PU Mahmoud endorses Gramenides, Corrigan
Over the past year, I have worked tirelessly to continue to fight for Union self-governance. While this fight seemed futile at times, Dr. Jackson’s retirement has the potential to usher in an administration that will be more willing to address student needs, and it will be especially important in the coming year to continue to fight for our rights. As such, I feel that it is my responsibility to endorse Grand Marshal and President of the Union candidates who have shown a clear dedication to understanding and addressing the issues that the Union currently faces.
Grand Marshal: Nicole Gramenides
Nicole has been involved in student government since her freshman year. During this time, she has served as a Class of 2023 senator, a Greek senator, a member of the Facilities and Services and Student Life committees, and, most recently, the chair of the Arch Task Force Committee. In these roles, she was heavily involved in the creation of improved campus shuttle routes, addressing the peace officer bill, improving the Senate survey, addressing the facial recognition technology controversy, and condemning the administration’s racist actions in handling the modification of multicultural club events at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, Nicole is uniquely qualified to address Greek life issues. Her commitment to working with the Fraternity and Sorority Commons to reimplement fall formal recruitment for freshmen will undoubtedly bolster Greek recruitment efforts, and her goals to allow for Arch students to board in Greek housing will allow Greek life to flourish.
The Senate also needs change, and I have faith that Nicole can enact that change. The most recent Senate focused primarily on hearing informational presentations by various groups rather than creating or executing actionable plans. While concerns were raised throughout the year by numerous senators regarding an apparent lack of progress and unnecessary micromanagement, the Grand Marshal continued to emphasize the importance of having short meetings, many times at the expense of accomplishing things.
As a result, the Grand Marshal’s stated goals of proactively communicating administrative decisions to the student body, making the Institute’s yearly budgeting information public, instituting implicit bias training for members of student government, and demanding an Arch exemption process that allows students to more easily make their own academic decisions remain unfulfilled. In fact, as of the last update to the Senate’s public record on November 22, 2021—which, in and of itself points to poor leadership—only one motion that is not an appointment or approval of changes to a document has been approved.
Although ongoing COVID-19 restrictions may have played a part, I believe that mediocre direction from the Grand Marshal has played a much larger role in these shortcomings. The Senate can only meaningfully address these shortcomings if the next Grand Marshal has the drive, the willingness, and the experience to further promote student representation; Nicole has my vote for Grand Marshal because she has clearly demonstrated these characteristics, and I have no doubt that she will continue to fight for Union self-governance, promote Greek initiatives, and improve support for underrepresented students.
President of the Union: Colleen Corrigan
Colleen has been involved in student government since her freshman year, serving on both the Student Senate and the Executive Board. As a member of the Senate, Colleen served as parliamentarian, Class of 2021 senator, and Vice Grand Marshal. Most recently, she served as the Executive Board’s Vice President for Board Operations.
While the past year was her first on the Executive Board, Colleen prepared for her role on the Executive Board by reading the Executive Board’s governing documents in their entirety, meeting with Union administrative staff, holding preliminary meetings with committee chairs, and reviewing budgeting documents from previous years, all of which proved to enable a quick and easy transition.
As the Vice President for Board Operations, Colleen drastically improved the Executive Board’s efficiency by improving existing communication channels for committees, creating training documents to aid the Board in conducting annual budgeting, and working closely with Union administrative staff to address any potential concerns the Board may have.
Although her role focused primarily on improving the Board’s operational efficiency, Colleen demonstrated a passion for the Union’s clubs by working with her fellow Executive Board vice presidents and me to proactively discuss and address club issues. This passion is clearly demonstrated by her platform, which focuses on helping clubs build and rebuild as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
One of Colleen’s other goals is to ensure that the Executive Board represents the entire student body. To do this, she aims to continue to advertise the Union’s marketing resources to clubs and to create roles within the Executive Board to ensure that the Union’s unfunded clubs are given a voice.
Although Colleen is currently unopposed, her dedication to the Union and its clubs, and her willingness to address issues of Union self-governance will undoubtedly improve student life at RPI. For these reasons, she will get my vote.
While endorsements from sitting Grand Marshals and Presidents of the Union are generally uncommon, I chose to make a public endorsement because next year will be a crucial first step to restoring Union self-governance, and Nicole and Colleen have both shown that they are the most qualified candidates for their respective roles. Regardless of who you select at the polls, I implore you to vote with the Union—a student-run Union—in mind.
Yaseen M. Mahmoud
132nd President of the Union