Student government is a weird thing to get involved in. And this is coming from someone who’s been over involved in it since he got on campus. With all the options you have as a new student, it’s interesting to see what direction people go in. Some stay on the same trajectories, doing similar activities to those they did before, while others branch out to some new interest.
When I came to college, I hadn’t made up my mind on what I’d do in the time my brother told me I’d have. I wasn’t going to play sports and RPI didn’t really have that big of a debate or Model UN program yet, so that ruled out my main hobbies from Qatar Academy. I hadn’t been involved in student government until my senior year, where I was student council vice president. So when they had stuff about class councils or getting to know the Student Senate, during Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond I noted them down. And then proceeded to not show up at any of them since I decided playing pickup soccer or generally horsing around with my friends was a more pressing matter at the time. But there were two encounters that ended up selling me on getting involved in student government.
The first of these was when I attended an information session so I could run for a Senate position. I was still kind of on the fence at the time about whether I wanted to do it. I’d told a bunch of my friends that I was interested, which of course led to some of them talking about how I was going to be Grand Marshal a few years later. But at the same time, I had no idea what it was that the Senate actually did. During this info session, I was introduced to the different committees that the Senate has, and how they allow students to get involved with working directly on issues that concern them, ranging from getting water bottle filling stations and picnic benches on campus, to recommending alterations to the Institute’s excuse policy and getting Moe’s on campus, the Senate has and continues to do a lot of work that directly affects students’ lives on a daily basis. I wanted to be a part of a group that could do those kinds of things, and to a large part that’s why I have stayed in Senate.
Not that long ago, I was in a forum where I was asked to name one of my favorite leaders, and why. The person I chose was Chuck Carletta ’14, the GM my freshman year. I chose Chuck not just because he was a great motivator and balanced being GM and a normal person, but also, as you all know, he made some very public mistakes at the end of his term (Editor’s note: our coverage of these events can be found at https://poly.rpi.edu/s/7t74l). What most of you don’t know is how much he owns the fact that it happened, that he made a bad decision, and accepts that. So aside from the fact that he’s one of the people who got me excited about Senate to begin with, I still like the Senate because of how it allows and forces us to grow into adults and deal with things. So I guess that’s why I chose student government.