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First-year students begin work to improve quad life through new hall council system

Promoting sustainability is a major goal of the North Quad Hall Council, a group of eight students elected to represent their fellow residents. The hall council system, implemented in North and Massell Quads this year, allows students to take on leadership roles, create programs and build community in their quads, according to students and the Area Coordinators (ACs) who presented the program to them.

“Want to host social programs? Have creative suggestions for the housing facilities? Enjoy being a leader to your peers?” Habiba Brahma, AC of North, asked in an email introducing the program to North residents on Sept. 9. After the election process, students have begun meeting and crafting goals for the semester. The councils have a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer and a representative from each of the four buildings in the quad.

The North Council met on Monday Oct. 26, with President Grace Barredo ’19 and the entire council discussing initiatives for the betterment of the quad and expectations for the year.

At their meeting on Monday, the students’ proposals to improve sustainability in North included installing hooks in the bathrooms for students’ personal towels to reduce paper towel use, a suggestion that came from Jasmine Olins ’19, the Cable Hall representative. The council will also organize a free throw contest with recycled water bottles found in trash cans on Friday at 8:30 p.m. Prizes will be LED lightbulbs and frisbees made from recycled material.

The event will serve as a way to introduce the council and some of their initiatives, as well as a bonding event for North residents, according to Halley Geringer ’19, the secretary.

The councils have a $1,000 budget from DCL for the year and will organize at least one quad event per semester, while implementing their other initiatives. Massell’s first event will be a variety performance, “Massell’s Got Talent” held on Nov. 12 in Shapiro Lounge, according to Benji Kemper, president of the Massel council.

The hall councils work with the Department of Community Living (DCL), including the ACs and several Community Advisors (CA), who attend council meetings.

“We get to work with the Department of Community Living, which gives us access to a lot of resources, including CAs,” said Kemper in an email to The Brandeis Hoot.

The North Council also hopes to implement an alcohol awareness program, to teach students about what happens when the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) is called and when a student has to be transported to the hospital. Tayla Shatzky ’19, the treasurer, suggested hosting an obstacle course or free throw contest where students wear the goggles that simulate intoxication.

The students plan to distribute cards that correlate factors such as body weight and gender with a number of drinks to help students determine how impaired they are.

In an interview with The Hoot, Barredo said it upsets her to see students struggle with alcohol, and she, along with the council, hope to encourage responsible habits.

The North Council wants to publicize their existence so students know they can reach out to the members with concerns or suggestions. The North Quad Facebook group has around 60 people in it, but the council members want to increase membership and use Facebook, email or events to inform students of their activity.

Brahma and Massell AC Jay MacDuffie introduced the council system after the senator elections for the Student Union. With the multi-member councils and representatives from individual buildings, Barredo noted there are now more people for students to go to in addition to their quad senator.

“It’s good to have more resources,” Barredo said, in case the senator is ever overwhelmed or has other Union responsibilities to tend to. Union members also have office hours and can serve on committees such as the dining committee.

Geringer was interested in the Student Union, but she likes being able to balance her position on the hall council with other activities. It doesn’t have to be the “one thing” she does on campus, she said.

Joining the council “seemed like a good way to be involved … especially in the more intimate setting of North Quad,” said Geringer.

Kemper also drew a distinction between the two governing systems. “The Massell Council is much more focused on event planning than the Student Union,” he said in his email.

In joining the hall council, Barredo wanted to “work with other students and have some sort of impact on the quad.” She hopes to make the quad a better place for first-year students.

“I ran for Massell Council because I wanted to represent the greatest quad on campus,” said Kemper. “From the ping pong masters who train in the Shapiro Lounge, the heroes that wake up and pay attention during 8 a.m. classes and the Spartans who trek up the Rabb steps everyday, it is clear that Massell has the best group of students found on any campus worldwide.”

Last year, students in Deroy Hall in Massell piloted a residential government. The council, linked to DCL, allowed students to improve leadership skills, plan events and launch initiatives, according to a Hoot article from October 2014.

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