Reflecting on my term, words of advice

By Justin Etzine March 27, 2019

Hello, RPI!

This week, I’m addressing you for the last time as your president of the Union. Grand Marshal Week is here, and you will elect who will lead the student body for the coming year. This marks the end of my time as PU, but it also marks the end of my five years of involvement with Student Government. As I reflect on my time in Student Government, I have pondered the advice I can provide to those who follow.

The many roles we fill are substantial and at times can be daunting to those looking to get started. Above all, please know that anyone can get involved and make a difference. It doesn’t matter if you get elected your first year at RPI or join a committee in your senior year, every student has the ability to impact their campus, their community, and their Union.

Firstly, try your best to keep documentation of as much as you possibly can. With all the hustle and bustle that comes with handling the day-to-day, especially with GM and PU responsibilities, it can be easy to forget to keep a running log of what is occurring, who is involved, what the outcomes are, and any other details that may be helpful down the road. It may seem excessive for the more mundane items, but we never really know what will come up again in the future and what will need reference to what we are doing right now. Furthermore, ease of understanding is important. I have learned that my writing style is comprehensive, but verbose. If something you are working on starts getting lengthy, try to include a brief summary or synopsis to help your future counterparts stay informed quickly with additional detail available as needed.

Secondly, for those getting involved with the Executive Board or the Student Senate, make sure you place as much value as you can on the committees. These really are the “hidden gems” of Student Government—the place where students of various involvement levels can come together to make meaningful impacts in specific areas. I believe that any student can get involved with merely an hour of volunteer time per week by joining committees. They can scale their involvement up or down as they wish, focusing on the areas they care most about.

And, finally, always keep the core purpose of Student Government in sight: to benefit the students we represent. Each in their own way, every body, committee, position, and meeting is built around our common ideal of improving some aspect of our classmates’ lives. The word “improve” does not necessarily mean something is bad or wrong; we can always continue to improve and build upon any aspect no matter where it may currently stand. Not everyone will get along, as with any activity, but we should try to separate people from actions as much as possible to assess if choices provide the best outcome for the students. Finally, we get involved hopefully because we find it fun, so enjoy your time too; before you know it, you will be moving on and reminiscing about your time in Student Government—just like I am right now.

And, with that, I am honored to have had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I have loved every moment of my service to this one-of-a-kind student body. Farewell, thank you, and Go Red!