Endorsement

Constitution referenda

During the 2014–15 academic year, the Rensselaer Student Senate Constitution Committee, along with the Senate as a whole, worked to bring amendments to the Rensselaer Union Constitution to vote in the Senate. For those who don’t know, once these amendments are passed by the Senate, they must also be approved in vote open to all members of the Rensselaer Union before they can be put into place. After the poorly received amendments, and their voting outcome along with other controversies that were brought to light last April, The Polytechnic Editorial Board was interested, yet hesitant to endorse the new amendments. For this election cycle, there are eight amendments which will be on Thursday’s ballot. Our Editorial Board has unanimously decided to endorse YES on the passing of seven out of eight (Amendments 1-4, and Amendments 6-8), but has also unanimously passed endorsing a NO vote on Amendment 5: Judicial Procedure.

To expand on why we have chosen to endorse a “YES” vote on these amendments:

Amendment 1: General Changes and Disambiguation

This amendment carries few major changes which have not already taken place, it for the most part clarifies wording, removes ambiguity, and keeps consistency. Some positive changes include, clearly defining election cycles, clearly defining Greek status, adding amendments to the end of the document instead of within it, and ensuring simple GM/PU replacement is possible whenever the position becomes vacant for any reason, such as the case which occurred in the Spring of 2012.

Amendment 2: Officers of the Union

This brings a permanent change where the officers of the Union are made up of positions that can be only filled by students, meaning hired professionals such as the director of the Union are not considered officers. Additionally, the Judicial Board chairman becomes an officer, which we agree with as he is the leader of the Union’s third governmental branch, and the leader of the other two (GM and PU) were already officers. Finally term-limiting for elected officers, i.e. the GM and PU, are clearly defined as two full terms, compared with the previous two terms regardless if one was partial.

Amendment 3: Executive Board

This amendment brings back separately the sole major portion of one of last year’s amendments which The Polytechnic believed was a positive change. First, the Executive Board representatives are defined as “members of the Executive Board” instead of the President of Union’s cabinet. This brings a positive change in our opinion, because it affirms that the representatives work for the students which they represent, not the individual PU. The even bigger change alters the previous 15 member cap of the Executive Board. Under the proposed amendment, the Board may be expanded to up to 20 members at the President of Union’s discretion when selecting the Board’s representatives. This is a change we strongly believe would improve the Union, because the fewer clubs each representative must work with and support, the more time the representatives will theoretically have to work with the clubs they do represent. Additionally, we feel the Executive Board could use more voices, especially diverse ones, giving input, than it has now.

Amendment 4: Judicial Board

The amendment primarily defines aspects of the Judicial Board, such as the Board’s explicit role in interpreting the Constitution, defining board membership and alternate members, removing the selection committee and bringing the process to mirror the E-Board. We feel these are all positive and necessary changes to J-Board operation.

Amendment 6: Council System

This amendment brings a lot of new definitions in the operation and structure of both class councils and the entire undergraduate council. We understand the need for and reasoning behind these changes, and do not see them affecting many students beyond those who directly participate in the councils themselves.

Amendment 7: Greek Revisions

Our Editorial Board is strongly in favor of the changes which this amendment brings, because it makes the necessary action to separate Greek governing bodies from general student government bodies. It does this in removing the requirement for the Student Senate to approve changes to the Interfraternity Council or The Rensselaer Panhellenic Association constitutions, and it removes the Judicial Board’s power to declare IFC or Panhel action as unconstitutional. Additionally, it opens up the election of Greek Student Senators to the entire Greek community, not just a vote of their respective councils.

Amendment 8: Removals, Referendum, and Petitions

The final amendment coming to a vote this year involves allowing the Student Senate to remove any voting member from the body with an affirmative two-thirds vote. We feel this is a necessary power for the body, because each academic year, many senators who are elected in either April general elections or Fall freshmen elections do not actively finish out their term, failing to attend meetings and eventually needing replacement by a new, more effective individual. Additionally, the amendment defines when the Senate must address an issue raised by students, which works hand in hand with the new warmly received petitions website. Under this change, the Senate is mandated to address any issue which a petition includes ten percent of the Union membership’s signatures.

To further explain the single amendment which we have chosen to endorse a “NO” vote on:

Amendment 5: Judicial Procedure

This amendment brings a sweeping change to the constitution by fully removing the section on judicial procedure in its entirety. The argument for this change is that the judicial procedure described in the Student Handbook, which is produced by the Rensselaer administration, supersedes the Constitution, therefore making the section redundant. We feel that this is a case where redundancy is a good thing, as it creates a necessary check on administrative policy. It is important that a document which has been approved by the student body carry a description of how those students would go through a judicial scenario. We do not believe that having this section would hinder the judicial process, but instead create a set of guidelines to compare future revisions to the Student Handbook’s version of procedure, ensuring it is both fair and follows the doctrine which students who have come before felt was vthe best way of addressing this. This section should work as an advocate to ensure students are served correctly by the body which the Union Constitution creates in the Judicial Board. We believe the removal of this section decreases the strength of the Constitution and removes this advocacy. However, any and all discrepancies between this procedure and the procedure which the administration mandates should be made clear to all students and considered by the Student Senate to advocate for students’ rights moving forward.

The full text of the Constitution amendments can be found here.

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Candidate questions

Grand Marshal: Marcus Flowers and Michael Han

Why do you want to be Grand Marshal?

Flowers: I want to become Grand Marshal in order to present student government with new focus and a new perspective. I have seen campus as both a student government leader and a constituent, and I know that my experiences are by no means unique to students here.I intend to expand the scope of this campus beyond where it has gone in the past, as I firmly believe that the best things to happen to our student environment are the challenges that will take more than one Grand Marshal’s time in office to complete. I aim to give multicultural students a voice such that there can be a sense of unity and invitation for current and incoming students.

Han: I want to be Grand Marshal because my time here at RPI has been life changing, and I want to take the opportunity to give back to the school in a positive way. I believe I am the best person for the job to bring some positive change to our campus for the student body. My number one extracurricular commitment here at RPI has been the Student Senate ever since freshman elections, and I understand what it takes to be the Grand Marshal, outside of just leading the Senate. My knowledge of the position’s requirements and passion for everything RPI-related makes me the best candidate for the job and allows student government as a whole to act as a stronger union.

Describe your experience in Student Government.

Flowers: I was elected to become a Class of 2016 Senator in the spring of 2013, where I immediately began my focus into aiding academics by joining the Academic Affairs Committee (as vice-chair), as well as the Facilities and Services Committee, the Student Government Communications Committee, and later the Student Life Committee. As I also participated heavily in my Class Council, I had the opportunity to learn about a variety of student interests, but found that as a campus, we lacked advocacy for our academics, the very reason we came here. Thus, when I rose to become the Academic Affairs Committee Chair, I immediately initiated several projects that I feel greatly benefit the student body, including a research index, and revitalizing efforts for a syllabus catalog. As Grand Marshal, I hope to see these projects through, and continue to bring new initiatives to improve the campus.

Han: I have served in the Student Senate as an elected Senator for the Class of 2016 since freshman elections. During my freshman year, I participated in the Senate Communications Committee (SenComm) and the Student Life Committee (SLC).

In my sophomore year, I desired to take a larger role in the Senate’s operations so I sought the position of Treasurer, where I helped change the way the Senate’s budget operated. Previously, we had committee-specific budgets for certain projects and activities. Instead, I decided that the best method would be to have a lump sum of money available to all committees, since the projects that each committee works on are not decided upon the previous year. I also served as the vice-chair of the Facilities and Services Committee (FSC), whose main project that year was to draft a proposal to bring a car-sharing service to campus, like Zipcar. I was very involved in the writing process and look to continue to see the project through in the coming year.

This year, I have been the chair of FSC, and we have seen a revival of membership and project work as a result. FSC and the Hospitality Services Advisory Committee (HSAC), which is a sub-committee of FSC, has done many great things this year, including working to return Arizona Iced Tea in Fathers, acquiring transponders for the Rensselaer Student Auto Shop so they can access their garage during peak hours, and bringing a proposal to administration for energy-saving software for our Green Revolving Fund initiative. We’re also wrapping up our main projects, which include an online portal to report any issues with classroom facilities to FIXX and the registrar, working with Parking and Transportation Services to address student concerns with shuttles and parking, and a new project to bring additional picnic tables on our campus with the help of some student groups.

List your campus activities, including levels of involvement, positions held, and awards received.
Flowers:

  • RPI Kendo Club (2012-2013)
  • RPI Kung Fu (2012-2013)
  • RPI Quidditch Team (2012-Present)
  • RPI League of Legends (2012-2014)
  • Founding member, Public Relations Officer
  • Student Senate (2013-Present)
    • Academic Affairs Committee (2013-Present)
      • Vice-Chair (2013-2014)
      • Chair (2014-Present)
    • Facilities and Services Committee (2013-2014)
    • Student Government Communications Committee (2013-2014)
    • Student Life Committee (2013-2014)
  • RPI National Society of Black Engineers (2014-Present)
    • Vice-Treasurer (Fall 2014)
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated: Omicron Upsilon Chapter (Spring 2015 – Present)

Han: Outside of Student Senate, I’m also involved with the Office of Admissions at RPI, where I’ve worked as a tour guide for just over two years now. I have been a Math Mentor for the Math department for two semesters for Calculus I and have been a programming mentor for the Computer Science department for four semesters, where I’ve mentored for Computer Science 1, Data Structures, and Introduction to Algorithms. I am also a brother of the Sigma Chi Fraternity here at RPI, where I currently hold the position of social media chairman.

Name three short-term (within the term of your office) goals and three long-term (beyond your term of office) that you have for the Senate.

Flowers: My short-term goals while in office start with work to restore all-entrance access to student residence halls. Further, I will work to expand online resources the Institute provides for student academics. Lastly, I will work to collaborate with nearby colleges to host events beneficial to both universities. In the future beyond one term in office, I wish to see the completion of a wide-spread support system for upper classmen coursework. Further, allowing more access for multicultural groups on campus to present themselves as available organizations to incoming students, and be more involved in their exposure process to RPI. My final goal is to eliminate the stigma of a negative social setting that comes with our school.

