For the first time in the 145 year history of the Grand Marshal, there is the possibility that an incumbent will serve a second term. Remarkable? Perhaps, but it may be useful to put this historic moment into perspective with some past election criteria. From 1866 to 1970, the Rensselaer Union constitution stated that: “The Grand Marshal and President of the Union shall be members of the Junior class at the time of their elections, having been a student at Rensselaer for at least three full fall or spring terms.” The constitution further stipulated that: “A student who has once occupied the office of Grand Marshal or President of the Union at Rensselaer shall be ineligible for election to either office.” So the possibility of an incumbent seeking election to the office of GM or PU did not exist until 1972. Peter Baldwin was the first student to be re-elected to the position of President of the Union in 2005.
There have been many messy elections in the past. It seems that perfectly run elections with absolutely no violations or scandals are rare. This year’s GM contest will go in the annals as one of the most postponed and, therefore, lengthy elections. I haven’t been able to find another instance of two re-votes for Grand Marshal.
Two Grand Marshals served during the same academic year on two separate occasions. In both instances, the GM resigned the post (a GM has never been impeached). The first instance occurred in 1885. James Larrowe never performed any duties as GM after he was elected in late May. He did not return to Rensselaer in the fall due to financial circumstances. He went into business full-time and did not earn a degree. The second instance occurred in 1982. Because of academic reasons, Peter Traversy had to withdraw from Rensselaer for the spring semester and therefore had to resign as GM.