Institute’s credit rating outlook negative

Current rating remain the same; however, future prospects may bring pause to agencies

On Thursday, October 16, Standard and Poor’s revised Renssealer Polytechnic Institute’s outlook concerning the Institute’s debt. S&P, an American financial service company and one of the Big Three credit rating agencies, discloses credit ratings for the debt of public and private companies. For the past few years, the debt situation has been a problem that even had students concerned. In 2011, the 42nd Student Senate reviewed the then-current financial status of the Institute and its ability to meet immediate fundraising and faculty hiring goals. According to Moody’s Investor Service, another one of the big credit rating agencies, last December, the Institute had $787 million of direct debt and a pension liability/comprehensive debt that is higher than $891 million.

High debt and pension costs were some of the reasons why S&P’s report this week revised the fiscal outlook to negative from stable. S&P gave RPI a dual rating of A-/A-1. The first part of the rating indicates the likelihood of repayment of principal and interest as due in the long term, the second rating address the demand for short-term issues. The A- in the first part describes RPI’s strong capacity to meet financial commitments and susceptibility to the adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstance. The A-1, a short term rating, is the highest category by S&P indicating RPI’s ability to meet its financial commitments are extremely strong.

S&P deems the university in a good position to pay back debts and sees the Institute has money identified for the purpose of repaying those debts. The reason for the negative outlook is S&P “[believes] that during the next two years, RPI’s debt burden might increase due to the upcoming best issuance, though [they] expect that [RPI] will at best maintain its current performance and financial resource level.” Furthermore, S&P believes the current pressures, such as pension liability and lack of excess funds, will not diminish. Lower ratings, which resulted from the pressures on the Institute’s finances, could continue, should the college not improve its operations. According to the report, the new, lower rating “reflects the school’s plan to issue an additional $40 million in new debt to fund pension expenses. A lower rating is likely if RPI does not improve upon its operations to bring RPI closer to a break-even revolt. S&P also claim the Institute needs to strengthen its balance sheet to remain in its current rating category.

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Staff Editorial: Family weekend returns

Many students have a wonderful opportunity this weekend to showcase to their parents their home, their current life, the result of their secondary education, and the destination of their parent’s hard-earned money. For freshmen, especially, family weekend is likely the first in-person interaction with their parents since August. We all have our own lives now, independent of our home life, which our parents and siblings are dimly aware of. Hopefully, we’ve all personally grown and found a passion here. This is the time to show to our families what our life is in a way that is much more than a conversation at home can bring, and to help them realize and experience the nuances of college life.

Being open with your family can bring mutual benefit. Our parents can live vicariously through us, so giving them a sense of our achievement will bring them happiness. Their willingness to continue to send us here is at stake. The direction of our adult relationship with our parents starts with college. It is unfortunate for those who live too far away or whose parents can’t make it for other reasons. We strongly recommend making an effort to inform their parents of their college life the next time you see them. Poor decisions made now about relationships with parents may be a source of lasting later regret.

For Greeks, especially pledges and the newly initiated, dispelling the mystery and confusion of the nature of the Greek system should be a priority. This is a chance to sell your house to your parents and to convince those against Greek life that it is a redeeming institution.

We also recommend taking the opportunity to get off campus and spend some quality time with your family, if time allows. Take the chance to eat in downtown Troy with your parents or take a drive to see the fall colors. Breaking the monotony and getting away from campus can be a very refreshing experience. Of course, this is not to take away from showcasing the campus to our families; both should be included in the weekend’s activities.

We hope for the best this weekend, that it may meaningfully re-connect students and parents.

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Nuestra Belleza gives cultural bonanza

Cultural clubs show their talent in an all-out display of their skills in various performances

NUESTRA BELLEZA HOSTS a large crowd, with cultures represented from countries around the world.

Over 150 attendees were treated to a compelling multicultural experience through dance, music, food, and other displays of culturally-significant tradition at Sigma Delta sorority’s annual multicultural pageant Nuestra Belleza. “Nuestra belleza” translates from Spanish to “our beauty,” indicative of the purpose of introducing the beauty of various people’s cultures to the RPI community.

The pageant’s format was such that RPI women could represent their cultural backgrounds by leading a team of performers to convey their culture to the audience. Each team represented a country; represented countries were India by Dharani Adhvaryu ’15, Mexico by Evelyn Hinojosa ’16, Morocco by Sofia Raziq ’18, Poland by Stephanie Sawicz ’15, and Costa Rica by Sofia Kyle ’15. The master of ceremonies was Frank LoPinto ’16.

Each contestant presented an introductory dance, a display of traditional wear, and a show of talent. The introductory dance was taught to and performed by the sisters of Sigma Delta. For traditional wear, Kyle wore a Costa Rican Traje Tipico, a white ruffled blouse trimmed in different color combinations and a wide, ruffled, ankle-length skirt of bright colors. Raziq wore a Moroccan Jaleba, a throw to cover the body in public for respect purposes, typically composed of wool in varying shapes and colors. For the talent section, Adhvaryu sang “A Hymn to the Goddess,” an Indian prayer hymn. Sawicz performed on the flute. Raziq performed “Falling Slowly” from the musical Once on the Piano. Hinojosa performed a traditional Mexican dance, Bachata.

Interspersed between sections of the contest were intermission performances by other clubs and organizations. The Brazilian Association for the Support and Development for the Art of Capoeira represented Brazilian culture with Capoeira, a martial art that combines dance, acrobatics, and music, with a focus on kicking. Pumper, a local pop-punk band, also performed, spicing in a bit of modern American culture into the mix. There was also an intermission for the purpose of distributing traditional foods to the attendees.

The pageant concluded with a question-and-answer session regarding social, economic, and cultural issues in the country each contestant represented. Following, based on an online vote by the audience and the opinion of the judges, first, second, and third place winners were announced, crowning Miss Nuestra Belleza 2014. Judges included Assistant Dean of Residence Life Randi Mogul, Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15, RPI Panhellenic Association’s Assistant Vice President of Recruitment Mary Hackbarth ’15, RPI Interfraternity Council Vice President of Risk Management Arjun Chavern ’15, and last year’s Nuestra Belleza winner, Dannah Joyce Laguitan ’16.

Apart from introducing various cultures to the RPI community, Nuestra Belleza had a philanthropic purpose. Derived from admission costs, Sigma Delta raised $850 this year to be donated to Kids’ International Dental Services, an organization devoted to improving the dental health of those children in greatest need worldwide. KIDS provides pro-bono, preventative, and emergency pediatric dentistry to impoverished children in developing countries. They carry the motto “committed to every child in the world, having a smile.” In previous years, proceeds from Nuestra Belleza had gone to Invisible Girls, Friends for Orphans, Migrant Outreach Program, World Vision, and the International Justice Mission. Sigma Delta improved $250 on last year’s $600 raised.

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Women’s soccer enters final stretch of season

SENIOR FORWARD SAM LAMORTE VIES for the ball. (File Photo)

On Friday, October 17, the RPI women’s soccer team hosted Rochester Institute of Technology in its fifth Liberty League matchup of the season. In the opening half, Rensselaer struggled offensively but still mustered three shots on goal, while RIT only managed one. Halfway through, the game remained tied at zero.

