MEN’S HOCKEY

Engineers oust Clarkson in ECAC playoffs

JUNIOR FORWARD MILOS BUBELA SKATES through the defense in a game against Bentley University. Last weekend, the Engineers won their ECAC opening round playoff series against Clarkson.

After men’s hockey fell flat in game two of its best-of-three series at Clarkson University, they faced elimination in the series finale. Their response? Three goals in the first period to put the Golden Knights away early.

Friday night, the Engineers skated onto the ice at Cheel Arena to face the Clarkson Golden Knights in the first round of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, having not defeated Clarkson in the two most recent regular seasons. The game started slowly for the Engineer offense; through the first period, they managed just six shots on goal, all of which were saved by Clarkson goalie Greg Lewis. On the RPI side, junior goalie Jason Kasdorf made 12 saves in the opening period to keep the game scoreless.

Early in the second period, Clarkson right wing Pat Megannety started the scoring to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead. The Engineers responded quickly: with nine minutes gone by in the second period, junior forward Milos Bubela scored the tying goal, assisted by senior forward Zach Schroeder and senior defender Luke Curadi.

With 18:35 remaining, junior forward Mark Miller slipped the puck past Lewis, assisted by freshman defender Bradley Bell, to give the Engineers a 2-1 lead. After several Kasdorf saves allowed RPI to retain its slim lead, Bubela found the net again to put the Engineers up by two.

Following the third Rensselaer goal, Clarkson pulled Lewis to add an extra skater in hopes of scoring. The Engineers held the Golden Knights at bay until the 19:49 mark, when Clarkson center Brett Gervais scored. The goal wasn’t enough, though, as RPI held on for a 3-2 opening game victory.

The Golden Knights dominated game two, scoring at least once in the opening five minutes of every period. Kasdorf was pulled after saving 24 of 28 shots on goal through 40:26. In the post-game interview, Head Coach Seth Appert stated his reasoning for pulling Kasdorf: “It was a physical game, and I thought the officials were losing control of it, or lost control of it. And I just… save his legs, get him out of there, prevent anything unforeseen from happening because there were a lot of borderline plays out there.” Indeed, there were 16 penalties called, eight against each team, with nine of the penalties called in the third period. Throughout the game, each team committed two counts each of hitting after the whistle, and each team committed three counts each of roughing. Clarkson goalie Steve Perry stopped all 24 of the shots which came his way. Clarkson forward Joe Zarbo scored twice and two others potted a goal and an assist. The game ended with Clarkson winning 5-0.

RPI came out of the gates hot in game three. Miller scored with 7:45 gone by in the opening period, assisted by senior center Mark McGowan to give the Engineers the lead. Then, the Engineers won the faceoff and Schroeder scored to give Rensselaer a 2-0 lead after 20 seconds of play. The second goal was assisted by Bubela and freshman forward Viktor Liljegren.

Later in the first period, sophomore forward Jimmy DeVito scored a third Rensselaer goal, assisted by sophomore forwards Riley Bourbonnais and Jake Wood. Perry was pulled in favor of Lewis after saving just seven of the 10 shots that went on Clarkson’s net. In relief, Lewis saved all ten of the shots he faced.

After Clarkson pulled their goalie with 6:32 remaining in the third, Clarkson attempted 13 shots and stopped RPI from scoring an empty netter. With less than three minutes remaining in the game, Zarbo scored to put Clarkson on the board, but it was much too late. With 1:55 remaining in the game, Zarbo was called for tripping and subsequently stormed out of the arena, knowing that the penalty spelled the end of his team’s season. The game ended in a 3-1 victory for the Engineers. Kasdorf made a dramatic improvement from game two by stopping 33 of 34 shots under elimination game pressure.

By defeating Clarkson, the Engineers advance to face the ECAC Hockey No. 2 seeded St. Lawrence Saints in the quarterfinals of the ECAC tournament this weekend.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment
STUDENT SENATE

Constitution amendments added to GM Week ballot

Senate discusses proposed amendments

CONSTITUTION COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN NATE JAMES ’15 PRESENTS an amendment for the reorganization of the Undergraduate Council.

The 45th Student Senate met Thursday, March 5 and Monday, March 9 to discuss proposed constitution amendments. Before discussing the amendments, the Senate passed February 19 and February 26’s meeting minutes, and established queue rules for the current meeting. The bulk of the Senate’s meetings related to adding amendments to the constitution on the ballot for GM week.

Proposed amendment two relates to officers of the Union. Major changes include listing the chairman of the Judicial Board as an officer of the Union, allowing the Judicial Board to choose a new chairman from among its members should the chairman be removed, and allowing the Undergraduate Council President to only vote on the Undergraduate Council in the case of a tie. Shoshana Rubinstein ’16 motioned to separate the parts of the amendment concerning the Judicial Board. Her reasoning was because of concerns that it would be voted against solely because of Judicial Board changes and not because of opposition of the entire amendment. Judicial Board chairman Anthony Barbieri ’15 cleared up confusion, saying he contacted the individual concerned over the changes. That person was concerned that making the chairman an officer of the Union would bring him or her too close with the Grand Marshal. After Barbieri further explained the motion, the individual was no longer concerned. Michael Han ’16 motioned to split the amendment, which failed 4-11-5. The amendment was then voted on to appear on the ballot. It was passed 19-0-1.

Amendment three related to the Executive Board. Executive Board members would be referred to 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 http://poly.rpi.edu/s/wgt20. as “members of the Executive Board” rather than “the President of the Union’s Cabinet.” In addition, the Executive Board would have a minimum of 15 voting members, with five additional appointed at the discretion of the President of the Union. Friendly changes were made to the amendment before it passed 18-0-2.

Amendment four clarified the role of the Judicial Board and how members are appointed. New appointments will occur when a vacancy on the Judicial Board exists. New members can be nominated by the Judicial Board chairman, similar to how the President of the Union appoints members of the Executive Board. These appointments would still require a two-thirds approval by the Senate. Barbieri stated that these changes would help prevent the Judicial Board from becoming empty, as it has happened in the past. The motion passed 16-1-3.

Since the judicial procedures are defined in the Student Handbook, amendment five proposed to remove them from the constitution because they are redundant. Han asked what would happen if the procedures were removed from the handbook. Nathan James ’15 stated that the administration has complete power over that and there is nothing the Senate can do to prevent those changes. Rubinstein made the point that keeping the procedures in the Constitution would help keep individuals aware of the procedures. The motion failed to pass 11-6-3.

This was the end of the scheduled amendments, but since it was still early in the evening the Senate agreed to view the next scheduled amendment. There was a short recess before discussion of amendment six about the council system began. The amendment states that the Undergraduate Council would consist of a president and vice president from each council. The president of the Undergraduate Council would be voted on by the students. James stated that currently the Undergraduate Council has little power. This amendment would give them some jurisdiction and help them gain more experience for the class council. There were two motions to amend who could represent either the president or vice president in their absence, however both motions were voted down. The amendment was then voted on as it had first been presented, passing 19-0-1.

The Senate reconvened Monday, March 9. The next amendment up for discussion was changes to the Greek system. The amendment states that the Senate no longer has to approve changes to the Interfraternity Council or Panhellenic Association constitutions, the Judicial Board can no longer rule their actions unconstitutional, and Greek senators are to be voted for by the Greek constituency. Jenna Freedberg ’18 wondered what would happen if a Greek house were to become a “superpower.” Barbieri stated that it could happen, but since they are the majority vote there is no way to change who is voted in. The vote on Greek amendments passed 20-0-2.

