The Polytechnic has chosen to endorse Kyle Keraga ’15 as Grand Marshal. The Grand Marshal is the highest elected student official at RPI and serves as the head of the Student Senate. Additionally, the GM is charged with representing the entire student body and voicing their concerns to the appropriate parties. The GM, therefore, holds a great deal of responsibility in both Student Government and across the campus as a whole.
Keraga has been a passionate and dedicated member of Student Government since his freshman year, is the president of Undergraduate Council, and is the chairman of the Student Life Committee. Some of his many successes and programs coming from his time as both a senator and committee chairman, include the proposed recommendations for changes to RPI’s excuse policy, the recently passed prescription drug initiative, and the proposal for a flat-rate taxi fee for students. Keraga has consistently worked to better the lives of his fellow students, something which we believe he will continue to do into his term as GM.
Keraga appears to be a very accessible candidate who understands the needs of students and is someone who is the correct direction for campus and Student Government as RPI rapidly grows. Keraga realizes that he himself or even all of the Senate cannot always make direct, massive changes to campus; however, they can use their power to raise awareness and start plans for change. Two of the main campus-wide projects in this style which he plans to begin during his term include working with Sodexo to improve the quality of food across campus and raising awareness with the administration on how the Quadrangle Residence Halls need to be added to a list, which already includes the Rensselaer Apartment Housing Projects, of residence halls that need immediate attention due to poor living conditions. While these may seem like grandiose ideas that are difficult to accomplish, Keraga is so well informed about them that we believe he has a chance. He has already begun talks with the associated parties, such as Sodexo, on what options there are to get started in making improvements and seem truly passionate about improving the experience for his fellow students.
The Student Senate has struggled with some problems in recent years that include things like transparency. Keraga has considered these problems and has made it one of his goals to improve on them. For the transparency issue, he hopes to further utilize social networks, specifically Reddit, to allow students to hear about Senate projects, connect with both him and other senators, and voice concerns. Additionally, he hopes to personally connect with as many people as possible, including building relationships with clubs and Greek houses. Keraga believes that by doing this, he will be able to improve visibility and knowledge of Senate activity and maybe even foster involvement. An additional change to Senate he would like to see put into place is a greater emphasis on the use of referenda for applicable issues–for example, those which could possibly affect a large portion of the student body. We feel this would be a good change to make with the hope that a new focus on referenda will lead to clearer ones in future years.
Kyle is the ideal candidate for the position because he truly cares about RPI: he wants to see things change in a positive way, knows what needs to be done, and is prepared to take on the tough issues with the correct approach. He is also the most prepared candidate for the position with his immense experience and success with Student Government. Adding to this, how well he has researched and planned for the work he wants to do across campus, we really think he has a strong chance at great successes.
Beyond Student Government itself, Keraga is the exact type of person who should be representing RPI’s student body as a whole: he doesn’t concern himself with one single issue, and he comes across as a strongly personable student that speaks well and sincerely. After meeting with all candidates, he impressed us the most with his knowledge and ability to think on his feet, which would parlay well into working in parallel with senators, fellow students, and the administration.
While we feel strongly that Kyle Keraga is the strongest choice for the position of Grand Marshal out of the group of candidates, it does comes down to the student body’s decision as a whole on who they want to see as their next GM. If you would like to learn more about Keraga’s platform and his own answers to our questions, see http://poly.rpi.edu/88672.