I want to take this opportunity to welcome everyone back to Rensselaer for the Fall 2016 semester. Hopefully, everyone had an enjoyable summer vacation and took advantage of the many opportunities that summer has to offer, from internships, co-ops, or simply time to relax and recharge. I’ve been using this summer to prepare the Rensselaer Union for what I believe will be a great semester. By a “great semester,” I certainly don’t mean an uneventful one. I believe that students of RPI are at their best when they are presented with huge challenges. These types of challenges are what make us great students, and great leaders in the professional world. Make no mistake: our Union faced its fair share of challenges last semester. The root causes of these issues are as multifaceted and complex as the solutions to it. I hope that challenges we continue to face and new challenges we will undoubtedly face in the future can be addressed in the same way that we would tackle a challenge in our academic lives: with creativity, innovation, and good ideas.
I also want to take a chance to address the student body regarding the activities fair happening this Thursday at 6:30 pm in the Armory. The annual Activities Fair features over 200 clubs and organizations that participate in programs across campus and around the world. This is the first opportunity for many students to be involved in our extracurricular experience and to find new roles, groups of people, and skills in the clubs they join over the next couple of weeks. I encourage every incoming student to attend and to speak with every club that even remotely sparks an interest in your mind. You never know who or what will connect with you best. In addition, as club officers already know, there are new restrictions on the number of students present from participating clubs as well as the size of any displays that need to be used. This is to ensure that we have a safe event on Thursday considering incoming students number over 1,700 individuals. But don’t worry, there is going to be plenty of space for incoming students to survey our clubs and organizations on campus and hopefully, they all find that group of people they identify and connect with through the activities fair as so many of us already have.
Now that we have all begun classes and started to settle into the routine, let’s all take a moment to think about the challenges we have faced and the challenges we will face, both individually and together. Each one is an opportunity learn and an opportunity to grow. Whether that challenge is sitting down in your first college class or waking up for your final college semester, you will gain something from the experience. So, stay involved, stay committed, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, because chances are there is someone on campus who has seen the same challenges we all are about to face.