Paul Ilori ’17 presented to the Senate on petition and the referendum handbook. There was discussion on Senate bylaws amendments. Ilori then presented on changes to the GM Week Handbook. Rules and Elections will give an information session to go over rules and guidelines. Being closing, the Senate approved the minutes of the meetings on February 5, 12, and March 5.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK

Exercising stress relief

There are no debates about it; life at RPI is stressful. There are never-ending assignments and projects, ever-approaching exam dates, and the extremely nervewracking finals week. On top of all this, we have to balance this work with our social lives, personal time, jobs, family life, sports, and a myriad of other things. It is hard at times to find the balance between it all, and the challenge certainly doesn’t go away as we grow older. So how are we supposed to deal with this? I have seen people come up with numerous possible solutions. Some people find relaxation by having a night or two off every once in a while to socialize or go out. Others find solitude and peace by taking it easy for a few hours. But the solution that has worked the best for myself has been just a single word: exercise. Exercise provides the break from schoolwork and the personal boost that I need to make my days varied and to keep me motivated.

You hear it over and over again. The tabloids and shoddily made “Improve Your Life in 20 Minutes!” articles always say to exercise a little bit each day. Yes, that would be helpful; we all know this. But how can we have time for that? How does including more stuff to do help de-stress the situation? To be fair, it makes sense that trying to incorporate a workout into your schedule a few times a week could be seen as stressful. But the problem with this perspective is that exercise shouldn’t be a task. The goal is to view exercise as a fun break from work and a chance to get loose; a time to avoid worrying about other things during the day. If I take a break to play a game or to just relax, it’s hard for me to focus on just the thing in front of me. I constantly find myself thinking about what I need to do that night or tomorrow or even next week. The great thing about exercise is that it involves the entirety of your body and your full attention. For that time you’re working out, you can truly take a break from it all.

Perhaps with a gym buddy, finding a few times a week to hit the gym could be a manageable task. And despite the time that it takes, I find myself getting even more done with my day. If I do nothing but study or homework all day, I end up in a rut. It’s extremely hard to focus for hours on end. It just doesn’t work for me. If I can head out to do a workout with a friend or two at any point during the day, I find myself more productive during my study sessions. I wind up getting more done just because I feel healthier and more focused.

In the end, we all have different techniques that we use to alleviate stress and have some fun. Some techniques work for some people and then not for others. It’s all about finding what works for you. But in my experience, nothing helps to level out my day more than a nice workout. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, I highly recommend you do so. Good luck!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment
ALBUM REVIEW

Purity Ring enhances music genre

EDM DUO PURITY RING RELEASED their newest album , Another Eternity , to critical acclaim.

When the electronic music genre exploded with popularity, many artists shifted their specific focus within the genre to match the general trends of popularity. For example, Skrillex, who began with his unique style of the dubstep subgenre that was wildly popular with the underground fans, has primarily shifted his music to the popular trap style seen at music festivals and parties. However, this does not hold true for all electronic groups. With Another Eternity, Purity Ring proves that there still is appeal and potential for change in the electronic music genre.

It may be safe to say that this album is also pushing the boundaries on new takes of electronic music. The album contains songs that diversely range in pitch, tone, and beats per minute, while still giving off an introspective and thoughtful vibe. Every song also includes serene vocals, which contribute to the sense of clarity and calmness that permeate the songs. Finally, contrary to many songs found in the genre, the album does not consist of sudden changes in tone, which makes it a great candidate for easy listening.

Purity Ring, a Canadian electronic music duo consisting of Megan James and Corin Roddick, has been producing electronic music together since 2010, and the song quality, I believe, has continuously improved while the uniqueness of the duo’s style has been preserved quite effectively. Furthermore, in comparison to their first studio album, Shrines, Another Eternity has received more attention and has received higher reviews.

Regardless of any notion a person may have about electronic music, I would strongly recommend listening to the album. Alternatively, at the very minimum, listen to the first single released from the album, “begin again,” as I believe this song captures just enough of the album’s tone to understand the essence. Overall, I feel that this album is a great contribution to the electronic genre and I look forward to seeing what the duo produces next.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment
WOMEN’S LACROSSE

Rensselaer wins in cold home opener

GRADUATE MIDFIELDER MEG COLITZ PASSES two Red Dragon defenders in a game against Oneonta last Thursday. The Engineers scored nine consecutive goals en route to a 12-8 victory at Renwyck Field.

After losing a close game last Tuesday at Williams College, women’s lacrosse returned home to host State University of New York Oneonta on Thursday afternoon. The game started out close, with the two teams matching goals in the first 15 minutes. Then, the Engineers changed gears on the Red Dragons, scoring nine unanswered goals to blow the game open. However, they lost the momentum midway through the second half, allowing Oneonta to score four consecutive goals of their own to bring the score to 11-7. It was too little, too late, though. After 60 minutes, Rensselaer had won, 12-8.

12 seconds into the game, RPI senior midfielder Erin Riley caught Red Dragon goalie Autumn Moore off guard, and scored to give the home team a 1-0 lead. Then, Oneonta attack Catherine Clark scored twice in the next six minutes to give the Red Dragons a 2-1 lead. Quickly, RPI graduate midfielder Meg Colitz responded with a goal of her own to tie the score.

Eight minutes later, after another Oneonta goal, Riley scored her second goal of the afternoon to once again tie the score. Then, the Engineers took their second lead of the game and expanded it during a nearly 17-minute span that extended into the second half. Of the eight additional goals scored, Colitz scored three of them, while three others, freshman attack Allison Claroni, freshman midfielder Morgan Doyle, and junior attack Erin DeLucca all scored their first goals of the season.

Then, during another 17-minute stretch, Oneonta slowed down the Engineer attack, and passed four shots by RPI senior goalie Erin Amarello to trim the Rensselaer lead to four with 4:47 remaining. Then, junior midfielder Mackenzie O’Neil stemmed the Oneonta tide, scoring unassisted with 4:04 left to play.

The Engineers recorded their first win of the season on Thursday, improving to a record of 1-1. Amarello outplayed her counterpart Moore, saving 12 of the 20 shots which came her way to earn the victory.

Next up for Rensselaer is a road trip to 1-1 Middlebury College today at 5 pm, followed by a home game versus Babson College on Saturday at noon.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment
WORLD NEWS

Russian politician killed

The killing of the 55 year-old former Russian deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov on February 27 has raised concern for the nature of democratic freedoms in Russia among Nemtsov’s allies. The deceased was also a physicist and a liberal politician who played an integral role in the introduction of capitalism into Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since 2000, Nemtsov has been a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration. In 2010, for example, Nemtsov and other opposition leaders were arrested for participating in a rally against government restrictions on public protests.

Nemtsov’s death took place on a bridge in a monitored area near the Kremlin where he was shot five times in the back. His girlfriend, who was walking with him at the time, was unharmed and is currently under protection in Ukraine. Associates of Nemtsov cite the long response time for authorities to arrive at the relevant crime scene as grounds for suspicion of foul play.

Having called Nemtsov’s death a shameful tragedy, Putin has advocated for a thorough investigation into Nemtsov’s murder. Two suspects, Anzor Kubashev and Zaur Dadayev, have been detained for their suspected involvement in Nemtsov’s death. Russian state media has reported that the two men were ethnic Chechens from the Caucasus, which is a region with economic troubles. Investigations by authorities in the high-profile assassinations in the past, however, have revealed that hitmen are often hired from the Caucasus. Russian authorities have released several theories pertaining to the motives for the murder. One theory from authorities connects Islamic extremism and Nemtsov’s condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, making retribution a possible motive for the two detainees. In contrast, the Russian opposition community claims Nemtsov’s political activities and their consequent friction with the government as a reason for the assassination.

Prior to his death, Nemtsov is reported to have been close to releasing the details of an investigation of the Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine. Nemtsov was also an organizer for a demonstration march for fair elections and the end of involvement with Ukraine and its current crisis. Popular opinion in the liberal opposition is that Nemtsov’s death was beneficial to the Kremlin. In honor of Nemtsov’s death, thousands of Russians have participated in a protest march in central Moscow. Despite the high turnout, support for Putin remains at a record high; Putin has an approval rating of 86 percent. The investigation into Boris Nemtsov’s death is in its infancy and ongoing.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Winter drive in first gear

It’s been over six weeks since I’ve driven a car, and it’s making me a little crazy. If you know me and you have a car, I’ve probably mentioned the fact I’ll pay you to drive your car for even just five minutes. Driving is an exhilarating experience every time I hop in and go. Older folks might say it becomes such a part of their everyday lives that they begin to not appreciate the fun bestowed in every single driving experience. But for an 18 year-old who hasn’t driven in a while, driving is going to be extremely fun once I’m back on the roads over Spring Break.

