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Freshman elections explained

By Cait Bennett October 22, 2021

This Wednesday October 20 the Elections Commission and Student Senate hosted Freshmen Elections from 8 am to 8 pm in Commons Dining Hall and the Union. For me, this event marks the “return to normalcy” we’ve hoped for since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have seen two Grand Marshal Week elections and one freshman election held virtually, and I am so excited to return to in-person elections once again.

Student government at RPI is a lot more engaged and has many more responsibilities than your average high school student council. At my high school, the student council was mostly responsible for planning prom, graduation, and other class events. At Rensselaer, however, we have five branches of government responsible for everything from Union budgeting to judicial cases. The positions you’ll be electing Wednesday reside in the Student Senate and the Class Council.

Class Senators sit on the Student Senate and their class councils. Their main job is to advocate for your concerns as a class. Oftentimes, these concerns turn into committee projects that we present to the administration for implementation. For example, we already have some freshmen speaking out about food in the dining halls. As the freshman senators enter the Senate, they will be trained on the administrative structure and outreach process, and start building a proposal for change based on feedback from your class.

Class representatives are members of the Class of 2025 Council. The class council is responsible for cultivating class unity. They accomplish this goal by planning activities and fundraisers, designing a class ring, selecting a commencement speaker and class gift, planning Senior Week events, and more. The Class of 2024 Council just ran an incredibly successful ice cream social this weekend, where they finally took their class photo. Both the 2024 and 2023 councils are also planning formals for their classes to bring everyone together for a formal event.

The class president and vice president are the head of the 2025 Class Council. They are responsible for organizing the rest of the council, made up of senators and representatives. They are also members of the Undergraduate Council which allows them to connect with the upperclassmen and facilitate inter-class cooperation. For example, the Class of 2024 is currently working closely with the Class of 2023 to prepare for their Arch semester this summer. Next year, the Class of 2024 will pass on their experience to the Class of 2025. All of this work is facilitated by the president and vice president.

There are a few positions within Student Government that are not elected but rather appointed. These reside on the Executive Board and the Judicial Board. The Executive Board is responsible for handling the Union budget, and organizing RPI’s over 200 clubs. The Judicial Board serves as a “jury of our peers,” and oversees cases of alleged violations of the Rensselaer Student Handbook. Applications for these boards go out on an as-needed basis, so keep an eye out if this interests you!