Student action needed
My name is Adam Cleri, and I love Rensselaer. I attended RPI some nine years ago, from 2008–09. This was one of the—if not the—most pivotal years in my maturing as an adult, and I am sorry I did not stay all four years. After wanting to do so for a long time, I finally returned to Troy for a week and reminisced by walking through campus and spending a good deal of time in the archives at Folsom Library.
One event that I poured over, in Poly and Statler & Waldorf articles alike, was the demonstration know as the Uprise at Five. On February 26, 2009, 500 students (myself included) gathered in front of Russell Sage Dining Hall. This demonstration was called for just the previous night at a meeting of student leaders and went from conception to actualization in fewer than 24 hours.
The momentum for the protest, however, was a long time coming. The background of this decision was tumultuous; in recent times, President Shirley Ann Jackson narrowly escaped a vote of no confidence by the faculty, and, soon after, the Faculty Senate was disbanded. The student’s grievances included a cut in compensation for resident assistants and resident directors, and the immediate cause of the Uprise at Five was a statement that no soon-to-be sophomores would become RAs. This policy wasted the time of the many freshmen applicants and meant that several RA positions would be unfilled, increasing the duties of RAs that would now be compensated less. For all this, as the film of the demonstration shows (see poly.rpi.edu/s/upriseatfive at RPI TV), the student body conducted the protest with nobility and maturity; the atmosphere was positive, and it was not hate of anyone or any policy, but a love of RPI that defined the evening.
This week, I have walked and read my way through memories of friendship, of insights gained in classrooms, of my first real love, and of my first home away from home. That said, I see now that not all is well at my RPI, and what I described above is not at all just a situation of the past. What we students protested when I was here is eerily similar to what the alumni along with students, through Renew Rensselaer and Save the Union, now take up.
I call upon students and alumni to review the “Untold Story” at poly.rpi.edu/s/renew or at least read the section on governance. Then, if you are as moved as I am, sign the Save the Union petition and the Renew Rensselaer platform, as I have. And finally, be ready; as I understand, two other protests to keep the Union student run occurred in 2016 and 2017. Since these issues have not been resolved, we should not expect student actions to be over.