A week of activities to enjoy around campus. All events are free unless otherwise stated.

Make sure to vote in ALL elections to receive your free mug.

Attend the Finale to hear the results of the elections and have a great time.

  • Mean Girls

    7.00 PM, 9.30 PM, 12.00 AM

    Mean Girls

    DCC 308

    Cost: $2.50/Person
    Join UPAC Cinema and Student Government to Kick Off GM Week with Mean Girls.
  • Spin Art Frisbees

    11.00 AM - 2.00 PM

    Pop-Up 1

    Rensselaer Union

    Come to the Rensselaer Union to make a free Spin Art Frisbee.
  • Preliminary Debates

    5.00 PM-7.00PM

    Preliminary Debates (if needed)

    McNeil Room

    Come learn about the candidates before you vote in the primary election. This event may not occur if Rules and Elections determines that a primary election is not necessary.
  • Ballroom Dance

    7.00 PM-9.00PM

    Country Two-Step Lesson


    Members of RPI Ballroom will teach a country two-step lesson and then play music for social dancing.
  • A Cappella Free4All

    7.00 PM-9.00PM

    A Cappella Free4All

    McNeil Room

    Join RPI's A Cappella groups for this annual night of performance.
  • Daniel Franzese

    9.00 PM - 10.30 PM

    UPAC Comedy Presents Daniel Franzese

    McNeil Room

    Join UPAC Comedy for a laugh as they welcome Damien from Mean Girls.
  • Rules and Elections

    9.00 AM - 6.00 PM

    Primary Voting

    DCC, Rensselaer Union, Commons Dining Hall

    Vote for the candidates in the primary election. This event may not occur if Rules and Elections determines that a primary election is not necessary.
  • Big Chair Photos

    11.00 AM - 2.00 PM

    Pop-Up 2

    Rensselaer Union

    Come to the Rensselaer Union to get your photo taken in a big chair.
  • Resident Student Association

    1.00 PM - 4.00 PM

    Solar S'Mores

    Rensselaer Union Patio

    Use the sun to make some delicious food with RSA.
  • RPI Crew

    5.00 PM - 12.00 AM

    RPI Crew Erg-A-Thon

    Rensselaer Union Patio

    The RPI Crew Club is doing its annual Erg-A-Thon, where we set up rowing machines in front of the Union and row for 24 hours, from Tuesday at 5 pm to Wednesday at 5 pm.
  • Red & White

    7.00 PM - 9.00 PM

    Tradition's Scavenger Hunt

    Heffner Alumni House

    The Traditions Committee of the Red & White Student Organization will be putting on their annual scavenger hunt around campus. Teams will be given clues and have to take pictures in the correct locations! Teams consist of 3-5 members and prizes will be gift cards of up to $150!
  • Kyle Pope

    7.30 PM - 9.00 PM

    Speakers Forum Presents Kyle Pope

    EMPAC Concert Hall

    Join the Speakers Forum in welcoming Edior in Chief of the Columbia Journalism Review to campus.
  • The Clubhouse Pub

    7.30 PM - 9.00 PM

    GM Week Trivia with Perry

    Clubhouse Pub

    Must be 21 years of age to attend.
    Join us for a fun-filled evening of trivia with host Perry Laskaris. Perry will mix up our regular trivia night with some GM Week trivia. Prizes, food, and fun for all!
  • GM Day

    All Day

    GM Day

    No Classes

    Enjoy the day off and be sure to come to the events that are happening around campus.
  • Grand Marshal Week

    11.00 AM - 3.00 PM

    Provost BBQ


    Join the Provost for lunch, spin art frisbees (rescheduled) and student performances in the Armory.
  • RPI Crew

    12.00 AM - 5.00 PM

    RPI Crew Erg-A-Thon

    Rensselaer Union Patio

    The RPI Crew Club is doing its annual Erg-A-Thon, where we set up rowing machines in front of the Union and row for 24 hours, from Tuesday at 5 pm to Wednesday at 5 pm.
  • RPI Capoeira

    3.30 PM - 5.00 PM

    Capoeria Crash Course

    86 Field

    "Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines aspects of dance, acrobatics, and music into a unique fitness and cultural experience. Come join Capoeira RPI during GM Week to learn the basics and get a chance to participate in this centuries old game. No prior experience necessary! Athletic clothing recommended, shoes not required."
  • APO

    5.00 PM - 6.30 PM

    Meanest Man on Campus Debates

    McNeil Room

    Candidates for the Meanest Man on Campus campaign to be voted the meanest. Winning candidate's charity receives all votes (money) raised.
  • Debates

    7.00 PM - 9.00 PM


    McNeil Room

    Learn about the candidates running for Grand Marshal and President of the Union as they debate each other.
  • The Magnificent 7

    9.30 PM

    The Magnificent 7

    DCC 308

    Come to DCC 308 as UPAC Cinema shows The Magnificent 7 starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke
  • Rules and Elections

    9.00 AM - 6.00 PM


    DCC, Rensselaer Union, Commons Dining Hall

    Vote for the elected student government positions and get a free mug!
  • Red & White

