Category Archives: Editorial/Opinion


President of the Union: Rasika Ekhalikar

The Polytechnic endorses Rasika Ekhalikar ’18 for President of the Union. Running the juggernaut that is the Rensselaer Union is no small task, with more than 200 clubs and millions of dollars to account for. Ekhalikar is the candidate we believe can manage the beast. She is well versed in the workings of the Union, both from her time as an Executive Board representative, and as the chairperson of the Business Operations Committee. This intimate knowledge of the Union and the skillset she has gained while serving on the E-Board will ensure the smooth operation of the Union in the year to come. Read more...

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Candidate Questions

President of the Union candidate profiles

Why do you want to be President of The Union?

Keegan Caraway: I would like to be President of the Union for a few reasons. I want to continue the legacy of a student run union here at RPI, which I feel has been threatened in the past. I want to help improve and rebuild the lines of communication that student government has with the administration. I want to help plan for the coming summer arch and future summer arches and their effect on Union operations. I want to ensure that the search for a new Director of the Union moves forward and that the position is filled with an adequate candidate so that the position doesn’t sit vacate for another year. Read more...

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Undergraduate President: Kayla Cinnamon

The Polytechnic endorses Kayla Cinnamon ’18 for Undergraduate President. The Undergraduate President presides over the Undergraduate Council, and it is her responsibility to nominate officers, assume the duties of unfilled officer positions, and upholding bylaws as well as preside over meetings. Read more...

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Graduate Student Council endorsements

The Graduate Student Council met with candidates running for Grand Marshal and President of the Union. Candidates were asked to describe their platform along with several other questions about how they would involve and support graduate students in their goals for the Student Senate and the Rensselaer Union. Based on their responses and platforms, the GSC has voted to endorse Justin Etzine for GM and Matt Rand for PU. The primary role of the GM is to serve as the leader of the Student Senate and guide Senate committees in their pursuit of student life, academics, and facilities projects. We were unable to arrange a meeting with Stephen Duduch, the campaign proxy for GM candidate Dorer. After meeting with Justin Etzine, we found him to be a qualified candidate for the GM position. Etzine’s passion for student government has been noted by the Council, but we find more impressive the fact that, over the last year, Etzine has shown a renewed interest in working with the GSC and its graduate senators. We are particularly looking forward to following up on his promises for improved communication with the Graduate Council, such as including the Graduate Student President or Vice President in meetings with the administration. Read more...

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Grand Marshal: Justin Etzine

The Polytechnic endorses Justin Etzine ’18 for Grand Marshal. As the highest elected student official at Rensselaer, the GM serves as not only the head of the Student Senate, but as the leader of the student body. It is his or her responsibility to understand and voice the concerns of the student body to the proper parties. Consequently, the GM bears a significant amount of responsibility to not only those in the Senate but also to the entire RPI community. Read more...

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Candidate Questions

Grand Marshal candidate profile

What makes you the best fit to lead the student body?

Justin Etzine: Since I first joined student government almost three years ago, I have seen the impact and relevance that student advocacy and self-governance can have in bringing changes that benefit the student body. However, that impact has not always been consistent.
I’m running to be your next Grand Marshal because I believe I am the best fit to lead the student body to both maximize this impact in the coming year and solidify this impact as a consistent benefit to the students for years to follow. I understand the importance of simultaneously supporting a student-run Union, advocating for the interests of students, and maintaining productive and respectful relationships with administrators.
During my tenure as the chairman of the Senate’s Student Life Committee and Web Technologies Group over the past two years, I have tested and developed my ability to inspire other students to channel their passion and lead charges to bring changes that improve the overall student experience at RPI. I believe I am best equipped to take these efforts to a Senate-wide implementation.
From working closely with the past three Grand Marshals, I have seen firsthand what approaches are most effective in advancing student priorities. My platform is a reflection of these observations and experiences, and it forms a detailed schematic for how the student government will further student interests. Read more...

