Recently, signs have appeared around campus proclaiming things like “Stop RPI from being a sinking ship!” and “Why are all my professors leaving?”
The Alliance for Responsible Governance—the group responsible for placing the posters—was formed to voice students’ disapproval with recent events that have occurred at RPI. Several of the issues that the group are upset with include the high faculty overturn rate, the increase in tuition, the drop in ratings, and many others. A representative from the group wishing to remain anonymous said, “Over the years, we’ve seen a few issues rise up, get a little bit of traction, and then seemingly fall off the wagon.” ARG hopes to remedy that by bringing awareness to all of these recent and past issues.
The anonymous source reminded us, “This is not about Dr. [Shirley Ann] Jackson. She has truly done some great things for RPI, bringing some overdue attention to many of the strengths of the Institute,” but that that many people still have “uneasy feelings” about how RPI is being run. Many of the administration’s recent changes have not been well-supported by all students. Also, RPI no longer offers languages, and the Faculty Senate was disbanded a few years ago with no sign of it being reformed in the near future.
The source stated: “Our ultimate goal is to spur the student government to action.” The Student Senate says it has been looking at this and other issues. Russell Brown ’14, director of communications for the Senate, said they are “seeking to ensure the continued excellence of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.”
The group also feels that the recent changes in the president’s staff, especially the departure of Chief of Staff Laban Coblentz, are likely to make people even more uneasy than they already are. “Now, imagine that you’re another faculty member, if you’re the head of a department. We want to be the best, to push the envelope; that involves risk. Given that [Coblentz] … was ejected in a somewhat clandestine manner, do you think you’ll be able to take risks comfortably?” the source asked. ARG calls for more transparency in this and other matters.
The group would ultimately like to see a shift in administrative attitude to reflect students’ needs. ARG feels that many of the recent changes at RPI have not only come at the expense of students, but have hurt the overall profile of the Institute. As students, they want to make sure their alma mater remains a prestigious school and an inviting learning environment. According to ARG, the group is not against the administration of President Jackson, but in support of a better future for the Institute as a whole.
At the Senate meeting on Monday, October 17, a committee to “investigate the current state and direction of the Institute” was formed. Brown said, “Our job is to represent the needs of students to the administration. This committee is dedicated to making sure that the current state and direction of RPI accurately reflects the needs of students.”