Han:
Short-term:

Select passionate, enthusiastic, and responsible committee chairs and start planning for the upcoming school year immediately.

Take the initiative in communications by reaching out to students, instead of waiting for them to come to us.

Utilize the new RPI Petitions website to open additional methods of communication between the student body and the Senate.

Long-term:

Maintain and continue to improve the professional relationship between Student Government and RPI Administrators.

Complete our existing long-term projects, including our pharmacy proposal, car-sharing initiative, and residence hall improvements.

Increase student participation, both in committees and through online platforms.

What do you feel are the roles of the Grand Marshal and the Student Senate?

Flowers: The role of the Student Senate is to work to protect student rights and advocate for student opinions so that not compromise, but collaboration can be reached between students and faculty/administration. The role of the Grand Marshal is to keep the Student Senate efficient, provide ideas and inspiration, and be a channel for student voices to high levels of Institute administration, and the campus at large.

Han: The Grand Marshal acts as not only the chair of the Student Senate, but also the student body president. This means that he or she is the chief representative and spokesperson for the student body in all matters. They should be the prime example of school spirit for the student body and act as a liaison between the students and the RPI Administration.

The Senate’s role on our campus is to advocate for students’ rights and improve the quality of life here at RPI. This can be done with various different methods but is mainly achieved through project work and initiatives. We act as a sounding board for all student concerns and work to address all of them to make RPI a better place to live, work, play, and learn.

What do you think are the incumbent Grand Marshal’s strengths and weaknesses? What would you do to improve upon them if you are elected?

Flowers: Weaknesses of the incumbent Grand Marshal lie primarily in methods regarding organization of the different areas of the Student Senate. There was occasional conflict between different areas, or varying opinions in smaller discussions. That being said, the structure and guidance given to the Student Senate this past year has allowed it to be the most productive Senate in a very long time, and will only continue to inspire students to put forward their best foot on student initiatives.

Han: I think Kyle’s strength is his ability to lead committees in their project work. He was the one that initially introduced the Senate to the subcommittee structure that all Senate committees currently employ, and it has allowed us to have better productivity and use our time more efficiently. He has done a great job of focusing on publicity and opening up more of the conversations we have in the Senate and also began planning for the upcoming year over the summer, allowing us to start off strong this year.

I think his weaknesses lie in his tendency to focus more on the big picture and have so many ideas for the grand vision of what he wants the Senate to achieve. This is absolutely critical to be a successful Grand Marshal, but it is also equally as important to identify the steps in between and recognize when things are not as feasible as they may seem. This is why one of the main points of my platform is to increase our focus on short-term, tangible goals for our projects. For our long-term projects that won’t necessarily get completed in one term, I want to set goals to have some meaningful progress toward a tangible product on our campus by the end of my term.

Looking forward, what do you see as possible issues facing student government in the next year?

Flowers: Possible issues facing student government in the coming year are a large influx of student ideas from the new petition website, and ensuring that Senate properly recognizes these ideas, and further allocates the appropriate amount of resources to addressing issues. Further, there is the need to have incoming committee chairs strongly advocate for non-Senate members to join and continue onward as part of the committees, to enhance our diversity of students within our project teams.

Han: I believe the greatest issue moving forward is the issue of transparency. I want to shed more light on how the Senate operates as a whole. The situation surrounding the Union Annual Report this past month is a clear example of this – with a better understanding of how the Senate and Executive Board operated and drafted the UAR, people would not have had the response that they did to the early release of the document. I think the best way to do this is to release more working documents and release documents in stages, instead of when it is complete.

Another issue that we face involves the class councils and the revitalization of the Undergraduate Council. If the new Union Constitution amendment concerning the UC passes, there will be an increased amount of power and responsibility given to the UC. This means that the UC will be forced into a position that it has not previously been able to have – managing the class councils and approving any kind of budgets/expenses that they would want to spend. Each class council would no longer be separately constituted; they would follow the UC’s decisions on that matter as well. This creates a lot of changes in the way each individual class originally decided to run their council in their own constitutions and we face many challenges trying to combine all the different ideas into something that maintains the individual spirits of each class. Again, these are still pending changes, so it might not even be an issue in the future.

What is your opinion of the current communication lines between the administration and the student body? What plans do you have to maintain or improve them?

Flowers: The lines of communication between students and the administration have improved over the last year, and I aim to continue that upward trend. I’ve worked on this improvement of communication myself, including with faculty, and the main element in this line of communication is ensuring that the administration is aware of the schedule that the Student Senate operates under, and ensuring that the proper amount of checks occur in the various departments.

Han: I believe the current communication lines between the administration and student body are very good and are continuing to improve. The Student Senate has great access to administrators and staff, and they have been very open to working with us to address any student concerns and accomplish the projects we want to work on. My goal with this topic is not only to continue to improve our work with administration on their side, but also to have more involvement from administrators on Senate initiatives. I want them to be more aware of the process so that we as Senators can have greater insight into how they work and focus on issues that we can achieve real change. This could be involvement during GBMs, participation in events or project work, or even just consistent monitoring and responding to our new petitions website and student government website.

What do you see as the current purpose of the CLASS initiative? What role should students have in its implementation?

Flowers: Right now, CLASS is about finding ways to inform students about the support opportunities available to them, and then further developing solutions to accommodate for any gaps that remain. One part of CLASS that I have been working on is student-faculty engagement, which I firmly believe is a necessity for a comfortable education environment. The role of students is to change their attitude towards their academics: instead of searching for problems to dwell on, we should first be looking at the solutions that have already been provided, and collaborate to resolve the real issues that may occur in student-faculty, and student-student relationships.

Han: I believe the purpose of the Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students Initiative, or CLASS, is two-fold. One, it allows for students to have a better connection and stronger ties to the school that they decided to attend. It encourages students to really be able to call this place their home. Second, I believe that CLASS gives students the opportunity to better themselves in a personal development aspect as well as from a professional development standpoint.

Students can have a very active role in implementing the CLASS initiative on RPI’s campus. Faculty-student engagement, residential clustering, and time-based clustering all involve effort from both administrators and active students to help incoming students adjust to the rigors of college and current students to better integrate into our campus. However, the most important part is just participating in the many events that would be offered to further the CLASS initiative. The Senate can have a role in leading that charge, but ultimately, without student adoption and participation, the purpose of CLASS has no meaning. I also think CLASS gives us a good way to push Senate projects through to administration. By explaining how a project adheres to the core principles of CLASS, I believe that we can further strengthen our case for all of our projects.
Editor’s note: All candidates’ submissions were reviewed and edited minimally and only for Poly style. No additions, deletions, or revisions were made for typographical or grammatical errors.

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Candidate questions

President of the Union: Gregory Bartell and Andrew Sudano

Why do you want to be President of the Union?

Bartell: Student government needs a fresh pair of eyes. I have experience with club administration, and I want to help enable other clubs in the same way I’ve enabled mine. I’ve been through the struggle of learning how to manage a club’s finances; working through all sorts of confusing multi-year projects and forgotten line-items that no one remembers the purpose of. I know how working with the EBoard goes, and I have big plans to improve it.

I’m running for President of the Union because I want to bring my experience to the EBoard. I want to engage students and club officers, and I want to help them achieve their goals. I’m striving to build a cohesive, collaborative environment focused on allowing students to do the things that they want to do.

Sudano: The goal that I see as most pressing, which I hope to achieve as I want to become President of the Union, is to help Rensselaer students obtain the most out of the Rensselaer Union that they possibly can. While serving as a representative on the Executive Board this past year, I have seen first-hand the incredible potential that exists within the Union and the services available to students. Through my time on the Board, I have gained a greater appreciation and passion for helping students and clubs in any and every way possible. If elected, I will create and lay the framework to maintain an open atmosphere of student creativity and initiative. I envision a Union where everyone’s ideas and opinions are heard and where each student has the ability to explore and benefit from everything they possibly can from the Rensselaer Union.

Describe your experience in Student Government.

Bartell: I’ve come into student government indirectly. I’ve been a business manager for WRPI for two years now, and I’ve seen how the budgeting process works. I’ve seen how EBoard representatives get things done, and I’ve also seen the ways in which they don’t. Having seen the whole process from the outside gives me a bit more of a well-rounded experience than if I had only been involved from the student government side.

Sudano: My passion for the Executive Board, for student government, and for improving the lives of my fellow students began when I met with Erin Amarello, the current President of the Union. We had sat down at 2AM three days before the previous GM Week election. There, we discussed about the job of a member of the Executive Board was and what she foresaw the future of the Executive Board. It was during that meeting that I decided to apply for the Executive Board, which I credit as one of the best decisions I have made during my time at RPI. Once appointed, I began devoting a large portion of my time towards the Executive Board and the clubs that I have been representing this year. Because I deem being deeply involved as very important for making an impact, I have served on five committees over the course of this year. The first committee I joined was the Marketing, Advertising, and Promotions Committee. There we put together a new posturing police in order to clean up the billboards in the Rensselaer Union. The goal of the committee was to clean up the Rensselaer union so that it could be as aesthetically pleasing as it could be. Second, I joined the Undergraduate Council Task Force. There, we helped analyze and suggest policies and legislation for the Undergraduate Council. Next, I was a member of the Union Constitution Committee. On that committee I helped shape the future of the Rensselaer Union. I was a member of the Rensselaer Union Annual Report Committee. I came on to this committee later on, when the Union Annual Report got voted down on the floor of the senate, to help finalize what the UAR would look like and offer and support that I could. And lastly, I am a member of the Undergraduate Council Bylaws committee. On that committee I helped create a set of guidelines for the future of the Undergraduate Council.

List your campus activities, including levels of involvement, positions held, and awards received.

Bartell: I have been business manager for WRPI for two years. I’ve learned how to manage a team, how to communicate with the Union, and how to get things done in this world. I’ve definitely learned how to say no to things that we need but can’t afford, and I have had no choice but to prioritize heavily. Those skills would certainly come in handy as PU. In addition, I’ve made some valuable connections in the Union and have picked up quite a bit of social knowledge in my time.