I just want to use this space in my favorite newspaper to share a few of my driving stories. The most recent one was when that awful ice storm hit the Northeast during Winter Break. I walked outside and realized it was a bit slippery, but continued to walk down the sidewalk out of my house to my dad’s pickup truck, strapped in, and went down my road. I took the first turn very slowly, and thought to myself this isn’t too bad, until I reached the first major four-way intersection, turned left, and went up on the curb. I was scared but didn’t panic. A huge traveling tour bus was behind me, coming closer, yet it stopped until I was able to gas the truck just enough to put me back onto the road. Moving 10 mph, I turned around and headed back home. Even though the warm weather is approaching us, be careful still of black ice, as the melted water from the snow may freeze over on any given night.

At that same intersection a few months earlier, I had been waiting in my mom’s Ford Expedition at the red light. I looked both ways quickly to make sure no incoming traffic was coming after the light had turned green. I gradually stepped on the gas, as a Jeep Wrangler coming full speed perpendicular to my direction passed before my eyes. Thankfully, I was not hit, but I was shaken up a bit. I continued on, completely distraught. A lesson I learned from this occurrence is to make sure to thoroughly look in all directions when you have the right-of-way to go. Who cares if the person behind you beeps? You’re keeping yourself safe, any passengers in the car safe, and even the people behind you safe, too. Another take-away is to not be that guy to fly through a light just as it’s changed to red. There’s no need to rush; another second or two will not make you late to where ever you have to go.

On a different note, over Winter Break, I just had come out of an ice cream shop and I got into that same pickup truck with my sister and friend. A police car was parked next to us, and the policeman had paused in front of my truck to wait to go into his, since our vehicles were very close to each other. I put the truck in reverse, and then there I was, almost hitting a police officer in front of me. Yes, I had the truck in reverse but went forward. I slammed on the brake, if I hadn’t, that would not have been good. This weird scenario doesn’t usually happen, but you never know; just be cautious of your surroundings, and if you’re driving an older vehicle, make sure to fully put it into in the right gear.

Driving is a fun experience for us college students, but to make it an even better experience, use caution and safety. Never freak out, stay calm. Have your phone on you just in case of any emergencies; however, never text and drive—you can most likely anticipate what the text you’re expecting is going to read. As students, let’s work hard and we’re all likely to be rewarded with driving when we go back home in two weeks!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment
ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Getting started: student’s guide to business

As most of us were working our way through junior year of high school, we concerned ourselves with scoring high on the SAT and educating ourselves about potential colleges to attend. In addition to these things, Timmy Oh ’17 had something else on his mind. The result of a small project, Oh conceptualized a firearm safety device that would change lives.

Currently a mechanical engineering/design, innovation and society sophomore, Oh has turned this concept into a business, BASE-Lock. In his freshman year, he submitted over five ideas to the Change the World Challenge and, of those, his gun lock idea was selected and he won $1,000. Advised by the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, he pursued his idea, competing in the 2014 Rensselaer Business Model Competition. Of all the entrants, he placed third and appeared on an upward trajectory. Reality has a fun way of changing expectations, though. When Oh tested his idea with potential customers, no one seemed to take to it. It was at this time, he realized that he needed to make a change (or in business terms, pivot) and tinker with his idea more.

Over the course of the next year, Oh looked to his home state and reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department. With real market insight and materials tested under the guidance of the LAPD, he arrived at his current product, a smart technology device aimed at bringing firearm safety to the home through a one-step unlocking feature which allows a bullet to be chambered at all times. Thanks to this innovation, the device allows fast access to a ready firearm while being safe and secure. Working closely with the department, the device became recognized as an official project by the LAPD. In addition to this boost, Oh received a $10,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation as a Phase 1 innovator. From there, the Foundation invited him to the Nexus Summit in Washington, D.C. in December 2014. Returning to campus this January, he entered the 2015 Rensselaer Business Model Competition. This time, however, he won over the judging panel with his customer discovery and market validation, winning $8,000 and first place.

Through the RPIBMC, Oh learned the importance of customer feedback, emphasizing how keeping in touch with end users allows for more realistic and applicable designs. With reference to customer feedback, Oh said that a common misconception among new entrepreneurs is that their idea is good without testing the market; by going out and testing it, you find out if it’s actually good. Oh cited the Severino Center as the organization that presented this whole developmental process to him. The Center provided backing and support as well as showing the possibilities that he could take the idea to, said Oh, “The Severino [Center] definitely helped a lot.”

To future entrepreneurs, Oh stresses that the business growth process is not an individual effort. Despite him working on BASE-Lock alone, he made sure to note that numerous support systems had been of assistance along the way. In short, “expand your circle,” said Oh.

To find out more about the Severino Center and the Rensselaer Business Model Competition, visit: https://scte.rpi.edu.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

E-Board hears juggling, model railroad proposals

Opening at 8 pm in Union 3606, the March 11 Executive Board meeting consisted of two club proposals, followed by closed discussion. First, RPI Juggling Club requested a re-appropriation of $200 within their active budget to allow for equipment procurement. The Rensselaer Model Railroad Society then requested a $5,000 grant to create an additional entrance on Davison Hall to allow access to the club’s operating area in Davison’s basement.

The first motion of the evening was presented by Alison Lanzi ’15, president of the RPI Juggling Club. The proposal requested a transfer of $200 from the club’s performances on campus budget line to the replacing faulty and old equipment line, which previously consisted of $100, in order to purchase additional juggling equipment. The primary reason Lanzi cited for needing new equipment was a sharp increase in both membership and member ability, as there is a direct correlation from juggling skill to number of items juggled.

Additionally, Andrew Sudano ’17, the club’s representative on the E-Board, mentioned that the existing equipment is aging and will begin to present a health and safety risk when used. Following a slight rewording to prevent ambiguity, the motion passed unanimously with a vote of 12-0-0. After, Steven Allard, director of the Mueller Center, programs, and club sports, mentioned that transfer requests not exceeding $500 can be decided by the President of the Union without requiring a vote by the E-Board.

After the completion of discussion on the juggling club’s proposal, the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society, presented by graduate student Joshua Plottel, Aaron Brooks ’16, and Christopher Vigorito ’18, brought forth a proposal believed to be vital for the continued existence of the club. The extensive display maintained by Model Railroad exists in the basement of Davison Hall. As a result of increased security measures in the residence halls at the end of last semester in which non-residents were barred from entering dorms which they did not reside in, Model Railroad lost the ability to access and display their work.

After working with Vice President for Administration Claude Rounds and Allard, the solution reached was to install a new exterior door on Davison Hall entering into the northwest stairwell. A card reader will exclusively allow for club members to enter and exit their club area through the stairwell. An alarmed crash bar will allow for emergency exit from the existing door, as well as a similar capacity installed on the southern exit from the club space. Model Railroad was granted $10,000 from administrative budgets to fund this project, conditional on a $5,000 grant from the E-Board. Additional to allowing the club access to their facility, the construction of the door was touted to greatly increase visibility of the club and its facility to the student body, potentially increasing membership and appreciation of the display. The motion before the E-Board was to appropriate $5,000 from the then-$21,171 club contingencies fund toward the completion of this project. The motion passed 12-0-0.

Following the vote on the railroad proposal, President of the Union Erin Amarello ’15 declared the remainder of the meeting as closed, which required all non-members of the E-Board to leave the meeting. No motions were passed following the closure of the meeting.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
TOP HAT

RPI Petitions website encourages discussion

This week marks the end of a particularly arduous process for the Student Senate, as six of eight Rensselaer Union Constitution amendments have now been approved for a general student vote during GM Week 2015. As we wrap up the Constitution process on Thursday, pending our final votes, we will also be opening a new and exciting approach to student leadership that I, and my many friends and colleagues in the Student Senate, believe is a crucial next step to extending our collaborative relationship with RPI administration to a broader student populace.

