Top Hat

Prioritize people, not politics

By Ben Viner April 6, 2024

Editor’s Note: The following article has received minor edits to conform with The Poly’s style guide. The opinions in the article do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Polytechnic nor its affiliates. 

When I stepped into my role as Grand Marshal, my primary goal was to shift the culture within the Senate. While our mission was to advocate for the student body, we often find ourselves caught up in bureaucracy and internal politics. Previous administrations at Rensselaer have instilled in us a sense of caution regarding our actions and procedures. However, with a new administration that prioritizes the student voice, it's clear that we must adapt if we are to truly serve our fellow students.

During this past term, we've made significant strides toward reducing the financial burden on students, improving campus accessibility, and securing a full Thanksgiving break in Fall 2024, among other achievements. However, we've also encountered challenges, such as the failure to confirm a strong and uncontested candidate for President of the Union, prolonged debates over changing the word “a” to “the” in the Union Constitution, and a loss of focus on projects with direct benefits for the student body. Since January, we've spent countless hours discussing bureaucratic and internal policies with minimal impact on students—a departure from the Senate's core responsibilities.

Improving safety and accessibility, strengthening student representation, and ensuring a positive student experience do not require amendments to bylaws or Constitution. Punishing individuals who volunteer their time to help should not be part of our approach. We can do better.

It's time for the Senate to reassess its priorities and redirect its efforts toward concrete initiatives that genuinely serve the student body. By avoiding bureaucratic distractions and adopting a proactive approach to meaningful projects, we can fulfill our purpose more effectively and contribute to a better campus environment. I urge the incoming Senate to remember why they were elected and to effect real change at RPI.