    9.00 AM - 2.00 PM

    weR Mug Shots

    Outside RSDH

    The weR Committee of the Red & White Student Organization will be taking pictures of students on voting day with their new mugs! All students, and especially student groups, are encouraged to come get their picture taken!
  • Airbrush Tattoos

    3.00 PM - 6.00 PM

    Pop-Up 3

    Rensselaer Union

    Come get a free airbrush tattoo.
  • Logo Reveal Party

    4.00 PM - 6.00 PM

    Rensselaer Union Logo Reveal Party

    McNeil Room

    Come see the newly selected logo for the Rensselaer Union. Free swag will be given out in limited quantities.
  • The Clubhouse Pub

    6.00 PM - 8.00 PM

    Rensselaer Rodeo BBQ

    Clubhouse Pub

    Cost: $10; Must be 21 years of age to attend.
    The Rodeo Roast! Patrons will enjoy a three-course meal with beers that complement the food.
  • GM/PU Roast

    8.00 PM - 9.30 PM

    GM/PU Roast

    McNeil Room

    Come send off the current GM and PU as they end their terms with a roast. Please note: All roasts must be submitted and approved prior to this event.
  • Student Veterans Association

    3.00 PM - 4.00 PM

    Student Veterans Lounge Grand Opening

    McNeil Room & Student Veterans Lounge

    Short remarks honoring our student, staff and faculty veterans followed by a viewing of the new lounge.
  • GM Week Finale

    7.00 PM - 11.00 PM

    GM Week Finale

    Houston Field House

    Join the GM Week Committee in wrapping up the week. Winners of the election will be announced at the end of this event. Featured at this event: Free Food, Roller Skating, Inflatables, Live Performance, Laser Light Show

About GM Week

The event most cherished and observed by the whole student body, which became a major ceremonial preserved in a relatively mild form to this date, was the Grand Marshal's election and installation. This first occurred in 1865, when Major Albert M. Harper of Pittsburgh was elected and endowed with a ceremonial sword, as was fitting in a year of war. His function was to head and represent the entire student body on all occasions in all relations, thereby giving it a formal unity. Except for a few years during the 1890's Grand Marshals were elected each year, usually in the spring, and this provided, as it were, the culminating event of the student calendar. The election was often hotly contested, and the split between fraternity and nonsociety candidates and voters was already evident in 1872.

The election customs were well established by 1882, when Independence Grove, a strangely named junior, of Chi Phi, was elected Grand Marshal. In 1883 occurred a characteristic Grand Marshal's election night on May 2 in Harmony Hall, used for many years for the purpose, and the retiring marshal was presented with a suitably inscribed gold-headed cane. The students then filed into the streets and, headed by Doring's Band, paraded through the city, with Greek fire displays and houses illuminated. They stopped at Boughton's hat store, where the new marshal was presented with a high silk hat, still used symbolically as the headgear of the office.

A common practice of the student parade was to serenade the students of the Emma Willard School, located in downtown, as well as some of the professors and school dignitaries at their homes, and they generally responded with speeches of acknowledgment. At about eleven at night the parade returned to Harmony Hall for food, drink, and high jinks. Until the wee hours of the morning, the press reported, the shouts and plaudits could be heard for blocks on the still night air. In 1883 the total expenses of the election were $212.50, raised by class assessments, and they included $28 for the hall and damages to it, $127 for the music, and $12 for the services of the 8 policemen at the hall and in the parade. In 1884, the excitement of the occasion was enhanced when the Columbia College baseball team arrived for a game and was welcomed uproariously.

The political order on the postwar Rensselaer campus was also transmitted from the past and continued to function despite discontent and the desire for reform. The Student Union as an association of all students had its roots in the nineteenth century, although its modern and formal organization dated from 1908. Its two heads, one the Grand Marshal, and the other, president of the Union, carried great prestige, and harked back to the nineteenth century. They were the occasion for an annual student campaign, election, and celebration which were encrusted with tradition and lively youthful antics. On these foundations was erected in due course a broad system of student elections, comprising class officers and members of the Student Council, in which the fraternities almost from the first played a prominent, if not dominant, role. The spring week of hectic campaigning and voting culminated in the celebration of Grand Marshal's Night. How genuinely democratic this election system is can be debated, but it has persisted as the one unifying, all-Institute event, accompanied by the frenzied excitement of electioneering characteristic of American politics generally and caricatured by the exploits and ebullience of youth.

The election of the grand marshal has undergone many changes since the position was created in 1865. In the 1880's the GM was elected by a "caucus" of students at a location off campus in an environment that might not have been conducive to intelligent voting. These 1886 Transit illustrations indicate that the process was reformed. Institute regulations, city and state laws, and changes in society have continued to modify election events. In spite of change, Rensselaer alumni share fond memories of these GM nights, days, or weeks, whether they were held on or off campus and with of without certain beverages of entertainment.

Text excerpts from "Education for a Technological Society - A sesquicentennial History of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute" by Samuel Rezneck [Professor Emeritus of History - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute]