Students have power to change Union

Subsidy, support services, and recognition for over 175 clubs and organizations, which includes sponsorship of 23 varsity teams and over 50 intramural athletic clubs. Religious affairs, legal services, and an emergency loan program. A diverse selection of dining and food venues, ranging from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to late-night and anytime in between. Leadership, professional development, and educational opportunities in an organization among one of the few in the nation. Facilities ranging from a fitness center, bookstore, games room, post office, and performance and conference space. Most importantly, a building that welcomes all students and members of the Institute community; the Rensselaer Union has been the center of campus life since 1890 and in its current home since 1967. It is a student-managed union whose purpose is: “to unite all its members in a commitment to the ideals for which Rensselaer stands, to expand the extracurricular life at Rensselaer, to coordinate all student organizations, to act as a medium through which student opinion may be expressed, and to work with all other members of the Rensselaer community to encourage student initiative and to lead student action in all interests which will serve the welfare and the betterment of Rensselaer,” according to the Rensselaer Union Constitution.

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the first election of Grand Marshal and the 125th anniversary of the Rensselaer Union (an event that will occur in 2015), the Union’s highest priority for our performance plan for fiscal year 2011 is to develop a long-term planning process that will re-identify the purpose of the Union that aligns with the opinion of the student body and activity fee-paying members that contribute to its operation.

It is a rare opportunity as students to be tasked with such decision-making as managing an organization such as the Rensselaer Union. But here at RPI, many members of the student body do just that, committing their valuable time and energy. It goes without saying that the Union is a model of success for the student life experience here at Rensselaer, but we constantly strive to improve our work. That is why, in conjunction with the President of the Union, a long-range planning board will be established to evaluate all that the Union encompasses and recommend improvements to the legislative, financial, and judicial bodies that manage this organization.

I now call on any student, as you are a voting member of the Rensselaer Union, to speak up and say what you want to see our Union become. Let me know how you want to be involved—send me an e-mail at, or visit me at the GM/PU office in the Student Government Suite of the Union. As we evaluate each area that the Union deals with, I will be reaching out to all related parties to seek their opinions and share with them the opinion of others.

With the upcoming Family Weekend, reflect on your experiences here at Rensselaer with your friends, parents, and relatives. How has the Rensselaer Union contributed thus far, and what should it become?