In the second half, senior midfielder Taylor Korytko put the Engineers on the scoreboard, firing a shot past Tiger goalie Amanda Murray in the 48th minute. The goal was assisted by freshman forward Dali Alarian. Later, in the 70th minute, senior defender Rachel Tietzen scored off of a corner kick rebound, assisted by freshman Stephanie May, to put Rensselaer up by two. Finally, in the 75th minute, Korytko launched a shot from 40 yards out which got past Murray to give RPI its third and final goal of the afternoon. The final score was Engineers 3, Tigers 0.

In Saturday’s matchup against conference leader William Smith College, the Herons scored early, building a 3-0 lead 55 minutes in. Then, Korytko scored her third goal in two contests in the 65th minute. But the Engineers ended up losing 1-3. On Tuesday, September 21, RPI traveled to Hartwick College and won 5-2. The Engineers next face Vassar College on Saturday, October 25 at home.

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Delta Kappa Epsilon returns, chapter history chronicled

A 1940s FILE PHOTO OF THE BUILDING WHICH WAS, at the time, the chapter house for Delta Kappa Epsilon. It has since been converted into the Admissions Building.

For the entirety of October, the Psi Omega chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon, often known as DKE or Dekes for short, is undertaking a refounding initiative here at the Rensselaer.

The work to reform DKE is being done by members of its international organization in a joint effort with Psi Omega alumni. Among those involved is Sam Heffner ’56, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Delta Kappa Epsilon International and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees for RPI. Heffner has led the alumni half of the effort, while Doug Lanpher, the Executive Director of Delta Kappa Epsilon International has led the specific organizing effort. Additionally, active Rensselaer trustee and alumnus of the Psi Omega chapter John Broadbent ’59 has played an integral part. Others have taken residence in Troy, including Kevin MacDonald, the chapter consultant for Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, who will be here for the entire month. Eric Holland, Alex Hurley, and David Howe, also chapter consultants for DKE International, will be rotating in and out of the area to assist MacDonald. These consultants will organize and form the refounding class of active brothers following the conclusion of October’s recruitment.

The recruitment process has comprised of flyers, social media outreach, informational sessions, and meetings with various campus organizations such as the RPI Interfraternity Council and the RPI Panhellenic Council. Additionally, the organizers have held multiple events in the style of standard fraternity rush such as a bowling night and watching an NFL game as a group. Students who attend these events and pursue a continued interest will then make up the refounding class. MacDonald said about this class, “As November begins, DKE International will work with the final group in building and sustaining a chapter of the fraternity in accordance with RPI policy as well as the policies of DKE International. The process typically runs throughout the majority of the fall semester and will ready the refounding class for spring recruitment and other tasks regarding the daily operation of the chapter.”

DKE has a long history at Rensselaer, and the current work to re-charter DKE is not the first. The Psi Omega Chapter was originally chartered in 1867, during RPI’s first large Greek Life expansion following the Civil War. DKE maintained a strong presence on campus for its first 80 years, growing along with RPI’s Greek system. Like all other fraternities in the nation, DKE experienced a dramatic downturn in membership during World War II; however, it was one of the houses at RPI to flourish following the war, returning to over 35 members by the fall of 1946. Also between 1946 and 1947, DKE received a new house. The previous chapter house had burned down several years prior to the war.

Following the war, RPI also saw a large increase in attendance, which lead to its overall expansion. This expansion included the Auxiliary Dormitory Plan. According to the plan, “The Institute offered to assume the mortgages and deeds of existing fraternity houses and construct new houses for fraternities who were able to raise forty percent of the total cost.” The first building to come from it was the new DKE chapter house on the corner of Sage Avenue and Eaton Road, finished by 1947. Also coming from this initiative was the current Pi Beta Phi, and former Delta Phi house on Sherry Road, the current Acacia and former Alpha Tau Omega house, and the Delta Tau Delta house.

Unfortunately, DKE did not maintain residence at their new house for relatively long. The Psi Omega chapter left the RPI campus during the 1965–1966 academic year under somewhat unclear circumstances. The current organizers of the recolonization process, state that, “… the chapter experienced a dwindling membership compounded with consequential financial issues that unfortunately resulted in the disbandment of the chapter.” However, other sources found mainly through research within The Polytechnic archives have told different stories. The first poignant story to arise in 1965 was a Judicial Board case against the chapter involving “illegal contact with a freshman” pertaining to a live-in week during the pledge process. The Judicial Board ruled against DKE; however, the decision was overturned by the IFC. Next, in the week prior to April 28, 1965, there were three fires classified as “suspicious” which were reported at that week’s IFC meeting and then investigated by the police.

Chapter average GPA may have also played a factor in the decline. The Spring 1964 DKE average was 2.057 the second lowest of all campus fraternities. The Fall 1964 average dropped even lower to a 1.957 the very lowest of all houses at the time. However, the grades did take an upward turn for DKE’s final full semester with an average at 2.444 nearly matching the all-fraternity average. However, the averages were never reported again. (Note these GPA are on a 3 point scale.)

The Polytechnic never reported on DKE’s exit from campus, with their next reference in history being the repurposing of the old chapter house into Institute offices. The building first became the new Student Affairs Center, and is the Admissions Building today.

DKE was never mentioned for the remainder of the decade or the entirety of the 1970s by our predecessors on The Polytechnic staff. Then, when the RPI Greek system experienced a period of extreme turmoil in the mid 1980s, the events that lead to DKE’s exit from campus two decades earlier became a consistently mentioned topic of reference to the current circumstances. The first in The Polytechnic came on September 26, 1984 in the Greek Column for that week by current IFC President Alexis White ’84. White wrote on the recent increase in drinking age from 18 to 19 and how fraternities must comply with the law. He ended his column with, “I would hate to see another DKE on this campus.”

The next reference came on October 8 of the same year. When addressing the recently implemented dry-rush policy, and the penalties for its violation, White once again referenced DKE. He reminded those at the meeting how they had, “… lost their charter as a result of repeated violations of alcohol policies.” Then in 1987, when Chi Phi was suspended from campus for two years following an alleged sexual assault at their chapter house, the current Chi Phi president wrote a letter to the editor on the issue where he referred to their suspension as, “… the most severe penalty issued to a fraternity since the Financial Aid Building was occupied by [DKE].” One final history point for the 80s, the current RPI chapter of Phi Gamma Delta considered DKE as their national organization when they were just a local colony before 1984.

Greek life at RPI changed course and took a positive trajectory going into the 1990s. With this came the first large scale attempt by DKE to return to campus in 1992. This reformation attempt was led by Director of Chapter Services for Delta Kappa Epsilon Doug Sarti at the time. Sarti explained the Psi Omega exit in 1966 occurred due to “bad years” citing such factors as damage to the house, complacent members, and general student unrest. This return attempt was facilitated by brothers of chapters at nearby universities such as Colgate, Hamilton, and Syracuse along with RPI chapter alumni from the 1940s and 50s. The process took place without an association with the IFC; however, a full spring rush period occurred. While this attempt was unfruitful of a colony, a second attempt in the early 2000s did result in several lettered members recognized by DKE International. However, the colony was not sustained.

