s Sherlock, which also stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. I also would like to point out that the producers actually brought the two members of Pussy Riot that are currently in the States, in episode three.

Honestly, season three wasn’t as good as the previous seasons. This latest installment only sets up for what’s to come. Frank is already at the height of power; he can’t possibly reach higher. So he must somehow maintain what fragile relations he has, since he’s alienated so many to climb to the top. He’s no longer planning out his strategies methodically; he’s racked thin from the responsibilities of the presidency. The foreshadowing even exists in the cinematography. Many scenes are close ups of characters’ faces, including long, brooding periods with just their face present on screen. It’s claustrophobic, and it’s really the only way to describe the feeling, almost as if there’s something big coming. Season three is only the beginning of the end. Seasons one and two are the Underwoods’ meteoric rise. And it would only be fitting for the house of cards to come toppling down on them, in the final 13 episodes, completing the 52 card-episode set.

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PU talks Pi Day, men’s hockey, and Relay for Life

Hey RPI! Last weekend, on 3/14/15, was Pi Day, a very eventful day for Rensselaer. Pi Day is not only the day of one of the biggest donation campaigns for Rensselaer Alumni, where Alumni are given the chance to “complete the circle” and give back to their Alma Mater, it was also the day when the final round of applicants to Rensselaer received notification of their acceptance! I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my little sister, Shannon Amarello, on her acceptance to RPI as well as all of the other potential Engineers who have received this opportunity to join our amazing Rensselaer community. If you know anyone who was accepted over the weekend, be sure to congratulate them on their accomplishment and welcome them to the Rensselaer family.

I would like to congratulate our men’s ice hockey team on a successful season which ended last weekend in Canton, NY against St. Lawrence University in the three-game Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Hockey Quarterfinals. We always expect excellence out of our sports teams and the men definitely delivered this year, destroying Union for the Annual Black Friday game and reminding us that with “One minute left … Clarkson still sucks” when they won the ECAC first round series. Thank you to the senior class for your years on the ice and best of luck to the players already preparing for next season.

Happy belated Saint Patrick’s Day! In honor of everyone’s favorite day to be Irish, the Clubhouse Pub will have Irish music playing each night this week with song books so you can join along in the singing. There will be beads and hats to wear and if you come to the Pub wearing green this week, you get a 50 cent discount on your drinks! Monday was Guinness and Wings, Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day Trivia with Leprechaun Perry, tonight is Mug night with a live Irish music performance by the Joyce Brothers, tomorrow is Grad Social, Wine Night, and Irish Karaoke, and Friday there will be Irish stew at Happy Hour to culminate the week of St. Patrick’s Day fun.

We officially only have three more days, counting today, until Spring Break!! I hope that everyone takes a chance during this week off to relax, catch up on sleep, maybe travel some place warmer, and catch up with friends. When we get back from break, however, we have some pretty cool events on the horizon. Last week you saw purple all over campus, did you wonder why? Well the reason is Relay For Life, occurring on April 24–25 from 5 pm-5 am. This annual fundraiser, run by students, raises money for the American Cancer Society, which raises awareness about cancer and the need for research, and celebrates the lives of loved ones lost and the strength and courage of survivors. It is an annual event on campus full of activities to support a great cause. Also, the MR MS concert up in the Houston Field House is on April 30, featuring special guests: the Titanics and Bells Roar, hosted by UPAC and the 125th Anniversary Committee. Tickets are available for purchase in the Union all week as well as in the Houston Field House. This week, campaigning officially begins for Grand Marshal Week 2015, today being the first day students can hand in their forms to declare candidacy. The campaigning will be in full swing when we get back from break, so keep a look out and stay informed as to who is running for different positions. If you want any information about elections, how to run, or what positions are available, feel free to reach out to myself at or the Rules and Elections Committee at

Have a wonderful week!

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Dear Editorial Board of The Rensselaer Polytechnic:

I would like to correct an inaccuracy included in your article, “Uncovering Rensselaer’s Finances” in the March 4, 2015 edition of The Rensselaer Polytechnic, and also provide a particular context to the Institute’s finances over the past fifteen years.

