Candidate Questions

Grand Marshal candidate profiles

By The Poly March 26, 2019

What makes you the best fit to lead the student body?

Meagan Lettko: During my tenure at RPI, I have been involved in many aspects of the campus community. Through the relationships I have built, I have been able to gain a holistic view of campus wide culture and changes that we are experiencing in regards to the Arch program and Greek life. Although I have experience in multiple roles in student government, I believe I am fit to lead the student body because I do more than just student government. Diversity of thought is essential to the success of the student body. I believe the Grand Marshal must be open-minded and trustworthy in regards to any issues the student body is passionate about. I will continue to hold myself and other student leaders accountable for the success and sustainability of our student body.

What qualifies you to hold the position of Grand Marshal?

Meagan Lettko: My involvement in student government started my freshman year when I was elected as a senator for the class of 2020. I have been representing the class of 2020 as a senator since then. Through this role I have been involved in committee work. In the 49th student senate I was appointed Vice Grand Marshal and have been responsible for all senate committees, petitions, and filling in for the Grand Marshal when needed for the past year. During this past year, I have also headed an Arch Task Force and participated in Greek life discussions. Based on these experiences, I believe I possess knowledge that is essential to the success of the 50th student senate. I have extensive knowledge of the internal operations of the student senate and I am aware of our downfalls in regards to serving our constituents. Since the Grand Marshal is the presiding officer of the Student Senate, I believe that in this role I will be able to use my previous experience to encourage representation in a proactive manner.

Name three short-term goals (within your term of office) and three long-term goals (beyond your term of office) that you have for the Student Senate.

Meagan Lettko: 

Three short term goals I have for the Student Senate are:

  1. Enforce constituent reports during general meetings
  2. Better define the role of independent senators
  3. Initiate and organize round table meetings with other sectors of student government and large organizations

Three long-term goals I have for the Student Senate are:

  1. Refine the elections process in order to make sure the process is sustainable and trustworthy
  2. Develop a comprehensive plan as to how student government will operate during Arch terms based on the full implementation of Arch this summer
  3. Build a stronger relationship with the RPI community

In your own words, what do you feel are the roles of the Grand Marshal and the Senate? Do you think that the current Senate is fulfilling that role?

Meagan Lettko: Roles of the Grand Marshal include presiding over the senate and holding elected members and officers accountable for representation, hold meetings that are accessible and inviting to the constituents that we represent, and respect the history of this role on our campus. The Student Senate is responsible for pursuing ideas and initiatives that will better the RPI experience for the student body. The Student Senate is an elected body of student government, so the representatives must be seeking feedback from their constituents and encouraging underrepresented groups to become involved. I believe that the current senate has experienced a lot of turnover within the last year and that has hindered our ability to fulfill our role to the full extent. However, I think our senate committees are doing a really great job of interacting with the student body and pursuing meaningful projects.

What do you think are the incumbent Grand Marshal’s strengths and weaknesses? What would you do to improve upon them if you are elected?

Meagan Lettko: Over the past senate term we have experienced a number of radical changes on our campus such as the Greek life reform initiatives and preparing for the Arch program. We were also left to remedy the elections process from the previous term that failed to provide a reliable, strong election. The incumbent GM, Stef, is a confident, unbiased leader with the ability to empathize with anyone. She proved to be a great listener and ally for many students during her term. She also aided immensely with helping the new Director of the Union transition into his role. She attempted to remedy the elections system with the aid of the administration through the Elections Reform Task Force. She also supported the continuation of the Arch Task Force and the development of a Diversity and Inclusion Ad-Hoc committee. In this way she prioritized initiatives that would benefit the current student body. Her weaknesses during this term were that the needs of the senate were sometimes put on the back burner. These needs include constituent reports and senate forums for the general public. For this reason we are experiencing hardships getting people to run for positions for this coming term.

If elected, I will ensure that we are putting our energy towards initiatives that will benefit the current student body as well as preserve student government for class years to come. Our campus is experiencing radical changes and I want to be at the forefront of advocating for the changes students want to see. I will also ensure that the senate is held accountable for representing constituents to the best of our ability through more inviting meetings, reporting on current campus events, and educating students about how student government operates.

What does the student-senator relationship look like? What should it look like?

Meagan Lettko: The relationship between students and senators is based on mutual trust, respect, and representation. The student body elects senators to represent their ideas and values in the body of the Student Senate. The student body should be electing the representatives they feel will uphold their values. Senators should be communicating with their constituents consistently and in a manner that is inclusive. Students have the ability to empathize with their peers and relate to the issues and concerns that constituents may have. It is in this way that the relationship between students and senators is so valuable.

What does the senator-administration relationship look like? What should it look like?

Meagan Lettko: Senators are elected based on their class year, Greek affiliation, or non-greek affiliation. Senators are also required to be active members of at least two committees if not chairing a committee. In these ways there are already historical student-administrator relationships. For example, the Student Life Committee works closely with the Dean of Students and Greek students interact with the Greek Deans regularly. It is the responsibility of the senator to identify which administrators could be of assistance to their projects and initiatives. When members of student government interact with administrators they are representing the ideas and values of their constituents. For this reason, senators should be communicating to the best of their ability the most important initiatives that their constituents support in a respectful and proactive way. The relationship between senators and the administration should be a professional working relationship for the common goal of benefitting the student body.

How would you handle a crisis involving the student body, like the hiring of a director of the Union without an Executive Board vote, if such an issue arose during your term?

Meagan Lettko: If a crisis arose in which student rights and responsibilities were diminished, I would do everything in my power to communicate in a proactive manner in order to remedy the situation. I would make this type of violation my top priority in order to preserve the rights that we as students have at RPI.

What qualities should a leader have? How does the Grand Marshal differ from a senator? How are you a leader?

Meagan Lettko: The Grand Marshal is responsible for upholding the values of the Student Senate and holding the elected officials and officers accountable for their roles. The Grand Marshal also has the responsibility of choosing officers that will create change that benefits the student body. Senators are not entrusted with all of these responsibilities, yet they are equally as responsible for representing their respective constituents and holding themselves accountable for their actions. I believe that there are many different qualities a leader may possess in order to be successful. However, every leader should be trustworthy and accountable for their role and actions. I am a leader because I lead by example and I have the unique ability to see multiple perspectives when tackling an issue. On top of these qualities, I consciously choose to be organized, manage time wisely, and prioritize while weighing all potential options. I try my best to lead in every aspect of my campus involvements.