The current reformation effort appears to have found success so far with MacDonald calling it a, “… unique one in that there is a degree of interest in DKE from the student body as well as tremendous support from student organizations as well as from the Institute.” Additionally, the current prospective members of DKE are already participating in Greek community events, specifically the ongoing Greek Week, in which they are competing on the Blue Team.

Current IFC President Tyler Gumina ’15 commented on DKE’s return, “I think that it’s great that they are coming back to campus. I believe that more chapters and a more diverse Greek community really is what makes RPI special.”

MacDonald also provided, “On behalf of Delta Kappa Epsilon International, we would like to express our excitement for the return of one of our oldest chapters to the Institute. We are very much looking forward to becoming a part of the Rensselaer community and contributing to the continued success of RPI Greek Life. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Institute administration for working with us to make our return possible and to the student body for being so welcoming and accommodating to our fraternity.”

The organizers of Delta Kappa Epsilon’s return to RPI will be holding two additional information sessions in room 3202 of the Union, one on October 23, and the other on October 30, both from 7-8 pm. Contact MacDonald at kevin@dke.org.

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Editorial Notebook

The future on your wrist

Many of you have probably started to notice the presence of new gadgets in the past few years. Thanks to crowdfunding, many new startups have been able to take the leap of faith and test the waters of new technology markets. We have seen many new attachments for microcontrollers aimed at electronics hobbyists and new consumer devices ranging from smart home applications, to little tags to help you find your wallet and keys, to new wearable devices. Out of all the things I see popping up, I find wearable devices to be the biggest emerging market that has started with the help of crowdfunding, with the most-desired wearable device manufactured being the smartwatch.

The real product that opened the door to smartwatches was the Pebble Smartwatch. After starting up their Kickstarter project in April of 2012, Pebble immediately gathered the interests of tens of thousands of people. Raising over $10 million, Pebble was already the first successful smartwatch, not including watches such as the Timex Data Link. Having owned both of these, the Data Link as a teenager and the Pebble now, it’s really amazing how far we have come with technology in just a short few years. While Pebble is still missing some features that the Timex smartwatch had, the other features that Pebble has outweigh some of those losses. With Pebble having an open software development kit, third-party developers are easily able to make applications for the Pebble that fill in for the missing features which were desired upon its release.

In the past year, more and more smartwatches have appeared on the market, with the smartwatches featuring Google’s operating system, Android Wear, making the biggest splashes in the market. As it seems, all large companies are now feeling the urge to jump into this emerging market, like Apple. Apple recently announced the creation of their new smartwatch, Apple Watch. The appearance of this watch is hideous, with its marketing plagued with words like “Digital Crown,” which they claim is “as integral to Apple Watch as the Click Wheel is to iPod.” In my opinion, this is an example of a step back. The crown of a watch, while standard on analog watches for ages, is just unnecessary for a digital watch, especially one with a touch screen. How come we haven’t started putting digital crowns on our smartphones? Perhaps it’s because they have this thing called touch screens!

Google’s approach to the smartwatch is better. With integration of Google Now and multiple design choices for watches, this line of smartwatches sets the groundwork for the next generation of Android Wear based devices. Wear includes most of the features that the Pebble Smartwatch has. The improvements include voice control and a color liquid crystal display, along with a prettier interface. My main qualms with Android Wear devices are the short battery life, the lack of apps, and the smaller development community in comparison to Pebble. I’ve never actually seen any Android Wear devices in the wild, whereas I have seen at least five Pebbles at RPI, just among the small group of people whom I know.

For me, I’ll stick with the Pebble Smartwatch until Android Wear grows in popularity and comes out with a model which can be charged significantly less frequently, as I’m quite content only having to charge my watch once a week. For future smartwatch owners, while the market is still growing, I cannot recommend highly enough that you can still get a Pebble, especially since they are now only $99. If you feel like you don’t need one now and that you could wait for new ones to come out, perhaps smartwatches may not really be for you. I know I won’t leave the house without mine attached to my wrist!

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Gambino hits again with Kauai and STN MTN

Childish Gambino follows up last year’s Because the Internet,/i> with a mixtape and EP

CHILDISH GAMBINO REACHED fame as a prominent comedian prior to becoming a rapper. His recently released EP Kauai features a remix of his hit single “V. 3005.”

On October 2 and 3, Childish Gambino released his mixtape STN MTN and an extended play Kauai. STN MTN is Gambino’s way of paying homage to where he grew up, in Stone Mountain, Georgia, in the form of a gangsta grillz mixtape. In it, he raps over artists from Atlanta, Georgia, such as Outkast, Rich Kidz, and Ludacris, among others. Meanwhile, Kauai is more Gambino’s style, containing a capella verses and ambient sounds.

Originally from a comedic background, Gambino is known for his work on Derrick Comedy, writing on 30 Rock, and role as Troy Barnes on Community. This root in humor is his inspiration for his witty lines, pop culture references, and catchy hooks in his songs. It’s what sets him apart from typical hip hop and rap, and what makes this mixtape/EP combination uniquely Gambino.

STN MTN/Kauai is a continuation of Gambino’s previous release, Because the Internet. Because the Internet explores a variety of themes such as loneliness and trust, which is why I liken it to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Both have an experimental vibe, employing ambient sounds and elements that are not usually heard in the genres of classic rock and hip hop. Contrarily, the mixtape/EP combo starts off different. STN MTN is more reminiscent of Gambino’s Camp release, where he delivers hard beats and packed lines which don’t really fit the typical hip hop/rap genre. In the beginning, Gambino explains that if he ran Atlanta, he would have Chick Fil-A open on Sundays and he’d have his own gangsta grillz mixtape. What follows is Gambino dreaming his mixtape on the radio.

Kauai starts right after STN MTN ends. Young Gambino, voiced by Jaden Smith, wakes up in Kauai, one of the Hawaiian islands and explores his time with a previous love interest. The feel of this part of the release is much more like Because the Internet, but does not include as many hard raps, save “Retro [Rough].” Containing an extensive use of falsetto and a capella, the part of the album reminds me a bit of Michael Jackson. Additionally, Gambino uses some “yeahs” and “uhs” that are like the vocal hiccups Jackson uses in songs like “Smooth Criminal” and “Bad”.

Because the Internet already had me hooked on Gambino; the release of STN MTN/Kauai only solidifies my respect for him as a unique artist. People say that he’s not typical rap or hip hop, and that’s exactly what draws me in. He uses its elements and adds his own twist of a capella, ambient sounds, and clever lines to make his albums a truly special listening experience. And if that’s not enough for you, Gambino, as a proponent of universal internet use and computer science knowledge, put a secret audio clip on his website of him singing that matches up with the last track of Kauai, “3005 (Beach Version).”

