I had the pleasure yesterday of attending Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson’s annual spring town meeting entitled “New Directions for Renesselaer.” As a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I feel its my responsibility to be moderately well informed as to the direction the institute which I pay > $30,000 a year is headed in. While I haven’t found a transcribed version of the speech to site, I have found this streaming video.
Its not often I would blog about something like this, because typically I just think to myself “well that was boring, I’m glad thats done” but this meeting didn’t seem to have an end, it seemed much more like a beginning to me. I guess for those who have been at RPI longer than I, Dr. Jackson’s change has been happing for some time; but for me, as a sophmore here, I found the change to be different from the previous course. In past “change” involved building things, like EMPAC, ECAV, the Biotech Center, CCNI, etc but the significant changes brought forth in this town meeting were cultural and organizational changes. I would argue these changes effect students much more than a new building, or upgraded facilities.
My first sign that something was up came when I spotted the increased security presence. In the past meetings I’ve attended there have always been 2 plain clothes high-ranking public safety officers present, as well as the public safety director. At this most recent meeting, there appeared to be one plain clothes officier per entrance to the DCC (4), plus the public safety director, plus a man wearing a badge who I suspect was from Troy PD (he was accompaining the public safety director). They also had fancy ear-pieces in use… except for the public safety director who wore a more traditional “cell-phone” style earpiece. I don’t recall these in past years, but I’m not 100% sure of this change. I’m not quite sure what they were expecting the crowd to do that would have been best protected while gaurding the entrances… were we all going to get up to leave or something? I don’t know.
Dr. Jackson informed us tuitution was going up 5.9%, I was expecting something like that. Of course to downplay that fact, financial aid is going up 10 million dollars.. which is great for those who benefit from said programs. The other, more interesting, change she informed us of (I almost said “proposed”, but that implies that it hasn’t already been agreed upon) is the restructuring of the Residence Life program. My understanding, which isn’t crystal clear, indicated to me that greek like would now fall under residence life, and there would be a series of “clusters” created within the residence hall enviroment, as well as greek enviroments, to “better” poker en ligne sans argentjuego de dados pokerjuego streep pokertorneos pokerpoquer lineadescargar texas holdemjuegos de polli pokerel juego de pokerpoker portales webcartas de poker gratisjuegos de poker para descargarstreep poker on linepoker caribe lineapoker internet gratistexas holdem,texas holdem descarga,jugar poker texas holdempoquer com esjuego poker omaha en lineastrip poker pc gametilt pokerfree poker downloadjuego al instante portales internetjugar poker webstrip poker flashjuegos de cartas de pokertexas holdem descarga gratiscaribbean poker portal webfive card studpoquer webreglas juego poker,juego poker,juego cartas pokercard gamblingcaribbean poker lineadescargar juego poker gratispoker game downloadpoker por internet gratisparadise poker,paradisepoker,paradisepoker.comjuego de poker online gratispacific poker compoker freepolli poquerjuego de poker pcpoker texas gratisjugar poker gratiscasino pokertexas holdem rulescomo jugar a pokerpoquer de dadosmultiplayer pokerjuegos streep pokerjuegos poker eroticopoker online gratuito group students together in such a setting as to promote academics and the related topics. I believe there would be “cluster deans” or people who over see these “clusters” who might even live in the dorms with students?
I understand the idea that these “clusters” might provide a valuable tool to help students succede and, better yet, help each other succede (imagine your entire floor being of the same major)… but I really feel this hurts students who are more interested in being indepedent, and doing things on their own. I can see other benefits for the
university institute as well. If a bunch of students who are in a “cluster” all go off and do well for themselves, they are probably more likely to all donate financially back to the institute. The example that comes to mind is a bunch of students in a cluster starting some great company that makes tons of money and stuff. Since they are all such great friends, and the Great Institute of Rensselaer made them friends.. they will all donate large sums of money and everyone will be jolly. This cluster plan is very effecting at making those of us who go “my gosh he is a moron” several times a day in classes and just want to go off and do our own thing feel like an even greater outcast. No, I’m not calling you a moron. But I just wouldn’t want to be around some of these people 24/7. I am not a happy fun people loving person most of the time.
Another interesting point Dr. Jackson was the use of EMPAC, and her hopes it would become “the living room of campus”. I don’t know what she is thinking, but people rarely want to walk such a long ways to get to their living room. I got the feeling her goal has been to try and pull away from the student union, where students “unfortunately” have a lot of say. If I were to name one place the “living room” of current campus that would be the student union or a dorm room. Just because you build it, it isn’t guaranteed they will come. Maybe this “living room” she refers to is like my living room at home.. the one that nobody goes in and the furniture is all fancy and you’re afraid to touch anything or mom will yell at you… maybe its that living room. Thats why in my house we all gather in the “family room”.. where the “family” gathers.
Maybe this was just poor planning, or someone’s lack of PowerPoint skills, but during her presentation she repeaditly used org charts with terrible color choices. Like easter colors. Eww. Imagine a bunch of bright yellow boxes, with light blue text. It was awful. If those had been submitted as slides to go on TV I would have said no Dr. Jackson, please use TV safe colors. I couldn’t read a thing they said. This proved to be very helpful to me, as they presented the restructuring of residence life. Somewhere on there I fit it, under my class dean.. oh yea, forgot to mention that as well…. but I certainly couldn’t see it.
I’m not a big fan of mandating a foreign exchange program as part of the college experience. If RPI required me to study abroad when I had applied, I wouldn’t have gone here. I’m not opposed to studying abroad, and if my major was more condusive to these things I might have considered it.. but a requirement is one step to far for me. If I’m going to some strange foreign country (even a not strange one like England), I would want it to be on my terms.. not the institutes. I understand a cultural and global experience is great and all that, but some of us aren’t here for cultural and global experiences. Maybe RPI’s leadership should recognize that some students are here to learn, and do things.. and there isn’t much time for anything else thank you very much.
Of course the topic of Virtual Jihadi was brought up. For those of you out of the loop, RPI closed an art exhibit on campus where some guy was debuting a video game about killing people like the president. Google it for info. I respect the institutes decision to close the exhibit, Dr. Jackson explained the reasoning rather clearly to me and that made sense… except for the child pornography analogy.. that was dumb. I don’t agree with those who called the arts department (who sponsored the event) “a terrorist safehaven”.. but they can say what they want. Its not like Osama Bin Laden is hiding in EMPAC… but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with a videogame where you blow up President Bush. I guess we don’t have to be comfortable with art all the time, thats kinda what makes it art. During the debate, which sucked up a good 30-50 minutes of this town meeting a bunch of people asked dumb questions. What made the questions dumb wasn’t the fact that they were asked, but the fact it was the second or third time it was asked. If I hear Dr. Jackson’s reasons for closing the exhibit one more time my brain my explode… without killing the President. [I apologize if I trip the NSA/SS/CIA web crawlers.. you guys/girls shouldn’t waste your time here. My room back home is all American themed and I’m a law abiding citizen]. At points other members of the adminstration offered their views on the issue. One man, who seemed to a friend of Dr. Jackson from her nuclear days, even stated that Child Pornography was legal, but RPI would nevet host an exhibit on that. Whew, I am glad that was cleared up for me. I was worried those illicit photos of children might actually be illegal. The Provost kinda shoued at the audience while offering his thoughts, which I don’t appreciate. He also told me what to think, I really don’t like that… but I’m not him so what can I do.
That is all I have to say about that.