Home » Sections » News » Student Union prepares for new school year

Student Union prepares for new school year

By Samantha Lauring

Section: News

August 25, 2017

The Student Union is implementing two new positions this year: the Director of Office of Student Rights and Advocacy (OSRA) and the Union Diversity Officer (UDO). OSRA will be “a resource for students in need of information, support or advocacy regarding their rights as a student at Brandeis,” according the Hannah Brown ’19, Vice President of the Union. The UDO will assess and strengthen diversity and inclusion efforts, stated Jacob Edelman ’18, the Union President. Both positions will be filled early this fall.

“As we’ve seen on a national level and here on campus, systems aren’t fair to everyone. Sometimes it can be much more than incidental,” Edelman told The Brandeis Hoot. The UDO is the Union proactively addressing inequality on campus (?).

Brown is overseeing the reimplementation of OSRA, otherwise known as the Office of Students Rights and Advocacy. OSRA fell out of use a few years ago and, with a new director, Brown hopes to make it a place for students to go to when they have a problem and need assistance from the Student Union. The OSRA director will help develop and set goals for the Office. In addition to leading the Office, the Director will also select and manage a team of OSRA advocates.

If the OSRA director and UDO go as planned, they will be significant positions that will “positively adapt the way the Student Union serves Brandeis in the near future, and in the long term.” Edelman also noted that he plans to implement more intra-Union policies to bring members closer together and create links between new and experienced Union members.

In addition to working on OSRA, Brown plans to work with the Executive Board to improve campus resources like the health center and counseling services and make them more accessible.

This year is the Union’s bi-annual constitutional review. Brown will be managing a team of Union members to make needed adjustments to the constitution and bylaws to “fix inconsistencies, clarify club recognition and chartering procedures, review finance guidelines and make the documents more practical and relevant.”

As Student Union President, Edelman has three tasks that he would like to focus on, which are transparency, inclusion and service. To remain transparent, the Union will be focused on student engagement, fulfilling promises like budget transparency and gathering student input, says Edelman. “We’ve already begun pushing the university and ourselves to go the extra mile and strike down unnecessary barriers to equality and success and adding more student voices into University decision making.”

Edelman formerly worked for The Hoot newspaper and often became frustrated while covering the Union due to a lack of transparency and directness between Union leadership and students. “Proactive outreach, info campaigns and inviting all members of the community to provide input via conversation, survey and more will be what keeps us accessible,” said Edelman. He also notes that he will do more to invite members of the campus media to cover some Union meetings that have typically been closed.

“Our student body is an incredibly impressive, diverse and dynamic group of people. Representing all of us is a serious trust to give, and I am thankful every day to be doing it,” stated Edelman.

The International Student Senator is another new position within the Union, which will be held by Linfei Yang ’20. “First and foremost, my responsibility as the new senator for international students is to make sure that our voice goes unheard no longer,” said Yang.

The biggest challenge facing the international student community is integration, noted Yang. “To work towards integration is to fight against the harmful culture of generalization. Generalization is erasure.” Yang said clubs, especially those geared towards students with international backgrounds, should be more accessible and open to international students and that this is an effort where the Student Union can provide assistance.

One of Yang’s main goals will be to bring the ISSO and ICC closer to the international student community in order to increase attendance and participation in events held by these organizations. Additionally, Yang wants to make campus resources, such as guidebook, web pages and posters more user-friendly to international students.

Benedikt Reynolds ’19 will serve as the Class of 2019 Senator. This will be Reynolds’ first year as a Student Union officer, although he was a member of the Sustainability Committee last semester and will be co-chairing the committee this semester.

Reynolds has spent the summer organizing workshops for the committee, adopting and creating frameworks for prototyping an idea’s feasibility, while keeping in mind student volunteers’ time and the Brandeis sustainability Fund’s (BSF) annual budget.

Shaquan McDowell ’18 will serve as the Senator at Large. “As a representative of the student body, it’s my job to make sure that when students can’t be at the table, their voice is still being heard and included,” said McDowell. In the past, McDowell has served as committee chair for COW-G (Campus Operations Working Group) and intends on continuing to work with the committee this year. Last year COW-G and several campus organizations formed an initiative to provide free menstrual products on campus. McDowell plans to focus on continuing this initiative.

Aaron Finkel ’20 will serve as the other Senator at Large. Like McDowell, Finkel has served as the chair of COW-G. He was also the senator to the Class of 2020 last year. As Senator at Large, Finkel would like to continue projects started last year, which include “organizing renovations for first-year residential areas, expanding access to affordable menstrual products on our campus and planning events and convenient students services, like our holiday shuttles, and the Midnight Buffet.”

“As a governing body, we should be conducting all of our business with an emphasis on inclusion, accessibility and transparency. Our work is more meaningful when everyone is positively impacted,” said Finkel.

Menu Title