Some of my favorite songs are “U Don’t Have to Call” and “Retro [Rough].” “U Don’t Have to Call” is a mix of Usher’s track of the same name. Personally, I think that Gambino did a fantastic job with the a capella in the song, with a catchy verse. “Retro” captures disinct elements from both Camp and Because the Internet, which I love. Overall, STN MTN is more for car rides and blasting loud, while Kauai is meant for your room to chill with. The duo is a solid release, providing an insight to two different musical sides of Gambino. I highly recommend a listen if you’re into SchoolBoy Q or Kendrick Lamar.

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Athlete of the Week:

Taylor Korytko

This week’s athlete of the week is senior midfielder Taylor Korytko of RPI women’s soccer. This past weekend, Korytko scored two goals on Friday in Rensselaer’s 3-0 victory over visiting Rochester Institute of Technology and a third on Saturday in a 1-3 loss against William Smith College. In Friday’s game, Korytko scored the go-ahead goal against the Tigers in the 48th minute, assisted on a cross by freshman forward Dali Alarian. Then, with the Engineers ahead 2-0, Korytko scored again, this time booting it in from 40 yards away to put RPI ahead by three.

The following afternoon, the Engineers struggled to get their offense going, only generating three shots on goal. After William Smith scored a trio of goals in the first 55 minutes of the game, Korytko saved Rensselaer from a shutout, scoring her third goal of the weekend and seventh of the season to make the score 3-1 Herons. In addition, Korytko notched, two assists against Hartwick College on Tuesday night. Her seven goals and 17 points rank her second and third in the Liberty League, respectively.

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In the Nation and the World

California in drought state of emergency

THE RIVERSIDE COUNTY RESERVOIR HAS AIDED Southern California in getting through one of the driest periods in the state’s history.

California is in the midst of its worst drought on record. Last January, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. declared a drought State of Emergency and preparations for water shortages began. Now, a majority of the state falls within the D3 (“extreme”) and D4 (“exceptional”) categories for drought intensity. Most state reservoirs are just 59 percent of their normal capacity, which has increased the demand on groundwater. According to the California Department of Water Resources, groundwater consumption has increased from 40 percent to 60 percent per year. As groundwater plays a more important role in meeting the public’s water needs, issues of groundwater contamination are pushing to the forefront of public attention.

In July 2014, the Californian Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources shut down 11 oil field injection wells in Kern County after suspicions that these wells were leaking fracking wastewater and contaminating groundwater. After the shutdown, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered a detailed report of the supposed contaminated wells within 60 days. Earlier this month, the California State Water Resource Board confirmed that nine of the 11 wells in question were contaminating aquifers. The aquifers being polluted by fracking operations are protected under state and federal laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique in oil and gas mining that injects a highly-pressurized mixture of water, sand and chemical additives deep into the earth, breaking up rock formations to allow for entrapped oil to be extracted. Even a conservative EPA estimate places the water consumption of a single fracking well at 2.3 to 3.8 billion gallons. The wastewater from fracking contains benzene, toluene and a medley of other deadly chemicals. Unusable and dangerous, the wastewater is injected deep in the earth’s crust to undergo lengthy natural mitigation.

At a time when Californians need water most, the Center for Biological Diversity estimates that over three billion gallons of fracking wastewater have been illegally dumped into Central Californian aquifers. Testing by the Central Valley Regional Water Board reveals high levels of arsenic and thallium in areas around the nine leaking wastewater injection wells. Arsenic is known to weaken the immune system, even in very low doses, and can cause cancer. Thallium is highly toxic and used in rat poison.

“Clean water is one of California’s most crucial resources, and these documents make it clear that state regulators have utterly failed to protect our water from oil industry pollution,” says Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Much more testing is needed to gauge the full extent of water pollution and the threat to public health. But Governor Brown should move quickly to halt fracking to ward off a surge in oil industry wastewater that California simply isn’t prepared to dispose of safely.”

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Editorial Notebook

The freedom of flying high

When most people think about flying, their first thought is probably some big metal Boeing that looks like it shouldn’t get off the ground. But to me, flying is about soaring. I don’t want to stick an engine onto a big wing and call it good; I want to soar like a hawk. I could watch hawks soar for hours and climb higher and higher without once flapping their wings. They know how to get around.

Back at home, I was a member of the Philadelphia Glider Council. This club owned five different sailplanes, which are like highly efficient gliders with long, narrow wings and a narrow body; one is actually hanging from the ceiling in Commons Dinning Hall. The sailplanes are designed to take advantage of thermals, hot air rising off the ground, to soar like hawks. Once I experienced a flight in a sailplane, I knew I would never enjoy powered flight quite as much.

On the days that I could, I would be at their grass runway helping with general operations, hoping to get some lessons from the senior pilots; one afternoon I actually managed to get a lesson with the club president. At that point in my flying career, I had really only learned the basics: what the instruments did, what take-off and landing felt like, and how the aircraft handled in the air. Originally, our plan was to get towed to 2,700 feet, practice maneuvers until we ran out of altitude, and return to earth. However, this pilot had been in and out of sailplanes all day. Earlier in the day, he noticed some lift over the parking lots of a shopping center. At 2,700 feet, I pulled the yellow release knob, banking right to avoid the tow plane and setting us free into the sky.

Inside the cockpit, the altimeter has an audio cue so you can tell how fast you’re sinking without looking at the instruments. In the first few seconds after release, I didn’t hear anything except the wind rushing over the wings. In a few more moments that silence was broken, not by a drone of decent, but by the slow beeping sound of lift. I started another turn and held it steady as we made slow circles above the parking lot, gaining altitude just like a hawk would.

I watched the altimeter climb back up to 2,700 feet, our tow height, and then past it. When we reached 3,000 feet, I really understood why these pilots prefer sailplanes to powered aircraft. All of my previous flights had been nothing more than what they called “falling with style.” This time I was actually soaring. Using just the thermals rising off the ground, we maintained our altitude and actually got higher than where we had been let go. Knowing that all you have to work with are the changing air currents is an exhilarating feeling. Where a power pilot would increase the throttle to gain altitude, a sailplane pilot must rely on his or her skill to keep their aircraft soaring. Powered flight just doesn’t compare for me.

If you ever get the opportunity to soar in a sailplane, you should take it. In my experience, the beauty and grace of unpowered flight has been unmatched. Although college has made flying too much of a time commitment, the freedom of soaring is too much to resist, and I know I’ll be back one day.

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Gone Girl captivates and stuns audiences

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good suspenseful film. While I’ll admit to being a little picky when it comes to movies, I just don’t think any recent movies have made the cut. However, now I can happily say that Gone Girl, based off the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, has definitely fulfilled the great dramatic/suspenseful movie void in my life.

The film stars Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, and Rosamund Pike as his wife Amy. Through a series of flashbacks as told by Amy’s diary, we find out that the two are madly in love and have quite the adventurous marriage living in New York City. After the Great Recession hits in 2008, the marriage seriously begins to struggle. Amy’s parents, who are wealthy from publishing a children’s book series based on Amy, even have to borrow from her trust fund to pay off debts. The couple move back to Nick’s hometown in Missouri to assist his twin sister Margo in taking care of his mother who is dying from cancer.

