The Graduate Student Council met with the candidates for Grand Marshal and President of the Union this week to listen to their platforms and assess how they would benefit graduate students.
The PU candidates Greg Bartell ’17 and Andrew Sudano ’17 were both available to meet with us. Both candidates agree that there needs to be a stronger student voice and an increase in transparency. To accomplish these goals, Bartell would like to create a separate court of appeals for club budgeting, appoint Executive Board members based on club recommendations and increase communication about the budgeting process. Likewise, Sudano emphasized a focus on communicating the budgeting process with a focus on social media and providing a constant flow of information to students. There were several additional points in Sudano’s platform that were more focused on graduate student issues, and for that reason we chose to formally endorse Andrew Sudano for President of the Union. He made it clear he wants to increase the representation of graduate students on the E-Board by appointing more graduate members and a graduate vice chairman. He plans to create a task force to analyze how our activity fee is being spent and if graduate students are paying too much towards the Activity Fee. Beyond that, Sudano hopes to see what resources graduate students are using and if there are any the Union is lacking. Additionally, he discussed creating a Rensselaer Union alumni donation site where donations will go directly to benefiting students and can be used to curb the cost of the Graduate Activity Fee and may be used to help offset the implementation of the graduate Clustered Learning Advocacy and Support for Students fee. Overall, we support Sudano’s initiative with regards to graduate student issues and believe his goals will be beneficial to our class.
The GM candidates Marcus Flowers ’16 and Michael Han ’16 were both available to meet with us. Both candidates had unique ideas on how to improve Student Government. We support both candidates equally and have summarized their platforms below. Flowers emphasized academics first, increasing interaction between graduate students and undergraduates with a mentoring program and increasing the academic resources for grads. Second, Flowers discussed the quality of student life, voicing his concerns over the CLASS fee and the release of personal information outside of RPI, stating it violated student rights. His goal is to work more closely with the administration, specifically the Office of Graduate Education, to fight for graduate student input on these decisions. To support these goals, Flowers would like to expand the RPI community by working with other colleges in the area to co-sponsor social and academic events. Han discussed his platform which included three main points: transparency, visibility, and accountability. He would like to increase communication with the student body, focusing on using social media. To communicate with graduate students, Han discussed coordinating with the GSC and advertising at GSC events. Han also wants to increase the visibility of the Student Government projects, with an emphasis on tackling tangible projects that benefit the RPI community. He supports an aggressive campaign to gather feedback from students so the Senate can be held accountable to their constituents. Both candidates agreed to support the graduate student stance on the CLASS fee, and will work with the GSC to find a solution. With regards to GSC budgeting, both candidates are supportive of a GSC budget free of E-Board oversight.
We are impressed with all candidates and their dedication to improving RPI as a whole. Best luck to all candidates, and remember to vote on Thursday! The Graduate Student Council consists of members elected by the graduate student body every year during GM week. Using a budget formed by the Graduate Student Activity Fee, the council holds events and activities for graduate students. The current Graduate Council consists of President Kristen Lee, Vice President Mike Caiola, Treasurer Nick Thompson, Secretary Benjamin Walcott, Robyn Marquis, James Gambino, Jennifer Kile, Spencer Scott, and Jen Church.