Rensselaer’s grants, donations, and research revenue over the period 2000 to 2013 has not declined. Rather, a reporting change was made in FY2010, in which research contract revenue, which had previously been combined with gifts and grants, was reported separately within program service revenue. On a combined basis, Rensselaer grants, donations, and research revenue has grown from $89 million in fiscal year 2001 to $134 million in fiscal year 2013.

As the article correctly pointed out, Rensselaer has been transformed through the implementation of The Rensselaer Plan and President Jackson’s leadership. The vision of The Rensselaer Plan was realized during a difficult period in the world’s financial history. In addition, during this time frame, both unrestricted and total net assets of Rensselaer have been adversely affected by the necessity to continue to fund a legacy defined benefit retirement plan, established in 1944, and to honor Rensselaer’s commitment to our retirees and the remaining participants in the plan, which was closed to new employees in 1993. Defined benefit retirement plans are uncommon in higher education. The schools with which you compared Rensselaer do not have such plans. Exclusive of the impact of the defined benefit retirement plan, both unrestricted and total net assets would have been higher by $266 million respectively through fiscal year 2013.


Virginia C. Gregg

Vice President for Finance & Chief Financial Officer

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Special Pages

Comics - March 18, 2015

Events Calendar - March 18, 2015

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Critical violations identified at Commons, BARH

Sodexo addresses health violations

Health code violations were identified at eight of the nine dining locations inspected at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2014. Two of RPI’s dining facilities, Commons Dining Hall and Burdett Avenue Residence Hall’s dining hall, were identified as having one critical health code violation each.

“Canned foods found in poor condition [leakers, severe dents, rusty, swollen cans],” were found in Commons. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, dented or leaking cans can become contaminated. Some cans begin to swell after they become contaminated with bacteria. This swelling can be caused by pressure from gas produced by bacteria growing inside of the food. Sodexo’s District Manager, Maureen Brown, explained, “In this particular instance, the violation was a dented can.” The contents of damaged cans are not used in food production. Brown elaborated, “Dented cans are set aside and returned for credit. Our staff is trained to recognize spoiled or otherwise unsafe food. Food is inspected as it comes in the back door.” Receiving personnel check all products for dates, temperatures, damaged cans, and quality of produce. This violation has been corrected as of the most recent inspection on November 25, 2014.

The critical violation identified at BARH was described as “toxic chemicals are improperly labeled, stored or used so that contamination of food can occur.” According to Brown, an unopened box of Sterno, canned fuel used to heat chafing dishes, was left on a shelf with canned food. Upon notification of the violation, the box was promptly moved to a chemical storage closet. As of the most recent inspection on November 5, 2014, this violation has been corrected.

One non-critical violation described as “tobacco is used, eating drinking in food preparation, dishwashing food storage areas” was found at Blitman Dining Hall during an inspection in 2014. Matt Mueller, the general manager of Hospitality Services at RPI, explained that the violation was not for tobacco use, but a beverage placed in the food preparation station. “[Tobacco use on campus] is a violation of both our policy and RPI’s Tobacco Use Policy. Employees are documented if they smoke on campus,” Brown mentioned. “Employees go out to the sidewalk to smoke,” added Mueller.

Various health code violations were found at other campus food service locations. The most frequent violation was “wiping cloths dirty, not stored properly in sanitizing solutions,” which was identified at three campus locations. The Rensselaer Union, with three non-critical violations, received the most violations of any on-campus dining facility. No health code violations were identified at Sage Dining Hall during inspections in 2014.

Brown shared that Sodexo tries to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. An independent third-party auditor inspects the food facilities on an annual basis for food and health safety. According to Brown, “[RPI’s dining facilities] scored an average of 98.6 in food safety and an average of 99.1 in health safety.” Mueller added, “A few of our units scored above 100.” Sodexo’s managers and culinarians are ServSafe certified through the ServSafe Food Safety Training Program. “Certification lasts five years, but Sodexo employees are re-certified every three years, so we exceed that standard,” Mueller stated.