Fast forward to present day: Nick’s mother has passed, they are still living in Missouri, and the marriage seems to be back to normal. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to what seems to be a break in and his wife is nowhere to be found. Immediately, the cops and media begin to blame Nick for Amy’s disappearance and possible murder.

At first, I went right along with what I was supposed to believe; Nick was a vicious killer and Amy was just a sweet victim (it was almost reminiscent of the Scott Peterson case in 2004). Everything started to add up. Nick had the motive and the means to kill his wife and make it look like a robbery gone bad. But, that was far from the truth.

By utilizing Amy’s rather convincing diary entries to narrate the movie, director David Finch does an amazing job taking you on a wild journey as we find out the truth about Amy and Nick’s tumultuous marriage. What really makes this movie come to life is the incredible acting done by the cast. Each performance was convincing and dramatic without being too much. Affleck nailed being the typical cheating husband type, but still made me feel bad for him for dealing with such an intense marriage. As a side note, I was feeling very nervous about Affleck being the next Batman, but after showing his skills in Gone Girl, I’m feeling a little better. Supporting cast members such as Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris, who are used to comedy roles, did a fantastic job playing more serious characters.

However, I think that Pike was the real star of this movie. I had never seen her act before even though she has been in many other movies, and I was not disappointed. Pike was able to make herself seem like an innocent and interesting woman stuck in the housewife role who just wanted to make her marriage work, when in reality she was a complete sociopath. Even when I thought I knew what was going to happen based on Pike’s actions and personality that she gave Amy, I was wrong every single time, and I loved that.

I could not find any major downfalls to this film. The cinematography was great, the soundtrack complimented the plot well, and the acting and directing were extremely strong. Possibly the only drawback to Gone Girl was the extremely long running time. Two and a half hours is a long time for a film. Although it’s lengthy, I don’t think that it drags on at all. The plot flows together well, and kept me intrigued the entire time. Only after the movie when I figured out I had been in the movie theater for two and a half hours did I realize the movie was so long. So, if you have two and a half hours to kill and also feel the need to fill the dramatic/suspenseful movie void in your life like me, then definitely see Gone Girl.

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Women’s rugby suffers loss on road

The RPI women’s rugby team suffered a narrow loss to the State University of New York at Oneonta this past Saturday, October 18. The Engineers fought hard in cold, rainy conditions but could only come up with 10 points against the 15 scored by Oneonta.

The game began on a promising note, as senior center Lynette Lacek scored the first try, giving RPI an early 5-0 lead. Oneonta quickly answered with a try of their own, leaving the game tied by the end of the first half.

The Engineers drew first blood in the second half as well, when junior center Sarah Bogdan, one of the team’s top try scorers, carried the ball over the line early to regain the lead. Unfortunately, despite impassioned defense led by Woman of the Match senior Crystal Horodyski, Oneonta managed to get two more tries in before the final whistle, bringing the final score to 15-10.

This loss brings RPI’s record to 3-2, with one game left in the regular season, and their playoff chances in jeopardy. On Saturday, October 25, RPI plays the State University of New York at Cortland, in what could be their last match of the semester.

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Senate reviews universal access after being revoked

Motion disallowing senators from being on different Student Government bodies fails

PATRICK ASELIN ’18 GAVE a presentation about the quality of RPI’s crosswalks. He mentioned the dangers they present because cars don’t take them seriously

After a week of recess, the Student Senate met as a whole to carry their usual duties as student representatives. First on the agenda was a conversation with Dean of Residence Life Todd Schill about changes to the universal access policy for RPI’s residence halls. Schill began by stating that he was one of the integral parts of getting this policy implemented in the school only two years ago. After examining policies at other colleges, Schill saw that a universal access policy allowed for more inclusive programming, friendships, and relationships with staff members. Schill reports that when he introduced the idea to the Residence Life staff three years ago, it was opposed by some and it wasn’t until a year after its trial period that it was accepted by a majority of the staff. After the incident of two burglaries at Bray Hall, universal access was revoked so as to increase security and prevent the “piggy-backing” that had led to these thefts. Since last Friday, students with meal plans have had access to dining facilitiesaccess has been on for all students with a meal plan and Schill is thoroughly examining the list of those who remain with universal access and has limited it to only those who need it. After Schill stressed that Residence Life has made these changes with the ultimate goal of safe residence halls, he opened up to take questions from those assembled. Senator Justin Etzine ’18 suggested that all of the residence halls in the quadrangle gain access to each other as this hinders events for this residence hall. Senator Mason Cooper ’17 asked if Sharp Hall, Nugent Halls, and Warren Hall may gain access to each other due to the laundry facility within Sharp. Schill also acknowledged problems with Ground Zero events as this event is highly attended by the public and allows for greater security compromise than most other residence hall events. Schill ended his portion of the meeting by stating that feedback from the student body is always welcome and that ResLife is constantly working to improve safety and optimize access. Dean Schill may be reached at shilt3@rpi.edu.

Next, a member of the Facilities and Services Committee, Patrick Aselin ’18, gave a presentation regarding the quality of RPI’s crosswalks. Aselin reported that he noticed very few cars who took the crosswalks on Burdett Avenue seriously as they rarely stopped for students crossing the road. He pointed out that correct crosswalks have a parking buffer on both sides and are well-lit at all times, much like the one on 15th Street near Quadrangle Residence Hall. After discussing the problem with both Public Safety and Troy officials, Aselin found miscommunication and confusion on who was actually responsible for these crosswalks. Aselin expects to meet challenges with grey areas of jurisdiction as well as gaining lasting support, as the problem has to be handled by a multitude of bodies, not just RPI. So far Aselin’s research involves road safety device improvements. Graduate Senator Spencer Scott recommended Aselin work with the Troy Police Department to gain statistics about any incidents that involved RPI’s crosswalks. From this point on, Aselin hopes to tie together representatives from Troy High School, Troy’s City Council, RPI’s Public Safety, and members of the Student Senate to fully understand where and how this project can move.

Then, Paul Ilori ’17 and Joseph Venusto ’17 each presented a motion to the Senate. The first dealt with revising an article of the Senate Bylaws which listed the members of the Rules and Elections committee, one of which should be a member of the Independent Council. Since the Independent Council has been dissolved, this member couldn’t be appointed. The motion allowed R&E to select an Independent student without an IC. The motion passed with a vote of 16-1-2 with stipulations that the GM would appoint an independent member to R&E with the Senate’s approval and the term “Independent” was clearly defined within the article. The next motion, presented by Venusto, dealt with another change to the Senate Bylaws, which would prevent any person from holding a voting position within the Judicial Board, Executive Board, or Student Senate at the same time, with the exception of the Executive Board-Senate Liaison. Ilori, the motion’s sponsor, stated that this would increase the separation of powers within these three governing bodies. Graduate Senator Kristen Lee, stated that the E-Board taskforce to review Class Councils asks for a graduate representative and, with the size of the Graduate Council, a graduate senator may have to be appointed should no one step forward. Senator Shoshana Rubinstein ’16, said that although this council may feel stretched at times, the governing bodies would be able to get a wider authority under this motion. Christina Gilliland ’15 indicated that she saw little reason for this change to affect positions in both the Senate and E-Board as there would be few conditions in which this would be an issue, all of them containing extreme circumstances. Furthermore, Gilliland believed that should a student qualify for both of these positions, he or she should feel free to take the responsibilities of the jobs. Ilori countered that while it was unlikely to see a high number of overlapping positions, it was possible, and should be legislated for to prevent abuse of power. Because the motion needed a two-thirds majority of the present voting members to pass, the motion failed with a vote of 11-7-0.

