Ava Gallagher for President of the Union

By The Polytechnic Editorial Board March 19, 2023

The Polytechnic endorses Ava Gallagher ’23G for President of the Union. Along with improving communication, Gallagher plans to ensure all clubs are well represented, rebuild the E-Board's relationship with the student-athlete population, and establish new spaces around campus and within the Union for different organizations.

One major part of her plan for President of the Union is to rebuild the connection between the Union and Rensselaer's student athletes. More generally, RPI Athletics was removed from the Union budget in 2016, but Gallagher seeks to rebuild the relationship between the two by inviting more athletes to be members of the E-Board. Gallagher believes that athletes’ presence on the Board gives unique insight on what club and intramural teams need, which she hopes will provide a direct line of communication that was previously removed. Over the next few months, she wants to promote athletics in the Union by providing more spaces to host athletic events like banquets. She hopes that by taking these steps, the two will form a stronger relationship.

In addition, Gallagher plans to create new spaces around campus, with the E-Board already approving motions for renovations that they will push to the Board of Trustees. Recently, they have discussed a ropes course by the Archer Center, sports courts, pavilions, and renovations to Rathskellar and the Playhouse.

Current President of the Union Colleen Corrigan ’23G had previously planned to reinstate 24/7 hours for the Union. Although Gallagher states she would love to have this, cost and safety are concerning factors as professional staff should be there whenever the building is open. She wants to push the Union hours slightly past midnight and believes this goal is more feasible than a 24-hour Union. Additionally, Gallagher stated that the Union should stay easily accessible to the public, giving the bookstore and food businesses a broader audience. With the renovation of Rathskellar, she hopes to bring the campus card office back to the Union, make more meeting spaces, and bring back food places that used to be in the Union, like pizza.

The Polytechnic was also interested in her focus on the Union Hair Salon. Gallagher explained that the salon mainly works with ROTC haircuts, and she is in the process of helping administration find another hair stylist that can cater to more of the student body. The salon would be updated along with Rathskeller to provide the new stylist with tools they need. Currently, it is open for limited hours and days by appointment only. Ideally, Gallagher would like the salon to be open eight hours, six days a week to provide more flexibility for all students.

Moreover, Gallagher wants to open communication between the Board and the student body. The Board is always working on many projects and club services, and thus there are many reasons for the Board to want to promote them on social media and screens around campus. Additionally, she wants to communicate to the students about what all the councils and committees do. Hopefully, this increased communication will encourage the student body to engage or join these committees.

One of the last topics of conversation was representation for Greek life organizations. She plans to further build relationships and promote Greek life within the Union by giving them spaces around the Union. Gallagher said she has already communicated with the Interfraternity Council president, Jack McCoy ’24, and is working toward increasing knowledge on Union room reservations and other available spaces.

The Polytechnic questioned her on long and short-term goals. Her ambitious list of goals provides the Union with hopes for changes in the future, but The Polytechnic had concerns with the way these goals were presented, and with her graduation at the end of the next Fall semester, worries about the methodical process in which her goals must be approached in order to achieve all of them within a four-month period. Several of her goals remained limited to certain niches within the student body; however, The Polytechnic believes Gallagher’s strong leadership will lead the Union to achieve her realistic visions, reaching students all across RPI.

Another uncertainty The Polytechnic has towards Gallagher is her serving as President of the Union in her final semester at RPI. Presidents of the Union traditionally serve for a full year, which will mean the E-Board will elect a replacement after Gallagher graduates or resigns. Although this will not directly impact her term, this does mean the Executive Board must be prepared to elect a new President of the Union before the semester is over. The Polytechnic feels confident that Gallagher’s extensive experience on the Executive Board will pave the way for a successful and impactful term, despite this transition.