I think I would be doing a disservice to the internet if I didn’t write a short post about the uprise at RPI yesterday (02/26/09). I’ll try and keep this report as non-biased as possible… well maybe I won’t. I’ll try and tell it to you as I see it, and my involvement in this campaign has been minimal.
Last night a lot of students gathered in the SGS at RPI and decided that something needed to be done address the transparency issues which were aggravated by some stuff Reslife did. The word on the street is that they hired 0 freshmen, even though they let them go through all the motions and stuff. I don’t think that makes a lot of sense, so I (and others) expect them to hire some freshmen to avoid looking weird.
The Office of the Grand Marshal, aka Kara Chesal, issued a press release about the event which is completely within her powers, but something I haven’t seen a GM do in the past two years I’ve been following the Senate. I think its because she, as an RA/RD and someone who is friends with lots of RAs and RDs cares extra. Past GMs maybe haven’t cared so much, though they both have had background within Reslife and/or FYE.
Additionally, the compensation for RAs has been adjusted significantly. Again, I have no clue what they are making this year, but I believe next year they are making -$500 – meal plan. That would be they have to pay $500 for their room ($5500 for room – $5000 stipend) and they are required to have a meal plan. If I knew what they were making now I would be able to say if that is fair or not. One thing I found strange is even the RA’s who live in apartment complexes on campus are required to have a meal plan. Some of these apartments, mind you they have kitchens, are not so close to any dining hall on campus.
If you ask me what I would like some ‘transparency’ about, it would be the increase in room rates. As I see it, RPI does a pretty good job doing triage on the current dorms here but not much else. Sure, they have renovated a hotel to turn it into a new dorm to accommodate the sophomores gotta live on campus requirement (SGLOC) but BARH is a decade or two behind the times. I know the extra money I’ll be paying won’t be going to increase the compensation for my RA/RD staff [nor would I really like that], nor will the money I’ll be paying go to fix up the bathroom, clean up the radiator, or give me new closets. Maybe they will replace the doorknob next year, because at the current rate it is loose enough to fall off one of these days. I hypothesize that a broken door knob might catch someone’s attention in the Phys Fac ER… just like my window screen that fell out 3 months ago will catch the attention of the lawmmover guy when he runs it over.
I was up early yesterday and saw some posters for the event on campus. There was a really eye catching one (possibly designed by Marc Ebuna) posted on the door to get into Commons. Students were stopping to read what it was about and everything. Of course they were also getting slammed in the face by the door, as the poster was covering the window that enables you to see if someone is exiting. It didn’t last very long on the door, torn down by around 8:40am.
So yesterday a little after 5, a lot of students gathered infront of the Sage dining hall to ‘uprise’ about these issues as well as many others. I think most people were their because they didn’t understand what was going on, and determined that was a reason to uprise. I guess that idea works. I can’t throw a guess to the numbers, but some photos might lead me to place a number between 300-400 at the peak. The part of the rally that I’ve seen was so-so, speeched seemed slightly inspiring but lacked a lot of substance in my book; I’m sure others feel differently.
The follow up is going to be interesting though. A decent number of students showed up, chanted some stuff as the Trustees walked by, and that was that. Whats going to happen next? I can only hope the student leaders driving this movement continue fighting for whatever it is they are fighting for.
One thing I found interesting is how the Times Union report, Marc Parry, was forced to leave the protest by Jason Gorss (RPI Media Relations guy). Sure, RPI has every right to ask someone to leave their private property but I guess I’m uninformed as to why. Sure, his work tends to have a slant to it, and some commentary in the S&W indicates he might not get all the facts right, but he still writes for a larger paper in the Albany area. I wonder if another reporter had come from that paper, if he/she would have been asked to leave?
I’ve decided that RPInsider isn’t as sketchy as I first thought it was, as they don’t have a massive student-slant and their content is pretty timely. Now to figure out who runs it… lol. Additionally, RPI TV was out in full force covering the event. There are some initial clips on the website right now, and I expect more to be up there this weekend. RPI strategically brought in Larry Wilmore last night to help everyone forget about their uprising and to distract the student media organizations from getting out the ‘breaking story’. If he wasn’t at EMPAC last night, I’m almost positive that there would be more student discussion about stuff.