A new constitutional amendment to create a senator for international students was formally proposed to the Student Union. Seniors Kira Levin and Bidushi Adhikari approached Union President David Herbstritt ’17 with the idea. Class of 2019 Senator Hannah Brown, Herbstritt, Levin and Adhikari are working to get the new senator position created.
“Bidushi and I began talking about this idea early last semester and were able to meet with the president of the Student Union to present our idea for making the Union a more inclusive space for international students through the creation of this position,” Levin said to The Brandeis Hoot.
The senator for international students would assume the role of a regular senator, while also serving and advocating for the interests of the international student population, noted Brown. Current international students on the Union serve the interests of their constituencies, but they do not specifically speak for international students, continued Brown. “The new position would ensure the international student perspective is heard, just like the racial minority senator aims to represent minorities on campus.” There would be one senator for international students for the whole undergraduate student body.
“International students make up roughly 20 percent of the Brandeis undergraduate student population, so they need a voice that will speak for them and serve their interests. The senator for international students position can fulfill this need,” Brown said.
Members working on this initiative have already submitted a constitutional amendment to the Student Union secretary. The authors of the amendment must then collect signatures from either at least 10 Student Union senators or at least 15 percent of the student body, Brown explained. The authors then present information and the case for the amendment to the Student Union Senate.
Five days after the amendment is presented to the Senate, the secretary sends a description of the amendment to the student body so they can vote. If at least two-thirds of the total votes cast are in favor of the amendment, then it passes. Abstentions are not included in the total number of votes cast. The secretary will certify the results of the amendment no later than five academic days following the end of the voting period. The entire student body will vote on the amendment and if it passes, the international student constituency will be the only ones who will vote for their senator, Brown stated.
“I think it will definitely be a good thing,” said Xuanning Li ’19, an international student from China. Li discussed some of the resources already available to Chinese international students, including the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), which is the official organization that helps overseas Chinese students with struggles they may experience while studying in another country, and the Brandeis Chinese Cultural Connection (BC3), a club that celebrates and promotes Chinese culture on the Brandeis campus.
The idea of a senator for international students has been floating around for a while, but it is finally coming together due to student demand, says Herbstritt.