Due to the lack of any real GM opposition, the annual Grand Marshal, President of the Union debates were, in a sense, cancelled. Instead, all discussion was transferred to http://reddit.com/r/rpi/ in the form of an “Ask Me Anything” for each candidate.
Very little notice was given to the student body regarding the move to the popular website. Only the most consistent of redditors would have realized the event was to occur exclusively on the site, considering a lack of any official announcement. Even GM Week Committee members, when questioned prior to the original starting time of the debates, were unsure as to what was happening with the event.
Having posted an unofficial announcement 24 hours in advance, questions began trickling in from students early; however, enthusiasm soon died down. Some students took the opportunity to ask the possible candidates questions ranging from the typical questions like “100 duck sized horses vs. one horse sized duck” to more important inquiries such as “What strategies are most effective to motivate your committee chairs and senators?” However, with less than 15 posts per AMA, the sparse postings were lackluster and uninformative.
Whether it was due to the uncontested race, the sudden transfer of the event to reddit, a lack of advertisement, or overall student apathy—an unlikely cause, as this year’s polling numbers noted a significant student turnout of 48 percent—the “debates” were a rather pathetic show.
GM Charles Carletta ’14 was only provided with six questions to answer, versus PU Gretchen Sileo ’14 who had a total of 12 questions with “Where do babies come from?” as the top post, with only 12 upvotes.
The decision to move the event to reddit stemmed from the lack of any real debate an uncontested race could provide, according to the GM Week Committee Chairman William Schmidt ’13. “The hope was, with a lack of a competitive draw, an online forum would be a better opportunity for students to have their questions answered,” said Schmidt. Additionally, the Committee reached out to some of the more contested positions, such as the class presidents and vice presidents, to hold debates in place of the typical GM/PU candidates. However, “many were unavailable and could not support an interesting live debate.”
RPI’s subreddit, http://reddit.com/r/rpi/, has grown significantly since its creation in 2010. Winning the “Grow a College Subreddit Competition” in November 2011, the subreddit is known for its quick growth and active contributors and currently has 2,429 subscribers, or “nerds” according to the site. The subreddit’s “mods” did not respond to The Poly’s attempts to contact them for a comment regarding the event.