Top Hat

Past and present members of RPI community: what is your perspective?

This weekend, we will be welcoming members of the Rensselaer family back to campus for this year’s Reunion & Homecoming festivities! Countless alumni will make their way back to Troy and the RPI campus to reminisce with other members of their graduating class, take a glimpse into their past experiences, revisit the dorms they used to live in, and think back on all of the RPI traditions that meant so much to them during their time here. While I am thrilled to be welcoming back all of the students that walked through the academic buildings and ‘86 Field (or the old football field) before us and founded the clubs and organizations that we are part of today, it is plaintive to think that these alumni will be recounting experiences that current or future students cannot relate to.

Our alumni have an abundance of not only knowledge, but experiences and memories that they bring with them back to campus. This gives current students the opportunity to share experiences and listen to alumni’s stories that give a deeper value to RPI that we might otherwise be unaware of. Over the past few years, the RPI community has encountered numerous changes—changes that differentiate the current RPI from the RPI that alumni called home. Even current students will be able to appreciate the nostalgia that alumni feel as they return to campus, and more notably, our Union. 

Now more than ever, we are reminded that members of the RPI community—especially students and alumni—need to work together for the benefit of future students. The current Rensselaer Union is one example of this collaboration; in the late 1950s and 1960s, students conceived and carried through with the idea to pay a higher Activity Fee in order to fund construction of the new Rensselaer Union. Another example of this collaboration is Greek Life. In 2006, the Greek community learned that the administration created the “Greek Life: New Directions” initiatives without adequate participation by the Greek or alumni community, but instead of conceding to the restrictions and changes, an overwhelming number of current students and alumni (Greek and non-Greek alike) worked together to preserve Greek life at RPI. Without this push from the students before us, we would not be able to appreciate and grow from all of the unique opportunities, experiences, and connections that are created through the Union and Greek life.

I am elated to see the dedication and passion that alumni have for their alma mater. Students and alumni alike have had much to say about the changes that have been occurring within the RPI community, and I have been attentively working alongside President of the Union Justin Etzine ’19 to represent the student body and continue to engage alumni. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at gm@rpi.edu and share your questions, comments, or concerns.