Sudano: Outside of the Executive Board and other student government committees, I am also a Research Assistant within the Physics Department. I have also previously served as News Editor for the Rensselaer Polytechnic. Next, I was a Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education Mentor. I am also a Teaching Assistant for Physics 2. Next, I am the Historian and Information and Technology chair for Zeta Psi. Lastly, I am a member of the RPI rugby team.

Name three short-term (within your term of office) goals and three long-term goals (beyond your term of office) that you have for the Executive Board.

Bartell: Goals that I expect to have achieved during my term of office include:

1) Implementing a separate review board for club budget appeals

2) Hold regular “Town Hall” meetings with club officers and students at large

3) Create a simple set of guidelines for club treasurers so that budget requests can be as straightforward as possible

Goals that I expect to set in motion during my term of office include:

1) Start a general cultural trend away from an authoritative, top-down management approach and shift towards a democratic, bottom-up style

2) Implement technological tools to allow all students to see and understand the workings of the Eboard

3) Create controls on the EBoard’s power and have students’ desires be the driving force of the student Union

Sudano: For the short term, I’d like to start by increasing transparency between the Executive Board and the student body. I wish to do so by completely revising the social media structure within the Executive Board and increasing opportunities for student input into the workings and decisions of the Executive Board. Additionally, I would like to institute regular publicity updates from the Executive Board, its committees, and its activities, which would be released to the student body by multiple means to ensure it reaches as many students as possible.

Additionally, I wish to bring a stronger student voice to the Executive Board. I wish to do this by creating an Activity Fee Task Force, which will allow for students to re-analyze the purposes of the Activity Fee and how funds are being distributed. Furthermore, I will ensure regular surveys are released to gauge student opinions so that Executive Board representatives can more accurately represent the students.

Lastly, I set a precedent by appointing an Executive Board that I will hold fully accountable to the students of Rensselaer. I want the Executive Board to help the Rensselaer Union move in a direction that will foster student creativity and initiative. I will expect all of my Executive Board representatives to attend general body meetings of clubs they represent so that they can better represent and advocate for their clubs when it comes time for budgeting.

In terms of long term goals. I wish to create and long lasting, healthy Rensselaer Union facilities. I believe that that is best done by allowing for students to decide the how the facilities should be utilized. By maximizing student input we can allow for students to decide the direction of the Union facilities.

I will also work towards creating an atmosphere promoting student creativity and initiative. The Rensselaer Union has gotten away from its core principles of promoting student ideas. I speak at length about this in my platform, but. I believe that by directly supporting student ideas and allowing them to flourish we can shift the atmosphere back towards one that promotes student ideas and creativity.

To conclude, I want to create a system in which the Union can start looking into alternate methods of income. I wish to create a means for passionate alumni to directly support the Rensselaer Union and the students of RPI. In doing so, I would like for the Rensselaer Union to become less dependent on student tuition to prevent against the current trend of increasing the activity fee.

What do you feel are the roles of the President of the Union and the Executive Board?

Bartell: The role of the Union is to distribute funds collected from students (mostly in the form of the Student Activity Fee) to programs, activities, and clubs that benefit the students, as well as the physical facilities and administrative services that go along with it. The President of the Union is to be the arbiter of students’ will, taking into account the views presented to him by the EBoard and the student body at large.

Sudano: The President of the Union and the Rensselaer Union Executive Board work towards ensuring that all students at Rensselaer get the most out of the Rensselaer Union facilities, services, and the Union Activity Fee. The President of the Union and the Executive Board ensure the proper use of the student activity fee so that it is being used to help and benefit as many students as it possibly can. The President of the Union is tasked with making sure that all clubs and students are given up to date information on what is going on within the Rensselaer Union. The PU also has the responsibility of ensuring that all Executive Board representatives accurately represent their clubs and the student of RPI.

While the PU may not offer any opinion into pending Executive Board decisions, but, must guide the members of the Executive Board so that they can make informed decisions. The Executive Board is responsible for analyzing all perspective proposals that come before them to decide how Rensselaer Union resources should be used. Also, all Executive Board representatives are responsible for meeting with their clubs do that they can accurately represent them during budgeting. Lastly, all Executive Board representatives are responsible for creating an environment with the Rensselaer Union conducive towards student creativity and initiative.

What do you think are the incumbent President of the Union’s strengths and weaknesses? What would you do to improve upon them if you are elected?

Bartell: Erin Amarello’s biggest strength is her spirit: she honestly wants to make sure that RPI is as great of a place for students as it can be. While we have a lot of places where we differ philosophically, the biggest “problem” I see with her is her social media presence. She has not done a great job of engaging with the student body online. Kyle Keraga is a role-model of sorts here, as he has generally maintained a positive attitude even in the face of severe criticisms online.

Sudano: The current President of the Union, Erin Amerello, did a fantastic job laying the ground work for a successful future for the Rensselaer Union. It was a pleasure serving on the board with her this past year and learning from her. Erin developed new communication chains, such as office hours, that weren’t available previously to make herself more open the students of Rensselaer. She also was very honest and open with Executive Board and the students so that people would have the information accessible them if they needed it. However, through all of Erin’s strengths no one is without their weaknesses. One of the weaknesses that I encountered this year was that she didn’t make sure that the Executive Board representatives had met with their clubs and that they were representing them to the best of their abilities. With that being said, I will be requiring all Executive Board representatives to attend at least one general body meeting for their clubs they represent. This will be in addition to the conversation they should be having regularly to stay up-to-date on what is happening within the club. Lastly, although Erin did an amazing job opening up communication chains between herself and the student body, I believe that there is room for improvement. If elected I will make sure that all students are given all of the information regarding the Rensselaer Union. With this I will hope that all student will have all the information they need before they need to use it.

How would you evaluate the current Union budget situation? What do you foresee as future budget concerns?

Bartell: As one might imagine, the Union budget situation is too complex to describe in a short paragraph here. The general trend is that revenue sources are decreasing – for a variety of reasons, including slower bookstore sales and fewer graduate students to pay activity fees – as the need for that money grows higher (every Freshman class is larger than the one before it). The budget concern that I foresee dealing with is “how do we do more with less”. There’s never enough money to go around, and plenty of great programs to use the money we do have. While there will never be a way to fund everything, I would like to find creative ways to increase revenue so that we can fund as much as is reasonably possible.

Sudano: The Rensselaer Union budget isn’t in one of the healthiest places it has been. Due to a decrease in the incoming class we had to budget for less amount of money while still trying to allow the same services. However, many of the reserve funds for the Union are in a healthy place and shouldn’t require any more transfers to it. If the upcoming year I want to begin to look in to alternate methods of income. My plans are to create an alumni donation website to try and encourage alumni to donate back to the students of RPI. In doing so I would hope to increase the amount of services that I can offer while not having to rely on student activity fee as the major income source for the Union.

What do you see as problems with the Union (in terms of clubs, building operations, etc.), and what ideas do you have for fixing them?

Bartell: The Union spends a lot of its time focusing on policy instead of on progress. I imagine a Union that stands out of the way of students, allowing them to create to their full potential. In more practical terms, I hope to allow clubs greater autonomy over their funds and greater control over their future. I want to reduce administrative costs as much as is humanly possible, and to spend as little money as possible on things that students do not appreciate or use and to redirect those funds towards projects that they do.

A club-funding specific issue is the lack of any real, consistent way to track multi-year capital purchases. With a yearly turn-over of the EBoard and club administration, it’s hard even just to remember that a club wanted to have multi-year projects, let alone actually keeping track of the money involved. Even if a club does try to fund a project using the existing reserve system, it might very well get docked in future years for “not spending” all of its allocated money, when that was the point to begin with. I want to create a solution that allows the Union to fund larger projects overtime, and to incent clubs to do so instead of penalizing them for it.

Sudano: Currently, I believe that one of the major problems facing the Rensselaer Union is communication. I will accomplish this by increasing the amount of information that is distributed to all of the students at RPI. I hope that by doing so students will be given the information before they have need of it.

Secondly, many students aren’t pleased with the distribution of the student activity fee. In order to combat that issue I will be creating a task force to reanalyze the activity fee for both the undergraduates and the graduate students at RPI. This task force will help advise on how the activity should be used and distributed.

Lastly, I believe that the lack of a student voice on the Executive Board is a raising issue. Being an appointed body there is a struggle trying to represent your constituents. Therefore, in order to combat this issue I will begin to open up communication channels on social media where pending decisions can be discussed to try and get the pulse of the student body.

How do you intend to encourage students to fully utilize the resources of the Union?

Bartell: Build it and they will come. The best way to get students to utilize the Union’s services is to focus on providing the best services possible. Word of mouth is plenty sufficient for promotion, and modern technology only accelerates the process. Less effort should be spend on promoting the Union’s works, and more on improving them. Students already use internet resources (Reddit comes to mind) to stay involved with the school, and they’re plenty eager to talk about good services on there.

Sudano: I believe communication is key for students to be able to fully utilize the resources of the Rensselaer Union. Many students at Rensselaer don’t employ all of the resources that are offered to them because they don’t know they exist. I plan on changing this by publicizing all of the services regularly through social media. I also plan on having all of the individual committees go to the activity fair so that students can learn about the specific projects and opportunities that exist within the Executive Board. As you can read in my platform, I want to create a spring activity fair. This activity fair is going to have a different focal point to promote student ideas and initiatives. This activity fair will allow for students to garner support from the Rensselaer Union, academic departments, and potentially the Institute at large. I believe that this event will help student’s realize all of the support that the Rensselaer Union has to offer. We also have many technically focused clubs and project oriented clubs. This event can help these clubs garner support from different organizations on campus to create mutually beneficial relationships. I also want to have annual updates for member of the RPI community. This will serve to keep all students up to date with what is happening within the Rensselaer Union. This will allow for students to better understand both the resources they can utilize and the opportunities that exist for students within the Union.

 
Editor’s note: All candidates’ submissions were reviewed and edited minimally and only for Poly style. No additions, deletions, or revisions were made for typographical or grammatical errors.

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STUDENT SENATE

Postering rules discussed

JOE VENUSTO ’17 PRESENTS a proposal on behalf of the Hospitality Services Advisory Committee.

