Category Archives: Editorial/Opinion


Disheartened by RPI’s lack of understanding

On Monday night, RPI alumni from around the world opened their inboxes to find a forwarded email accusing them of racism, sexism, and heightism for discontinuing support of their alma mater during Dr. Jackson’s tenure as president. I would be remiss not to address this as I interact and work with alumni on a regular basis and recognize that current students are future alumni. Importantly, I struggle to comprehend the administration’s reasoning behind sending this email, as opposed to tactfully responding to the well-researched concerns and analysis outlined by the Renew Rensselaer alumni group, which was featured in the news article at which the administration’s reply was directed. Read more...

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Racism present, but not in alumni body

To the editor of The Polytechnic:

It is difficult to imagine an institute of higher learning doing more to alienate its alumni than the recent actions of Vice President for Institute Advancement Graig Eastin. Mr. Eastin forwarded to RPI alumni an editorial letter by faculty member Chris Bystroff that implied that alumni who disagree with some of the decisions made by President Jackson are racist and/or sexist. The forward included a comment from Mr. Eastin that all alumni are “ambassadors of the Institute” and should thus read Mr. Bystroff’s diatribe. The email and forwarded polemic together positively ooze with condescension and disdain for RPI’s alumni community. Reading them actually gave me a twinge of nostalgia, for it made me remember what it was like to be a student reading communiques from the administration. Read more...

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MLK misquoted, repercussions severe

Administration should better understand the meaning of King’s platform before quoting him

Graig and Chris, I trust my peers in the Rensselaer community to address many of the baseless points that your email outlined. I wish to address your citation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s curious how people love to quote Dr. King in topics they find conducive to keeping the status quo, such as you are doing now with shaming the alumni to increase donations. In his life, Dr. King looked upon the moderates in dismay for not enacting change to the status quo themselves; if they had, years of struggle would have been months. The Rensselaer community has peacefully demonstrated on multiple occasions to speak out against the anti-democratic changes to their home which have stomped out the tradition of co-governance between faculty and administration, and soon, the students as well. Dr. King’s teachings were those of love and understanding: we must first realize that everyone is a capable, logical human, and then work toward a common expectation that is based on common morals. One only needs to look at the past actions of the administration, that of treating students like uninformed children and faculty like machines in the knowledge factory whose goal is to churn out standardized professionals, to realize that the community is stumbling over the very first step that Dr. King outlines. I implore you to spend some time reading Dr. King’s code of ethics or to sit in on the ethics course taught by Professor Bill Puka. Maybe then we can start to treat our community as people instead of just capital. Read more...

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Students raise alarm

Concern extends from Union to president's office

To the RPI community:

A recent email from Professor Chris Bystroff, responding to the press coverage of Renew Rensselaer, was distributed to the faculty and forwarded to all alumni by Vice President for Institute Advancement Graig Eastin. Read more...

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Growing mentally, physically from theft

My wallet was stolen. It was taken from my possession without warning or cause, and I did nothing to stop it. Although I am forced to admit my inability to react effectively in emergency situations, I also give credit to my thief. Whoever it was, he or she was a master in their art—and I can be honest about that. Now, this is not an open invitation to steal my things; in fact, I am ready to bite any and all future predators. I’ll let you decide if my last statement has any merit. Read more...

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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. Read more...

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Hollywood should not stop at hashtags

Sunday, January 7 marked the 75th annual Golden Globe award show, honoring the best in this year’s films and television shows. Even though the program had its share of interesting and odd moments—such as James Franco winning Best Actor for The Disaster Artist—the night was undoubtedly dominated by the Time’s Up campaign. Read more...

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Turning Point denied Union club status

Hello everyone! Welcome back for the Spring semester! I hope that you all enjoyed your Winter Break and the holiday season. I know that the time at home to see my friends and family was a wonderful break from the daily grind and provided a chance to refresh and recharge as we dive into another semester at RPI. Though I will say that I missed the longer Winter Breaks that we had prior to the Arch, the extended summer will be more than worth it once May rolls around. Read more...

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Top Hat

Enjoy winter vacation

I hope you didn't blink, but it is already time for the semester to come to a close! I know; I can’t believe it either, and it’s been quite the semester, too. Read more...

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Editorial Notebook

Preventing sickness

Staying safe, healthy during colder months

In light of the first snowfall of the season, it seems that winter has officially begun. Here in the Northeast, we can expect only colder temperatures to come and more snow to fall. Some of us find this season to be our favorite, while others would rather soak up sunshine at a beach. Whatever your thoughts are on winter, here are some of the precautions to take to get the most out of the season. Read more...

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Editorial Notebook

More to college than academics, grades

When I first came to Rensselaer, I really didn’t know all that much about it, but I thought I did. I, an engineering major who had always loved math and science, was going to a tech school. That turned out to be very true, however when I got here I found out that there was so much more than simply the academics I had been looking forward to and expecting. A huge part of life here on campus takes place outside of the classroom. Beyond the lectures and labs are a wealth of clubs, sports, competitions, and research available to those who are interested. Read more...