The results of RPI Hospitality Services’ health inspection results since 2005 can be found at

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Staff Editorial

Town Hall meeting will address Institute

This Thursday, March 12, from 1–2 pm, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will hold the spring edition of their Town Hall Meetings, hosted by President Shirley Ann Jackson. The objective of these meetings is to allow members of the RPI community to learn firsthand about recent and upcoming goings-on at the Institute. Specifically, the spring town meetings are often used as the venue to announce the upcoming academic year’s tuition increases and financial policies. In addition, Jackson will congratulate those that have won awards and those that will be honored during the year’s graduation ceremony. She also addresses new partnerships with other research and scientific centers, as well as the new numbers for the incoming class. After the presentation, there will be an opportunity for attendees to ask Jackson questions directly.

We, the staff of The Rensselaer Polytechnic, believe it is important, as students, faculty, staff, or members of the community in general, to remain informed about the Institute, whether about its financial state or major Institute plans. As such, it is important to attend the Town Hall meetings or at least follow them online. It is also your opportunity to ask the administration directly about the Institute. Other ways to remain informed about RPI are through, RPI’s media website, and, The Poly’s website.

The spring town meeting will be in the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center Main Theater, and refreshments will be provided following the event. The spring town meeting is one of Jackson’s annual speeches on the Institute.

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Fun Union After Dark with imperfections

CONTESTANTS COMPETE in the Vermonster eating contest on Saturday in the Rensselaer Union at Union After Dark. The night was filled with entertainment, music, games, and contests for all of the attendees to enjoy and spend the night doing.

This Friday, the Rensselaer Union hosted Union After Dark. The list of attractions seemed full, varied, and fun. A spaghetti tower competition, ice-cream eating contest, henna tattoos, and life-sized board games were just some of the items on the bill. There was also a full evening of performances, including three a cappella groups and several bands, and, of course, that great crowd favorite: free food. It promised to be a great evening. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite deliver on that promise.

There certainly was something of a crowd, especially in the McNeil Room where the live performances were taking place, and the entrance—where they had set out the food—was completely packed as the evening began. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the event could have been better hyped and advertised to draw more people. Many people I had asked to tag along to the event were totally unaware it was happening ‘till I mentioned it. Since many of the activities required a crowd’s energy to really be enjoyable, I felt more attention could have been given to this aspect. As the night went on, the crowd quickly thinned and the momentum of the whole event started to fizzle out. The food was mostly gone by 10 pm, and while this was two hours into the event, for something that’s supposed to last until 1 am, this was quite disappointing. Perhaps, in addition to the free food, they could have had some stalls selling food. The number of people at the Rathskeller and in Father’s Marketplace indicated that they probably would have done good business.

The individual activities could also have been made more prominent. Although there were a few posters listing the activities and room numbers, there were few people on the second floor where things like life-sized board games and henna were taking place. The signs were small and posted directly outside the rooms, so that some people had no idea what was going on in the less prominent rooms, like the spaghetti tower competition. On the subject of that competition, this seemed like a really fun event, but it finished quite early into the evening. Instead of leaving the room empty for the rest of the night, it could have been booked for something else, maybe even another round, because it seemed to be fairly popular. I saw many people intrigued by the sign, but disappointed because it was over. Considering a large number of people would not have shown up right at the start of the evening, this should have been anticipated. The arts and crafts room was out of everything but colored markers and construction paper by 10 pm, and the henna room—which was very difficult to find—was definitely done for the night by then, too. The materials for the life sized board games were just left in the rooms, and though many people seemed interested, nobody really started them off. They would probably have had more success if a few organizers had been leading them.

The music performances could also have been better arranged. Instead of having all three a cappella groups perform back-to-back, they could have been spaced throughout the night. An acoustic guitarist who wrote his own songs was extremely popular with the crowd. Unfortunately, this crowd consisted of thirty people, because the slot he was given was at 12:30 am. I couldn’t help but feel that he should have been put on earlier. It might also have been a good idea to use the McNeil Room as a dance floor and encourage more of a laid back, party atmosphere instead of putting chairs over the entire floor.

There were certainly high points during the evening. You could feel the energy in the room during the Vermonster ice-cream eating contest when all the participants and audience really got into it. The photo booth had several fun backgrounds to choose from and props, including Viking helmets, were also quite popular throughout the evening. However, overall, Union After Dark seemed to fizzle out fairly quickly and felt like a good idea executed poorly.

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