In this week’s Student Senate meeting, the Senate discussed their new website, amendments to the Grand Marshal Week Handbook, progress in the Hospitality Services Advisory Committee, and the Research Index proposal.

Tina Gilliland ’15 presented the new student government website. The purpose of the new website is to have a centralized location for all student government information, while still maintaining separate identities for each branch of government.

Next, Paul Ilori ’17 presented to the Senate on changes to the current GM Week Handbook. The first amendment was to allow campaigning for the current elections until 12 am on May 13, 2015 and prevent campaigning for the 2016 elections until the next Handbook is published. Ilori stated that May 13 was chosen to account for any unforeseen problems that might occur before the election is determined. Anthony Barbieri ’15 expressed concern over the wording of the second part of the amendment. As it stood, campaigning for the 2016 elections would be allowed to start as soon as the Handbook is released, which is sooner than the Rules and Elections committee intended. After the first amendment failed to correct the problem, the wording was changed to allow campaigning to start on the date described in the 2016 GM Week Handbook. With the new wording, the amendment passed 18-0-3.

The next Handbook amendment dealt with posters, requiring all candidate posters to have takedown dates, be double sided if posted on a window, and to avoid “egregious” postering. Steven Sperraza ’18 was concerned that the term egregious was too vague. Ilori retorted, saying that making it any more specific would make it difficult to fix unforeseen problems. Andrew Sudano ’17 felt that leaving the term vague is giving the Rules and Election committee, too much power. Sudano, who feels he and his constituents were the reason this amendment was brought to the Senate, said the purpose of his extensive postering was to help get the students to know him. Shoshanna Rubinstein ’16 emphasized quality over quantity: since the Rensselaer Union has a poster limit, she proposed amending egregious to say no more than “X” number of posters for a single candidate on a postering surface; surface being defined at the discretion of R&E. “X” was determined to be 100 posters per surface. Michael Han ’16 was concerned over what R&E would define as a surface. Graduate senator Jenn Wilcox proposed amending surface to being the inside and outside of a single building. The Senate discussed defining a surface as a building, but the motion to amend failed 4-10-7. Gilliland then proposed splitting the amendment into two parts: separating the takedown dates and double sided posters from egregious postering. The first portion then passed, while the second portion was failed by the Senate.

Joe Venusto ’17 presented on the progress the HSAC has made this year. HSAC has worked with Sodexo to determine what the dining situation would look like for the coming year. Some changes include a slider to pick the number of meal swipes per week, guest swipes separate from regular swipes, possible changes to the dining hall hours, and more readily available weekly menus. There was also discussion of creating an all flex meal plan and extending flex to be usable in Troy, however this is still in the early stages of planning. Since HSAC was created this year, the Senate voted 18-1-0 in favor of keeping the committee to expand on its ideas for the following school year.

Marcus Flowers ’16, Jessica Krajewski ’16, and Ilori presented on their Research Index Proposal. The Research Index would be a combination of an archive and directory for student research on campus. The archive would be compiled information on past research done by students, so current students can pick up where they left off. The directory would allow interested students to find current research opportunities from professors. There was concern that if some professors refused to use it, students would not use it because not all opportunities are presented. Flowers hoped that the initial success of the system would encourage professors to use it, while Krajewski suggested that a form would be sent to professors. Wilcox was interested in having graduate students be a part of the system, as they often have more interaction with the undergraduates than the professors. Justin Etzine ’18 stated that whether or not he is re-elected a Senator, he would ensure that the Web Technologies Group follows through with the proposal. The proposal passed 18-0-1.

Finally, some changes to the Senate bylaws were presented, with only minor fixes, considered friendly, raised by the senators. The changes passed 19-0-1. The committee chairs gave a brief summary of what was discussed in their committees. Before closing, Gilliland felt that the problem of egregious postering was not yet resolved. Her motion to reopen discussion received a second, but before any changes were made the Senate motioned to adjourn and will consider the problem at the beginning of their next meeting.

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Staff Editorial

Warning: Alarms will not sound on open door

In response to last semester’s string of thefts in the dorms, all former exits from dorm buildings no longer considered acceptable have been labeled with signs stating that an alarm will sound if opened. However, no such alarm actually exists. Some students have continued to regularly use these exits, disregarding the sign, knowing they’re no different from other doors other than their signage.

The state of the doors not being armed with alarms and simultaneously remaining unavailable for student use is unacceptable. If the doors had alarms, no students would use them, which would cause anyone who willfully walks out of a door with an alarm sounding to appear very suspicious to any passerby. This would significantly deter potential thieves, especially after it would become a well-known fact among potential thieves that an alarm will actually sound at those exits, making the student dorms much less appealing targets.

These signs offer little additional protection to the belongings of the residential students, particularly after frequent vandalization out of distaste for their false claims. They also unfairly, and almost futilely, inconvenience students living far from the official doors who choose to obey the signs. Therefore, if it isn’t reasonable to install alarms on these doors, they should be officially returned to use by the students. Security of possessions is important, but this current solution doesn’t adequately protects possessions and is unacceptably troublesome to the very residents it exists to defend for the limited protection it offers.

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GAME REVIEW

Blackrock brings back the fire

BLIZZARD RELEASES its newest adventure for their incredibly successful card game, Hearthstone. The new expansion features weekly wings and new playable cards.

On April 2, Blizzard released Hearthstone’s second adventure expansion, Blackrock Mountain. The newest addition follows the same general formula as the previous expansion, The Curse of Naxxramas. Each is a five-wing single player adventure, with a wing released every week. The wings can contain anywhere between two to four bosses, with each providing a collectible card and wing providing a collectible legendary. There are normal and heroic modes, and class challenges, which contain prebuilt decks against certain bosses. BRM, like Naxxramas, includes 31 new playable cards to the game but contains 18 class cards, compared to Naxxramas’s nine. In this respect, BRM is much more class oriented and increases diversity among the heroes.

The first wing of BRM is a blast. In Naxxramas, the hunter class challenge deck only contained the card Webspinner, which adds a random beast to the owner’s hand when it dies. This made the challenge entertaining because you never knew what kind of beasts you were going to receive. The mage challenge for BRM has a similar theme, using Unstable Portal, instead of Webspinner for the entire deck. I far prefer the mage challenge because Unstable Portal allows you to add any random minion to your hand and also reduces its cost by three, enabling huge tempo swings. In addition, the mage challenge opponent sometimes plays Millhouse Manastorm, a minion that allows spells to be played for zero for a turn. This results in the mage player using all of his or her Unstable Portal cards at once. Unstable Portal is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.

Moving on, the few cards released just this week have inspired a variety of new decks that are combo intensive and make the game more dynamic than it was before. The card Grim Patron, a three attack minion, spawns another Grim Patron if it takes damage and survives. This is best used in a Warrior deck, which contains many cards that do one damage; in addition to Warsong Commander, which gives minions with three or less attack charge, allowing minions to attack the turn they are played. Therefore, in a single turn, a warrior player can play Warsong Commander and Grim Patron, play a couple of area of effect cards, fill up the board, and attack with all of the Patrons. Patron’s steep five mana cost, in addition to Warsong Commander’s three mana, may make the combo seem unfavorable, but when combined with Emperor Thaurissan’s mana reduction effect, more than four area of effect cards can be triggered. Therefore, this style is of play that is more than viable. Another playstyle that has arisen is a mill rogue deck, which utilizes the new card, Gang Up. This card shuffles three copies of a card on the battlefield to the user’s deck. Combined with Coldlight Oracle, which makes both players draw two cards, mill rogue has increased survivability to fatigue damage. Gang Up also has versatility in that opponent’s cards can be shuffled and valuable Antique Bots can be copied as well. The longer the games last, the better chance the mill rogue has of winning the game.

The next wing of BRM will see the Molten Core area of Blackrock. The most notable reward from this coming week is Majordomo Executus, a legendary whose deathrattle replaces your hero with Ragnaros the Firelord. I foresee many mages trying to use this card in conjunction with survivability cards, such as Ice Block and Ice Barrier in a freeze mage deck, in order to counteract Ragnaros’s squishy eight health. I am skeptical of its efficacy; however, like many predictions made about Naxxramas and how Sludge Belcher was underrated, Majordomo could be on the same level as Dr. Boom. Another interesting card releasing next week is Axe Flinger, which deals two damage to the enemy hero after taking damage. This card, when placed in Grim Patron decks, could provide that small push in damage to lethal. What with more than four ways to deal one damage, Axe Flinger could prove deadly. The only issue I foresee is its steep four mana cost, but this could be counteracted by Emperor Thaurissan’s previously mentioned effect.

BRM brings a diverse selection of cards to Hearthstone. The new universal mana cost reduction effects and added holding cards effect have never been seen in the game before. It will take at least a couple of months for the meta-game to settle, and at that point, Blizzard will have probably announced the next expansion for the game. However, it’s always exciting to theory-craft over the possible effects the expansion will have on the meta. The new cards, even in the first week, have added more diversity to existing decks run at all ranks of play. I just love the reactions my friends give when I pull a Grim Patron one turn kill; it’s just so satisfying. If coming expansions include just as creative cards, the future of Hearthstone is bright.

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BASEBALL

Engineers wallop Vassar, win three of four

SENIOR SHORTSTOP NICK PALMIERO SWINGS at a Vassar pitch. The result was a triple into the left center field gap which brought home starting pitcher Jared Jensen for the second RPI run of the game. The game ended with RPI winning 8-2. The Engineers also won the second game of the doubleheader by a score of 18-0.

RPI baseball met Vassar College on Friday, April 3 and Sunday, April 5 to exchange a pair of double-headers. Rensselaer entered the matchup with a 6-2 conference record and 7-7 overall record, having faced Skidmore College and Union College each with a pair of double-headers over Spring Break in Winter Haven, Florida. In the series, RPI swept Skidmore and exchanged even losses with Union. Prior to the series against RPI, Vassar was struggling with a 0-4 conference and 1-5 overall record, having been swept by Clarkson University in Auburndale, Fla.