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Union fully staffed, save director position

Hello everyone! I hope you're all doing well and finishing the semester on a high note. Congratulations! One more semester of life here at RPI is in the books, and the only things standing between us and winter break are a few finals. So best of luck on those, and happy holidays and safe travels to all. Read more...

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Debilitating effects of rape, finances

Two months after handing in my dissertation, awaiting my second degree in construction, I was violently raped by a senior male in my field. He was 10 years older and vastly better connected, professionally, in a city where I was just starting out. He was drunk and angry and caught me off guard while I napped on a couch; I was sober. He was 6-foot and around 190 pounds worth of rugby player. I’m 5-foot-3 and around 120 pounds. Other than a few snapshots of the following few hours, I don’t remember much of that night, nor most of the five weeks after. It was the beginning of the recession, and most of the construction industry were losing their jobs—women, notoriously, at a higher rate than men. Knowing I would be blacklisted from working in my field (nearly 90 percent men) if I reported a rape or my name got leaked from a police report, I kept my mouth shut to protect my career. He took what he took; I wasn’t giving him my sole means of income too. Read more...

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Greek successes at RPI

To the Rensselaer Community,

Following completion of annual elections of the Interfraternity Council Executive Board, it is appropriate that we provide the Rensselaer community a brief overview and update into the accomplishments and successes of fraternities this past calendar year. Despite various Greek life incidents at other university campuses, the Greek community at Rensselaer remains strong and continues to actively adapt to the changing student environment. We are growing in membership; significantly strengthening our relationships with the Rensselaer administration, faculty and Troy community; and providing significant support for philanthropic and volunteer service. Members of the Greek community have demonstrated their commitment through the various events and programs they meticulously plan and execute throughout the year. This past spring and fall recruitment periods were notable for fraternities across campus, significantly increasing our total membership. Recruitment increased fifteen and thirty percent for spring and fall periods respectively, which resulted in more than five hundred new members of the Rensselaer community deciding to join Greek life this past year alone. With these increased numbers, Greeks constitute nearly one third of all Rensselaer undergraduate students. These successes can be attributed to community-wide events sponsored by Greek organizations, such as the Greek Life NRB Trip, Meet the Greeks, and Pawling Crawling, all of which were attended by hundreds of potential new members. Read more...

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Just get started already

This semester, I’ve come to a bit of a realization. From my observations, it’s obvious to everyone, but always seems to be difficult to do. Starting to do anything is the most important thing you can do. Read more...

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Save the Union takes pride in accuracy

Last week, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Travis Apgar wrote a letter to the editor of The Polytechnic ( In his letter, Apgar accused an unnamed group, which we can only assume is Save the Union, of spreading misinformation and engaging in attacks of rhetoric. Apgar wrote, “This community deserves to know the full story.” We could not agree more. The full story needs to be told, the facts displayed for all to see. We ask the RPI community to compare not just the rhetoric, but also the actions of all those involved in this ongoing situation. Read more...

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Budgeting finished, $50,000 more provided

Hello everyone! I apologize for not having written in a few weeks, a very tight schedule caused me to miss a deadline or two (sorry, members of The Poly). I hope that you all are doing well, and that you are all buckling down for the end of the semester and finals season. I know I am. I know that, right now, each and every one of you is currently swamped with the last homeworks of the semester, trying to wrap up final projects, and studying for the last tests of the regular academic year. I wish you all the best of luck during this time, and hope that you all earn the great grades that you’ve worked all semester for! Read more...

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Stand for freedom of expression at Rensselaer

Freedom of expression is at risk at Rensselaer. During this semester, we have seen the Dean of Students Office use the judicial process to target leaders of last month’s demonstration outside of the capital campaign launch, administrators threaten the grand marshal with expulsion for doing his job as the chief representative of the student body, and, most recently, a student organization face intense scrutiny over the content of its members’ speech. Read more...

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What we can learn from suicide, addiction

A little over two months ago, a friend of mine committed suicide. Read more...

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Observed changes at Rensselaer

Dear Poly Editor:

200 students occupied the Pittsburgh Building—the administration building at the time. It was spring 1969, and we were protesting something about President Folsom’s position on the library.  I was ensconced in a quiet corner on the first floor when Assistant Dean Carl Westerdahl entered the building to check on things.  He came over to me and asked how I was feeling (not great). He felt my forehead and said, “You have a fever. You need to go to the infirmary.” I replied, with a smile, that he was not going to succeed in clearing out 200 students by convincing them that they all needed medical attention. He implored me to get myself checked out, but I resisted. Then he said, “If you go to the infirmary and are okay, I promise to let you come back into the building and resume your spot on the floor.” I was impressed with his genuine concern and sincerity (considering that he had a major headache of his own to deal with), and I marched over to the infirmary.  My temperature was over 102 degrees, and I was diagnosed with strep throat eventually—but that is another story.  So, I could not go back to the protest and I never had the chance to test his promise, but have always believed that he would have honored it. Soon after that, Westerdahl contacted me and asked if I would be willing to serve on the Student Judicial Board. From what I have read lately of the current administration’s treatment of students involved in the recent student union protest, the relationship is not what it was. Read more...

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