Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is RPI a good corporate citizen?

Am I the only one that takes issue with the current plan RPI is proposing to construct President Jackson’s new “home”? Last month the zoning board denied the variances needed to construct this new monstrosity of a building on an adjacent piece of property. So, now in the standard RPI fashion they’d thumbed their nose at the city and now plan to demolish the existing president’s home and rebuild in its place. I find it very entertaining that the current residence is inadequate to entertain and host guests of the institution. What? Are you serious? The current home is 120 years old, has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms and is 4,884 square feet. Does Mrs. Jackson plan on inviting the entire Swedish hockey team to visit and then host a friendly hockey game in the living room? The proposed footage of the new home is over 9,500 square feet! What is just as absurd is that fact that RPI trustees will be paying for this. There are actually individuals who see fit to grant hundreds of thousands dollars to have this built.

Ok, if I now step back and think about the issue with RPI, maybe the problem isn’t the empire RPI continues to build up on the hill. Many residents in Troy have a negative view point toward them because “they continue to take from the city and never give back.” Do you think RPI, who has been identified as one of the largest taxpayers in the city, doesn’t have the best community relations plan? Normally large universities and corporations in small cities, country-wide, have an aggressive community outreach program to take an active role in community events. Show the “townie’s” that they are vital to their overall success. According to the RPI website they do have such a department and a plan what they call “Communiversity,” but from the perspective of a resident of Troy it doesn’t appear to be too successful. For example, last year when the Troy City Council was pouring a tremendous amount to time and energy into whether or not a dog park in Beman Park should exist and who should pay for it, that would have been a prime opportunity for RPI to step in and say “how can we help with the solution?” The park is right in the heart of their campus on 15th Street. Their students would have benefited just as much as the Troy community. RPI had an opportunity to work with the neighbors and city to devise a plan to design, construct, and help pay for the proper solution. This would have provided RPI an opportunity to begin to build good will among residents of Troy. Honestly, all we hear is the negative and Troy’s taxpayer’s approval rating of the college isn’t that great at the moment. Yes, RPI does provide some funding for their use of city resources, for economic development with the city, and some taxes, but many people see these as obligations that RPI isn’t to sincere about. It’s time for RPI to be sincere. Be a positive and responsible corporate citizen that expresses a level of care and well-being for Troy is what most people desire. I would think it would be in their best interest that the city and it's residents support RPI and it's endeavors, just as it’s in Troy’s best interest that RPI do the same for them.

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