Grand Marshal Week 2013: Celebrating Student Leadership
Many colleges and universities have programs to facilitate student leadership development—but sometimes it is difficult to pin down a concrete example that proves the point. At Rensselaer, a prime example is the Rensselaer Union, a student-run, self-supporting, and self-governing body that controls, finances, and organizes student activities. Home to more than 200 clubs, sports, and organizations, Rensselaer is also recognized as one of only 20 colleges and universities in the United States that operates its student union using this structure.
From April 9-13, as part of a long-standing tradition at Rensselaer, Grand Marshal Week was in full effect. The annual student-run event focused on the election of new student government representatives.
Following the spring 2013 elections, Gretchen Sileo ’14, a native of Hopkinton, Mass., who is majoring in applied mathematics, was elected to serve as the 124th President of the Rensselaer Union, or PU. The PU presides over the executive board, which manages a nearly $8.4 million budget. Sileo is just one example of the more than 100 students who have served as President of the Union, preparing for future careers by focusing on student leadership development and gaining business management experience. The position was established in 1891.
Chuck Carletta ’14, who is majoring in business and management, was elected to serve as the 148th Grand Marshal or GM, which is the highest elected official in student government. The position was established to honor a student respected and admired by classmates. The title also reflects the military atmosphere of the Civil War era when a soldier was selected to speak on behalf of his fellow soldiers.
This year, Grand Marshal Week took over part of campus with its “Rock Around the Block” outdoor neighborhood block party theme that filled the Voorhees Computing Center outdoor quad space.
Some event highlights included a series of inflatable games, club showcases, live entertainment, ice cream giveaways, the annual Provost’s barbecue and carnival, pony rides, balloon animals, rock music, a jazz fest, and more.
“GM Week is an opportunity to unify the campus and encourage a light, enjoyable outdoor atmosphere within the context of our academic campus and the student elections,” said Will Schmitt ’13, who served as the event chair for the GM Week 2013 planning committee. “We tried to bring everything together this year with the Rock Around the Block theme. We even had professors bringing their students out for ice cream during our kickoff event. It’s really become a fun atmosphere with lots of student and community interaction. Basically, we throw one of the biggest and greatest parties on campus, for one week straight.”