Power in the Union

To the Editor,

The news of the past several weeks out of RPI feels like a stab in the heart. I have read news from the Institute over the years—dissolving the Faculty Senate, poor treatment of faculty and staff, precipitous changes to residence life policies, and more—with increasing dismay. None, however, have hit me as closely as the recent moves against the Rensselaer Union.

The Union made me who I am today. It gave me the opportunity to learn citizenship and responsibility in a way that is impossible in a more traditional, Administration-run Union. As a student leader, I learned to balance varied interests, to work constructively to advance the needs of my fellow students, to reach agreement with others of good will and different opinions, and to speak to those in power knowing I had a right to be informed and be heard.

In short, I learned to govern. Because of my experiences at the Union, I turned my career into one of public service, working to extend voting rights to all Americans, and to protect our environment, women’s rights to choose, and worker’s rights to organize. The Rensselaer Union made me a better citizen of my community, my nation, and the world.

A student-run union makes RPI distinct. Whatever the apparent short-term benefits, I can see no positives in gutting such a special institution.

Christopher P. Gill ’02

Co-founder Statler and Waldorf