Top Hat

Making attempts to understand student distress

Patrons of the Polytechnic,

First, I would like to make clear that I am not the leader of the protest, nor have I been inciting students to protest. Students have passions that are high because this is important to them, so they have organized themselves under the idea of protecting the experiences they have had thus far, plain and simple.

Second, the document put together by the President of the Union detailing our collective efforts to meet with administration in the initial phase of this current situation is primarily a meeting record, and not a statement of the stance of Student Government. If you have not read this, please do, as I use it to form a background for the rest of my article.

Students are upset, as any of us (faculty, administration, alumni, and peers) can see. As a voice for the students, elected by the students, I will do my best to translate the primary concerns students have, so that everyone can discuss this on a level information field. Students are concerned with a portion of the Student Life Division restructuring, not the entire restructuring. The part that is particularly concerning is the posting of the executive director of student activities position, as this position has a clearly defined role overseeing the Rensselaer Union, as well as further undefined duties. This direct citing of the Union as a responsibility will ultimately affect the Union, and this occurred without informing student leadership of the Union. After a series of large changes to the student lifestyle, with less than desirable levels of communication, the students fear they will continue to be left out of the conversation, or only informed afterwards. This Union is a central point for activity on campus, enabling students to experience a vast array of leadership opportunities, skill developments, cultural exposures, and forms of social and academic support. While this is a private institution, and it must function as such, we have enjoyed a history of inclusiveness that is highly valued, and we wish to see that into the future.

So, what I would like you, as invested readers to do, is to go back to my second point in this article: get informed. How you feel will be determined by your experiences and history as a person, inside and outside of Rensselaer, but I ask that you make yourself an informed individual first and foremost.

After looking at the Rensselaer Plan 2024, I have seen how much of it is supported and advanced naturally by the Rensselaer Union. I would go as far to say that the Rensselaer Plan 2024 cannot succeed without the Union, as it is a key element to the student way of life at RPI. So, I will continue to re-engage the conversation with the administration on what makes the Union special, why its natural mechanisms cannot be hindered for the betterment of RPI as a whole, and what we can do to advance as one community. I thoroughly believe that, with increased communication with the president’s office, we can reach solutions that neither group has considered, and can help demonstrate our ability as problem solvers in the 21st century.

My job as Grand Marshal is to communicate the passions of the students in a level-headed setting, to gather all the pieces of the puzzle, and to encourage students to maximize their experiences in their college career. I offer you my tireless efforts to find a collaborative answer to all of this, and the promise that I will represent the student passions in a productive and effective manner.

As always, gm@rpi.edu awaits your emails.