Rensselaer also attended the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational in the same week, a tournament of over 200 colleges from all three divisions of NCAA baseball, losing a 12-inning game to Lawrence University and trading games with Thomas College. Prior to the trip to Florida, early-season play was primarily cut from or relocated within the Engineer’s schedule. After losing the first two games of the season to Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. on February 14, four of the next seven games were cancelled and the other three were postponed. Salisbury University and RPI managed to play a game on March 16 in Salisbury, Md., resulting in a 5-11 loss.

The first game of this week’s match-up started well early for the Engineers; after walking Vassar’s freshman infielder Eric Strickland, senior pitcher Jared Jensen retrieved the first out of the game by picking off Strickland at first base. After Vassar’s Bradley Kendall singled in the next at-bat, Brooks English batted into a 4-6-3 double play, ending the top of the first. The Engineer’s early momentum accelerated in the latter half of the first; senior second baseman Tim LeSuer sacrifice bunted Jensen and senior third baseman Tyler Listing into scoring positions, after both Listing and Jensen had started off the inning with back-to-back singles. In the next at-bat, Listing stole home on a wild pitch by Vassar pitcher Adam Erkis. With a man on third and one out, senior shortstop Nick Palmiero rocketed a triple to left center, easily sending Jensen home. RPI scored again in the next at-bat after sophomore first baseman Jason Ramos grounded out for the third RBI of the game.

The Brewers and Engineers exchanged runs in the third and fourth innings, with the score standing 6-2 RPI at the end of the fourth. Vassar would not score for the remainder of the game; Jensen struck out the first three batters he faced in the fifth, though one reached first on an error by the catcher. Rensselaer added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run double from senior outfielder Shane Matthews, which came after junior outfielder Nick Annunziata and sophomore outfielder Thomas Desmond simultaneously stole second and third bases during the at-bat. That would be the end of scoring for the game, ending in an 8-2 win for RPI. Jensen notched his first win of the season, having pitched all seven innings and striking out eight.

In the second game of the day on Doris Robison Field, RPI utterly slaughtered Vassar. After a two-run second frame, RPI had a marathon of an offensive third frame. The inning started with a Listing walking, followed by Jensen being hit by a pitch, followed by a bunt-single from LeSuer, which loaded the bases with no outs for Palmiero, who walked in Listing. Then, Ramos singled to left field, allowing Jensen to score, followed by a two-run single from Annunziata, driving in Palmiero and LeSuer. A couple at-bats later, Ramos scored on a wild pitch, leaving a man on third and second with one out. Junior catcher Michael Croke then shot a double down the right field line, picking up the two RBIs. At this point, Vassar starting pitcher Trent Berg was finally relieved by Robert Winkelmann, having given up 10 runs in less than three innings. After walking Listing, Winkelmann let up a three-run homer to Jensen, the 10th run of the inning. That would be the end of the remarkable rally for RPI.

The Engineers would score again in the fifth on a two-run homer from Jensen and another two-run blast from Lawrence. With a couple more extra insurance runs in the seventh and Vassar being held scoreless, the game ended 18-0 in favor of Rensselaer for junior pitcher Greg Echeverria’s third win of the season. Echeverria struck out eight, including all three batters faced in the third inning.

Echeverria was named the Liberty League Pitcher of the Week for the week preceding March 23 for his .167 opponent batting average and 15 strikeouts in his 11 innings pitched that week against Salisbury University and Skidmore. With this win, Echeverria has pitched and won three consecutive complete games.

After relocating to Columbia University’s Robertson Field two days later, the two teams met again. Game three started in favor of Vassar, striking first after Vassar’s Denis Shanagher doubled, took third base on a wild pitch, and scored on a single from Nick Johnson in the first inning. In the third, Shanagher again advanced to third on a wild pitch after walking and stealing second, but was left stranded.

Rensselaer’s hitting remained mute until the fourth inning, when Ramos doubled to drive Palmiero home, who had reached first base on an error by Vassar’s shortstop. On the next at bat, Annunziata singled to shortstop, putting a man on first and second for RPI with one out for the next man up, Thomas Desmond. Given the strong position to score held by RPI, head coach Karl Steffen elected to replace Ramos on second with sophomore infielder Jeff Sitarski as a pinch runner. Desmond then ripped a triple to right center, sending Palmiero and Sitarski home for two RBI’s, putting Rensselaer up 3-1 over Vassar.

After pitching five innings and holding Vassar to one run, junior pitcher Charles Parslow was relieved by junior Stephen Schiavone in the bottom of the sixth. After striking out the two following hitters from Vassar, Rensselaer was still holding onto its short lead of 3-1. This wasn’t to remain, however. In the bottom of the seventh, Vassar brought the game within one on a single from Strickland after Kendall hit a double with one out. Schiavone then attempted to pick Strickland off at first but failed in his attempt, allowing Strickland to advance to second. Strickland then advanced to third on a ground ball to shortstop. On the at-bat, Schiavone threw a wild pitch as the fourth ball, walking Vassar’s English and allowing Strickland to score, tying the game at three. At this point, senior pitcher Adam Kalish relieved Schiavone and closed out the inning.

In the top of the eighth, Vassar made three fielder changes, replacing their third- and first-basemen and pitcher. Rensselaer then grounded out three times, never reaching base. After Kalish struck the first batter he faced out looking, Vassar’s Dakota Sagnelli fatefully tripled to left center. Adam Aponte relieved Kalish to no avail; in the next at bat, Matt Hernandez singled up the middle, allowing Sagnelli to score, ending the game 4-3 Vassar.

Game four started with a return to the Engineer’s favor, starting off with Jensen reaching second base with one out after a throwing error by Vassar pitcher Jonny Mrlik. Jensen then advanced to third on a ground-out to third base by LeSuer and scored unearned on a double by Palmiero. Rensselaer would go on to amass eight runs distributed 2-2-3 in the third, fifth, and seventh innings, respectively. The Brewers were held scoreless until the seventh, when senior pitcher Sean Conroy allowed the only run of the game. Conroy struck out seven for the win, including all three faced in the third.

In the series, the Engineers advanced to a 9-3 conference record. The Engineers will next face Bard College with a game at each team’s home field. The first will be a home game at Robison Field on Saturday, April 11, followed by an outing in Annandale-On-Hudson, N.Y. the next day. The Engineers have four remaining in-conference games, which will be against the currently undefeated in league, Clarkson University Golden Knights and Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers on April 18 and 19 and May 1 and 2, respectively.

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WORLD NEWS

India makes IT a national priority

THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT HAS PROMISED 700,000 km of new broadband cable.

In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed technology executives at the India Leadership Forum held by the software lobby group Nasscom. “The IT sector can be the shining light of brand India,” said Modi, as he stressed the importance of reducing the digital divide by making optical networks and broadband as accessible as roads and electricity. In the time since Modi delivered this talk, the Indian government has pledged to lay 700,000 kilometers of broadband cable as part of an $18 billion plan to bring the digital age to even the most remote Indian villages. The economic returns from this plan are predicted to be positive by consulting firm McKinsey, which estimates a possible $70 billion GDP increase over the next four years. IBM and Cisco Systems predict business opportunities in the software and network hardware markets due to Modi’s initiative.

India has faced infrastructure related challenges in the past. A power outage in 2012 affected half the Indian population and became the largest recorded power outage in history. India continues to deal with an unreliable electrical grid, raising questions of whether the government’s priority of bringing broadband to the masses is aligned with the nation’s actual infrastructural needs. Vinod Kumar Tripathi, an urban planner in India, expressed concern about basic services such as housing, roads, and waste management when asked about Modi’s focus on IT. The government under Modi agrees that basic services continue to require attention and investment, but technological progress is an ambition that requires a long-term outlook. “When [these] activities pick up, the digital divide will go away, [and] the IT industry will flourish and our country will progress,” Modi said, when speaking about the importance of social media in society and government.

Modi’s full commitment to a modern digital economy for India is evident in the details of his administration’s IT plan. By 2020 the government expects the creation of 100 new digitally equipped “Smart Cities” that rely heavily on electronic platforms to increase access to education and health records. A Corporate Social Responsibility network that will bring companies together to monitor the performance of children in school is being implemented to reduce dropout rates by an estimated five to seven percent. The plan also outlines the implementation of street-level Wi-Fi connectivity at over 2,500 locations. Officials hope the improved connectivity will allow travelers to check for traffic information and help local authorities manage communities more effectively. In 2014, the Internet was used by 12.58 percent of India’s 1.2 billion person population. By 2017 the government expects that number to rise to over 30 percent of the population.

India is facing the obstacles of transforming a newly industrialized economy into a digital one, while at the same time improving access to basic services. Modi believes pursuing modernization and digitalization simultaneously is worthwhile. “I know [technology] will transform our lives.”

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EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK

Memories of date in big city

I step off the Megabus and take a deep breath of the city air. Its familiar smell brings nostalgic memories to my head. I glance over at her, and I smile when I spot a bright, light blue sparkle in her eyes. Her light brown hair blows slightly in the cool, May breeze, as she gives me a toothy grin. Weeks had gone into planning today, and I couldn’t wait to run around like a five year old in a sugar rush. In my eyes, the city was an urban playground, with its sprawling concrete sidewalks and steel jungle gyms. There are so many things to see, things to do, and most importantly, things to eat.

I pull out my phone and tap the first note on the list. A disorganized block of words pop up, as if I pulled a handful of words from a bag and threw them on the screen. But of course, to me, it’s intelligible chaos. First item on the list: Washington Square Park.

“Ready for breakfast?” I light up.

The fountain isn’t running because it’s not summer yet. But we take a seat on its rim anyways, admiring the park around us. “I am so ready for these bagels,” she said in anticipation. The tinfoil made a scratchy noise as we clinked our food together and then quickly took bites. A distinct creamy seafood flavor runs wild through my mouth, supported by a hearty base. She and I look at each other and just nod. New Yorkers do it right with their cream cheese and lox.

I whisper into her ear and then hold her hand. I trace the creases in her palm, feeling her skin tender against my fingers. We lean on each other for a while, looking around us. There’s an elderly man by the archway playing the keyboard. Doggies trot alongside their owners, wagging their tails and sniffing about. Occasionally, a large bubble would float away from a man with a bucket and rope attached to sticks. Adding to the morning commotion, I hear birds chirping away. I wish I took a video, but even that wouldn’t do the whole experience justice. Maybe it’s better that I didn’t. This moment, that feeling, I’ll never forget; it’s uniquely mine. Our first day in New York City.