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Rensselaer needs bold, expansive changes

The Institute must continue to pursue new physical research infastructure and invest

Rensselaer was founded upon the principle of the application of science to the common purposes of life, and the prominence of modern scientific prospectus in education. In 1824, this was a radical, if not momentous,development. Prior to this, education had been largely concentrated to a few small, old, and rich liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, such as Harvard and Yale. The conventional departure from liberal arts to the creation of the first established science program, and later one of the first centers of experiential learning in engineering education, is what led to Rensselaer’s rise to prominence in the 19th century; it continues to lead our university through a momentous transformation as we continuously reevaluate our role as a source of research and ingenuity in industry, education, and the future of our species. Read more...

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Be informed for GM Week

Hello again, RPI! This weekend, the Executive Board played the Student Senate in our annual game of broomball. Our team played hard and gave it our all, but in a year of unexpected upsets, we suffered a 3-0 defeat. Shout-out to the Student Senate for a game well played. Thank you to RPI TV for filming our game—you can stream it on their website if you want to watch an exciting amateur sports event. Thank you to everyone at the Field House and Mueller Center for helping us coordinate the game space and rent our equipment, and to Nate James, chairperson of the Judicial Board, for being our referee for the afternoon. Most of all, thank you to my team for supporting each other, playing hard, and enjoying themselves during the game. Read more...

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Photography combines art, technology, adventure

All benefits of taking photos: improved photo editing capabilities, connections with people, community exposure

Photography gets me involved in events all over campus and the world. In fact, the reason I first got involved with The Poly is photography. I started out by taking photos of events around campus, like hockey, football, and Student Government meetings. Photography got me to go to the campus Holi celebration, where I foolishly attempted to remain unscathed by color (that didn’t last long). Last spring, I talked to many students, alumni, and faculty about why they were there and what they hoped to change at RPI, while I photographed the Spring Town Protest. Read more...

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Networking unlocks doors for successful careers

Last week, members of the Tech Valley Young Professionals Network, an initiative of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, visited my marketing class. They came for a panel discussion. First, they gave a presentation and answered some questions they had prepared themselves. Then, they spoke to us in small groups. The main idea they got across was that the real world is much different than what we expect, and not in a nice way. Read more...

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Broadening horizons by experiencing food culture

Meals mean more than eating, providing an atmosphere for conversation, passing many hands before the store

“What’s your favorite food?” Chances are pretty likely that you have been asked this question before. Food is one of the essential things needed in life. It is necessary for you to function and allows you to go through with your day. Aside from a nutritional point of view, there is a greater significance of the food you eat. Every day, each person makes decisions on the foods that they are going to eat. They either decide to stay in and make something themselves or maybe go out with friends to eat. Either way, food plays a significant part in the decision making process. When you go out to eat with friends, food serves as the common bond among everyone. From a social aspect, food is one reason that brings people together. Think about all the meals you have had. I am sure that most of them have been with people you are close to (like your family and friends) or people you have met recently and would like to know better. Similarly, I am sure that you’ve been invited over before by someone for a meal or you have done the same for someone else. Either way, food allows people to interact with each other and share different ideas. Read more...

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Private prison practices profit driven, dehumanizing, unfair

Flawed, corrupt jailing system operated under guise of corrective service institution prioritizes money instead

This past summer, the Justice Department decided to phase out its use of private prisons. I remember how happy this made me. I had spent my entire senior year in AP United States Government and Politics arguing for just that. The culminating project in that class was an oral argument and a thesis, and we were encouraged to pick topics we truly cared about. For me, the private prison industry was the obvious choice, and that was at a time when I really knew quite little. As my research of the topic continued, I only became more impassioned. Read more...

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Low affordability of prototyping

Creative spaces available, yet costly

Rensselaer students are very fortunate to have access to a number of facilities which can aid them in forming a startup company. These include, but are not limited to, some of the finest research facilities in the world, access to market funding opportunities through the Severino Center, and a driven student body. The only thing that is missing is accessibility and affordability, which are critical component in many projects. Read more...

