Archive for March, 2009

The Week has begun

Monday, March 30th, 2009

GM Week officially started last Friday, but things are beginning to happen.  Primary elections are scheduled for today, but none of the positions seem to have enough candidates to require a primary.  At least RNE hasn’t made any announcements or taken down any candidate posters near the polling locations.

Once again, the animate candidates’ posters are a boring collection.  No wonder Zwack’s campaign is going badly; his signs are all the same and don’t tell you much other than his name.  Hunt has some eye-catching graphics, but his signs don’t give much information besides names either.  Some of the unaffiliated candidates are being slightly more informative.  Tablante’s gummy bear army is neat, except this is the third year he’s used it.

So once again, it’s up to Arthur Galpin to bring you fresh, creative, informative campaign posters.  Visit our poster gallery and take note of Arthur’s endorsement from Stephen Van Rensselaer. If you like them, print a few up and support your favorite inanimate candidates.

Finally, a fork salute to whomever put up the signs on behalf of NOBODY. Very funny, excellent RPI spirit.

Carpe Fenestram

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

GM Week campaigning officially began at 8 AM this morning. We’re already hard at work for Arthur’s election attempt, but the animate candidates, as usual, are off to a slow start.

We apologize if some of our signs are stupid or make no sense. We printed up the wrong batch by mistake. Expect a new round of creative posters later this week.

Comments on a General Message

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Our president has sent out a general e-mail explaining what’s going on. I’m not sure if it is related to the Uprise or if it was planned anyway. If you don’t have a copy in your inbox, RPInsider has posted the text.

I’m only slightly pleased by the report, though if it is a first step toward more transparency, it should be encouraged. I’m glad that “we do not anticipate any further reductions in force”, though this does not rule out more layoffs. We are all reminded that past layoffs (”proactive steps we have taken”) has resulted in “the smallest tuition increase since 1996″, which is still 3.1 percent. I suspect the recent drop in inflation rates could have something to do with it as well. (Tuition historically increases faster than average income for almost all schools, not just RPI.)

There’s an ominous line under the Academic Enterprise section:

In keeping with our goal of building the long-term academic strength of Rensselaer, we are moving away from hiring faculty on a temporary basis from year to year. This means that more of the responsibility for the curriculum and course offerings must be assumed by the tenured and tenure-track faculty.

This is referring to the non-renewal of contracts for various clinical and adjunct faculty. You may have read about this in S&W; I plan to rant about it here soon.

The message goes on to restate the plans for modifying student life. I will rant about that too at some time in the near future.

While it’s nice to get some explanation of what’s going on, I want to remind everyone that that’s not all the student body is currently looking for. For quite some time now, we have first heard about plans affecting us after they were finalized. That’s what the Uprise was about, and that’s what needs changing. Some attempt to gauge general opinion and use it as a factor in the decision process would be a good beginning.

As the new posters say, “How can listening to students possibly be so hard?”

Town Hall Meeting

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Results of the Uprise are beginning to appear. A presidential town hall meeting is planned for Thursday at 10 AM. The location is the EMPAC concert hall. These meetings usually have a substantial amount of time for questions and answers. I expect many of the current problems will be addressed in some way.

If you want a better idea of what’s going on, or want to get these problems solved, you should be there. Unless you have an exam.

It’s not just the RA’s

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

The event that immediately triggered the Uprise was the decision not to hire freshmen as RA’s and the poor method used to communicate this decision. But this is not the only failure the Uprise meant to address, or anywhere near the main one. Here’s a long list, taken from the Student Senate’s demands:

  • Closure of the Wafaa Bilal exhibit
  • Dissolution of the Faculty Senate
  • Failure to disclose key details of the CLASS initiative during planning phases
  • Changes to Residence Life compensation packages and hiring processes
  • Removal of student representation on the Rensselaer Board of Trustees
  • Eighty staff layoffs
  • Inability to communicate regarding planned changes to Greek Life
  • Lack of transparency in the establishment of annual housing cost increases

This list only goes back three years because that’s as far as any of us can remember. For a few older items, go dig around here.

I will be quite surprised if there are not more items to add soon. For example, it seems clinical and adjunct faculty in several departments will not be rehired. This will mean several courses will no longer be offered, such as foreign languages and Beginning C. Of course, there is no official word on the topic yet, so it’s all still rumor. See the problem?

My point? What’s going on now is a lot bigger than what sort of RA’s there will be next year. We’re trying to get some much larger problems fixed. We’re trying to save our school.