The waiter leads us to our seats, and we sit down. It’s almost 7 pm, and the place is bustling with the sound of orders and conversation. The restaurant is filled with people in business casual; this is probably the place to go to after work. L’Express. Dimly lit by candles, but crowded, the atmosphere imparts a cool, yet busy feel. Located unassumingly on a city corner, L’Express was a gem, hidden amongst a sea of innumerable other New York restaurants. I hadn’t had French food before, but I thought I’d take her out somewhere special. This was nothing I’d experienced before.

We’d spent all day gallivanting throughout the city, and we were starving. She looked cute, reading the menu, maintaining a passive smile in anticipation of the food to come. Lucky for us, the waiter brings us some bread and butter to start our meal off. I swear I was an animal in that moment because I attacked that bread in a way observed only by three types of wild birds. I look up and am surprised she didn’t catch me; I saw that she was just as involved in her food as I was. That observation makes me grin. The waiter sauntered over when we finished our bread and took our order.

Keeping my mind off my order of steaming hot Duck à l’Orange, I ask her questions. “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” “What do you want to do when you get out of school?” These questions fit the mood at the time. We felt real; it was an experience that only could have happened in the city.

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SUSTAINABILITY

Vasudha offers an involved RPI life

RPI has several environmental clubs, each of which puts on different events and has different opportunities offered each year. Many events are coming up since Earth Day and Earth Week are on the way. RPI also has an environmental living and learning community, Vasudha, which puts on events, offers a class that counts for humanities or social science credit, and offers early leadership opportunities. I was in Vasudha my freshman year, and it provided me with many experiences and networks that defined the rest of my time at RPI and beyond.

Student involvement is a big part of Vasudha, though individual members can choose how much they want to be involved. Part of this includes event planning alongside upperclassmen and a dedicated teaching and learning assistant. Last fall, a Thanksgiving dinner was planned and executed by the students, complete with artistic decorations. An annual barbecue at the beginning of the fall semester brings together upperclass Vasudha members and the new first-year class. Movie nights are often run by the students based on interest; the Vasudha lounge has a TV and seating space.

Vasudha also goes to Darrin Freshwater Institute, which is an RPI lab at Lake George to tour the labs and learn about the invasive species research being done up there, hike the beautiful mountains overlooking Lake George, and kayak in Lake George. Vasudha also co-sponsors academic-related events such as the STS Sustainability Studies Film Series and Sanctuary for Independent Media events.

Upperclass Vasudha students often find themselves involved in RPI’s environmental clubs, which include EcoLogic, Engineers for a Sustainability World, Engineers Without Borders, Society of Environmental Professionals, Student Sustainability Task Force, and Terra Café. EcoLogic puts on EarthFest annually around Earth Day; the event includes vegan smoothies, tie-dying, and more—all free. Other environmental clubs and organizations table at EarthFest, often with creative displays. This year’s EarthFest is on April 24 with a rain date of May 1. Other upcoming events include Vasudha’s co-hosted meal with the Oakwood Community Center on April 13 and SEP’s Let’s Talk Classes on April 15. More details can be found at http://poly.rpi.edu/s/kew42. SSTF, which focuses on sustainability at Rensselaer, is working hard at getting a Green Revolving Fund for RPI.

If you are a potential RPI freshman, check all of these clubs out at http://sstf.union.rpi.edu/?page_id=33. Learn more about Vasudha at http://vasudha.rpi.edu/. Being part of environmental clubs definitely enriched my time at RPI and helped me figure out the direction I want to take post-graduation!

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WOMEN’S LACROSSE

Women’s lacrosse loses to Vassar by three

Women’s lacrosse hosted the Brewers of Vassar College on Friday, April 3 for the team’s second Liberty League game of the season. Throughout Friday’s game, the Engineer defense struggled, leaving Brewer attackers undefended and failing to stay between Vassar and the RPI net. Additionally, the RPI offense proved to be far less aggressive than the Vassar attack, leaving Brewer goalie Kate Pula untested for much of the first half. RPI’s defensive weakness within the eight meter and comparatively unassertive attack contributed to RPI’s 8-11 overtime loss to Vassar.

Vassar failed to capitalize on its first real scoring opportunity after Jackie Palma forced a turnover at the top of RPI’s 12 meter in Vassar’s favor. Hannah Cho, who was waiting unguarded deep in Rensselaer territory, received the ball and charged straight for the Engineers’ net. Cho’s shot went wide and the ball was recovered by RPI senior goalie Erin Amarello. The ball was successfully cleared up the field to senior midfielder Erin Riley, whose shot went high and rebounded off of the crossbar.

Although the Engineers held possession, the RPI attack put very little pressure on Vassar’s defense and was unable to find a path to the goal. Vassar regained possession. Storm Sideleau dodged an RPI defender and shot low at RPI’s net. Amarello successfully blocked the shot to keep Vassar off of the scoreboard for the time being. Riley carried the ball up the field for RPI, where the attack patiently passed it around the fan. Engineer sophomore attack Sophie Hager held the ball behind the net and set up graduate midfielder Meg Colitz for a shot at the top of the crease. The shot went wide and the Brewers got possession of the ball.

Brittany Botticelli tried to find a path to the goal but was stopped by the RPI defense crashing on her, resulting in a shooting space call on RPI and a free position shot for Vassar. Botticelli scored Vassar’s first goal at 21:48 to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.

Sideleau blew past two RPI defenders and lobbed the ball to teammate Julia Trudell who was completely unguarded in front of the RPI net. Trudell scored an easy goal at 19:04 to put Vassar up by two. RPI gained control of the ball at the draw following Vassar’s second goal. Junior midfielder Erin DeLucca gave Pula with her first real test of the game on a free position shot at 18:24. DeLucca’s shot went low and was saved by Pula. Pula was challenged again at 17:06 by junior attack Mackenzie O’Neil. O’Neil pushed her way past Vassar defenders to net RPI’s first goal of the game, putting the Engineers on the board. Riley was credited with an assist. The Brewers responded with another goal less than a minute later to give Vassar a two point lead. Sideleau scored Vassar’s fourth goal of the half at 7:30 to increase the Brewers’ lead to three. A quick roll dodge by Colitz opened a path to the goal allowing her to score at 1:39. Colitz’s goal brought the score to 2-4 going into the second half.

RPI came back from a two point deficit to tie the game at eight in the second half. Rensselaer saw an increase in time of possession in large part due to senior midfielder Jamie Wakefield’s success at the draw. The Engineers had a rough start to the second half with senior defender Lydia Wolter receiving a yellow card for contact to the head 90 seconds into play and followed by a fifth Vassar goal shortly after. A failed clearing attempt by Amarello at 25:57 gave Kim Mulvehill a clear shot to the goal. Fortunately for RPI, Mulvehill’s shot attempt went high and the ball went out of play. Vassar regained possession and passed the ball around the fan. Trudell fed the ball to teammate Sydney Spadinger who lost the ball in front of the Rensselaer net.

Amarello cleared the ball up the field where, after a short scramble, freshman attack Morgan Doyle came up with the ball and passed it up the field. Wakefield caught the ball outside the 12 meter and ran it in for an easy goal, bringing the score to 3-5.

RPI allowed two more goals before scoring two of their own. Riley scored on a free position shot at 14:54. RPI changed defensive strategy during the next few minutes and began doubling the ball. The defense forced a turnover on a bad pass by Leigh Anne Baldwin. Riley picked up the ball and sped past Brewer midfielders and passed to sophomore attack Chelsea Brennan, who was wide open inside Vassar’s 12. Brennan caught the ball at the eight and shot it past Pula, decreasing Vassar’s lead to two with 12 minutes left in play. Another Vassar goal at 11:10 made the score 5-8.

This was a turning point for the Engineers. RPI scored three unanswered goals to tie the game at eight. Brennan scored her second goal of the night on a free position shot at 9:43. Enya Cunningham, facing pressure from RPI’s defense, tried passing back to Brewer goalie Pula but the pass went wide into the back of Vassar’s net for an RPI goal. The remainder of regulation play was scoreless and the game went into overtime. RPI crumbled. During the next six minutes of play, Rensselaer allowed three goals resulting in an 8-11 loss for the Engineers.

After Friday’s 8-11 overtime loss to Vassar, RPI hosted Bard College on Saturday, April 4 in another Liberty League match. The Engineers dominated Saturday’s contest, shutting down Bard 9-1. With RPI’s win against Bard, the team improves its league record to 2-1 and overall record to 4-4. Next weekend women’s lacrosse travels to Potsdam, NY and Canton, NY to take on Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University, respectively.

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STUDENT ACTIVITES

Rensselaer Motorsport unveils new car

RENSSELAER MOTORSPORT PRESENTS this year’s racecar RM21.

On Tuesday, April 7, RPI’s Formula SAE team, Rensselaer Motorsport, unveiled its new racecar RM21 at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. Formula SAE is an intercollegiate competition in which student teams design racecars following a series of rules released at the beginning of every academic year. The cars are then judged in a series of events.

Kyle Dieterle ’15, Rensselaer Motorsport’s Rules & Safety Officer, explained how this year’s car differs from those of previous years. “One major change this year is we are reverting back to a space frame design, eliminating our use of our carbon fiber honeycomb panels and using a one-ply carbon-kevlar bodykit.” Additional changes in the design of “various components including the differential and differential housing, uprights, and aerokit” also have been made.

The racecars are designed entirely by students. Rensselaer Motorsport begins the design process in the summer and continues throughout the fall semester. Dieterle added, “The chassis is designed over the summer so it can begin to be manufactured as soon as the semester starts, as that is one of the largest and most complicated components on the car.” RPI’s team uses Solidworks 3D Modeling and Ricardo Wave software for the design process. Team members manufacture as many parts as possible themselves. When designs are too complicated the team’s sponsors help out by manufacturing parts.

Rensselaer Motorsport’s racecars are typically funded by sponsors and scholarships through RPI. Sponsors can provide monetary donations or manufactured parts for the construction However, this year’s car was partially funded through WeR Gold donations.

