Home » Sections » Opinions » From the Student Union President: Welcome to Brandeis!

From the Student Union President: Welcome to Brandeis!

By David Herbstritt

Section: Opinions

August 19, 2016

My name is David Herbstritt, and I am thrilled to be serving as the President of the Brandeis Undergraduate Student Union this year. On behalf of our organization, I want to welcome everyone back to Brandeis. If you are joining us as a new student, welcome to the community! Many of you probably do not know exactly what the Student Union does, who we are or why our work is important. This year, we are going to endeavor to change that.

Our Student Union is made up of many parts and takes on big responsibilities on campus. The largest branch, the Union Senate, is the support center for student clubs, the organizing body behind some of the biggest events and campus services and the heart of the Union’s sustainability efforts. The second branch, the Executive Board, gives the Union access to the top administrators and trustees who shape and direct the future of Brandeis, ensuring that students have a voice in critical decisions. The Treasury and Allocations Board manage and distribute $1.7 million annually to our clubs and activities. Our Judiciary makes sure that the Union and all of the organizations we oversee and cooperate with act within the rules that have been agreed upon.

Our level of responsibility is not by any means typical for the average student government. We do a lot on campus, and because we are often too quiet about it, that leads people to have no reason to care or get involved. While that has been changing in the last few years, we are not all the way to where I think we should be. Public input and accountability are what causes any governing body do its best work, and in the case of student governments that is certainly the case.

I do not mean to suggest that the Union has no presence at Brandeis. If you are in a club, you probably already know that our Allocations Board is responsible for funding your club’s events. Maybe you have been one of hundreds of people at our semesterly Midnight Buffets, enjoying food and celebrating the end of classes before you start cramming for finals. But it is possible that you have not heard of our Turkey Shuttles program, a collaboration with the Waltham Group that provides busloads of students with convenient and affordable transportation to major airports before the Thanksgiving holiday. If you are a returning student, you have almost certainly heard of ’DEIS Impact, but did you know that the Student Union is one of the major sponsors of the weeklong celebration and festival of social justice? There is even a chance that you are a student interested in student government, but you might not know where to start or find our offices. This year, I hope to make it easier for people to learn about the Union and to make us much more integrated with the everyday campus life and needs of the Brandeis community.

In addition to fostering visibility, we are also working to improve our receptiveness. The Union has always done a decent job of listening to the community when people were vocally expressing concerns, but only last year did we start making a constant, deliberate effort to reach out to those whom we serve on a more widespread scale. This year, we are going to keep pushing that even further.

In addition to continuing and adapting strategies from last year, we are going to be bringing forward new ways to engage the community, including a brand new polling project. We are doing everything we can to make sure that the Union remains a proactive organization at Brandeis. Widespread participation and enfranchisement are key to meeting this goal. That is why we are working hard to make sure that reaching out to the Union, filling out surveys and even joining our organization are all easy to do. Accessibility and straightforward, streamlined information exchange are the cornerstones of modern information exchange, and that is why we are excited to be bringing our communication and outreach strategies in step with all of the technology available to us. This year, we are going to be publishing everything from forms and applications to meeting minutes and public documents to our website, and we will be adding ways for people to get in contact with us easily online.

If this work sounds like something you are interested in, you should consider joining the Student Union! We will be holding a mandatory elections meeting for people interested in running for residential Senate positions (one for every quad) and Allocations Board seats near the end of the month, so keep an eye on your Brandeis email and the Union’s social media accounts for more information. At the very least, we hope to hear what you have to say throughout the year. Feel free to stop by our office in SCC 301 at any point if you have a question, a concern or an idea to benefit our community. We are looking forward to a great year!

David Herbstritt is the 2016/16 Student Union President

Menu Title