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Seven elected to top Union positions

Seven elected to top Union positions

By Hannah Schuster

Section: News

March 23, 2018

Hannah Brown ’19 will serve as next year’s Student Union president, having campaigned on plans to address Brandeis’ affordability and accessibility and to promote collaboration with the administration. Brown is this year’s vice president and has been a member of the Union since her first year.

Brown, who ran unopposed, earned 892 out of 1097 votes cast in the presidential race, according to election results from the Student Union. There were 205 votes to abstain or for write-in candidates.

The election on Tuesday, March 20 filled seven posts on the Union including vice president, treasurer and junior representative to the Board of Trustees.

Brown’s campaign for president focused on Brandeis’ tendency to “nickel and dime” students with additional costs and fees tacked onto an already steep tuition bill. She wants to talk about overdue library fees, the costs of printing and laundry and the use of purchased course materials like Sapling.

When it comes to clubs, Brown emphasized the need for groups to collaborate. She described herself as “middle of the road” regarding the question of whether Brandeis has too many clubs, but argues collaboration will help pool students’ time and resources.

Brown also argued that while the barriers to becoming a club are high, the barriers to staying a club are low and that these should be more even.

During the campaign, Brown highlighted the strong relationships Union members have built with administrators throughout the year. It is these relationships, she said, that encourage administrators to work with the Union on key issues. The ongoing series of open forums, on topics like public safety and campus mental health, is an example of what comes out of these relationships, said Brown, and opportunities for students and administrators to engage with one another.

The most recent uncontested presidential race was in 2016 when Nyah Macklin ’16 won with 70 percent of 890 total votes.

With three candidates, the vice presidential race was one of the more contentious campaigns. Benedikt Reynolds ’19 won the election with 39.4 percent of the 1099 votes. Aaron Finkel ’20 and Vidit Dhawan ’19 received 30.7 and 16.7 percent. Eleven-point-four percent of voters abstained, the lowest percentage in any of the races.

Reynolds campaigned, in part, on plans to build a culture of sustainability at Brandeis. A Class of 2019 senator, he is the chair of the Senate Sustainability Committee and has worked with the Department of Community Living (DCL) on programs for orientation that teach sustainable habits. He is working on a Sustainability Ambassador program to offer academic credit or a stipend for on-campus sustainability projects.

Reynolds also hopes to implement stipends for other student positions, including Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) EMTs and Student Sexuality Information Services (SSIS) staff. Along with Brown and others on the Union, he has been involved in ongoing talks about compensation for unpaid student labor. Reynolds also stressed creating a “feedback loop” between students and administrators to ensure the university is responsive to student concerns.

Qingtian Mei ’21 edged out a narrow victory over Rachel McCallister ’21 in the race for Student Union Secretary. He earned 475 votes to McCallister’s 464. The Secretary is responsible for sending weekly emails to the student body with upcoming events and announcements. At the debate, Mei discussed using additional social media platforms—such as Instagram and WeChat—to reach the student body.

Zosia Busé ’20 ran unopposed for junior representative to the Board of Trustees, a two-year position. She earned 718 votes, with 293 voters abstaining. Busé wants to address matters like campus accessibility and support for the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) with the Board.

Jerry Miller ’19 will be next year’s head treasurer for the Union, earning 41.6 percent of the vote and defeating Yaoyao Gao ’20, who received 36.9 percent of the vote. Miller has worked his way up the treasury ladder, serving as an Assistant and Deputy Treasurer. The head treasurer role involves processing forms, answering student questions and helping clubs make purchases with the p-card.

Next year, Miller plans to revise the treasury trainings for club leaders, he said at Monday’s debate. He wants to transition away from PowerPoint presentations towards interactive trainings that simulate common forms club treasurers may need to file. “[The trainings] are pretty ineffective,” said Miller on Monday.

Carrie Sheng ’20 was elected as a student representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC), a body that reviews proposed changes to Brandeis’ curriculum or academic offerings and, recently, reviewed the new General Education requirements.

The newest student member of the Brandeis Sustainability Fund (BSF) will be Tamara Botteri ’21, who earned 44 percent of the vote. Her opponent Junsheng “Jack” He ’20 won 28.1 percent of the vote, while 27.9 percent went to Abstain or Other. The BSF supports sustainability projects on campus and, in 2017, awarded a total of $80,000 to 12 different projects.

Botteri is a member of the Senate Sustainability Committee. She has been involved in previous BSF projects and worked to promote environmental literacy at Brandeis, she said Monday night.

More than 1000 students voted in the first round of spring elections, which consistently see the highest turnout. The next round of spring elections will be for class senators and Allocations Board members.

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