I have had the privilege of serving the student body for the past four years in a variety of capacities, but my top priority remains steadfast throughout my time at RPI—ensuring we leave our alma mater a better place for our current and future peers.
According to dozens of students and alumni I have spoken to, these are some of the most trying of times in our Union’s history. I have worked to put our students—and our Union—first in every aspect of my term as Grand Marshal. The student body and Student Government have seen a landmark year across the board: passionate students have made their voices heard, regular communication between Student Government and its constituency has been restored, a record number of peers opted to share their opinions with the Student Senate, and students overwhelmingly reiterated their commitment to a student-run future for our Union.
I am running to be your next President of the Union out of a motivation to leave behind a Union which provides the same, continued unique opportunities that have made our time at RPI so special. My platform focuses on the areas of operational continuity, strengthening the involvement of clubs and students in the oversight of the Union, and an emphasis on continuing the mission for student self-governance and empowerment in our Union.
Restored Student-Run Union
For the first time in almost 128 years, the Union is holding GM Week Elections without a student-run governance structure. The Union is the cornerstone and an integral part of the student experience at RPI, and the student union building is the living room of our campus. Our students have gained unprecedented experience from participating in the Union and shaped a Union that was truly theirs.
As President of the Union, I will work alongside the Grand Marshal to restore the Union’s student-run structure for the benefit of our future peers by:
- Proceeding with the hiring process for a new Director of the Union with the thorough and frequent participation and approval of the Executive Board;
- Working with students to build a marketing campaign around the benefits of a student-run Union and around the countless amazing activities, organizations, and accomplishments by our students through the Union; and
- Working with Student Government to ensure the respective bodies retain and exercise their duties in the Union, its business, and its operations, as defined in the Union Constitution.
Expanded Operational Excellence
The Executive Board plays a fundamental, substantive role in the finances and operations for the Rensselaer Union. With every organization there are opportunities for improvements to operations and efficiency, and the Executive Board shows promise for improving its operational structure for the benefit for its members and the members of the Union.
As President of the Union, I will expand the Executive Board’s emphasis on operational excellence by:
- Increasing the requirement for undergraduate representatives to serve on two Executive Board committees rather than one;
- Introducing the subcommittee structure to allow for committees to effectively multitask on projects simultaneously;
- Refactoring the Executive Board proposal cover sheet to include commonly-asked questions to maximize the in-meeting question and answer period with clubs and organizations;
- Increasing frequency of Executive Board cabinet meetings from monthly to weekly to foster inter-committee discussion and provide additional time to strategize project development and pursual;
- Reconfiguring the portion of Business Operations currently tasked with bookstore matters into a bookstore advisory committee to regularly recommend ideas to Follett Higher Education Group;
- Developing a comprehensive marketing strategy with the committee chairs and the Student Government Communications Committee for expanding non-member membership of Executive Board committees;
- Establishing a Union student employment advisory committee to allow for student staff members to weigh in on current student employment in the Union;
- Auditing practiced operational proceedings in Executive Board meetings to ensure that meetings comply with Robert's Rules of Order and the Executive Board’s special rules of order, allowing the meetings operate as efficiently as possible; and
- Introducing an “invitation to speak” section to the agendas of Executive Board meetings to allow for the views and ideas of the members of the Union to be presented whenever warranted.
Emphasized Diversity & Involvement
The Union is home to countless cultural and affinity organizations, our McNeil Room displays dozens of flags of our geographically diverse population, and, recently, the Union founded a Multicultural Leadership Council. Our Union’s efforts towards diversity are great, but we must embrace RPI’s founding message of thoroughness in “knowledge and thoroughness” to amplify our efforts towards inclusivity. We should continue to strive for every student to feel welcome and included in their Union.
As President of the Union, I will ensure the Executive Board provides ample opportunity for a diverse array of student participation and involvement by:
- Developing an application and set of criteria for Executive Board appointments that prioritizes all forms of diversity and inclusivity;
- Introducing open informational sessions for prospective Executive Board applicants and committee members, one after Grand Marshal Week and one at the start of the fall semester, to introduce students to the benefits of applying and participating;
- Expanding the role of the Multicultural Leadership Council from solely a programming board into a representative summit of cultural organizations in the Union to facilitate inclusivity and diversity conversations throughout the Union; and
- Collaborating with the Multicultural Leadership Council to reinvigorate the Multicultural Lounge to keep up with its popular usage.
Increased Club Resources
Our student organizations are our Union. They fulfill a number of roles for our students—relieving stress, building community and friendships, expanding horizons, providing professional and personal development opportunities, giving back to the community, and more. All organizations deserve as much support from the Union as it can provide.
As President of the Union, I will ensure our club and organizations receive even more support from the Executive Board by:
- Reconfiguring the Union website to include a page for consolidated club officer resources, including all classifications, policies, forms, and procedures necessary for effective leadership of organizations and interfacing with the Executive Board;
- Creating quick-reference how-to guidelines for club officers to include in the consolidated resources page to provide quick reference guidance on business matters, such as club travel, finances, paperwork assistance, and club strategy;
- Expanding and diversifying club classifications to allow for the appropriate catering of club differences and unique needs;
- Collaborating with the Union Systems Administrators and the administrative staff to implement online purchase requisitions through the Club Management System, allowing for the digitization of both submission and approval processes;
- Developing an annual, week-long series of events, in collaboration with the Grand Marshal Week Committee, dedicated to the variety of arts, gaming, and other special interest clubs within the Union by providing them with the support needed to host creative events throughout Grand Marshal Week; and
- Outlining regular meeting requirements for representatives with their represented club officers and student activities resource persons, either individually or in groups.
The Executive Board handles the multimillion dollar budget of the Union, comprised mostly of student self-taxation through the Union Activity Fee. This substantial contribution confers on students not only membership into our Union, but also the right to understand the decisions being made by the student government, especially the Executive Board as the budgeting and financial body.
As President of the Union, I will promote a sense of accountability in the Executive Board by:
- Actively promoting an environment of voting based on the opinions of the representative’s constituency, not just personal predisposition;
- Auditing all policies to ensure that no regulations unreasonably restrict students’ rights to information and participation in the operation of our Union;
- Changing the “committee of the week” report to regular, short-form committee reports occurring weekly to keep the Executive Board and members of the Union updated on committees and their projects’ progress;
- Formalizing the Union Policies Committee’s legitimate role in creating operational policies by advocating for the appropriate policy-making responsibility to be delegated by the Student Senate;
- Ensuring the standard for conducting business allows for an open environment by default and closing meetings only for strictly confidential information;
- Renewing the lapsed practice of securing Student Senate approval on the Budgeting Guidelines and other operational policies;
- Keeping record of committee attendance to ensure that Executive Board members are fulfilling their duties as committed; and
- Establishing procedures that ensure that existing members of the Executive Board do not have an unfair advantage in applying for positions.
My pledges in this platform are not just “if elected” promises, and I made—and upheld—a similar pledge to this when running for Grand Marshal last year. My commitment to the Union stands now as a pledge to all students.
While this is my platform, I put student opinions and viewpoints first. If you believe there is an issue on this campus or in our Union that has not been addressed by Student Government or in my platform, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You have my word that your issue will be addressed as soon as possible.