Top Hat

GM reflects on past year, thanks all who helped

By Justin Etzine March 28, 2018

RPI, I am stunned at how quickly the year has flown by! Today marks my final Top Hat column to you all as your 152nd grand marshal.

One year ago, I made a promise to each one of you—no matter the circumstances, I would stand up for the rights, and advocate for the interests, of our student body. This commitment encompassed general student concerns, Greek life, athletics, the Union, underrepresented minorities, and any other group of students on campus. Reflecting on the past year, I am proud to have stood by that promise for the entirety of my term.

By all accounts, this year has proven to be a rewarding—albeit challenging—year. Students made their voices heard at impressive levels. Committees had almost double the level of participation through students choosing to volunteer. Over 1,000 students shared their opinions in the Fall 2017 Senate Survey, providing the Senate with a statistically significant sample size (over 13 percent of the entire campus population) of student opinions on a wide gamut of topics and issues.

These committees saw great progress toward projects with tangible benefits for the student body, such as an online drop-in tutoring pilot program by the Academic Affairs Committee in collaboration with the Advising & Learning Assistance Center; a prescription delivery service pilot program by the Student Life Committee as a joint venture between Marra’s Pharmacy, the Executive Board, and Procurement Services; and an expanded composting program proposal by the Facilities and Services Committee to promote sustainable practices at RPI. These few examples demonstrate the commitment and dedication our committees and their members have shown to improve the student experience for our current and future peers.

Furthermore, Student Government has also seen a record-setting year in terms of direct, regular communication with the student body. The Student Government Communications Committee restructured its communications strategy and expanded its social media presence to promote frequent, quick interactions between the Student Government and students. Additionally, the committee has realized a truly joint structure to accurately represent all bodies of Student Government, not just the Student Senate. Keeping the student body informed and involved is a top priority, and this committee has laid a foundation for future Student Government leaders to continue communicating with students frequently in the spirit of honesty and accountability.

Unfortunately, after 127 years, our Union is no longer student-run. I am deeply saddened by this change, and I have worked with my Student Government peers to advocate on the student body’s behalf in identifying a future for a student-run Union. The benefits provided to our students, both personally and professionally, are innumerable, and I believe our current and future students deserve to benefit from a truly student-run Union, as countless students have in the past century. Regardless of where or how I am involved in Student Government in the coming year, I fully intend to continue serving as a strong advocate for a student-run Union.

I would like to take the time to thank the individuals that empowered me to succeed in my term as grand marshal. To my mother, my father, my brother, and my entire family, thank you for supporting me no matter what, being my strongest supporters, and for forgiving me for the infrequent chances I have been able to call you over this year. I love you so much, and I could not have succeeded without you. For my incredible friends, thank you for being my emotional support system this year and for keeping me laughing even when times got stressful.

To the officers of the Student Senate—Ellie, Tim, Nino, Colleen, Risheel, Michael G, Caleb, Nancy, Jenna, Michael C, Steve, Stef, Hannah, Joe, and Sidney—to the Student Senators, and to the countless volunteers participating in our committees, thank you for putting our students first. Your passion and dedication in leading and participating in committees, overseeing Senate operations, and championing efforts for our constituents has benefitted the student body tremendously, and the students have you all to thank. I am excited to see what you accomplish in the future, and it has been an honor to serve alongside each and every one of you.

To the officers of the Union—Matt, Kayla, Nate, and Anthony—thank you for all of your hard work in managing your respective arms of Student Government. It has been a privilege to work with you all, and I have learned so much from each of you throughout this year.

To my fellow Top Hats, thank you for the invaluable advice and guidance you have provided me with this year whenever I asked. Serving as a sounding board for ideas and providing suggestions based on your own experiences proved very helpful in navigating my term as grand marshal. I look forward to following your example in supporting future grand marshals.

To The Polytechnic, thank you for keeping us accountable and for playing a major role in keeping students updated on our student government. Your commitment to our campus and student government is incredibly important for our school, and I am excited to continue reading The Poly as an alumnus to stay informed about happenings at RPI.

To the countless staff at RPI—both within the Union and across campus—thank you for supporting our students—including me—in all of their endeavors, both academic and extracurricular. You continually inspire us to excel, and I am thrilled that our students are able to work closely with all of you.

And, above all, thank you to the students of RPI. Thank you for making your voices heard. Thank you for standing for what you believe in. Thank you for questioning with the goal of always improving and better understanding. Thank you for creating the RPI experience I will forever cherish and reflect upon as I move on into new phases of life.

I have one last request for all of you as I turn over the hat—please continue to stay informed and involved. Continue reading updates from student government, and keep expecting more if you do not believe you are receiving the information you need. Continue sharing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, suggestions, and comments to the Student Government. Your opinions form the backbone of all of our efforts, and we are able to better serve when hearing from you.

Until my term ends on Friday, April 6, please reach out to me at to share your thoughts, comments, ideas, and concerns. After this, please feel free to continue reaching out to me at

RPI, thank you for everything, and farewell!