Top Hat

New semester marks new direction for Senate

Hello RPI! My name is Russell Brown and I am currently the Acting Grand Marshal. As I am new to writing Top Hats, I am going to inform you of the new plans for the Student Senate this semester.

I am happy to announce that the Senate is off to a productive start this new semester. During the first cabinet meeting, members decided to place a renewed emphasis on projects with tangible results. Projects, the “meat and potatoes” of Senate work, are generally the main focus of committees. Each senator is required to be an active member of at least two committees or the chair of one committee. Some notable examples of past Senate projects include the Darrin Communications Center/Center for Industrial Innovation chalkboards and murals, the State of the Union Address, improved availability of language learning software, Moe’s Southwestern Grill, and much more.

The start of the new semester marks a new direction for the Senate. During the previous semester, the Senate spent a great deal of time and energy on issues regarding the state of the Institute. This investigation yielded a great deal of information from which the Senate has the opportunity to start new projects. As the focus shifts away from investigation, look for an increase in the number of programs and initiatives coming from the Senate.

With its renewed focus on projects, the Senate is looking to improve relationships with members of the Rensselaer administration. While this relationship has become somewhat strained, a strong liaison network and willingness to collaborate are the keys to success. The liaison network is a powerful tool in which each cabinet member develops a relationship with a member of the administration or cabinet. This relationship is a two way street, allowing increased communication and collaboration on programs and initiatives. This network will continue to be developed, as it can only have positive affects for all involved.

One of my favorite qualities of Rensselaer students is an incredible entrepreneurial spirit. When students feel passionate, they make things happen. Just look at our Union, and the new clubs which are added each year. If your passion is to improve life at Rensselaer, then the Senate is the place for you! We have committees focused on academics, student life, finance, facilities, and more. Open to all students, these committees can be large or small commitments. All students are welcome to get involved and take on projects, or just stop by to see what’s going on. The Senate will have a table at the Spring Activities Fair (February 4 from 1–4 pm in the Rensselaer Union.) We will have signups for our SenInterest informational e-mail list, and senators who can discuss current projects of the Senate. If you have any interest in committees or ideas for committees to work on, stop by the table or e-mail the Senate at

The Senate is currently looking to fill a number of student positions. As you may know, the Faculty Senate constitution was recently approved. The Faculty Senate is currently looking for three students (two undergraduate, one graduate) to serve on the Curriculum Committee. Students are also able to nominate one tenured professor to serve on the Promotion and Tenure Committee. However, those are just a few of many open positions. The Senate is also currently looking for a new Secretary, Student Life Committee Chairman, and Student Rights Subcommittee Chairman. If you or someone you know is interested in any of these positions, please e-mail me at

I hope everyone’s semester got off to a great start! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at, or the Senate at