Student blog advocates change

On Tuesday, RPI is RPI not Rensselaer, a student- run group, held its first public meeting to discuss their mission on campus as well as their views on policy changes and campus current events. According to the website, http://www.rpiisrpi.com/ the group was recently created with the intent of organizing students and was building a public voice for their concerns regarding RPI in general.

The meeting, which was held in CII room 4050, was attended by between 20 and 30 students who were primarily from the classes of 2012 and 2013. Presiding over the event and giving the opening speech was Dan Weeks ’10. Several points were examined, with a large portion of the discussion focused on the accessibility of President Shirley Ann Jackson in comparison to previous presidents, such as George M. Low. Weeks stated that Low could often be found amongst the students and that his policy changes, while also controversial at the time, were “still clearly in line with a polytechnic institute.” In regards to recent housing grant policy changes, the point was also made that, “RPI is not a business; it’s an academic research institution.”

Weeks invited everyone in the audience to find someone that they did not previously know and start a discussion, in order to demonstrate the effect of opening a fresh dialogue. By the end of the discussion, several students expressed that they felt there was a disconnect between the students and the administration, and that a good portion of the campus controversies stemmed not from the actual policy but from the lack of communication and poor explanation of the reasoning behind new initiatives.

Dan Weeks hopes that meetings like this can be held regularly and plans to invite more faculty and administration members to attend the discussions and contribute to the forum. This initial meeting was attended by a member of the administration, President Jackson’s Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President for Policy and Planning Laban Coblentz. RPI is RPI expressed on their website that his attendance was not announced in advance, but contributed to the success of the meeting. He was able to answer questions on some of the policy changes being discussed, such as housing grants and the Incubator Center.

Afterwards, when asked about the direction that the meeting had taken, Weeks said, “I had some things in mind for tonight, and tonight was none of those, but still successful,” and that, “We got answers tonight that we didn’t have before.” Future meeting times and locations will be posted on their website, http://www.rpiisrpi.com/.