Frustrations of senior engineering student

Incompatible library hours, uncentralized Rensselaer services are only two concerns to name

My friends know me as one who can rant about issues, but also as one who follows up with the right people to try to resolve them. In this letter to the editor, I will address several concerns with the services offered to Rensselaer students. My intention is to get it out of my system, and more importantly, for students to discuss these issues amongst peers with the goal of administration noticing and making changes, while I continue to send follow-up emails to the appropriate people.

First, the library should be open 24/7 all semester—it was not even open 24/7 during finals week this past semester. All students run on different schedules, and with over 7,000 on campus, the school should accommodate all students as best as it can.

The Mueller Center currently experiences the same issue with its hours. Last semester, I highly considered trying to get a good workout in before my 8 am class and before going to nine hours worth of lectures for the rest of the day. This is frankly not possible if I’m planning on not going to class sweating. The gym should open at 5 am weekdays and perhaps 8 am on weekends, and close at midnight on weekdays and 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. These are just the hours for the regular school year, and not even during finals week.

During finals week, the gym closed at 9 pm Monday through Friday, and at 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday. During the time when students were most wanting to go to the gym, it was inaccessible. I understand that students staff the gym, with at least one worker at each section. To expand the gym hours to benefit more students, how about hiring an outside employee or raising the student work-study hourly rate, or simply making it an open position for all students? These three suggestions are very doable; it’s just a matter of following through with them.

Another service on campus that should extend its hours is the dining halls. Commons should be the main dining hub on campus, open from 6 am to midnight, with no closures in between, to accommodate all students’ schedules. I myself would be willing to work these later night hours to make it possible for more students to enjoy the service.

Other improvements to services on campus do not revolve around extending hours, but rather the service itself. For example, students are expected to sign into Roundcube for email, SIS for their schedules, another site to check their printing status, another site to check meal swipes, and the list goes on. Rensselaer should focus on centralizing all of its online services into one complete kiosk site. As many people point out, we are at a tech school!

For SIS, there should be a feature to print or save your transcript in a clean format. Now, whenever I need an unofficial transcript, I have to request it from the registrar, pick it up, and then scan it into my computer. These steps can easily be removed by making it possible to print or save the unofficial, nicely formatted transcript from your own computer.

Additionally, there should be a course called Physics 2 for Engineers, and even Chemistry for Engineers. Courses designed for engineers will apply the material in settings where engineers will actually see it. For example, a civil engineering example of a Physics 2-type problem can be determining the magnetism of steel. I remember in my evaluation of the Physics 2 course at the end of the semester, I expressed this concern and no action or discussion was heard from it. Another academic issue I have noticed is the shortened Winter Break, perhaps due to the goal of expanding the Arch Summer Semester. As an upperclassman this Winter Break, I had the opportunity to work for only seven days.

Lastly, on November 30, 2017, there was a strange occurrence: some TV channels worked in the morning and completely disappeared at night. The students were not warned of this major change until later the following day.

Taking away the only two channels I watched, YES and MSG, has not changed the cost of housing for students. I reached out to Director of Media Services James J. Evans and he mentioned they are looking into adding a satellite to the Union to make the channels available on some televisions in the Union, but this may or may not happen. I have been sharing this point of information with my friends, but it should be addressed to all students. To accommodate these viewers, perhaps RPI should consider subscribing to online streaming services of the games on these channels.

Overall, I love what I am learning in my classes, and I am beyond thankful for the education I am able to receive. But I have experienced many problems outside the realm of school: dining hours, shuttle hours, gym hours, the student online services, and the switch in the cable provider. I only named a few everyday problems students experience. I wish to see these suggestions heard and see change to satisfy more students more of the time, hopefully within the next three semesters I am still a student here at RPI. Most importantly, I would like to have the next generations of students live with these changes for a better student experience at Rensselaer.