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Top Hat

Universal access controversy continues, evolves

Access restored to BARH and Blitman, limited at Quad; ResLife requests student feedback

This Monday, in response to the recent removal of universal access to residence halls for students living on campus, the Student Senate hosted Dean of Residence Life Todd Schill to discuss the history of this policy, the decision-making process behind its creation, and the reasons for its recent revocation. With this week’s article, I would like to help articulate some of the considerations behind this decision, as well as the process that our Residence Life program staff is following to review access for all parties.

Access controls are set by ResLife directly and reviewed continually to maintain campus safety and reflect the constant changes in student needs. Prior to two years ago, universal access was not present for any students on campus—students would have access to their residence hall, with limited interactivity available for the rest of campus. To enter other halls, including Blitman Commons and Burdett Avenue Residence Hall, both of which entail dining components, students would need residents to swipe them in (in a process colloquially referred to as “piggybacking”).

Rensselaer’s Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students Initiative supports the idea of an open, flexible, and welcoming residence hall environment. Encouraging CLASS, Dean Schill advocated for an open approach, encouraging a greater sense of community and collaboration among RPI students by allowing them to access other halls. Universal access would prevent students from propping open their room doors, attract more upperclassmen to visit or even live on campus, and encourage more residence hall programming from staff or even faculty. However, there was also significant concern that opening the dorms to non-residents would increase the rate of theft, vandalism, and other residential security hazards.

Ultimately, Dean Schill and ResLife adopted universal access as a pilot program during the Fall 2013 semester. For the duration of the 2013-2014 academic year, students living on campus had access to all residence halls. This program was met largely with approval from both the student body and from previously concerned ResLife staff. The program was allowed to continue through the Spring 2014 semester and into the fall.

However, as many of you may know, two weeks ago, a pair of unknown suspects gained access to Bray Hall by “piggybacking” off of a student’s access. Campus, residential, and personal security remains a tantamount priority—risks of burglary, vandalism, or theft are a crucial concern to everyone on campus. In response to these events, universal access was immediately revoked.

This decision has been met with some concern from students. First year students and sophomores have only experienced universal access—some have raised issues with its restriction due to loss of flexibility. Students running events within the halls, such as Ground Zero or residence life programs, have become concerned that the removal of universal access will deter others from attending. Fraternities and sororities seeking new members during recruitment and Student Government candidates seeking nominations may have difficulty using residence halls as a resource.

However, this decision is not unilateral, and ResLife is comprehensively working to assess access for all students. Already, some changes have been rolled back; universal access has been restored for BARH and Blitman dining halls, Quadrangle Residence Hall residents will have access to both Quad 1 and Quad 2, and some access points will be changed regarding laundry service and community classrooms. At this stage, ResLife is considering further changes based on a comprehensive review of student need, previous access policies, and any relevant safety risks.

This is an open, student-oriented process, and ResLife has expressed interest in hearing all student feedback on access and all related issues. The Senate’s Student Life Committee will be working jointly with ResLife to deliver this feedback, balancing student needs with the crucial imperative of preserving campus safety. We aim to ensure that access controls head in a direction that is beneficial to students. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact Student Life Committee Chairman Lexi Rindone ’15 at rindoa@rpi.edu, or as always, you may reach me at gm@rpi.edu.

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Entrepreneurship

Startups to learn business management

Starting a business sounds like an extremely daunting task. Where do you begin? What do you have to do? What are the legal procedures? Is this something that you want to pursue long-term? All of these are questions that are asked every day by hopeful entrepreneurs looking to bring their idea to the market. On September 10, a series began at the Albany Law School to help these startups gain a foothold in the complexities of founding a business. The kick-off event was followed up three days later by “Startup Law Day,” also held at Albany Law School. As with Startup Law Day, each event in the series will focus on a unique facet of founding a business and is open to anyone, including students of RPI and other local colleges, faculty, and other community members. On November 1, RPI will host the next event as described by Program Director and Entrepreneur in Residence at the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship Matthew Cusack: “the Startup Business Model Canvas Day is the second event in a series of events offered by several local colleges to assist innovators and entrepreneurs. The business model is becoming the new standard approach for early stage startups, and as such, an important ingredient for someone’s future success.” The business model canvas is a tool used frequently at the Severino Center and in management courses as one of many resources for new businesses. The founders of Embedit Electronics and Coast Designwear praised the business model canvas as a “living document” that became a “useful tool” to their companies. Full testimonials can be found on the Severino Center’s Youtube channel.

The series continues on November 22 with Startup Finance Day at Hudson Valley Community College, followed by meetings on January 31 with Startup Marketing Day at Siena College, on February 28 with Startup Pitch Practice Day at University of Albany, State University of New York, and finishing up with Startup Design Day at Skidmore College. As the series wraps up, business model competition season starts. The Rensselaer Business Model Competition will be held on February 26 and the New York State Business Plan Competition will be held in April. At the state competition alone, prizes exceed $500,000, making preparation even more important. To many startups, that boost could be enough to power them to the next level and possibly to initial success. In the meantime, all they can do is prepare.

To find out more about the event and RSVP, visit: http://poly.rpi.edu/83483. To find out more about the Severino Center, visit: https://scte.rpi.edu.

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Union Constitution history in review

In 1970, the Rensselaer Union Constitution was restructured. Today, student government officials believe that it should be restructured again. The Constitution committee led by Nathan James ’15 will be going through and revising the Union Constitution this semester and next in preparation for it to be voted on in Grand Marshal Week 2015. This committee is open to all students; its first meeting will be Thursday, October 23 at 7 pm in Mother’s Wine Emporium.

RPI has one of the few student unions in the country that is entirely student run. Union-funded clubs are given money for programs by other students; staff have no control over the budget. The Union also provides a centralized means for student expression, action, and initiative. Our Union Constitution guarantees these and other rights. All changes to the Union Constitution must be passed by the Student Senate and then approved via referendum by the student body.