On Monday, in its extra general body meeting, the Senate approved a bylaw amendment establishing a more accessible process to address and implement student petitions. On Thursday, the Senate will be examining a ruleset defined by the Rules and Elections Committee for moderation of that process, and voting to approve final rollout details for RPI Petitions. This new website encourages the development of student-driven petitions, with the intent of encouraging a broader population to engage in the student leadership process and becoming involved in campus discussions.

RPI Petitions has been a personal project of mine this year, proudly developed by Gabe Perez ’16 and the Web Technologies Group in conjunction with Paul Ilori ’17 and the Rules and Elections Committee. Each of the Student Government members involved in this process has been crucial to developing our site in preparation for release.However, it didn’t start here—RPI Petitions began as a branch site derived from Rochester Institute of Technology’s open-source PawPrints application.

Developing our site has been a cross-school collaborative project, as I have conferenced with RIT’s Grand Marshal equivalent—Student Government President Ashley Carrington—on a weekly basis. This collaboration with passionate student leaders from an entirely different university has been a rare and valuable experience; Ashley’s professionalism and virtue are truly admirable, and her drive for open-source software strikingly progressive. As our terms begin to wind to a close, I’m very thankful to have had the chance to work with her and her talented student team.

As currently drafted, any RPI student may petition through the RPI Petitions portal, or sign existing petitions. These petitions will be posted instantly but are subject to moderation rules as defined by R&E and approved by the Student Senate. The ultimate goal of this process is to expand the opportunities that exist for student input and to concurrently strengthen our collaborative ties with RPI administration. Thus, such rules include prohibiting inflammatory language or personal attacks, for example, and allow R&E to defer petitions to other organizations when necessary and appropriate.

Should any petition reach a threshold of 250 signatures within one full year of its original posting, it will be brought to the floor of the Student Senate, where the Senate may take a number of courses of action in response, ranging from assigning a senator to work with the petition, to deferring the matter to a direct student vote. Students creating and leading petition efforts will be given numerous opportunities to connect with Student Government, and if deemed appropriate, the Senate will lend support to their issue and help them connect directly with relevant administrators in a productive environment. Of course, a petition will not guarantee change—the RPI administration controls most policies and changes that directly affect the campus community. However, petitioning the Senate is a fantastic opportunity for you to show support for specific issues, to raise awareness of your concerns, and for the Senate to help you make the appropriate administrative connections to learn more.

These rules are not yet set in stone, as the final Petitions and Referendum Handbook is up for a Senate vote on March 12, and details may change before that time. The rollout of the site will occur following the final vote on its adoption, at a time specified by the Senate. If you have any questions or are eager to start a petition of your own, please email me at gm@rpi.edu.

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment
ART REVIEW

Abstract soul, art displayed in gallery

Shelnutt Gallery opens exhibit with

Since the beginning of February, the Shelnutt Gallery has been open to a great new exhibit featuring two great artists in honor of black history month. The Art and Soul Abstractions gallery is co-sponsored by the Black Students’ Alliance and presents some works of artists Lamerol Gatewood and Reginald Madison.

I was not aware of these artists or their works prior to my viewing of their work in the gallery, and I think you would be hard pressed to have seen works like this before. Lamerol Gatewood’s pieces are collages of various pieces painted or drawn using different mediums, then cut and layered together in an unconventional shape with contrasting patterns and colors in a very interesting way. The way the works are hung is reminiscent of clouds, since the pieces are held up by a few wires rather than a frame, allowing them to free float in a way that I’ve never seen.

Reginald Madison’s works are similar to Gatewood’s in that they are also unconventional. In a small blurb regarding Madison, I read that he was a crane operator in Chicago and spent some time sketching the city from his cab, which I can see relates to his work immensely. He uses intense texturing and coloring to truly make the canvas pop, and while there is this intense depth, the piece still feels small and contained, like watching a city from up high. I also liked the choice of frames the artist used for each work. They seemed like refuse or old junked pieces, but it made each work a little more special in having a specially chosen frame.

The Shelnutt Gallery has a great exhibit that is still open until the end of March and is worth checking out. It highlights some great artists who are also incredibly influential in the contemporary world of black artists. The exhibit is on the third floor of the Union and is open to viewing whenever the room is not in use, and I would highly recommend giving it a tour.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment
DERBY

PU covers RPI athletics, upcoming events, NRB

Hey RPI, so, exciting news, I saw some grass today. It seems the weather is finally warming up a little, and even though I wouldn’t say it is technically warm outside, I am already seeing students in shorts and t-shirts. Soon we will be on Spring Break, but before that, we must conquer midterms, homework assignments, and projects. So if you need a break this weekend, or if you need something to look forward to, there are some awesome things happening on campus. On Wednesday, if you are over 21, we have another painting session at the Clubhouse Pub from 7–9 pm. This month’s theme is “Walking in the Rain.” This weekend, our very own Rensselaer Science Fiction Association is hosting Genericon XXVIII, an annual event which has been a centerpiece of the Capitol District culture since 1985. This event is heavily attended every year by RPI students and non-RPI students alike to celebrate and promote science fiction, Japanese animation, and gaming. The weekend always fills the campus with excitement and events. Every year, the detail and creativity that goes into the costumes of the participants amazes me, and I can’t wait to see what the RSFA is going to do with it this year.

In the athletic arena, congratulations are in order. Our men’s track and field team finished 10th out of 55 schools in the 2015 Eastern College Athletic Conference Indoor Championship. We also have two Freshmen swimmers, Shanny Lin ‘18 and Danielle Suave ‘18, who have earned the right to represent Rensselaer in the 2015 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championship from March 18-21. We wish them the best of luck! Our men’s hockey team beat Clarkson University in their three game series last weekend and they will advance to the ECAC quarterfinals this weekend against Saint Lawrence University. Although the team is playing away, the series can be heard live on our very own WRPI radio station 91.5 FM, starting Friday at 7 pm, and our Red Army may be traveling to support our men in their post season competition.

Looking a little further into the future on the Union event side of things, the Union Performance and Activities Committee Concerts and the 125th Anniversary Committee will be hosting a concert on Thursday April 30 at 8 pm up in the Houston Field House. They will proudly present MS MR with special guests: Titanics and Bells Roar. The tickets are now available for purchase until the night of the show or until tickets run out. Students may purchase a ticket for themselves and for a guest at $18 dollars each.

If you are a club officer and you would like your club to host a two hour program in Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond next year for the incoming freshman class on August 28 and 29, the call for programs is open until April 17. For more information, please contact the Office of the First Year Experience.

Lastly, for anyone interested in participating in the Grand Marshal Week 2015 Elections, on March 18, candidates may declare their candidacy and begin collecting signatures to get their names on the ballot for the 2015 elections. If anyone is interested in running for a position, please don’t be shy about reaching out to those currently serving in that roll. I am more than happy to talk to any President of the Union candidates about campaigning, their platforms, and the time commitment required for the position. It is an honor and an adventure to participate in Student Government at any level here at Rensselaer, and I promise you will learn a lot and grow as a person in such incredible leadership roles. Take advantage of the opportunity to get involved and make a difference at this wonderful place we call home.

As always, I am available to chat via email at pu@rpi.edu, I will be at my office hours every Wednesday from 8:30–10:30 am, and I can always set up another time to meet if that doesn’t work for you. Hope to see you there. Have a wonderful week!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment
SHOW REVIEW

“Color Out of Space” brought to earth on EMPAC

IMAGES OF THE MOON AND STARS PROJECT onto the 8th Street façade of EMPAC the next four Saturdays at 8 pm.

