Hello RPI! As you may know, I am the 146th Grand Marshal. The position of Grand Marshal (more commonly known as GM) is the highest elected office for RPI students. Created in 1865 with the election of Albert M. Harper from the Class of 1867, the position of GM is a key element of RPI’s history. Initially intended to promote unity and represent the study body, the duties of the GM have come to include chairing the Student Senate and acting as chief liaison between students and the administration.
While few have quite the history of Harper (who was also a Civil War hero and local celebrity), modern GMs continue to represent students as their chief elected representative. Recent GMs have played integral roles in promoting student initiatives and interests on campus. For example, the preceding GMs have served on the selection committee for the new director of the Rensselaer Union, organized committees capable of projects such as bringing Moe’s Southwest Grill to campus, and frequently met with members of the RPI administration to ensure the preservation of students’ rights.
The GM also serves as the chair of the Senate. Not only does this task include leading Senate meetings, it involves coordinating schedules of 24 Senators, ensuring the continued productivity of the Senate committees and bringing Senate work to the attention of both the student body and the RPI administration.
One of the first things a new GM must do is appoint students to several important posts. These include the chairpersons of the Senate committees, representatives to institute wide committees (ex: Board of Trustees, Student Life Committee) and a representative to the Union Executive Board. The GM must also bring the President of the Union’s appointments for the Executive Board, and the Judicial Board Selection Committee appointments for the Judicial Board to the Senate for approval.
A key component of the Grand Marshal position has always been the representation of the student body. In order to accomplish this task, Grand Marshals hold frequent meetings with the director of the Union, the vice president of Student Life, and to some degree, the president of the Institute.
If you want to know more about the position of Grand Marshal, feel free to e-mail me at GM@rpi.edu. I have some interesting articles about Harper, as well as records from recent Senates and GMs. The GM Week Committee’s website (http://gmweek.union.rpi.edu/) also has interesting information regarding the history of GM Week elections. As always, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at GM@rpi.edu or the Senate at JustAsk@rpi.edu with your questions, comments, and concerns.