In 1966, The Polytechnic published the Union Constitution that was voted on and passed (1076-79) during GM Week that year. The officers of the Union were the GM, the President of the Union, the director of the Union, and the treasurer of Rensselaer. The Executive Board in 1966 consisted of “the President of the Union, two members from the communications Groups [radio and publications clubs], one member from the musical groups [band, orchestra, glee club, etc.], three members selected from other authorized and approved organizations, and one member from the Student Council [Student Senate].” In 1970, the E-Board was restructured to include “a representative of the Graduate Council, a representative of the Undergraduate Council, three members chosen from among the officers of the recognized and approved activities on campus, and four members chosen from among the members of the Union (one each from the sophomore, junior, and senior, and graduate classes).” The members-at-large could be chosen from members of the intercollegiate athletic teams by an amendment in 1972. A freshman member was added with an amendment in 1971. In 2013, a representative of the Student Senate was added to the E-Board and one member-at-large taken away for two total.

The 1970 restructuring was quite controversial. It was spearheaded by Ken Bossong ’72, who had complained about the ineffectiveness of RPI Student Government earlier, and then decided to fix it by restructuring the Union Constitution. Bossong was also chairman of the Rules and Elections Committee. Along with a group of students, Bossong worked on the Constitution over the summer of 1970. The Student Council became the Student Senate. The role of the Director of the Union became advisory; both the Director and the Treasurer were moved to their own articles. Graduate students were “recognized as full members of the [Rensselaer] Union,” and given Student Senate spots according to the Wednesday, September 23, 1970 Staff Editorial. The Class Councils, Independent Council, and the Interfraternity Council were all defined in the 1970 Union Constitution. The Judicial Board, which had been added in 1969, was also given more powers and clearly defined.

The student body vote on the 1970 Union Constitution was held on October 9, 1970. The vote count was 623-530; a “Vote No” campaign was held at the last minute, and was believed to have led to such a high turn-out. In the October 14 (Vol. XCI, No. 4) The Poly, Jack Tai ’72 wrote, “Among the many ‘faults’ under fire by the opposition groups were: the power granted by the new constitution to the President of the Union and his self-appointed Executive Board; the displacement of the Independent Council in the Student Government hierarchy; amendment procedures; and the lack of checks and balances.” The IC felt that the new Constitution took away their independence, as they had been operating outside the Union before. Bossong claimed that the IC officers had been informed of the new proposals, but had not gotten back to him. Some of the “Vote No” proponents accused Bossong and other students who had worked on the Constitution of illegal activities, such as putting out a “Student Senate News” publication urging students to vote for the Union Constitution.

The current Union Constitution, passed by the student body 2108-498 on April 13, 2013, does not explicitly list the director of the Union or the treasurer as officers of the Union. Only the President of the Union, the Grand Marshal, the Graduate Council president, and the Undergraduate Council president are listed as officers, in Article IV. The director of the Union and the Treasurer of Rensselaer are listed as sections under Article IV; sections 6 and 7, respectively. J-Board Chairman Anthony Barbieri ’15 said that he interprets this as meaning that the director of the Union and the treasurer are not officers, as they are not explicitly stated to be. Barbieri stressed that this was his personal opinion and not that of the J-Board.

The current Rensselaer Union Constitution can be found online at http://poly.rpi.edu/UnionConstitution. Another document titled Rensselaer Union Constitution is under the “Union Documents” tab and claims to have been passed by the student body during GM Week 1987, but its source is unknown; the RPI Library Archives were unable to find a copy of the Union Constitution more recent than 1970. Additionally, the only referendum mentioned during GM Week 1987 in The Polytechnic was for divestment from South Africa due to apartheid.

James says that he feels two changes are necessary. One is the elimination of references to the Independent Council in the Union Constitution as, the IC disbanded itself last year leaving a number of positions impossible to fill. The other change is to include Class Councils since, according to James “their position in the Constitution is very loosely defined and should be solidified.” James also notes that other organizations have suggested changes; the Executive Board wants to have 20 representatives instead of 15, and the J-Board “would like its selection process to be spelled out in the Constitution and not just their bylaws.”

The committee will work on addressing these changes. Each change will be discussed openly with students, and voted on by the Senate separately, James says, before being brought to the student body.

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Derby

Campus hosts packed weekend of events

Hey RPI!

Has everyone been enjoying Wellness Week? There have been so many activities sponsored by the Mueller Center’s Wellness Institute to educate us about our health and to help us relax and unwind. Whether you got the chance to decorate a pumpkin, or attend a free fitness class, there has been something for everyone. The week isn’t over yet though! Wednesday, October 22 is Fitness EDU, where you can join the certified personal trainer for a hands-on tutorial of our cardio and weight lifting equipment as well as proper technique for common exercises. There will also be a really cool event Thursday, October 23 called “So You Think You Can Relax?” This will allow students to use an interactive relaxation simulation that uses biofeedback to aid in relaxation, along with free chair massages while you wait!

In other exciting news, this weekend is Family Weekend, and I hope you get the chance to see your family. Take the time to thank them for supporting you throughout the years and sending you to a school as great as RPI. Show them the awesome things you enjoy doing here! There are so many activities going on this weekend, there will be plenty to do. There will be tours of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, and East Campus Athletic Village, a chance for your parents to attend your classes, a men’s hockey game vs. Bentley University, a women’s hockey game vs. the University of Connecticut, countless buffets and dinners, as well as many activities put on by our clubs and organizations. Friday night and Saturday, the RPI Players will perform “Almost, Maine,” a romantic comedy, from 8–10 pm and 2–4 pm respectively. On Saturday, many of our multicultural organizations are putting on their annual International Festival from 11 am–2 pm in the McNeil room. Make sure to stop by to see our multicultural clubs and organizations celebrate their heritages through food, performances, and education. RPI has students from around the world and this is a unique opportunity to explore the many cultures and lifestyles of our student body. At the same time, from noon–2 pm there will be Fall Fest, showcasing student demonstrations, entertainment, and fun activities for the whole family up at ECAV. After the International Festival and Fall Fest, you can bring your parents to the Annual Family Weekend Concert, which is from 4–6 pm at EMPAC. Admission is free and you will get the chance to see performances by the Symphonic Band, Brass Quintet, Flute Ensemble, and our Contemporary Jazz Ensemble. Do your parents like to dance? Do you? If so, make sure to join the RPI Jazz Ensemble and Ballroom Dance clubs for their annual Jump, Jive, Jazz & Salsa event from 6:30–9 pm. Finally, I hope you have purchased tickets to the GM & PU Brunch. It is a great, relaxing way to end such a wonderful weekend, surrounded by friends, eating some great food, and getting the chance to share the morning with President Shirley Ann Jackson and some of her cabinet. I can’t wait to see you there! Remember, these are only some of the activities this weekend. I don’t have room to highlight them all, but please check out the schedule for Family Weekend at http://poly.rpi.edu/familyweekend.

Most importantly, it is times like these that remind us how much our parents have supported us through the years. If you’re studying at a prestigious institution like RPI, they have definitely done something right. Take this weekend to thank your parents for their love and support, show them all of the awesome things you have been doing here at RPI since they dropped you off in August, and assure them that you realize all that they have done for you throughout your 18–22 years. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Graduate Council discusses Senate, E-Board, Task force

On Tuesday, October 21, the Graduate Council met to discuss upcoming events and relevant issues to the graduate student body. Graduate Council President Kristen Lee presided over the meeting.