For the next three weeks, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center will have its Downtown Troy-facing exterior lit up by images of the moon, stars, and galaxies. At 8 pm on Saturday, the two-part EMPAC commissioned piece, “The Color Out of Space,” by Rosa Barba debuted its first of four showings. The first part of the exposition features a 35-minute film projected onto EMPAC’s 8th Street façade and is paired with a live stream of a collage featuring world astronomers and artists. The second part of the collaboration is the White Museum, an installation of a 70 mm film projector powered by a 5,000 watt bulb which is shot out of the dome of the Hirsch Observatory on the roof of the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center.

In order to find the main event of the piece, you need to find a way down to the bottom of EMPAC. Once there, be sure to cross the street and turn to look at the front of the building in order to find the large-scale projection. This past Saturday, although the weather was chilly, a good number of people turned out for the debut. In order to fully experience the artwork, you’ll need to open the live stream of the audio. The audio was very soothing and thought provoking, speaking of space and how you can visualize it. A line that stood out to me from the show was one that anyone who has taken a basic chemistry or physics class will know, “Matter did not rise out of nothingness and shall not return to it.” The astronomers delve into the idea of the infinite of space and its implications on our viewing the stars. This more philosophical narrative was coupled with the projection of telescopic images of our moon, surrounding stars, and nearby galaxies in stunningly beautiful detail. The images were haunting in appearance and very compelling.

In addition to the projection, the Hirsch Observatory had an older projector that beamed white light back into the sky. The idea is that instead of the usual light being projected form the sky to us, we are projecting light into the sky, like a star. These two parts made up the full installation and made for an interesting night on the west side of campus. Overall, the haunting projection and the light-hearted “White Museum” were well-done, beautiful, and thought provoking. I would highly recommend attending one of the next three showings, with the observatory opening at 7:30 pm on Saturday and the projection beginning at 8 pm.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment
EXTENDED REPORT

Uncovering Rensselaer’s finances

An analysis of 15 years of policy and how RPI fares against its competitors

Since the turn of the new millennium, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been changed through the implementation of President Shirley Ann Jackson’s The Rensselaer Plan. Under The Plan, major campus construction, such as the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and the East Campus Athletic Village, have been completed. Additionally, hundreds of new staff have been hired to work at the Institute, including researchers, administrators, and professors. Major changes like these have been implemented with the intention of bringing Rensselaer to further prominence in the higher education community. With these changes have come increased costs that had not been previously handled by the Institute. As it is registered as a non-profit organization, Rensselaer’s tax returns, in the form of Internal Revenue Service Form 990, are published each fiscal year and are required to be made available to the general public for inspection. This article will look to analyze trends in Rensselaer’s finances since 1999, and then compare them to those of similar research universities operating at a similar scale.

We have chosen three research universities with similar characteristics to RPI to be used in this analysis as benchmarks when comparing Rensselaer’s financial data. These universities are also non-profit organizations and must file their tax returns as Form 990. The schools we compared are Lehigh University, which is nearly identical to Rensselaer in terms of its operational budget; Rochester Institute of Technology, which operates on a slightly larger scale than RPI, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which operates on a smaller scale than RPI. All four of the institutions to be analyzed were founded in the 19th century. To give distinct reference points on the similarities of the universities, Rensselaer operated at a 13-year average total revenue of $374.7 million from 1999 to 2013. Comparatively, Lehigh operated at an average of $368.3 million, RIT operated at an average of $476.3 million, and WPI at an average of $170.5 million.

At the end of the 1999–2000 fiscal year, RPI had net assets which totaled $929.7 million. 13 years later, at the conclusion of the 2012–13 fiscal year, this number was $414.8 million, a decrease of 55 percent. Comparatively, in these 13 years, Lehigh, RIT, and WPI all increased their net assets, with changes of 42 percent, 25 percent, and 10 percent, respectively.

One cause for the loss of net assets may be that, according to our analysis, the Institute has ended nine out of the last 13 years with an operational deficit. In this analysis, operational surpluses or deficits are defined as the value in Part 1 of Form 990, on line 19 “Revenue Less Expenses” of the current form. The six most recent years had operational deficits leading up to the most recently reported deficit of fiscal year 2012–13, which was $18.1 million. Over these six years, the yearly deficit peaked at $83.2 million in 2010–11 and has totaled a loss of $253.6 million since the 2007–08 fiscal year. Before the streak of deficits, there had been a pattern of alternating sets of years with deficits and sets of years resulting in strong surpluses. Overall, from fiscal year 2000–01 through the most recently available data, Rensselaer brought in a total surplus of $15.2 million. Since fiscal year 2000–01, WPI has generated a similar total to RPI at $16.2 million. The same is not the case for RIT, whose operational surplus totals $174.5 million. Even further still, Lehigh University’s surplus totals $476.4 million. During these six years of consecutive deficits which have occurred at Rensselaer, WPI produced a total deficit of $3 million, while RIT and Lehigh generated net surpluses of $141.8 million and $216.5 million, respectively.

The newest, most expensive construction project that came to the Rensselaer campus in the 13 year period was EMPAC. It was originally announced on July 5, 2001, with a planned construction cost of $50 million and an expected opening date in Fall 2003. However, by the time ground was broken on the project in September of 2003, the revised construction cost became $141 million, and EMPAC was expected to be ready for opening in 2006. Neither of these plans were achieved, with EMPAC finally holding its grand opening in October 2008, with a reported cost that exceeded $200 million. The construction of EMPAC, along with the previously mentioned CBIS and ECAV, was planned to be funded by donations received through the Capital Campaign, which the Institute ran throughout the decade. Its total fundraising goal was $1 billion.

As a result of these multimillion dollar facilities being constructed, Rensselaer’s debt load began to increase as well. At the conclusion of fiscal year 1999–2000, the Institute’s total liabilities were $201.6 million, with the large majority of this made up by the $135.7 million in Mortgages and Other Notes Payable (1999–2000 Form 990, Part IV, Line 66b), which they held at the time. During that fiscal year, RPI had zero reported debt in the form of tax-exempt bonds. The first large spike in debt occurred in fiscal year 2001–02 with the Mortgages and Other Notes Payable value increasing to $321 million from the previous year’s $130.7 million. Next, in fiscal year 2005–06, the amount, which had remained fairly stable in the previous three years, jumped to $441.3 million. Starting in fiscal year 2007–08, the same year which EMPAC held its grand opening and the streak of operational deficits began, RPI began carrying tax-exempt bond liabilities along with the previous debt, which was now classified as Unsecured Notes and Loans Payable on the then-newly revised version of the Form 990. In the eight years since fiscal year 1999–2000, RPI’s total liabilities had reached $825.5 million, a 310 percent increase. A majority of this was made up of the new $249.3 million of tax-exempt bond debt, combined with the $396.6 million of unsecured notes and loans payable.

When Rensselaer first announced that they would be issuing bonds to help finance EMPAC, Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Virginia Gregg reported that the planned amount to be issued would be $160 million through 2007. Upon this announcement in February 2006, Moody’s Investors Service, a credit rating agency, dropped RPI’s bond rating from A1 to A2. The rating today is A3 with a negative outlook.

Two years after the initial bond debt, in fiscal year 2009–10, the tax-exempt bond liabilities nearly doubled, reaching a new total of $495.7 million. It appears that a large amount of the other debt held in the Form 990 category of Unsecured Notes and Loans Payable was issued in the form of additional bonds, as that entry was decreased to $273.6 million following the previous year’s $452.3 million. This tax-exempt bond debt is explained in detail in Schedule K for the Form 990s, entitled Supplemental Information on Tax Exempt Bonds. The bonds have been issued by two separate organizations: the City of Troy Capital Resource Corporation, which, as of the most recently available form, still holds $357 million in bonds, and the remainder, held by Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency, totaling $64 million. All of the proceeds from these bonds are reported to have been spent. The City of Troy Capital Resource Corporation is directly affiliated with the city itself, and appears to, at this time, exist solely to manage the two sets of bonds it has issued for RPI. From its financial reports, it can be found that the corporation issued the first set of bonds in April of 2010 at a total issue price of $311.6 million and carrying a variable interest rate. As of December 31, 2013, none of these funds had been repaid. The bonds reach final maturation in September 2040. A second, smaller set of bonds were issued in June 2010, totaling $47.2 million. These have been paid down to a debt of $44.6 million, carry a set interest rate of three percent, and reach final maturation in September 2021. A further detailed financial report for the corporation can be found on the city’s website.

