The Union’s breadth is much greater than many realize. Most people encounter the building that we call the Union on their first visit to campus and do not realize that there is more to it than that. Of course, to us the Rensselaer Union is not just a building, but an entire structure of student-supported and student-run facilities, activities, and organizations.
From an infrastructure point of view, our campus has grown tremendously over the past few years. While the physical facilities directly run by the Rensselaer Union are primarily the Mueller Center and the Union itself, the growth of our campus has made more spaces available to be utilized by clubs and activities. The construction of the East Campus Athletic Village fields, arena, and stadium has made those areas available for student use and, perhaps more importantly, taken a load off the Mueller Center, the Alumni Sports & Recreation Center (the Armory), the ’87 Gym, and the ’86 Field.
For programming, general recreation, and athletics, these locations are extremely valuable to the student body. One task at hand for the renovation of these facilities is to help tailor them to student needs. The Union Executive Board’s Athletics and Recreation Committee will be helping the administration look at these exact issues over the next few months. Check out what they are doing and leave your input at http://forum.union.rpi.edu/.
With more venues open more often for student activity, we expect an explosion of recreation opportunities. We have already seen a huge increase in the number of intramural soccer teams, which is a very positive sign. Union activities are increasingly moving outside the bounds of traditional Union facilities to take advantage of the growth of RPI as a whole.
Growth has not been limited to the physical dimension. Already, this year has seen the formation of four new Union-approved clubs, with more likely to be added in the near future. We now have Club Baseball, a Secular Students Alliance Club, a Battlebots Club, and a club for Unitarian Universalism (UU@RPI). The number of clubs has been steadily approaching the 200 mark. The Executive Board’s Constitution Committee is the gateway for new clubs, and you can monitor their work on the forum as well.
To me, the impressive thing about student clubs at RPI is not only the sheer number or the opportunities for activity they provide, but also the leadership opportunities they present to our student body. Every club has a set of officers including a president and a treasurer. Every year each club funded by the Union has to present a budget proposal to the Executive Board listing their expenses for the next year and planning for their clubs’ activities. The experiences available to involved students goes a long way toward preparing them for life after college and seeing the “big picture” needed for anybody wishing to step into a management or leadership role.