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The role of the Union Annual Report in student government

President of the Union encourages all interested to participate in shaping the direction of the Rensselaer Union

Hello RPI! Over the course of the last several weeks, the Student Senate approved the Rensselaer Union Activity Fee recommendation as well as the Union Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2018. These are two items critical to the student-run nature of the Rensselaer Union. Every year, the Executive Board prepares the budget for the following fiscal year. This budget includes money available for clubs, money spent to upgrade our facilities, money spent to hire our staff, money spent to maintain our equipment, and so on. It’s a large undertaking that, in reality, involves many more students than the 20 of us who serve on the Executive Board. Over 100 clubs submit budgets to be reviewed every year. Each club has several officers and even more students who are directly impacted by the funding they receive from the Union for their operations. Once all of this is put together, the Executive Board and the Union Annual Report Committee work backward to develop an activity fee that every graduate and undergraduate student will pay. Read more...

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Pilot G2 07 rivaled by competitor

Attractive mechanical pencil easily refillable, always sharp, features sturdy clip, does not smudge, better than Pilot G2 07

Last week, The Poly posted its issue announcement on the RPI subreddit and I went to check it out. Amongst the usual features, I found one article that truly stood out. What I found was so disgusting, so repulsive, so absolutely despicable that it makes me feel embarrassed for the unfortunate soul that wrote it. I am talking about, of course, Jack Wellhofer’s misguided and ill-informed opinion piece, “Pencils are inferior to pens”, published with the subheading “Pilot G-2 07 makes perfect linewidth, doesn’t require sharpening”. The article in question can be found at Read more...

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Pencils are inferior to pens

Pilot G-2 07 makes perfect line width, doesn't require sharpening

The most important tool for any college student is the writing utensil. Theoretically, we all take notes in class, and what we take those notes with is of the utmost importance. Sure, one could take notes on a laptop, but there’s always that one professor with the overzealous sketches that don’t quite translate to Microsoft Word. And before anyone complains, yes, I am aware that written note-taking is available on tablets. I am choosing to ignore that for the sake of my arguments. Read more...

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Student government campaigning to begin in one week

Hi RPI! I hope that all of you are engaging in a great semester and getting into the right groove to have your best success. Personally, I have begun to think about how to wrap up my term as President of the Union and how to best ensure the success of my successor. As many involved in student government might know, campaigning is just one week away. By April 7, if there are no run-off elections, we will have a new student government. I hope that all who are interested get involved in one way or another. Running for Student Senate or your class council, or applying for the Executive Board are great ways to get involved and share your experience with the student community. If you are looking for less commitment, consider joining student government committees or even attending your class council’s meeting to voice concerns you have or just participate in discussion. Student government at RPI is a large organism and it requires participation from a great many students to thrive. Read more...

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American politics extend beyond national borders

I have never been apologetic with regards to my political views, and frankly I was kind of disappointed that I would be leaving the United States for the first six months of the Trump administration. It has already been a decidedly unique period in American politics; never before have we seen so many people stand up and stiff-arm their way through the U.S. legislative process, and it’s exciting to see people that are just beginning to stand up for what they believe in. And it’s for that reason that I was a little disappointed to scamper 3,500 miles away almost immediately after President Trump was inaugurated—I wish I could be there to do my part. Read more...

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Increased storage space, clarity, and performance all positives for new iPhone 7

Despite the removed headphone jack, this phone is an improvement over a heavily-used iPhone 6

This past weekend, my parents were very kind in taking me to get a new cell phone because the screen of my iPhone 6 had become quite damaged and it also had a very sparse amount of storage. My previous phone only had 16 gigabytes of space and now I have a vast 128 gigabytes. I also “upgraded” to an iPhone 7. I put upgraded in quotes here because the lack of a headphone jack has already proven to be a hassle, even though I’ve only had the phone for a day now. Read more...

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Where’d he come from? Where’s he headed?

Since arriving last month, I have been asked by many variations of two questions. First, inquirers have sought information as to my background, such as where I have previously worked, what my previous responsibilities included, and about the kinds of projects and initiatives I have led or been involved with. The second question has been about my plans for the Rensselaer community, with some searching to determine if I will proceed with efforts similar to those endeavored at previous institutions. I want to be clear: I arrived here without presumption, with an overarching guide to contribute to the successful completion of the Rensselaer Plan 2024. More specifically, to build upon the excellent work of my faculty and staff colleagues and that of our exceptional current and former students, to fully realize Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students, Summer Arch, Art_X@Rensselaer, and other student focused aspects of the Plan, culminating in the actualization of The New Polytechnic. Read more...

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