To gain further perspective on RPI’s debt load, total liabilities sit at $1.01 billion, as of the most recently available data, from FY 2012–13. Lehigh University holds total liabilities of $390.6 million, (57 percent of which are tax-exempt bonds), RIT’s total liabilities are $543.8 million, (55 percent of which are tax-exempt bonds), and WPI’s total liabilities are $308.4 million, (73 percent of which are tax-exempt bonds.)

Because of Rensselaer’s increased debt load, throughout the decade, more and more of its net assets have become restricted. This means that the restricted portion of money is not available for everyday expenses, as it is withheld to cover outstanding liabilities. Since fiscal year 2010–11, the Institute’s unrestricted net assets have been negative—as of the most recently available data standing at (-)$89.7 million. This figure states that an organization is legally unable to spend their assets in any way of their choosing. Lehigh, RIT, and WPI each have unrestricted net assets of $733.6 million, $701.5 million, and $256.3 million, respectively, for fiscal year 2012–13.

Rensselaer consistently ranks as one of the top universities in the U.S. However, the rankings have remained fairly stagnant in the last several years, with the exception of the 2012 US News and World Report ranking which was 50th in the nation, the publication has given RPI a ranking of either 41 or 42 since 2008. For further historical data on RPI’s ranking, it held 39 in 1997 before fully dropping out of the top 50 in 2001. After returning to 49th in 2002, the Institute then gained a place or two each year before reaching 42nd in 2007.

In addition to top college rankings, Rensselaer also often ranks as having one of the highest tuitions. Ranking in at 17th on Business Insider’s most recent “America’s REAL Most Expensive Colleges” list. For the 2000–01 academic year, base tuition at RPI was $22,956. Over the next 12 years, tuition increased each successive year at an average of 4.99 percent, leading to a tuition of $43,350 for 2012–13. This is a total increase of 88.84 percent.

At any institution of higher education, tuition and fees for other services paid for by students make up a large portion of the organization’s revenue. From fiscal years 2000–01 to 2007–08, the average percentage revenue contribution for tuition and fees was 53 percent, with only a single year exceeding 60 percent. Since fiscal year 2008–09 to the present, the average is 66 percent, with all years exceeding 60 percent. This trend is in contrary to a Rensselaer Plan goal set out in May 2002, by Gregg. The implementation of The Plan, according to Gregg, would eventually allow for revenue at Rensselaer to be split into three equal sectors of 33 percent, representing tuition, research, and “all other revenue.” For some comparison, Lehigh’s tuition and fees contribution percentage hovers between 45 and 60 percent, while RIT’s runs between 50 and 65 percent, and WPI’s numbers have been varied over the 13–year analysis period, coming in as low as 46 percent and as high as 81 percent.

While tuition at all four institutions has increased at a fairly similar rate, the total revenue that RPI brought in has increased at a far slower rate than its own tuition has risen and when compared with the competitor schools. (For RPI, Lehigh, RIT, and WPI respectively, the 2000–01 tuitions were $22,956, $23,210, $18,252.00, and $23,262.00. While the 2012–13 tuitions were $43,350, $41,920, $32,784, and $41,380.) Total revenue has only increased 34.72 percent when comparing fiscal years 2012–13 with 1999–2000, but tuition has increased 88.84 percent in that same span. Lehigh’s increases for total revenue and tuition respectively are 80.61 percent and 55.02 percent, while RIT’s are 79.62 percent and 95.13 percent and finally WPI’s are 77.89 percent and 174.41 percent.

A large contributing factor for RPI’s slowed revenue growth—when compared to other institutions whose tuition and fee revenue has increased at a similar rate—is due to the sharp decrease in grants and donations received by RPI in recent years. For fiscal years 2000–01 to 2009–10, the average revenue from donations and grants was $114.6 million (with no year less than $89 million), or just under 30 percent of total revenue. However, since that time, for the last three available years, the average donation/grant revenue per year has been just $38.2 million. Even with this drop in revenue, the Institute has continued to pay out an average of $133.6 million in grants and assistance to others.

Of course, Rensselaer has gone through the previously mentioned expansion during the period for which finances have been analyzed. Lehigh University also went through a period of growth on its campus at the very end of the 1990s, with two multimillion dollar projects in the form of a large performing arts center and sports complex, both meeting campus needs akin to EMPAC and ECAV. These projects were completed around 1999, so theoretically, RPI would be at a similar state now as Lehigh may have been in about 2004 or 2005.

The Poly reached out to members of the Institute’s administration for a statement on RPI’s financial strategies in recent years. In response, Vice President of Strategic Communications and External Relations David Brond provided: “We have balanced the operating budget, every year, for the past 15 years, and made strategic investments that have enhanced the university and which have resulted in a tripling of applications. We continue to attract very bright students, with excellent prospects when they graduate. We have transformed the student experience; built world class platforms; tripled research; hired 320 new faculty; and elevated university rankings. We have withstood, and managed through two major dislocations in the economy during this time frame; the tech bubble burst and a financial crisis. We are proud of what we have accomplished.”

To conclude this analysis, we will review the facts presented. In the years since 1999, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has decreased its total net assets by 55 percent, due to taking on nearly $1 billion in new liabilities. Beyond this, the complete amount and then more of the Institute’s current net assets have been fully restricted, disallowing them from being spent. Direct reasons for these changes stem from six consecutive years of operational deficits, the issuance of nearly $500 million in tax-exempt bonds to cover costs on new campus constructions, and a steep decrease in the yearly revenue made up by grants and donations coming into Rensselaer. It is important to remember, however, that the increased spending has brought world-class facilities and educational services to RPI. All of this has occurred while tuition has continued to increase at a steady rate, leading to a rise in percentage contribution of tuition to RPI’s total revenue. Three competitor universities, Lehigh, RIT, and WPI, have been used as reference points on Rensselaer’s performance, with all of these institutions appearing to have statistically stronger performance in the years that have been analyzed. It remains to be seen if these trends will continue into future years. The data for fiscal year 2013–14 will become available in the coming months.

Editor’s Notes:

All values used in this article are rounded for enhanced comprehension.

All monetary figures in this article are stated in the dollar value of the year in which they were reported to the IRS.

All IRS Form 990(s) which were used to compile this article are available through ProPublica. RPI IRS Form 990(s) are available at http://poly.rpi.edu/s/rpi990

Posted in News | Leave a comment
STAFF EDITORIAL

Ad-dress-ing social media phenomena

On February 27, a Tumblr user posted a picture of a dress and asked her followers if it was black and blue or white and gold. Within a half hour, her post received over 500 likes and incited a massive social reaction, with celebrities tweeting and thousands retweeting and posting their own opinions on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. The whole ordeal lasted more than three hours, with further posts the following day.

Many news sources confirmed that the dress, in real life, is in fact black and blue, not white and gold. However, in the picture, the discrepancy among these millions of viewers is due to color constancy, which is the subjectiveness of human color perception under different illumination conditions. Like an optical illusion, the lighting of the picture changed people’s color identification.

Almost all the members of The Poly knew about this dress a couple hours after the picture was posted. Even we have differing opinions on what we see in the photo; however, we find the social phenomenon itself more interesting. The post sparked articles from The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post. It’s crazy to think about how something as simple as the color of a dress could spark so much controversy.

Social media has a profound effect on society today, and just like this dress, almost anything can go viral in a matter of hours. Whether it be the next amazing ski video or another green and purple dress, social media increases the accessibility of content to everyone. This is why The Poly created a social media coordinator position last semester.

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment
CONCERT REVIEW

Local acts bring spark to school

On Saturday, February 28, UPAC Concerts held a concert at Mother’s Wine Emporium in the Rensselaer Union. The concert featured opening act Bell’s Roar and local Albany group Mirk.

