Top Hat

Being the change at Rensselaer

By Cait Bennett August 31, 2022

Hello everyone, and welcome to Rensselaer and to Downtown Troy! I’m so excited for you all to join our community. The fact that I’ve been here for over four years is a testament to that.

For those who don’t know me yet, my name is Cait, and I am your Grand Marshal. I graduated in May with my Electrical Engineering degree, and now I’m working on my Masters in Life Science Entrepreneurship. As your Grand Marshal, I work with the Student Senate to improve the lives of students by collaborating with administrators on Institute policy. You are all so lucky to be entering RPI at the beginning of a new era of our school. Just like you all will transform in the next four years, your class will be the first to watch as our institute grows and evolves. You have the ability to create change during this transition. You are exactly what our community needs: a breath of fresh air. That is why it is so important to remain civically engaged.

When I talk about civic engagement, I’m referring to the actions we all take to improve our community every day. If you’ve ever voted, participated in a community cleanup, called your representatives, protested, joined a community group, or even just read your local newspaper: congratulations, you are civically engaged! Here at RPI, our student government is more complex than your high school’s might have been. Ria Massoni ’24, our Undergraduate President, leads our class councils that work on programming and unity, but our Student Senate, Executive Board, and Judicial Board resemble that of a traditional representative government. The Student Senate works on policy changing and advocacy; the Executive Board manages the Union’s budget, and the Judicial Board handles students’ appeals as a jury of your peers. Whether you’re passionate about composting initiatives, gender-inclusive restrooms, or even first-year move-in policies, there is room for you to work on causes that are most important to you.

You also don’t have to join Student Government to remain civically engaged. Our student newspaper, The Polytechnic, keeps close tabs on our student government organizations, and you can keep up to date by reading online at the We have a plethora of student Discord servers and Webex groups for you to stay engaged with different communities. We also have hundreds of clubs to join. You can learn about our school’s history in The Poly and the Institute archives. And most importantly, you can vote in your freshman elections held in October and in GM Week elections held in March. Your voice makes a difference.

My email (, Webex, Discord, and office door is always open for those who want to learn about the past and future of this Institute. I’ve been here for a while, and I’m excited to pass everything down. In the meantime, enjoy the incredible variety of food, businesses, and views in Downtown Troy.