I am writing as an alum of the Class of ’70 and a former Rensselaer Union staff person.
In my student time at RPI, through the Rensselaer Union, the IFC and my fraternity, Acacia, I was afforded the opportunities to develop leadership skills which have stayed with me to this day. In the Rensselaer Union, I was a member of the Executive Board, the first chairperson of the fledgling organization, UPAC, and a member of a number of clubs. The leadership opportunities afforded me through the student run Rensselaer Union were great learning experiences that I carried into my career and my many volunteer service experiences.
As Director of Student Activities for the Rensselaer Union from September 1978 to Spring 1983 and subsequently as Managing Director of the Rensselaer Union from 1983 to March 2011, it was with great pride that I worked with many students through good times and difficult times as they honed their own leadership, management and interpersonal skills.
In the fall of 2015, I was pleased that students took pride in celebrating one of RPI’s great traditions, the 125th anniversary of the Rensselaer Union.
In the 2006 final report to the Institute, the Middle States Accreditation Committee, chaired by then Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon, wrote about the Rensselaer Union and student leadership on page 11:
“Students participate in the governance of the Institute in many ways. Their own activities are largely governed by the students themselves through the unique Rensselaer Union and its components, including the Student Senate. Student views on plans and policies are sought by the administration.”
On page 22 the Middle States committee significantly states:
“Opportunities for student development as demonstrated by the unique student-run union and student leadership development program are excellent learning experiences and distinctive attributes of student life.”
Unfortunately, it appears from all I have read, that the administration’s view of student leadership, student decision-making and the Rensselaer Union has drastically changed.
Rick Hartt ‘70