While in past years RPI’s team has competed at multiple competitions in previous years, due to budgetary constrictions, Rensselaer Motorsport will only be attending one competition. This year, Rensselaer Motorsport will compete at the Formula North competition in Barrie, Ontario.

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TOP HAT

GM Week kicks off; make an informed vote

Hello RPI! With one more week before Grand Marshal Week elections, this is my penultimate Top Hat Article. Very soon, one of our candidates will be wearing the Top Hat and addressing you in these papers. This week, I want to build up some excitement for GM Week celebrations, to inform the student body of the election process, and remind us of the importance of voting.

The upcoming celebrations are exciting and always the high point of the academic year! In addition to the election of our student representatives, Grand Marshal Week has remained one of RPI’s oldest standing traditions. Every year, the GM Week Committee—a subcommittee of the Student Senate’s Rules and Elections Committee—works year-round to plan a week of festivities, music, games, and celebration in honor of our campus community and our history of student leadership. Uniquely, each Grand Marshal Week is given its own theme—last year’s was Vikings, with the motto Forge Fight Feast! This year’s, as revealed this past February, is New Orleans.

Events kick off at 6 pm April 10 with RPI Iron Chef in the McNeil Room, and continue throughout the week. Come support our Lacrosse teams against Union on Saturday, April 11! Visit the Indian Student Association’s 2015 Holi celebration (and bring a shirt you’re not afraid to get colored!). Join the annual Out of the Darkness Walk early on Sunday April 12, and come to the candidate debates that evening. On GM day, Erin and I will be thrashing Alpha Phi Omega’s Meanest Man on Campus candidates in the MMOC debates that evening. Prepared to be amazed, terrified, and bemused at our oratory skills.

Of course, GM Week features the student elections—so remember to meet your candidates and form an opinion about who you’d like to vote for. Having run for Grand Marshal last year, I know any candidate would welcome a sincere and serious conversation about the issues. With two GM candidates and two running for PU, both of the top races are contested, so make sure you have a chance to talk to all four candidates before voting day.

Finally, as we’ve discussed throughout the year, the Union Constitution Committee, chaired by Nate James (jamesn2@rpi.edu), pursued necessary rewrites as proposed by the various Student Government groups. Eight amendments will be on the ballot during GM week. The link was sent to The Polytechnic across the past two weeks and they should be published; in the intervening time we’ll be doing all we can to make them available to everyone on campus. They may be viewed at the following three links:

Public Descriptions: http://flagshipdocs.com/documents/2778/download

Official Writeups: http://flagshipdocs.com/documents/2777/download

Constitution with Track Changes: http://flagshipdocs.com/documents/2776/download

Lastly, we have one final Student Senate General Body Meeting this Thursday, where we’ll be wrapping up our agenda for the term. This has been an incredibly successful year, and with our final meeting we will see a preview for the future. RPI Petitions, our student petition service, has been incredibly successful, presenting an exciting opportunity for a stronger student voice in the future.

Our first two student petitions– Save the Trees, sponsored by Jesse Freitas ’16, and Multiple Points of Access, sponsored by Harrison Leinweber ’18—will be up for a discussion and vote this Thursday. Both petition sponsors are able to attend so we’ll be hearing their recommendations before considering other courses of action. Ultimately, our role as a Student Senate is not to directly change these issues, but to determine the best course of action to work with the administration moving forward—so these petitions are not the endpoint but rather the beginning of an exciting process. As an alumnus, I will be excited to see how they progress and how this service evolves into the future.

If you have any questions about any of these topics, contact me at gm@rpi.edu! Have a great week!

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FILM REVIEW

Spy movie evokes classics, gets piece of the action

GALAHAD AND EGGSY ENTER the secret base of the Kingsman organization. The two are played by Colin Firth and Taron Egerton, respectively.

The spy movie genre hasn’t exactly been a genre that’s starving for content. With the new Bond, Bourne, and Mission Impossible films, I didn’t think there was a new spy film that would really catch my interest, since what kind of void would some new spy film fill? This thought process was swiftly proved wrong with the release of Kingsman: The Secret Service.

While the newer spy films have had plenty of action, the truth of the matter is that it has all become quite dry. And while Austin Powers is great for a spy comedy, I, and many others, were missing the old school Bond films that straddle the fine line of goofy fun and spy action. Here’s where this film comes in. It respects the new spy films, with two lead stars like Mark Strong and Colin Firth from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy who play mentor roles to the star Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, played by newcomer Taron Egerton, who is meant to be the sharp and charming leading man. However, he doesn’t start that way. He is offered a chance to join the elite, secret organization Kingsman, that has operated outside the rules of any government to do what is necessary. The spies within the agency have designations based on The Round Table, with the leader being Arthur, played by Michael Caine. After a vacancy is unfortunately placed at the table, Eggsy must strive to fulfill his potential.

Now, this certainly sounds very middle of the road in terms of spy films, but what sets it apart is the villain. Samuel L. Jackson plays billionaire philanthropist Richmond Valentine, and rather than being a ruthless duplicitous cretin, he’s a funny, but persuasive, and straight-forward character. He talks with a lisp and doesn’t have a taste for violence, but he is able to convince many to join his ranks through just statement of his plans. He’s a character that reminds me of many old Bond villains, he has a twisted sense of justice and morals, and he can’t even stomach watching his enemies die, you know, how Bond is able to escape every trap he’s placed in.

Another great feature of this film is the ridiculous action. There is a single scene, in the middle of the film, where a fight goes on for the entirety of the solo of “Free Bird” within a single take, and it’s one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in a long time. This isn’t like the old fights Sean Connery had, where he just waits for Oddjob to throw his hat across the room, this is fast paced and well choreographed, and just to get a sense of what happens later in the films, Valentine’s assistant has prosthetic legs that are used as swords. Yes, it is awesome.

Kingsman is the kind of fun film I didn’t know I wanted to see, but I’m happy I did. It’s not going to be a groundbreaking, or the “new-old Bond” that I’m making it sound like, but it’s a great homage to what spy films used to be, which means to embrace a bit of the ridiculous. This is a good film for those missing the genre, and I doubt you’ll find something similar anytime soon.

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SOFTBALL

Softball sweeps Skidmore, wins four of six

SENIOR PITCHER KRISTINA WELTZIN FIRES a fastball during the Engineers first game against the Red Dragons of Oneonta. RPI lost 4-6 in the first game, but won 6-4 in the second game.

Women’s softball had a busy week, playing six games since the start of April. On April 1, the Engineers won a 2-1, extra innings nail-biter over the Plattsburgh State Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader. Then, Plattsburgh matched RPI by winning 3-2 in eight innings in the second game of the afternoon. Two days later, women’s softball hosted the Skidmore College Thoroughbreds for a second doubleheader. The Engineers showed their poise again by outlasting the Thoroughbreds in two straight one-run games. Then, on Tuesday, April 7, the Engineers hosted the State University of New York at Oneonta Red Dragons for a third doubleheader.

In the first game of the doubleheader against Plattsburgh, both RPI senior starting pitcher Kristina Weltzin and Cardinals starting pitcher Morgan Anderson dominated, keeping the game scoreless through five innings. In the bottom of the sixth, junior catcher Taylor Ten Eyck doubled to start the inning. Then, after Plattsburgh pulled Anderson in favor of reliever Taylor Smith, senior third baseman Jena Servidone doubled in T. Ten Eyck and the Engineers took a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the seventh, the Cardinals responded. With two outs and catcher Jackie Decker on first, third baseman Hope VanBrocklin doubled, sending Decker home to tie the score at 1.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, T. Ten Eyck singled up the middle and junior second baseman Danielle Balestrini scored to give the Engineers the win.

In the second game of the doubleheader, T. Ten Eyck drilled a two-run homerun in the fourth inning to give the Engineers a 2-1 lead. It wasn’t enough though, as the Cardinals tied the score in the seventh and scored the eventual game-winning run in the eighth.

In the first game between RPI and Skidmore, junior designated hitter Morgan Ten Eyck broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning off of a sophomore first baseman Stephanie Caudle RBI single. Then, in the fifth inning, Servidone doubled to bring in T. Ten Eyck, giving the Engineers a two-run cushion. Skidmore rallied in the seventh, scoring a run on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Dani DeGregory. Weltzin then shut the door on the Thoroughbreds, earning her sixth win of the season. On the day she allowed just one hit and struck out seven, leading the Engineers to a 2-1 win.

In the second game of the day, Caudle started at pitcher and helped herself on the offensive end in the early goings. Caudle blasted a two-run homer over the right field wall to put the Engineers up 2-0. Then, in the third, RPI loaded the bases with one out and managed to score two more runs.

Caudle struggled in the sixth inning, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk. Still, RPI led after six innings, 4-3. After an opening single by the Thoroughbreds in the top of the seventh, the Engineers finished the game by forcing Skidmore into a double play and a groundout. With the win, Caudle improved to a record of 4-2 and recorded four strikeouts, bringing her season total to 61.

Yesterday, the Engineers played two against Oneonta at Doris Robison Field. In a wild first game, both teams scored one run in the first seven innings. The Red Dragons scored in the first inning on a left-fielder Katie O’ Gorman single up the middle. In the second, an error by Oneonta shortstop Marlene Cuevas allowed M. Ten Eyck to score from third.

The next five frames resulted in zeros for each side, and the game went to extra innings tied at one. Then, in the top of the eighth inning, Oneonta catcher Brianna Rivera doubled into the left field gap to bring home centerfielder Ashley Lefebvre. RPI responded, scoring a run of its own on a Servidone single past the pitcher.

In the ninth, the Red Dragons loaded the bases with one out following a walk, an error, and a fielder’s choice. Then, second baseman Jamie Whittam took advantage of a pitch over the center of the plate by drilling it over the wall for a grand slam.

Down 6-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the Engineers desperately rallied to keep their hopes alive. Freshman infielder Kacie Herity scored on a wild pitch and freshman shortstop Victoria Greco scored on a centerfielder Christine White single. The rally came up short, though. The final score was Oneonta 6, Rensselaer 4.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Red Dragons stayed hot early, scoring two runs in the top of the first. The Engineers wasted little time in retaliating. In the bottom of the second, RPI loaded the bases with two outs. Then, a throwing error by Oneonta pitcher Jenn Brocco allowed Caudle and freshman rightfielder Devan Puhl to score. A Balestrini single up the middle brought in Herity and senior centerfielder Kathleen Baker. After two innings, RPI led 4-2.

