Candidate Interviews

President of the Union candidate profile

By The Poly March 26, 2019

Why do you want to be President of the Union?

Caitlin Kennedy: I want to be President of the Union because I believe I have the experience and the commitment to continue to push our Union to be the best that it can be. During my time at RPI and as a member of the Union Executive Board, I have been able to observe and learn from a multitude of different experiences, both good and bad. I understand the challenges the Union currently faces, and I am dedicated to working with the Board, the Senate, other aspects of Student Government, and all students, to ensure we leave the Union a better place than how we found it.

What qualifies you to be President of the Union?

Caitlin Kennedy: I have served on the Executive Board for the last three years so I have an in depth understanding of how the Board and RPI Student Government works. I have seen past Boards work effectively and seen how some have struggled. I have sat on the Policies Committee, the Marketing and Strategy Committee, the Union Annual Report Committee, and the Club Operations Committee. For the last two years I have also chaired the Club Operations Committee. The combination of these different roles and my experience gives me a solid background to lean on and grow from as President of the Union.

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 Executive Board.

Caitlin Kennedy:

Short Term:

– Increase accountability of Executive Board representatives to ensure they are in contact with their assigned clubs and organizations by implementing and enforcing training practices for new Board members. This will ensure all Board members are informed and able to fully execute their duties.

– Implement new meeting and study spaces within the Union by re-evaluating the current space usage in the building.

– Introduce “traveling office hours” where I will hold monthly office hours somewhere on campus other than the SGS to ensure every student has the ability to approach me with feedback, suggestions, and criticism.

Long Term:

– Set the groundwork for a strong, productive relationship between the Executive Board and the Senate as well as the administration.

– Create a comprehensive building update plan for the Union for future boards to work towards completing.

– Increase committee involvement by getting non-Executive Board representatives involved.

In your own words, what do you feel are the roles of the President of the Union and the Union Executive Board?

Caitlin Kennedy: The Executive Board is the chief financial body of the Union. It is their job to uphold and execute all Union budgeting and operating policies which allow them to accurately budget for the next fiscal year. They also hear all new club requests and budget requests for the Union. Additionally, the President of the Union’s duties include guiding and supporting the Board and its members during discussions to ensure that all clubs and student organizations are equally represented.

What do you think are the incumbent President of the Union’s strengths and weaknesses? What would you do to improve upon them if you were elected?

Caitlin Kennedy: Justin, the current President of the Union is extremely passionate. He will put endless hours into doing what he thinks is the best for the Board. However, he sometimes puts a great deal of energy into big picture projects which sometimes mean the day to day operations are overlooked. I will focus on ensuring all Board members are trained and accountable for their duties. Justin sometimes also fails to stay impartial during meetings. I will make sure to guide discussion during meetings while staying impartial. I encourage members of the Board and the community to speak up if they believe that bias or impartiality has become a factor in the decision making process.

What does the club-Executive Board representative relationship look like? What should it look like?

Caitlin Kennedy: The relationship between each club and each Executive Board representative is extremely unique. Some clubs are very involved and communicate with their reps very regularly. Other clubs do not want such a close relationship. Regardless of how involved the clubs are, they need to feel supported by their representatives. Executive Board reps should be reaching out often so that at the very least clubs know who to go to when they need assistance. It is an Executive Board rep’s job to make sure their clubs are aware of all of the resources and requirements the Union has for its clubs. They should attend at least one club meeting per semester so they understand how the club operates.

How would you evaluate the current Union budget situation? What do you foresee as future budget concerns?

Caitlin Kennedy: Currently, the Union is in good budgetary standing. However, as students participate in the Arch, the budget for summer programs will need to increase to accommodate the increase in students on campus. This will be done by redistributing funds depending on the number of students on campus at a time. The Union should use this time to reflect on our current programs and activities to ensure that these programs are meetings students needs and they are being run in the most effective way possible.

What is your plan for dealing with the changes that accompany the rollout of the Arch?

Caitlin Kennedy: In order for the Arch to be successful, we must be ready for all of the changes that are to come. The Senate has a Summer Arch Task force that has been looking into potential problems and preemptively coming up with solutions for them. I will work with the Senate as well as this committee to make sure we are as prepared as possible. This summer we will learn a great deal about how the Arch will truly affect Union clubs. Moving forward with this knowledge we will need to make sure any clubs that operate over the summer have a sufficient budget and look into how that will affect Union finances since the Arch is split over two fiscal years. We will also need to make sure the clubs leadership is prepares to continue over the summer. This could mean appointing an Arch Officer to their Executive Board if no other club leaders will be on campus. The Executive Board will look into the need and usefulness of conference call meetings over the summer to deal with issues that arise.

How do you intend to encourage students to fully utilize the resources of the Union?

Caitlin Kennedy: I believe making students and clubs aware of what resources the Union has is the best way to encourage them to use the resources that are provided by the Union. It is the job of the Executive Board representative to make sure their clubs are aware of all the Union has to offer. To encourage affiliated clubs, we need to make the Union website accessible and have the most up to date information so clubs can easily see what is available to them. When students are actively working on projects that are meaningful to them and to the Union, everyone will benefit. The more involved students become, the better understanding they will have of all that the Union has to offer.