This will be my final Top Hat article, and with everything going on, I’ll admit it really snuck up on me. I have a lot I wish I could tell everyone, so forgive me for being wordy.
I originally ran for office to see what I could provide for RPI, to find what I could do beyond my education, and to really enjoy the spirit that comes with running a campaign. I wanted to prove to students (and to myself) that we are all capable of taking control of our campus, and shaping it the way that we want to. I didn’t think I was going to deal with anything crazy, and just wanted to create a social lifestyle that students could hold as the pride of their time here.
Despite all of the challenges, controversies, and disagreements, I really do love student government, and all of the opportunities it offers students on our campus. Student government isn’t about the elections or the prestige; it’s about taking an idea that you have for the campus and finding out how to make it into reality. I’ve seen casual conversations between students turn into full-fledged projects brought to the high ends of the Institute, and seeing students take pride in their work afterwards is nothing short of heartwarming. I understand the concerns people have about being in the public eye, but after nearly four years here, I assure you that if you step up and ask for things to change, you’ll find more people standing behind you than you expected.
I would like to apologize for not getting to all of the items that I wanted to; it truly disappoints me. Namely, I wanted to have a great increase in academic resources for students, and to find ways to better connect the students of the Capital District. Fortunately, I can proudly say that there are students who are committed to seeing this happen, and I wish for their success in the coming years.
I genuinely love the students at this school—even if we may bicker at times with one another—and I don’t think anybody who has been in my position would disagree. Being Grand Marshal was not about being in the spotlight and the center of attention, but it was about being a resource that students could trust to be there for them in times of need. Students may be angry and upset, they may be joyous, and they may be apathetic. In all of these situations, the Grand Marshal is their advocate and must accept responsibility for anything and everything that follows. Summer Arch is not over with; there are many more conversations we must have with the administration about the campus environment, and we have to find ways to uplift every single student who feels an oppressive culture around them. I leave office for now, but that does not mean that I am done giving my all to bringing all student perspectives to the table. Further, I am grateful to the students that gave me this responsibility.
I want students to know that they are an unstoppable force of thinkers, workers, leaders, and innovators. I know that it sounds like I’m just throwing superfluous buzzwords out, but I genuinely mean each and every one of them. I can’t imagine students seeking solutions so proactively at any other university, and with a selflessness that defies understanding. There’s a storm of emotions sweeping across campus today, but we, the students, are actively seeking a way to resolve things, and that, in and of itself, is a feat that we should be wholeheartedly proud of.
Now that we are near the end of things, I would like to thank every single person that worked with me on the Student Senate this year. I know we had our share of rough times, but many people demonstrated a—forgive me for this one—resilience that made it possible to keep things going through the term. I asked for a lot of work from the Senate and its officers; I didn’t always make things fun for them, and I’m happy that they stuck around anyways. To all 26 voting Senators, and all of our non-elected volunteers, I tip my hat to you. To all of the administrators who helped us succeed and provided support to the students of the campus, I thank you in full. To all of the faculty that worked with us to support an educational environment we can all be proud of, I appreciate every bit of energy you gave to us. And of course, to the students, I thank you for electing us to be your voice.
I should have something way cooler to say at the end of all this, but I’ll settle for this: students, find out what is most important to you here at RPI. If that’s your fraternity brother or your sorority sister, defend Greek Life tooth and nail for them. If it’s your athletic career, force your heart and nerve and sinew to a place where limits don’t exist. If you hold this university dear to you, do what you think is best for it, and stand proudly by your actions. I wish nothing but the best for every single person on this campus, and for everyone who sets foot here in the future.