GM Week 2024

Massoni, Rost-Nasshan take the stage for Grand Marshal runoff

As a result of the recent historic tie for Grand Marshal, candidates Ria Massoni ’24, ’25G and Vivian Rost-Nasshan ’26 took the stage again for a second debate. The questioning built upon statements made in the previous debate and included more candidate-specific questions. The debate was moderated once again by Elections Commission Chairperson Timothy Miles ’24.

The debate began with both candidates reiterating their main goals if elected. Massoni reiterated her aims to improve pedestrian safety, restore student power, improve dining halls and more. Rost-Nasshan restated her emphasis on student accessibility, which encompasses issues like textbook prices, academic calendar dates, and accessibility walks. The Poly sent a questionnaire to both candidates in mid-March where they could outline their full plans if elected. Massoni’s questionnaire can be found here, and Rost-Nasshan’s can be found here.

The debate then moved into general questioning. The first question was in regards to the historic tie that led to the debate. Both candidates were questioned if the reason for this result was due to a ‘dramatic split’ in the student body’s opinion or due to the possibility the candidates were too similar. Massoni and Rost-Nasshan declined the statement that the two of them were similar to one another and instead suggested that the choice of having two extremely qualified candidates led to the race being a tie. Although they agreed that the two of them are strong candidates with experience, the candidates also agreed that they differed in the communities they represented and in many of their goals they hoped to achieve if elected.

A large portion of the debate consisted of questions responding to the candidates’ statements in the previous debate. One question in particular was directed to Rost-Nasshan, stating that she had previously avoided questions in regards to her unknown semester away if she is elected GM. She responded quickly to this statement, clarifying she did not mean to seem as though she had dodged it, but that her whereabouts during her Arch semester are simply unknown and she is currently unable to provide a definitive answer until her plans are solidified. She wants to ensure that the Senate is functioning regardless of her plans. Massoni spoke up in response to this topic. She shared that her own experience serving as Undergraduate President during her Arch away semester was not ideal and pointed out that there are flaws for a future GM to undergo the same situation since they hold a higher position in office.

Another question that served as a continuation of the previous debate was in relation to current GM Ben Viner ’24’s endorsement of Rost-Nasshan, a subject that was brought up in the last debate. Rost-Nasshan responded first, stating that although she thinks it is within the GM’s jurisdiction to endorse a candidate, she would not plan on doing so if elected. Massoni responded to the question next, having strong opinions against doing so. She shared her beliefs that the GM is technically a part of the Elections Commission, a claim that is partially correct. Per the Union Constitution, the GM is an ex-officio member of all Senate committees, which include the Elections Commission. Massoni believes that because of this technicality, Viner’s endorsement raises a certain bias against other candidates. Similarly to Rost-Nasshan, she also stated she would not endorse a GM candidate if elected in the future.

There were several more questions fielded to candidates in regards to Graduate Councils, diversity and equity at RPI, and Union administration. Massoni, who will be a graduate student in the next academic year, discussed her plans to ensure Graduate Students’ issues will be addressed, tying in both her undergraduate and graduate experiences. Both candidates expressed the desire to implement a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion chair on the Student Senate, which would help increase inclusion of minority students and their voice within Student Government. One last question was asked on Union administration and if they have overstepped or if they have been involved to a reasonable extent. Rost-Nasshan stated her interactions with administration have largely been positive, while Massoni emphasized that it is the GM’s job to continue to push for more student power and voice amongst the administration.

Students can vote in the runoff on Wednesday, April 3rd from 8 am to 8 pm at the 15th Street entrance to the Union, DCC 308, or Commons. The runoff will also contain a question regarding an amendment to the Union constitution that was dropped in the original election due to technical errors. The runoff results, including the full results of the first election, will be announced on Friday, April 5th at 7pm.