Union balances work, play

The yearly cycle here at RPI is fairly consistent. We’ve again reached that point where Thanksgiving break is a mere hair’s breadth away, keeping the semester’s hectic schedule of homework, exams, projects, and activities in perspective. Freshmen are settled in, for the most part, and most have found those activities which suit them on campus, and seniors are busy searching for work, going on interviews, and finding themselves with as big a workload as ever.

Crunch time is almost here; the last few weeks of another semester where piles of deliverables arrive. Now is the time that it is important to use those life skills that got you here. When it’s time to buckle down, it takes will power, time management, persistence, and determination to get through and exceed expectations. I know that everyone admitted to this school is capable; it just comes down to applying yourself, caring, and using what resources you have.

As a representative of the Rensselaer Union, I believe that it is important to remind everybody that when the stress from school gets high, there is huge amount that can be gained from stepping away and forgetting about your work for a while. Of course, this needs to be done carefully and responsibly, but clearing your head from time to time can be of great value. The Union offers venues to work alone, collaborate, or relax, all under one roof. Most students who have been here for long enough have found that the Union is a great place to gather both for work and for play.

Last week, I mentioned a trip I was part of to the Association of College Unions–International Region 2 Conference. At that conference I had the opportunity to tour several unions and campus centers in the Rochester area, and talk to many students and professional staff from the upstate New York region. The purpose for student unions is varied, but always involves space and activities for students. That said, most of these spaces aren’t nearly as versatile as our facilities.

Here at RPI, the Union is one of the key places to meet, not just for activities, but also for studies. I would bet that nine out of 10 people at the ACU-I conference would have told me that the main gathering point for studies on their campus was their library. Their unions simply aren’t built to cater to both relaxation and studies. At an institute where balance is so important, it is fitting that our Union be flexible space for us to both work and play.

As the semester continues, swiftly approaching its end, I would like to invite everybody to take advantage of the Union, and let it serve you in whatever capacity you need. At RPI, it is sometimes important to put your head down and work. Other times, it is time to play and play hard. It’s up to you to manage these choices. Whatever you choose, the Union is here for you.