Runs by Oneonta in the third and fourth allowed them to tie the game at four. RPI junior starting pitcher Victoria Hepworth gave way to Caudle, who finished off the final three and two-thirds innings with five strikeouts and no runs allowed.

The game-winning run for Rensselaer came in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore leftfielder Morgan Kollmeier doubled to left to bat in Balestrini. Later, in the sixth inning, M. Ten Eyck also doubled to drive in Servidone.

The game ended with the Engineers winning 6-4. With four wins in six games, RPI improved to 12-4 on the season. Next up for Rensselaer is a road trip to western New York to face Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

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DERBY

PU says thank you for term

Hey RPI!

So Grand Marshal Week is right around the corner, and therefore, it is the end of my term as the 125th President of the Union. Since next week’s article will be all about GM Week I would like to take this chance to thank all of those people who have made my time in office as amazing as it has been.

First, I would like to thank the wonderful Union Administration office. Thank you, each and every one of you, for answering my countless questions. Thank you to Michelle for always preparing things for the Executive Board meetings every week. Thank you to Jean for dealing with the countless scheduling hassles. Thank you to Holly for all of your work with the wonderful new website and proofreading every speech, press release, announcement, and poster. Thank you to Cameron and Martha for knowing everything about everything and always being available to help me plan and schedule events, as well as appreciate the history and tradition of the Rensselaer Union and each individual club we support. Thank you to Amy for coming in this year and really taking charge with the programming clubs. Thank you to Steve for always supporting me, understanding my athletic-Union life balance, and inspiring me to run in the first place. Thank you to Joe Campo for working with all of our student staff and helping each of us to grow as an employee and as a person. Finally, thank you to Joe Cassidy for putting in the time to attend every Executive Board and Senate meeting, answering the most random questions, even if I asked in a panicked text message on the weekend, but most importantly thank you for being an advisor I can always count on and always having the students here at Rensselaer be your top priority. I would also like to thank Linda McCloskey from the Archer Center for being a wonderful advisor from the very start of campaigning. Linda and Joe have been irreplaceable in the time they have spent helping Kyle and me prepare for all of the Board of Trustee presentations, as well as developing our skills to lead and manage others.

I would also like to thank all of my coaches, especially Leslie DeLano, for being understanding with my hectic schedule which allowed me to participate fully as both a captain of my lacrosse team and as President of the Union. As a coach, she not only helps us become better players, but more importantly helps us grow over our four years to become well rounded, better peopl and we can never thank her enough for that.

Thanks must also be given to my Executive Board members. They have done a lot of great work this year, especially in developing a balanced and fair budget for all students. This year has been more challenging than ones past, but they made it work and I am so proud and so appreciative of all their hard work. Thank you to my committee chairs, especially Nimit Dhulekar, to all of our the Union student workers, and to all the students who have helped make this year as awesome as it has been and for electing me as President last April.

With all the thank yous out of the way, here is some quick, fun information! Relay for Life is coming up fast and if your club or group of friends wants to start a team, you can go to http://relayforlife.org/rpiny and click “Start a Team” to participate! The Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide prevention will be taking place on campus on Saturday, April 11 from 11am-2pm with check-in beginning at 9:30 am. Check out their Facebook event, “RPI Out of The Darkness Walk”. GM week, themed Mardi Gras, is next week so make sure to get out there and vote for the next round of student leaders!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to stop by my office hours (8:30–10:30 am on Wednesdays) or shoot me an email at pu@rpi.edu. Have a great week!

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ENTERPRENEURSHIP

United States contains plenty of inspiration

The land of opportunity. This is just one of the many nicknames given to the United States, fulfilling the concept of the “American Dream.” In recent years, however, many people have been questioning the legitimacy of the concept as it has become increasingly difficult to make your way in this country. When faced with a harsh job market, there is only one logical solution: make your own job! And that’s what many Americans did, rekindling the innovative spirit that this country was built on and prompting an influx of start-ups. Despite this big-thinking entrepreneurial bug, one group is restricted in their abilities. In a recent Kauffman Policy Digest, the Kauffman Foundation revealed that immigrants, that is, those most well-known for pursuing the American Dream, have an extremely difficult time realizing their innovative ideas due to legal barriers. Also according to the Digest, “immigrants are almost twice as likely to start businesses in the United States as native-born Americans, with many of these firms creating large numbers of jobs.” It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to find a major disconnect between these two statements. Why are the most entrepreneurial among us also among the most oppressed, at least in a start-up sense? The answer lies in convoluted pages of legal jargon about visas and programs available (or not as the case may be) to immigrants. The Foundation goes further, outlining ideas that are floating around on federal, state and local levels that would broaden visa capabilities and afford immigrants training opportunities to begin their own business. To put it simply, these changes would make quite a shake-up in the start-up community. If there is one consistency across all start-ups, it is that beginning a business is a collaborative process. Putting up restrictions prevents the best and brightest ideas that come through collaboration to even exist. Entrepreneurship needs to be a free and open process in order for it to thrive. With the current state of immigration affairs, things are clearly broken and it is up to Congress to pass reform to fix it. The United States is the Land of Opportunity and the home of the American Dream that so many people strive for. Let’s work toward that goal instead of suppressing the very spirit of this country.

The Kauffman Policy Digest can be found at http://poly.rpi.edu/s/0m918.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the Editor:

Thank you for your careful and damning study of RPI’s deteriorating finances in comparison with the more successful trajectories at Lehigh University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Rochester Institute of Technology. Your story is exactly the kind of exposé that college newspapers ought to undertake regularly to help hold administrators, trustees, and professors accountable.

I have one clarification to offer. Your article quoted a vice president as claiming that the Institute has added 320 new faculty, a notion that is terribly misleading. These professors are merely replacing those who have retired, died, or moved to other universities. Comparing the 1999–2000 catalog with the 2014–2015 catalog, one finds the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty to be almost identical: There has been little, if any, increase during President Shirley Ann Jackson’s years in office. The evidence is so simple that it is difficult to understand how anyone could mistakenly believe “adding faculty” to be an accurate or noteworthy achievement; I have heard both professors and lower-level administrators interpret the claim as a deliberate distortion, but I have no personal knowledge of the motives involved.

I also have one addition to your story: Many trustees, students, alumni, staff, and faculty may not know that the administration was formally required to gain budgetary approval from the Senate Planning and Resources Committee under the Faculty Handbook and Constitution that prevailed prior to the 2007 dissolution of the Senate. Well before that date, Vice President for Finance Virginia Gregg had simply stopped submitting the budget for approval. If the longstanding, mandatory procedure had actually been followed, the Faculty Senate never would have allowed the present budget bollix to have come about. As an elected senator, I told Ms. Gregg over a decade ago that she should be fired for dereliction of duty for violating the written governance agreement between faculty and administration. I later apologized for speaking too harshly—but I now regret the apology.

Edward Woodhouse

Professor of Political Science

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ALUM101

Letters to the Editor

RPI life lessons for success at school and beyond

These are the days.

A very popular song, when I was a student at RPI, was “These Are the Days” by 10,000 Maniacs. It was a favorite of mine as well. As a senior, I was ready to leave Troy behind, spread my wings far and wide, and start a life that would create memories that would bring such warm feelings (because trust me—it was not RPI—especially having taken 24 credits in order to ensure an on-time graduation!).

Recently, I heard the song again and the strange thing was, it was those memories of RPI that came to mind as I hummed along …

When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour.

You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.

It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

RPI provided me the skills for success. As you transition from student to alumnus/a, and the world awaits with opportunities and hardship alike, here are some “life lessons” that I wish someone would’ve told me.

Don’t be in a rush. Unless you are a professional runner, don’t be so focused on a goal or an achievement that you miss out on the journey. There are many roads to success, and RPI has given you the skills to be successful, so take some time to enjoy what you are doing. Remember: it’s the journey, not the destination.

It’s not about what you achieve, but how you achieve it. This is particularly important as you become older. Up to now, success has been largely defined by being right—getting answers on a test right, giving a professor the right answer in class, etc. But in the corporate work environment, being right does not matter much if it makes your coworkers look bad or makes them resent you. There is no “I” in team, so use your intelligence to make the team stronger. Your peers will want to work with you and for you, and management will see a leader and a strong team player.

It’s all about your network. Every job I have gotten since my first one has been through my network of former bosses, peers, and RPI alumni! Most industries are actually pretty small, so every interaction is an opportunity to build your network and be the person that people want on their project because they know you.

Don’t be afraid to try. Fear of failing held me back from so many different things in life. RPI students are not ones who are used to failure. But you know what? As with most things, the fear of failure is worse than reality. I was once so afraid of asking for a role that I wanted—I thought for sure I would just crumble if I heard the word “no” and not be able to recover. But once I mustered the courage to ask, and heard “No,” I did not crumble. In fact it was liberating, as I no longer spent time thinking and worrying about it. I moved on and learned how strong I really was.

Failure is good for so many reasons—especially when the alternative is to play it safe or limit yourself from seizing opportunities.

When I look back at my time as a student, I realize that RPI has given me these skills—that did grow and bloom in me. Participation in Union clubs and activities, and being a member in a sorority taught me the value of teamwork. Trying to juggle a full engineering load taught me valuable time management and multitasking skills. Impossible classwork taught me how to think analytically and critically.

I wish you all a very successful future.

Maria Adriana Ciunga ’91, ’93G is a vice president in the global technology department at JP Morgan Chase, having spent over 22 years in financial services working for Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and ION Trading. She received her BS in industrial engineering and her MBA from Rensselaer. Maria currently serves on the Rensselaer Alumni Association Board of Trustees.You may reach her at maria_ciunga@hotmail.com.

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GM Week Issue

Constitution Amendments – Full Text

The full text of the Union Constitution amendments can be found here:

Amendment Descriptions

Full Amendment Writeups

2015 Constitution with Tracked Changes

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