Top Hat

Looking back and moving forward

By Advaith Narayan September 3, 2020

Hi Rensselaer!

I am Advaith, a senior Mechanical Engineering student and your 155th Grand Marshal! For our new students, the GM writes weekly articles called “Top Hats” after the one worn by the GM. These articles touch on a variety of topics to engage the campus community, from campus events to updates with the Rensselaer Union. President of the Union Anissa Choiniere ’21 writes similar weekly articles called “Derbys.”

If you’re back on campus, welcome back! And if not, I hope you’re able to make the best of being off-campus and that you are ready for the Fall semester.

As you can imagine, the last couple of months have been quite odd for student government at RPI. When the campus was shut down last spring, we were in the middle of our student government elections season. I was elected to office along with the President of the Union and a whole host of other student leaders at the start of May. By that point, we had lost about five weeks due to the delay of our regular elections process to allow for a virtual election. The circumstances that we faced put us in a unique position: having to work within the confines of a global pandemic while still working to uphold and exceed the expectations of our elected offices.

We are at a wildly different RPI than we had imagined a few months ago, and certainly one different from what I had planned to see this fall. The move to online had me thinking about my platform and how I can still see my plans to fruition. I still stand by the six pillars of my platform. However, due to the pandemic, new issues surfaced and adjustments had to be made for this Fall semester. Additionally, the last couple of months have given us a lot to think about as far as our inclusivity, care, and appreciation towards underrepresented minorities in our community. Sudden changes and new priorities are not foreign to GMs and student government.

I have already begun working with the Student Senate to understand and address the student body’s concerns regarding both the pandemic and our campus’ diversity and inclusion efforts. I will also be working diligently towards the issues I am most passionate about, such as mental health and student rights, so as to not forget the RPI that still exists beneath the pandemic.

I hope to see you around campus!

Stay safe,

Advaith Narayan

155th Grand Marshal