Graduate Council met with the candidates running for Grand Marshal and President of the Union. We asked several questions to each candidate regarding how they would involve and support graduate students in their goals for the Student Senate and Rensselaer Union. Based on their responses and platforms, we have decided to endorse a candidate for GM and PU.
The responsibilities of the GM are extensive. The GM serves as the leader of the Senate and guides Senate committees in their pursuit of student life, academic and facilities projects. While both candidates had ideas for committee projects, Paul Ilori ’17 impressed us with his extensive work as a senator and Student Life Committee Chairperson. Under Ilori’s leadership, the SLC has completed Residence Hall Access and Inclement Weather Policy Proposals. Ilori has completed many projects on other committees as well, gaining insight into committee processes and developing working relationships with relevant Institute administrators. Furthermore, Ilori has identified communication as an issue between the student body and the Institute. With his goals, we believe Ilori will be able to improve student involvement on campus and revitalize methods of online communication with the student body.
In terms of graduate student support, Ilori has emphasized the newwed for improved communication between the Senate and the graduate student body. He hopes to reach out to graduate students using several avenues. Ilori suggested a closer collaboration with the Graduate Council, face to face interactions and other efforts, including postering common graduate student haunts on campus.
Our next endorsement is for the position of PU. In the past year, this position has increased in scope. Previously, the PU oversaw the Executive Board and budgeting process for the Union Activity Fee. This year, there was increasing demand for the PU to liaise with Institute administrators and secure student representation in Institute affairs, especially those concerning the operation of the Union. Though each candidate emphasized their desire to work with the Institute, Chip Kirchner ’17 has developed a plan of action that will provide solutions to problems students currently face.
Kirchner presented his plan for the E-Board, emphasizing an enhanced training program for the E-Board and a plan for Summer Arch. With more financial training, he hopes that the E-Board will have a deeper understanding of the fiscal policy of the Union and Institute. As PU, Kirchner also hopes to increase the leadership opportunities by delegating projects, meetings and tasks to senior members of the Board. We believe a student like PU candidate Shannon Gillespie McComb ’17 will be instrumental in developing and coordinating these projects. This hierarchy will provide a valuable experience to E-Board members and ensure student opinion is represented consistently to Institute leaders.
Additionally, Kircher plans to review Union activities and programs so students get the most out of their activity fee, specifically those not involved in clubs. Kirchner also intends to increase communication with the student body, especially towards graduate students, by approaching students directly and working with the Graduate Council in event planning. The Graduate Council was excited to meet with these candidates, and looks forward to the improvements they may bring to RPI. We wish the best of luck to all candidates, and implore graduate students to vote on Thursday!