Union swears in new members

Union swears in new members

May 3, 2019

Brandeis Student Union representatives gathered in the Shapiro Campus Center Multi-Purpose Room on Thursday to speak about the achievements of the Union over the past year, and to swear in the new Union members.

Student Union Treasurer Adrian Ashley ’20 spoke first. Ashley said he was grateful for the opportunity to help fund clubs and felt that students were able to spend more money and create better events during his time as treasurer. He also announced the new spending system, Slate, which will allow clubs to request funds more easily than the current system, the Student Union Management System (SUMS).

Ashley was also happy to announce a $10,000 grant for a commuter rail subsidy for students with internships off campus.

Chief Justice Morris Nadjar ’19 spoke about the future of the Judiciary at Brandeis, using quotes from Brandeis’ namesake, Louis D. Brandeis. For the Senate, he read the quote, “Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

On the issue of free speech, Nadjar quoted Brandeis’ opinion in Whitney v. California, saying, “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Nadjar said that “missing communication was a recurring theme” between the branches of the Student Union. He urged students to listen to student concerns and to understand the responsibility of the Judiciary of the Union.

Chair of the Allocations Board Aseem Kumar ’20 presented on behalf of the Allocations Board, and encouraged student leaders to enact change at Brandeis no matter their role. Kumar said he thoroughly enjoyed his time on Allocations Board, and looking forward, he was excited for the new allocations system, Slate, to make the allocations process easier for clubs. He also emphasized that students can approach members of A-Board at any time with marathon issues.

Kumar also said he wanted to continue his work to find space for storage in Gosman for sports clubs that have felt underrepresented in the past. Rebecca Shaar ’21 credited Kumar for much of the changes in A-Board this academic year. Shaar said that the Allocations Board plans to train student leaders on Slate and plans to reevaluate A-Board policies including their funding scope.

Student Representative to the Board of Trustees Christian Nunez ’19 spoke about his efforts to bring issues like mental health, divestment, community living and financial aid to the attention of the Board of Trustees. Nunez said he expects board member Meyer Koplow to be receptive to student concerns. He told the students in attendance to remember that “forward is our only direction.”

Nunez spoke about his time in Ford Hall 2015, a sit-in and protest that resulted in 13 demands to increase African American representation on campus in the faculty and student body among other demands. He continued by discussing the continued concerns of students of 2015 and 2019, who are now asking the University to respond to a new set of 14 demands. “To my fellow members of the Student Union, to the administrators in this space, I urge you to listen carefully before you react because these are the kinds of students that will bring Brandeis forward,” Nunez said.

Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees Zosia Busé ’20 wrote about her plans to release the reports to student publications about what happened at the Board of Trustees meetings to encourage further communication with the student body. As an executive board member, Busé spoke about the challenges and positive moments she’d experienced on the Union, and was proud of her work to increase transparency in the Union and called her time on the Union some of her most rewarding work at Brandeis.

President Hannah Brown ’19 presented on behalf of Union Diversity and Inclusion Officer Zoe Fört ’21. Fort served on Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz’s task force for Brandeis’ founding values, and worked to encourage Brandeis values including diversity, equity and inclusion. Fört also served on a task force to improve relationships with the student body and Brandeis police force.

Communications Officer Rachel McAllister ’21 spoke about renovating and updating the Student Union website, increasing Student Union outreach to clubs and students on campus and thanked fellow members of the Union.

Vice President Aaron Finkel ’19 said he was proud of his three years on the Student Union. He said that despite some early internal dysfunction and public relations issues, he was proud to see that the “hashtag do your job seems to have caught on.” He then spoke about the achievements of different Senate committees. He spoke about the Senate Sustainability Committee, which helped with events including a student sustainability symposium, a $70,000 project renovating and installing water fountains, a ban on the sale of disposable water bottles that will happen next year and the distribution of Brandeis water bottles to new and returning students.

Finkel also spoke about the club advisor initiative, saying, “I realize there were mixed opinions on this,” but emphasizing that he believes the change was necessary. Finkel spoke about the Rules committee, which streamlined the bylaws, passed a Student Union code of conduct and increased legislative productivity, said Finkel. He also spoke about the menstrual project initiative and the project to provide condoms in freshman dorms.

Finkel said that the Social Justice Committee plans to hold allyship trainings the upcoming year, and spoke about the dining committee’s work to relate feedback to Sodexo officials and increase food quality. He left the crowd of Student Union officials, administrators and interested community members with a quote from Confucius, saying, “The more a man mediates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.”

The Senate then handed out awards to Senate members. Leigh Saloman ’19 received the Committee Award for his work on the dining committee. Kent Dinlenc ’19 won the Friend of the Senate award. Kendal Chapman ’22 won Innovator of the Year award. Jake Rong ’21 won Legislator of the Year. Senator of the Year was awarded to Nancy Zhai ’22. Hannah Brown ’19 won the University Key award and finally Finkel won the Louis D. Brandeis award for Visionary Leadership.

Brown announced the superlatives for members of the Executive Board. Brown presented three staff member awards, the Presidential Partnership award to Director of Student Activities Dennis Hicks, and two other staff member awards to Student Activities Specialist Robbie Steinberg and Assistant Dean Stephanie Grimes.

Brown gave her final remarks, calling her time on the union a “rollercoaster.” “At times the experience was challenging and at times it was rewarding,” she said. Brown talked about the achievements of the Union, noting several projects including the commuter rail subsidy, which allows students with internships, jobs or interviews in the Boston area to receive transport funding, free transport to airport, co-sponsoring the student awards ceremony the Ollies, the Branda app, the renovation of the Berlin Chapel, the library treadmill project, an open forum series on financial aid and community living and more.

“We must make difficult choices and listen to all voices, not just the loudest,” Brown said.  “No, we don’t always make the right choices, but we learn and we grow from our mistakes.” She concluded, “Thank you, Brandeis, for letting me serve you this past year and for the last three. I hope I have given you something… because you have given me so much in return.”

Student Union officials then swore in new Union members, including Vice President Guillermo Caballero ’20, president Simran Tatuskar ’21 and over 15 new Union members.

The new Union president then gave an inaugural speech, thanking Brown for teaching her how to balance her commitments and act as a leader for the Brandeis community, Finkel for helping her to stay positive and to not take things too seriously, Nadjar for working with her on the Union rules and Salomon for showing her what passion is. Tatuskar welcomed the new members to the Union, and said goodbye to those leaving.

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