When I showed up with a friend, there were about 20 people total, in addition to UPAC Sound members, who were working the equipment. The room was set up with chairs on the left side, stage in the far back corner, and sound control in the middle. Mother’s as a musical venue is a weird concept; typically, in a regular concert venue that enjoys large attendance, there is a raised stage and a barrier that separates the concert goers from the band. Clearly, in Mother’s, there can be no easy way to separate the band and audience, and I ended up being an arm’s length away from the singers during both acts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Before the show began, everyone was seated in the chairs on the left side of the room, but the speakers blocked my view, so I couldn’t even see the stage clearly. Now, I consider myself an extroverted person—at least among my friends—so I stood up and dragged my friend over to the stage to get a better view. Eventually, Sean Desiree, solo artist of Bell’s Roar, encouraged others in the audience to come closer to the stage, and the floor filled out a bit more. I was relieved that I wasn’t really the only one standing. As Desiree talked with the crowd in between songs, and later, when Mirk made witty comments, the atmosphere became warmer and less awkward, unlike when the show first began.

Bell’s Roar, as an experimental sound, was an interesting experience for me. Combined with the more personal interaction Mother’s allowed, Desiree’s pieces rang passionate and full of energy. At first, she only provided vocals on her electronically generated instrumentals, but she moved on to perform on guitar and synthesizer. My favorite song from her is “Slow.” Since the songs were performed live, Bell’s Roar also remixed some of the songs to better fit the venue’s set up and flow. Overall, though this isn’t music that I typically listen to, I enjoyed being exposed to it and its unique sound.

Mirk was more my cup of tea. Their band consists of lead vocalist Joshua Mirsky, guitarist Mike Thornton, bassist Kate Sgroi, saxophonist Chris Russell, keyboardist James Rock, and drummer Stephen Struss. Since their genre is a mix between rock and R&B, their music has a distinct summer vibe with a laid-back feel. However, during the show, the band played tracks from their soon-to-be-released album, Run, and gave a high energy performance. Thornton, Sgroi, and Rock all provided fantastic backup vocals to Mirsky, harmonizing at many parts during the set. Watching the band members interact during the act was also entertaining, with Rock and Struss playfully toss things at each other as Sgroi energetically moved around her part of the stage. Both Thornton and Russell played fast paced, skillful solos that made me wonder why they weren’t more well known. Mirksky gave a handful of rap riffs which had stellar flow, made more impressive by the fact that it was live.

Mirk also played a couple pop favorites, “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. Their spin on these hits were entertaining to see adapted to a full live band setting. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall, the concert was fantastic, even though Mother’s is a weird venue for music acts. Once the ice was broken, the show was a lot more enjoyable, with more people up by the stage. Both Bell’s Roar and Mirk put on energetic performances that I hadn’t experienced before. However, the room definitely could have used more than the twenty audience members that were present. I will be keeping an eye out for the next concert in the Spring Concert Series. For more information regarding future shows, visit http://concerts.union.rpi.edu/.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment
MEN’S HOCKEY

Men’s hockey wins late on senior night

FRESHMAN FORWARD DREW MELANSON SKATES for a loose puck in a game against Yale University. The Engineers tied Clarkson and defeated St. Lawrence last weekend at Houston Field House.

This past weekend was a solid outing for the Engineers by this season’s standards as they were able to tie the Clarkson Golden Knights 3-3 on Friday and defeated the St. Lawrence Saints 4-3 on Saturday. The Engineers looked strong in both action-packed games and built some momentum to head into the postseason.

On Friday, the Golden Knights came to the Houston Field House to take on the Engineers in front of a crowd 4,041 strong. The first period saw the majority of the game’s action, delivering five goals between the two teams. Rensselaer opened the scoring only 4:07 into the period as freshman forward Viktor Liljegren came around the net and found some space, burying one top shelf. He was set up by senior defender Luke Curadi and freshman defenseman Mike Prapavessis. Clarkson would answer back just under three minutes later on the power play to even the score, 1-1. The Golden Knights found their second goal of the night 13:17 into the period to take the lead by one. Less than a minute later, freshman forward Drew Melanson jammed home a rebound off of a play from junior forward Mark Miller and freshman forward Lou Nanne to even the score at 2 for the Engineers. The fifth goal of the period, and third for the Engineers, came off of a nice three-on-two rush set up by senior forward Jacob Laliberte, allowing senior forward Matt Neal to find the trailing man Mark McGowan, who beat the Clarkson goalie top shelf. The Engineers would head into the second period with a 3-2 lead.

An uneventful second period that saw no goals or penalties was only highlighted by a goaltender change for the Golden Knights to start the period. With Rensselaer still leading by a score of 3-2, the third period got under way. A tumultuous start to the period saw a couple of penalties arise off of a hit in the Clarkson zone leading to a prolonged Golden Knights power play. The Engineers were able to fend off the attack, and with 8:44 left to play, RPI seemed to have found a fourth goal. However, the goal was waved off and the score remained 3-2. Just two minutes later, Clarkson found its third goal to tie the game. The Knights took a penalty late in the period, presenting an opportunity for the Engineers to retake the lead, but Rensselaer was unable to capitalize and the game headed to overtime. The extra five minutes were an empty five minutes, and when the final horn sounded, the game ended in a 3-3 tie.

The Engineers played their second game of the weekend against the St. Lawrence Saints for Senior Night on Saturday. Senior goalie Scott Diebold got the start instead of usual starter Jason Kasdorf and was arguably the best Engineer on the ice. Early first period penalties against the Engineers led to numerous chances fended off by Diebold. Eventually, with under a minute to play, the Saints were able to put home a rebound on the power play to take the lead into the locker room for the first intermission.

The Engineers came out of the locker room and answered back quickly. Only 2:30 into the second period, McGowan found Prapavessis in the high slot, who beat the Saints goalie to score his first collegiate goal and tie the game. St. Lawrence continued to pepper Diebold with shots and took a 2-1 lead 5:01 into the period. The Saints looked to continue their momentum, but were stifled by Diebold, who made two acrobatic saves just before the midway point in the period. Moments later, freshman defender Bradley Bell gave Melanson a beautiful stretch pass up the middle of the ice to spring Melanson on a breakaway. Melanson made no mistake, tucking the puck between the goaltenders legs to tie the game at 2-2. The Saints would get their own breakaway chance moments later, but Diebold was able to come up big once more and keep the game tied. With eight minutes left in the period, the Saints were called for cross checking, giving the Engineers the man advantage. Rensselaer capitalized as Melanson tucked home his second goal of the night, banging a rebound into the twine. Less than a minute later, RPI would take a penalty of their, own giving St. Lawrence a power play. Twice, the Saints thought they took the lead, and twice Diebold was there to say no, sprawling across his crease to keep the puck out of the net. After a period filled with four goals and even more chances, the game headed to the third with the Engineers protecting a 3-2 lead.

After trading penalties early in the period, the game’s sixth goal would come 10:54 into the period as the Saints were able to pull even with the Engineers 3-3. A huge opportunity for the Engineers came about two minutes later as McGowan was tripped as he drove to the net on a breakaway. The referee raised his arms in an “x” above his head, signaling for a penalty shot. McGowan started in on his one-on-one with St. Lawrence goalie Kyle Hayton with speed and made a quick move right to left before blowing a shot past the Saints’ netminder, blocker side, to give the Engineers a 4-3 lead. McGowan would come up big again, though at the other end of the ice, as he cleared away a puck that laid in the crease in front of a wide open net. In the waning minutes of the game, St. Lawrence was forced to pull their goalie to try to find a game tying goal. Despite an onslaught of shots and bodies, Diebold was able to keep the puck out of the net. At the final buzzer, the score was 4-3 RPI.

