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. Rensselaer operates one of a handful of unions in the United States, though the model is common in universities in Europe. Recently, the Rensselaer Union unveiled its latest project—a new website.
“The website redesign project has been in the works for many months and was built as a student initiative with students leading the coding, design, and implementation,” said Erin Amarello ’15, a dual major in mechanical and nuclear engineering who was elected to serve as the 125th President of the Rensselaer Union, or PU. The PU presides over the executive board, which manages a nearly $8.4 million budget. “Bringing an updated, attractive, easy-to-use Web presence to the Rensselaer Union was one of my top campaign initiatives.”
Amarello noted that the website contains improved communication regarding Rensselaer Union events, personalized club landing pages, and a dynamic homepage showcasing the great activities and opportunities for involvement on campus.
“While the model of a student-run union organization is common in the United Kingdom and Canada, with Rensselaer having one of the few in the United States, the model is rare in this country,” said Joe Cassidy, director of the Rensselaer Union.
Today the Rensselaer Union is home to nearly 200 clubs, sports, and organizations, creating opportunities for students to learn invaluable leadership skills along the way.
“I took on the task of making the new Rensselaer Union website because I wanted to help make a difference on campus and leave behind my own little legacy,” said Jordan Simonds ’15, a mechanical engineering major who hails from Sandy Hook, Conn. “Even though I’m a mechanical engineer, Web design has been a growing passion of mine for the last three years, and I learn so much from every project. Our main goal with the new site was to make it more accessible, aesthetic, and alive. Launching the website was an exciting and nerve-racking experience, but I’m glad I was there to see all the hard work pay off.”
“As we get ready to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Rensselaer Union later this year, I am so proud of everyone who has worked on this project, and would like to give special thanks to the student who designed the website and built the template pages, Jordan Simonds, and his team,” Amarello said. “The website will continue to grow and change over time to meet student needs. I would also ask for your patience going forward, as the website will not be perfect and there may be additional edits and updates needed regarding club pages and more in the future.”