The meeting started with brief updates on organizational matters, along with an update on the Executive Board from Graduate E-Board Representative Courtney Lang. Lee then discussed the Student Senate’s motions from the previous night. One of the motions, which did not pass, was on separation of power. The motion stated that a student would only be able to be on one of the following: Student Senate, E-Board, or the Judicial Board. Lee noted that many members of the Graduate Council are also Senators, due to their low numbers. While the current E-Board representative is not a member of the Graduate Council, the Graduate Council may want their E-Board representative to come from their council in the future. Graduate Student Jennifer Wilcox noted that checks and balances already exist. Lee noted that this was a good year in terms of numbers for the Graduate Council, with only one Senate spot not filled.

Next on the agenda was the E-Board Task Force. This task force, headed by graduate student Chaz Goodwine ’13, is examining the budgets of the Undergraduate Class Councils and the Graduate Council. Currently, there is no formal oversight –class councils can choose to spend their money as they wish. Graduate Council Vice President Mike Caiola said that Graduate Council is separate from the class councils and should be excluded from the task force. Lee noted that if a policy is written and the Graduate Council is included, this could be problematic; the Graduate Council operates under a different structure from the Class Councils. For example, the Graduate Council does not give class gifts. Lang said she felt that it would be fair for the Graduate Council to be excluded, noting that Goodwine was chosen because President of the Union Erin Amarello ’15 wanted a graduate student to be in charge as they would be unbiased.

Lastly, the Graduate Council discussed upcoming events: the annual wine and cheese event, as well as a possible fall event. No final plans have been made yet.

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Bray Hall impacted by two robberies

LAST WEEK, SEVERAL ROBBERIES OCCURRED in Bray Hall. Universal access has been taken away as a result.

On October 8, between 6:20 and 6:45 pm, it is believed that two suspects entered Bray Hall by “piggybacking” on a student as they used their own card to enter the building.

The first suspect was described as a black male in his late teens or early twenties, six feet tall, weighing approximately 180 pounds with facial hair around the jaw line. He was reportedly wearing black sweatpants, a baseball cap, and a hoodie. Suspect number two was also a black male around the same age. He was estimated at 5’6”, weighing around 150 pounds. This suspect had similar facial hair and was wearing dark sweatpants, a white down jacket, and a baseball cap.

The first incident occurred when the suspect entered an unlocked room claiming he needed to return notes to the roommate who was not in the room at the time. The suspect left, and a short while later, the roommate returned to find his backpack was missing. The backpack contained his laptop, wallet, credit cards, and other valuable items. The victim reported he did not know the other party.

In the second incident, the suspect was approached by the students whose room he was standing outside of. The students passed by him into their room only to find the other suspect sitting at a desk. The suspect claimed to be waiting for another party, with whom he supposedly took Data Structures. After the suspects left, the students discovered that several watches were missing.

Shortly after these incidents occurred, the missing credit card was used on Hoosick Street at two different establishments, including Wal-Mart.

“The robberies just made me a bit more cautious,” said Hannah Rabinowitz ’18 who is currently living in Bray Hall. “My roommate and I never leave our door open when we’re not in the room.” Many students alongside Rabinowitz have taken other precautionary measures to keep themselves and their belongings safe.

Public Safety wants to remind students to be conscious of their decisions and to err on the side of caution. They are imploring students to keep their rooms locked at all times and urging them to not let unknown people “piggyback” into the residence halls. Public Safety also advises students not to walk alone, especially at night, and to report any suspicious activity to Public safety immediately. They also want to remind students of the services Public Safety offers to all students, including, but not limited to, the personal safety escort service, the emergency call boxes, safety education and training, and the RPI Alert system.

The Rensselaer staff is also taking measures to keep the campus safe. As of Friday, October 10, universal access to the residence halls has been revoked. This means students only have key card access to the residence halls they live in. This is intended to reduce the chances of an unknown person entering the residence halls. While most students understand why Residence Life has taken these actions, they also are finding it to be an inconvenience.

“This is going to make life very difficult for everyone,” Rabinowitz said regarding the topic. According to Reddit user bluemellophone, “… this policy reversal will most likely result in the opposite effect of more students piggy-backing in to residence halls. Once this becomes the norm, it will only make it easier for non-students to gain access.”

Athletes and upperclassmen living on the east side of campus have expressed frustration. Most varsity practices are late in the evening, so Commons Dining Hall is closed by the time they get out. This leaves the BARH Dining Hall as their only plausible option for dinner, being the dining hall that stays open the latest. Upperclassmen living in Rennselear Apartment Housing Projects or Stacwyck apartments also rely on the BARH dining hall due to its conveniently close location. However, without universal access, this option has been taken away and caused a lot of problems.

Dana Robes ’17, a student on the varsity track and field team expressed her frustration with this limitation. “Luckily for us, we had a BARH resident on the team who could let us in for dinner, but that won’t always be the case. When we left, there was a group of athletes outside that zand had nowhere else to eat and no one to let them in.” Other students, especially upperclassmen, have expressed their annoyance saying that in the winter, it will be very inconvenient to walk from RAHPs or Stacwyck to Commons for meals, especially when pressed for time.

While it may be frustrating for some, the Residence Life staff would like students to keep in mind that their top priority is keeping the students safe. They will do what they feel is necessary to ensure that the comfort and safety of campus is restored.

Access to BARH or other residence halls can be requested from ResLife.

If you have any information regarding these robberies, please contact public safety as soon as possible. Public Safety can be reached at 518-276-6611.

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Staff Editorial: Theft and building access

In response to the recent thefts on Freshman Hill, Residence Life eliminated the universal access program. Previously, any student who lived in a residence hall could enter any other residence hall until 11 pm every day and 12 am on weekends. After that, they could only enter the residence hall they lived in. This program was popular among students, for it allowed students to visit their friends in other buildings and easily access the dining halls at the Burdett Avenue Residence Hall and Blitman Commons, which is extremely important for athletes.

However, now, no student has card access for any building other than their own. This not only inconveniences many students, but also poses an increased security risk. The current Institute policy for students who have people attempting to enter a residence hall with them is for the person opening the door to close the door behind them and not allow anyone else in. However, this is entirely unrealistic to expect of residents. It’s considered rude to not hold the door open for a person who is closely following behind. It’s also rude to deny access to someone who requests to enter, claims a legitimate reason to enter, and appears to be a student. But, this is also against policy. Since this practice is completely contradictory to the current Institute policy, the Institute policy does not work.

This issue is compounded by the fact that now, people who have friends in the dorm are tempted to ask people at the doors to let them in, when they previously had access. This makes letting others into the residence halls a regular occurrence, which makes it much easier for malicious intruders to gain entry.

Though The Poly staff doesn’t have a final solution to the problem, we believe the removal of universal access was a step backward. A better direction might be to add security cameras at every door to each residence hall, to monitor entry. We believe the advent of universal access and the recent break-ins are unrelated; we posit that the ability of the intruders to enter the building was made no easier by universal access. We hope that universal access will be restored in the future.

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