Rensselaer finished the regular season 10-23-3 overall and 8-12-2 in conference play with 18 points giving them the 9th seed in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Engineers begin their playoff schedule by taking on the 8th seed Clarkson Golden Knights in a best-of-three series in Potsdam this weekend. The winner of that series will go on to play number 1 seed Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals on March 13–15.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment
WORLD NEWS

FCC votes for neutrality

On Thursday, February 26, the Federal Communications Commission voted to enact Title II regulation on internet service providers, including cellular carriers, in an effort to protect “net neutrality.” The principle of “net neutrality” was that access to all websites should be equally favored, and that no sites should be blocked. This ruling would block ISPs from enacting paid “fast lanes” or prioritization of traffic, and reclassifies them as common carriers, similar to how telephone utility companies are currently regulated. The net neutrality debate has been a long one, garnering public and corporate interests on both sides of the fence.

The debate began in January 2014, after a federal appeals court struck down preliminary net neutrality rules enacted previously, and Comcast began to throttle the traffic of sites such as Netflix due to their high traffic and bandwidth usage. The two companies later reached an agreement where Netflix would pay Comcast to enable faster speeds, allowing for faster access to their site. According to Comcast, the high demands on bandwidth for streaming video sites such as Netflix caused strain on their network, and “paid fast lanes” such as this would enable them to provide faster and better service to their customers.

A number of companies, and much of the public at large, were discomfited by the idea that service providers could “hold hostage” sites such as Netflix in order to gain revenue. Many high-profile members of the tech industry, such as Google and Facebook, as well as a number of important personalities, such as so-called “Founder of the Web” Tim Berners-Lee, all called for equal and unrestricted access to all sites, without ISP interference. Proponents of net neutrality called for a revision of the rules to protect open access, and the FCC responded by pledging to make a decision on the matter. During the following comment period, over four million comments were received by the FCC.

As the vote drew closer, opponents of net neutrality began to speak out against it. Telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon, as well as hardware companies like IBM, Intel, and Cisco, believed that enacting net neutrality rules would cause a decrease in investment in infrastructure, decrease competition, potentially increase taxes, enact unnecessary regulation, and create barriers to entry into markets.

According to the opponents of net neutrality, the enacting of Title II regulation, which would bring about net neutrality, would also result in decreased service and increased government regulation. Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, responded, however, saying, “this is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech.”

Last Thursday’s vote saw passionate speeches from both opinions; in the end, the vote passed, 3-2. The debate is not yet over, though. Many supporters and opponents of net neutrality alike have remarked that Congress and the Judicial Branch still have the ability to strike down the new regulation, through new legislation or lawsuits, respectively. The new rules will go into effect within 60 days, barring any challenges.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK

Be the best you can be

I’m a bit of a romantic at heart; if you’ve read my other notebooks, you already know. However, what you don’t know is that, I’ve been through my fair share of relationships. Now, I have a couple of friends that are going through relationship problems and some that are having trouble finding their “one.” I’m not a relationship guru, but I do have some reasonable points that should be followed if you’re looking for someone else in your life.

Before you even consider adding someone to your already complex life, do some introspection. A good relationship needs a strong foundation. Without a firm base, being the two people in the relationship, the whole house will fall apart. Think about it. Am I confident in myself and all that I do? Am I comfortable most in a high energy setting, like a party, or more laid back with just some close friends? You should be your own person and realize what your limits are. Then, test yourself and push those limits. Be open to feedback, but don’t be swayed by everyone’s whim. Stand for yourself, but help others when in need. What I’m trying to say is, above all, be the best person that you can be.

The one building block that is the most important of all is hygiene. It’s an unspoken quality. No one will tell you your breath smells or that you smell like a gorilla to your face. People are too polite for that. Also, that’s being rude to gorillas. Lucky me, as a child, my breath always smelled like stuff that usually goes in a porcelain bowl. So, my father always told me to brush my teeth. Imagine how much nose pinching I saved people as a kid; your mom’s not going to be there to tell you to shower for your first date.

On the same note as physical characteristics, exercise is a significant part of attraction and one of relationship’s founding blocks. I’m not saying that you need to get swole or become a marathon runner, but you should physically exert yourself doing something on a regular basis. Exercise makes you look fit; however that’s not the only reason why you should be doing it. Running, sports, lifting, almost anything, instills discipline and confidence in your constant mental thought process. It’s a subtle, yet powerful influence, as it releases positive endorphins that make you feel better and healthier as a person. It will even give you that slight boost of confidence to go talk to that attractive person over there.

Oh? Now you’re talking to that attractive person? What do you talk about? Well, here’s something that’ll help you start conversations: do activities that you think are interesting. You should always be willing to try new things. It’ll help you become a more interesting person, and if the activity is part of a club or organization, it’ll help you build social skills. It’s something to talk about. Just put all you’ve got behind whatever you’re interested in and your passion will outwardly show through the way you speak and your nonverbal gestures.

I’m just brushing the surface on how to be a better you. Keep yourself clean and exercise regularly. Remember, I’m not saying you have to be a super social butterfly extrovert. Just don’t be afraid to talk to people. Join something that you’ll get the most out of and don’t stay in your room all night. Though it’s nice to stay in and watch a few TV shows, you’re not going to meet your future significant other if you do that every day. Trust me, if I didn’t go to Commons Dining Hall that day with some friends, I never would have met Isabel Johnson, who is the Yogi to my Boo Boo.

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment
CLUB HIGHLIGHT

CSSA spring bonanza brings culture-ful fun

Club puts on annual show for festival

On the first pleasant day in a while, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association hosted their annual Spring Festival Eve show. West Hall lit up with bright lights and was filled with singing, dancing, acting and games for the audience to enjoy. The show featured many RPI CSSA members as well as Union College performers. The night showcased these students’ culture and certainly celebrated the festival in style.

However, I will admit that I didn’t always know exactly what was happening on stage or off. The entire show was in Chinese and it seemed as though everyone attending also spoke the language. The Masters of Ceremonies did translate their spiels before each act, but during the plays and songs, I couldn’t always get the full experience due to the language barrier. However, I can still appreciate a singer’s voice or the beauty of a calligrapher’s work. I wish that I could fully appreciate the depth of the culture so that all of the performers’ efforts could be recognized.

Before the hosts took the stage, the crowd was full of enthusiastic people of all ages, from young children, to RPI students, to community members and faculty. When the lights dimmed and everyone hushed, the club opened the show with a video full of new year’s well wishes with messages from CCTV newscasters, Barack Obama, Union students and the club’s members. Finally, the hosts, in their flowing dresses and sharp suits, took the stage.

The entire show was studded with fun pieces, beautiful singing, and cultural gems. The second act of the night, a short performance of Beijing Opera, brought out the pure and traditional Chinese culture. The female singer was fashioned in classic Beijing Opera style; complete with face paint, bright yellow robes along with headdress and the twangy timbre of her voice. I really enjoyed getting to see a glimpse of the unique art style. Another exciting part of the night was the student-directed and acted play put on by the RPI students. I didn’t understand the whole story but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The foam swords fights, the comedic reveal that two of the characters were in fact siblings, and a Street Fighter duel all helped me laugh along with the rest of the crowd.

The night was full of energy-driven acts, with belting singers, comedy, and enthusiastic bands, but what truly stood out to me that night were the infusions of classic Chinese culture. When a guzheng was revealed from behind the curtain about halfway through the show, I became incredibly excited. This zither-like Chinese instrument has long been a particular love of mine. The tone of the instrument’s voice is rich and beautiful and truly exemplifies the classic oriental music. The speed and grace of the artist’s fingers along the strings allowed her to freely express the music. Alongside the guzheng was a calligrapher who worked magic with ink, leaving a beautifully written message afterwards. Another traditional Chinese instrument that made an appearance was the pipa, a lute-like instrument that briefly introduced one of the night’s many dance groups. These elements of Chinese culture invigorated the night and brought flavor and refinement to the night of performances.

This year’s CSSA show was a huge success, with many interesting and enjoyable acts for every audience member. It was a night to celebrate the culture of many RPI students and to appreciate the time and effort that went into it. With raffles, fun games, and engaging hosts, the show succeeded in capturing the spirit of the festival and brought smiles to the faces of everyone who came.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment