GM Week 2021

Austerity measures could leave graduating seniors mugless

The Rensselaer Union plans to purchase 1800 mugs for the 1755 students who voted in this year's Grand Marshal Week elections. Union Programs and Activities Committee Chair Eddie Weisser ’21 presented four options to distribute GM week mugs to students during last week’s Executive Board Meeting. GM week mugs will be produced by Broadway Marketing, and will come at a cost of $3.75 per mug. As always, mugs will be free to all students who voted in GM week elections.

The first distribution option would have the Union purchase 1800 mugs to be shipped directly to all voters' permanent addresses by Broadway Marketing. This would come at a cost of approximately $33,000. This option was swiftly dismissed by members of the board for its high cost, as the budget allocated for GM Week is only $15,000.

Option two, similar to the first option, would have mugs directly shipped to students. However, voters who want a mug would need to fill out a form indicating their interest. The quantity of mugs purchased would then be based on the number of voters who requested a mug. This would come at the same cost per mug as option one, but could reduce the number of mugs to be purchased.

A third option would have 1400 mugs shipped to the Union, and the remaining 400 directly shipped to seniors who would not be able to pick up their mugs on campus. This would come at a cost of $14,700.

The fourth and final option under consideration would have all 1800 mugs shipped to the Union. This would cost approximately $8,000. Depending on when the mugs arrive, graduating seniors may be able to receive their mugs at commencement. However, Class of 2021 Council Member at Large and Elections Commission Chair Keenan Adams ’21 expressed that this outcome is optimistic and that the mugs may not be delivered in time. An additional alternative was proposed, giving seniors the option of paying Broadway directly to have their mugs shipped to them. The remaining mugs would be shipped to the Union.

Union Business Administrator Martha McElligott said that given the austerity of Rensselaer budgets the fourth option should be pursued since it is the least costly course of action. Graduate Representative Benjamin Volk expressed that graduating students who will not be returning to campus would be left out to dry. “I think we need to be considering more than just the bottom line here... this pandemic has been hard on everyone. The least we can do is give people the mug they voted to get,” said Volk.

Adams reiterated the importance that GM Week mugs hold to RPI voters. GM Week elections require a 20% voter turnout threshold to be considered valid. He believes that, without free mugs, the 20% threshold could easily be missed.

A motion on a final decision is planned for the Executive Board meeting on Wednesday, April 14.