Run for Student Union positions

We at The Hoot frequently write editorials about student engagement at Brandeis—from encouraging voter turnout at student elections to attendance at open meetings hosted by administrators. When it comes to the voting process, we have time and time again encouraged students to vote as a way of being involved in their university. It is now time for us to encourage students to be active in making change not only by picking candidates from the ballot, but by adding their names to it.

Today we urge students to run for positions on the Student Union in the upcoming elections. There will be positions open on the Union Senate, which has representatives for each class year, as well as a Racial Minority Senator, International Senator and Senators-at-Large. There are also positions as Representative to the Board of Trustees, the Brandeis Sustainability Fund and the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

The student body needs more candidates to choose from when voting, as there are often few candidates and low voter turnout in Student Union elections. In addition, races with no candidates are frequent, which leads to positions sitting open. This past January, 10 spots were open for elections, only nine of which were filled because there were no candidates running for the Ziv Quad Senator position. The position for Mid-Year Senator had only one candidate running.

In the elections for the Senate and Judiciary last spring, there was minimal competition. There are two senate positions available per class year, and only two students ran for both Class of 2018 and 2019. Three students each ran for the two slots as Class of 2020 Senator and Senator-at-Large. There are five seats on the Judiciary, and four students ran to fill them. We commend all of these students for getting involved, but there needs to be greater participation and greater competition. This will push each candidate to develop well-articulated platforms and allow voters to make a choice based on the issues and positions they support.

Additionally, the gender disparity on the Senate is notable, with 12 men compared to eight women. As we write this editorial, it is International Women’s Day. Last week, Brandeis hosted a symposium on women in politics, noting the historically low numbers of women in elected office compared to men. Research finds that women win elections at similar rates as men, but the problem is that women don’t run. Speakers at the panel also encouraged attendees interested in politics to get involved with their student government. We hope to see a strong turnout of women in these elections.

The Senate is also a notably white body representing a diverse student community. Although there are positions specifically allocated for minority representation, such as the Racial Minority Senator and International Student Senator positions, these are small parts of the Union and the rest of the board does not reflect the diversity that is seen on campus.

The Student Union has a great deal of responsibility and power. The Senate decides which club will become chartered. Members of the Union communicate frequently with administrators and can advocate for student needs regarding mental health, food, facilities and much more. They attend trustees meetings and allocate funding to sustainability projects.

If you are not satisfied with the work your representative has been doing, or have specific changes you would like to see on campus, run. Instead of wishing your representative would consider your point of view, join the Senate. It is a powerful body and you can decide where that power and energy goes.

The candidates meeting which students must attend to run for positions on the Student Union e-board—including President and Vice President as well as representatives to the Board of Trustees, BSF and the UCC—is this coming Monday, March 12 at 8 p.m. in the Union office. The candidates meeting for the second round of spring elections—which includes roles on the Senate and Judiciary—will be announced in the coming weeks.

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