GM Week is back in person — Here’s what you should know
This year's theme is Sweet Week
Student Government elections are taking place this Wednesday, March 23. Grand Marshal Week sets the stage for what changes to student life at Rensselaer will be prioritized and what shapes the student experience for years to come. Students can see what positions are available and who is running for these positions on the elections website as well as the profiles on The Poly. Candidates only appear on the site if they have submitted the candidacy forms required for the position and will only appear on the final ballot if they receive the required number of nominations for their positions. Candidates may also post platforms on this website.
The theme for GM Week in 2022 will be Sweet Week. In line with the theme, events during this period will revolve around sweets. Previous themes include Prehistoric GM Week in 2021, Roaring 20’s in 2020, Superhero Showdown in 2019 and Rensselaer Rodeo in 2018.
What positions are up for grabs?
The three highest-profile positions up for election are Grand Marshal, President of the Union, and Undergraduate President. These positions preside over the Student Senate, Executive Board, and Undergraduate Council, respectively.
Most of the positions on the Student Senate and all the positions on the Undergraduate Council are up for election. The Senate is made up of four senators from each undergraduate cohort, two Greek senators, two independent senators, and six graduate senators, in addition to appointed officer positions. The Undergraduate Council is made up of all class presidents and vice presidents, with each Class Council consisting of four senators and eight representatives from each class along with their respective class president and vice president.
Greek senators are only voted on by students who are affiliated with Greek organizations. Independent senators are voted on by students who are not affiliated with a Greek organization and are tasked with representing all non-Greek students of any cohort.
Graduate students will vote for six representatives, who—in addition to the six senators that they elect—will make up the Graduate Student Council. Seniors will vote for an alumni president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer who are responsible for post-graduation tasks, like planning reunions.
In addition to all of the elected positions, the Undergraduate Council, Graduate Council, Senate committees, and E-Board committees have members-at-large. These are students who are not elected, but still have voting rights and participate in discussions.
How do these Student Government bodies work?
Grand Marshal is the highest elected office in Student Government and presides over the Student Senate. The GM is “the leader and the chief spokesperson for the entire Union,” as outlined by the Rensselaer Union Constitution.
The Senate is the chief legislative and policy-making authority within Student Government and comprises senators tasked with representing the wants and needs of their constituents. The Senate is divided into committees, like the Academic Affairs Committee, the Facilities and Services Committee, and the Student Life Committee, to name a few. All senators are required to serve on two committees. The Shuttle Tracker, bottle filler drinking fountains, Counseling Center survey, shuttles to the Crossgates Mall, and Lupus Walk were all products of Senate committees.
The President of the Union presides over the Executive Board and is the chief financial officer of the Union. This person is responsible for appointing the majority of the Executive Board. Three members of the E-board are appointed by the Senate, Undergraduate Council, and Graduate Council as Peer body representatives, who act as liaisons between the councils.
The Executive Board is the financial body of the Student Government and is tasked with budgeting the Union’s income and expenditures each winter, the bulk of income coming from the activity fee that is charged to all students. In Fiscal Year 2022, the total projected income from the activity fee charged to all Rensselaer students was $647,939. This money goes toward clubs and their programming; operating the Union, Mueller Center, and RPI Playhouse; the employment of staff; and other student services. During its budgeting season, the Board approves or rejects every program and any associated costs for each Union-funded club.
The Undergraduate President is in charge of the Undergraduate Council, which is composed of class councils for each undergraduate cohort. These class councils organize events for the benefit of their peers and make arrangements for class trees, rings, and gifts. All of the events associated with “Senior Week” are also organized by members of their respective class councils.
What is the timeline of events?
Campaigning started on February 21 and will continue until election day. People who have attended information sessions and submitted the required candidacy forms to the Union Admin Office are allowed to campaign for their positions and ask for nominations. Students can give nominations to more than one candidate.
This election season will culminate in Grand Marshal Week 2022 with final debates scheduled for March 22, and final elections scheduled for March 23. The results are expected to be publicly announced on Saturday, March 26. In years past, students who voted in any primary elections and the final election received a GM Week mug.
The only contested position is the Grand Marshal, with Cait Bennett ’22 and Nicole Gramenides ’23 running. The Elections Commission will be hosting a debate for this election on Tuesday at 6 pm.
The Elections Commission is required to provide a sample ballot to the candidates 48 hours before any election, and the final ballot must be posted 24 hours before the start of polling. According to the GM Week 2022 Elections Commission Handbook, voting will take place at the DCC Great Hall, the Student Union, the Commons Lobby, the Folsom Library, and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. No campaigning is allowed within a 100-foot radius or within sight of any polling location beginning at 10 pm the night before the election.
Editor's Note: The article has been corrected to distinguish between Undergraduate Council and Class Council membership. Another correction now clarifies that members-at-large have voting positions. The projected income of the FY2022 Activity Fee was also updated. The Polytechnic regrets these errors.