We are all feeling it in one way or another right now. Whether it’s fear that we won’t get our showing of support today, fear of losing professional prospects, or fear of expulsion, we all are feeling at least a hint of fear.
RPI, its president, and her cabinet have conditioned this fear into us. We have all heard the stories of Lee Sharma. We all know about the suspension of the Faculty Senate as a retaliatory measure. We all know the vice president for human resources, Curtis Powell, is called “the assassin.” We all know that out of 14 former deans and VPs only two would go on record with The Chronicle of Higher Education out of fear of reprisal, even those who have long since left the Institute. Staff and faculty members (and many students too) still hide their support in anonymous interaction with students, petrified that their voice might be identified and a target placed on their back.
Fear has become as much of a part of the culture at RPI as late nights and creative minds. This is our moment to make the president, cabinet, and ultimately the Board of Trustees feel the fear they have made us to feel over our time here.
They are already feeling it. Dr. Jackson has personally responded to the protests in the Troy Record article and been interviewed for a piece in the Times Union today, moves that the reporter has said “she never does.” They have outsourced their PR strategy to an outside firm because they know we are in this for the long haul and for real change and that we will accept nothing less.
The president wants her students to be resilient? We are by acting in face of the fear she creates. We do it in the face of retaliation. We do it because we care. I can’t think of a better example of “resilient leadership.”
This is our time to redefine RPI. This is our time to take a stand. This is OUR Union, this is OUR RPI.
See you in class today.
Jeremy Feldman ’16