Twenty-three students have been inducted into the Rensselaer Phalanx Honor Society for 2015. Phalanx honors student leadership, service, and devotion to the university, and celebrates those who have “worked to better the standing of Rensselaer both on and off campus.” New members were selected—or tapped—by the student members of Phalanx during a ceremony on March 14.
In her remarks to the 2015 inductees and Phalanx alumni and alumnae at the ceremony, Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson noted that the word “phalanx” has its origin in ancient Greece, where it was used to describe a military formation, in which foot soldiers gained strength by marching shoulder-to-shoulder against their enemies. President Jackson also reflected on the 50th anniversary of one of the crucial moments in the civil rights movement—a march that began in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday, March 7, 1965, to protest the lack of voting rights protections for African-Americans.
“After crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the phalanx of 600 unarmed marchers was confronted by Alabama state troopers, who used tear gas and clubs to turn them back,” President Jackson said. “The protestors were beaten. One of the young leaders of the march, John Lewis, the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, suffered a fractured skull. It is worth nothing that many of the most important and self-sacrificing figures in the civil rights movement, were, like John Lewis, college students. Despite the violence it was met with, it was the peaceful formation that proved victorious, after several weeks. The courage of the protestors so moved the nation that ‘Bloody Sunday,’ as the march became known, led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
“Our forebears here at Rensselaer clearly understood the force represented by civic-minded young people who stride shoulder to shoulder,” President Jackson added. “Since the first induction in 1912, Phalanx has recognized students who distinguish themselves in three key areas: leadership, service, and devotion to Rensselaer. In 1939, our junior honor society, the White Key Society, was founded to recognize the most promising leaders among the freshman and sophomore classes.”
President Jackson noted that the newest members will join an organization that is a vital component of The New Polytechnic—a vision for Rensselaer as a crossroads that brings together talented people across disciplines, sectors, and geographies to address great global challenges. At its core, The New Polytechnic is guided by societal concerns and ethics—as are the inductees of the Phalanx and White Key Societies, she said.
While many students are nominated for membership, the 23 new Phalanx and 16 new White Key members represent only about one-half of one percent of the total number of Rensselaer students. In its 103-year history, Phalanx has tapped just 1,502 members.
Following are the newest members of Phalanx:
Following are the newest members of White Key: