Candidate Questions

Grand Marshal candidate profile

By The Poly March 19, 2023

What makes you the best fit to lead the student body and how are you qualified to do so?

I have been a part of student government since my first semester at RPI. I’ve served as a class representative, class vice president, and most recently independent senator. I am also the current Academic Affairs Committee chairperson for the Senate. From these experiences, I’ve effectively represented student interests to the administration, and I am confident that I will continue to do so as Grand Marshal.

Name three short-term goals (within your term of office) and three long-term goals (beyond your term of office) that you have for the Student Senate.

Short term:

1) Communication and Transparency

  • Support common platforms (Discord/Webex/Email) to share the Senate’s initiatives and decisions
  • Solicit student feedback to gain diverse perspectives and solutions to otherwise overlooked issues
  • Encourage non-stugov participation in committees, GBMs, events, etc
  • Advocate for increased transparency and accountability in upper-level campus decision-making

2) Access and Affordability

  • Create a more equitable and inclusive environment by minimizing supplemental costs for students
  • Ensure that all students have access to the resources they need to succeed

3) Community Engagement

  • I am a member of Engineering Ambassadors - we are one of the very few groups who engage with the Troy community
  • Facilitate more service projects within Troy, partner with local businesses and organizations
  • Encourage RPI to use their facilities and resources to benefit surrounding residents effectively

Long term:

1) Relationship with Administration

  • Invite members of administration and faculty to attend Senate meetings as guests—not presenters
  • Initiate less-formal conversations between students and admin
  • Increase communication between students and admin to increase the compromises made

2) Experiential Education

  • Increase the number of lab/project-based courses in early undergraduate curricula
  • Promote a platform for graduate researchers to present and introduce undergraduates to research
  • Incorporate hands-on material into lecture-based courses

3) Sustainability

  • Continue the effort to normalize composting at dining halls and the Union
  • Advocate for better infrastructure and more energy-efficient heating and cooling (especially in older buildings)

In your own words, what do you feel are the roles of the Grand Marshal and the Senate? Do you think that the current Senate is fulfilling that role? If any, what changes could be made?

On paper, the Senate’s role is to act as a bridge between the student body and the administration. We represent the student body by advocating for their needs and wants within RPI, and the Senate currently does a good job of that. In reality, students join student government to create a better environment for their peers. On a higher level, the Senate’s primary goal is to foster an inclusive, positive, and welcoming environment for students. I believe that we often get too caught up in policy and specific wording that we forget the holistic purpose of the policies themselves.

It is holistically the Grand Marshal's job to inspire students - both inside and outside of student government - to create the environment they want to see at RPI. They influence and promote the projects that student government takes on, and they offer opportunities and insight for students to make their own changes. (and do the paperwork stuff too)

What do you think are the incumbent Grand Marshal’s strengths and weaknesses? What would you do to improve upon them if you are elected?

Cait was overall an effective Grand Marshal. She has positive relationships with many administrators and has a fantastic understanding of student government’s function and history. She is almost always prepared and knowledgeable about the topics on the Senate floor. She most importantly cared about the work she did which enabled her to complete projects.

While I would want to mimic these qualities as Grand Marshal, I would improve upon her delegation. She took on a lot of committees and projects by herself, which could often sacrifice the quality of work. Student government is made up of a diverse group of people with different perspectives and interests, so it is incredibly important to include more people in decision-making processes. As Grand Marshal, I will delegate more niche discussions to people who are better suited than I am.

What does the student-senator relationship look like? What should it look like?

Currently, the student-senator relationship is minimal. I see very few senators engaging with their constituents at the level they should. Because every senator is a student first, I believe student government’s overall communication should be improved upon to make it easier for the student body to engage with us.

What does the senator-administration relationship currently look like? What should it look like?

The senate-administration relationship has greatly improved over my last term with the inauguration of President Schmidt. Interactions with the administration have historically been very formal and tense, using diplomatic language to jump around making any real change. I have seen a huge increase in the willingness of administrators to sponsor Senate’s projects and work with the student body. That is how the relationship should look, and while we’re not quite there, it is a primary goal of mine to create better conversations between students and administration to allow more change.

What is your plan to engage with the president of the Institute and the rest of Institute administration?

I loosely answered this earlier in the document, but my largest plan is to invite and encourage members of administration - including President Schmidt - to attend Senate meetings or student government-sponsored events in a casual capacity. When administrators engage with students in a less formal way, we are able to communicate in a much more positive way, creating stronger and mutually beneficial relationships. Administrators will be more likely to understand the student’s perspective while we will better understand theirs.

What qualities should a leader have? How are you a leader? What distinguishes a Grand Marshal in your mind?

Effective leaders possess a wide range of qualities, including (in no particular order):

● Vision: The ability to envision a future goal or outcome and create a plan to achieve it.

● Communication: Excellent communication skills, including the ability to listen actively

and express ideas.

● Integrity: Honesty, transparency, and ethical behavior.

● Empathy: The ability to understand and relate to the needs and emotions of others.

● Adaptability: Flexibility and the ability to pivot when situations change.

● Decision-making: The ability to make informed decisions quickly and confidently.

● Accountability: Taking responsibility for actions and results.

● Confidence: Belief in oneself and the ability to inspire confidence in others.

● Creativity: The ability to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions.

I am a leader because I believe I possess many of these qualities. A good leader and a good Grand Marshal above all need to be passionate about their purpose. The issues that students face at RPI are very important to me. It’s easier for me to take action than to let issues remain.

Do you believe transparency to be an important issue in student government?

Transparency is very important for the student body to know both the good and bad that happens within student government. I
believe that all people have a right to information. If something happens that will affect any student, they should know. However, much more good comes from student government than bad. It is currently a problem that most students are not aware of our committees or projects and therefore don’t know that there may be opportunities for them to help. Opening stronger communication and having transparent bodies is not only fair for students, but it will strengthen our efforts to create change.