Staff Editorial

Why not change Rensselaer?

Positively affect RPI through continuous civic engagement

By The Poly Editorial Board March 21, 2018

With seemingly high levels of discontent and complaints coming from the Rensselaer community through protests and social media, The Polytechnic Editorial Board hopes to see students act on these feelings through increased civic engagement. A great way to do this is by running for student government or by attending the Spring Town Meeting this Thursday at 3 pm.

Anyone who has walked around campus in the last couple days might have noticed a proliferation of posters depicting smiling students, campaign promises, and—as is tradition at Rensselaer—confusing acronyms. Both the Executive Board and Student Senate are currently preparing for the campus-wide election that will determine who will make up the new student leadership.

At the time of publication, there were 23 people running for office. This is a significant downturn compared to last year’s election, which had 56 people running. Candidates still have until March 30 to hand in candidacy and nomination forms, but this lack of enthusiasm for student government is worrying. If you’ve ever been interested in making Rensselaer a better place for students, participating in committees—whether you’re elected or not—is one of the most effective ways to do that.

President Shirley Ann Jackson’s biannual town meeting is the best place to reach out to the administration and voice your opinion; the president is there to update the community on changes to and plans for Rensselaer, as well as to answer questions and address concerns. This is the best place to give input on what you would like to see at Rensselaer.

At the most recent Fall Town Meeting, many students and alumni came prepared with thoughtful, difficult questions. A lot has happened since then, including the implementation of the SafeRide program, a director of the Union candidate being given the Human Resources Interview Committee’s prepared questions prior to their interview without the committee’s knowledge, the shortening of Winter Break, Jackson’s endorsement of Professor Chris Bystroff’s email to faculty accusing alumni of racism, and the resolution of the judicial inquiries surrounding protest participation on October 13, 2017.

It can be easy to just turn a blind eye given the challenges that being a student poses, but if you value our campus, make the effort to take some time to reflect on the times you weren’t happy with something on campus, or had an idea to make things better. While the town meeting is being held on a Thursday—a decision we’ve expressed frustrations with in the past due to the inconveniences it poses for students—this is something to prioritize. If there are topics you want to know more about or opinions you would like to express, now is the time.

Your civic engagement at Rensselaer should not end at protests and Reddit posts; get involved and actively participate in the changes you would like to see.