Bennett recuses herself from Grand Marshal duties
In an email to the Senate email list Friday night, Grand Marshal Cait Bennett ’22 announced that she is recusing herself as GM until voting in GM Week elections closes. Bennett will resume her role as Grand Marshal at 5 pm Wednesday, March 23, and will continue her duties until the election results are announced. Election results are scheduled to be announced on Saturday, March 26, according to Elections Commission Chair Nicholas Longchamp ’24. Vice Grand Marshal Sean Heffernan ’22 will assume the role of acting GM for the time being.
Nicole Gramenides ’23, who is running against Bennett for GM, said in a statement to The Polytechnic that Bennett was correct to recuse herself, adding “had she done so earlier, it would have affirmed the impartiality of the election, especially because the student body would have more time to understand the nuances of student government elections.” When asked why she didn’t recuse herself earlier, Bennett responded “As the current Grand Marshal, I had a responsibility to the student body to continue performing non-elections related duties for the duration of my term. However, I wanted to place a distinct emphasis on separation during GM Week when elections are taking place.” The 52nd Senate conducted the final meeting of its term last Tuesday, March 15.
On Sunday, March 20, after her recusal, Bennett sent a message to the Class of 2025/26 Webex group and RPI Reddit telling students to vote. In the message to the Class of 25/26 group, she stated that she was speaking on behalf of the Student Government.
Bennett is seeking to become the first Grand Marshal to hold the position for more than one term. She is also only the second sitting GM to run for reelection. Prior to 1972, the Rensselaer Union Constitution forbade any student who had held the position of Grand Marshal or President of the Union from running for either position. Michael Zwack ’11 became the first sitting GM to run for reelection. He was first elected to the position in 2009 as a sophomore. Zwack lost the 2010 Grand Marshal election to then Undergraduate President Benjamin Hunt ’10. Hunt, a senior, was returning for a Master’s in Economics. Peter Baldwin ’06 is the only person to hold the position of PU twice. He was first elected in 2004, then reelected in 2005.
Update: Bennett gave a statement to The Polytechnic saying that her message in the Class of 2025/26 Webex chat "was done from a copy/paste message during an open senate GOTV event run by Sean Heffernan and Abby Golden, SGCC chair. Many other candidates running for positions also spoke on behalf of student government." GOTV stands for "Get out the vote."