This Tuesday, now-Former Student Union President Nyah Macklin ’16 reflected on her presidency and inaugurated union officials, including now-President David Herbstritt ’17 at the Union’s final State of the Union of this academic year.
Herbstritt delivered an address on his experience at Brandeis and plans moving forward. His core goals include reaffirming “diversity and inclusion, environmental awareness and sexual assault prevention” as “priorities in the eyes of the student body, Student Union and the administration.”
This year, Herbstritt continued, made for a “truly powerful two semesters” of change, and he is “confident that [the Union] can carry this momentum forward.” As such, the incoming president expressed confidence that the next Student Union will be “more receptive, more accessible and more effective than it has ever been.”
He added that next year’s Union will “energize and empower students like no other Union has been able to.”
Herbstritt then introduced his nominees for his Executive Board, Jackson Tuck ’17 for Chief of Staff, Max Byer ’19 for Director of Communications and Adriana Gleaton for Director of Community Engagement nominee. Features editor of The Brandeis Hoot Jacob Edelman ’18 was appointed Director of Academic Involvement; he will be stepping down from the editorial board due to the appointment.
Herbstritt also invited students to stop by the Union office and speak with Union members. “The Union is nothing without the students,” Herbstritt said.
Following Herbstritt’s speech, Macklin stepped to the podium and delivered a farewell address.
Kariyana Calloway ’19 performed a powerful rendition of Strange Fruit, which she said left an impact on her when Macklin performed it, with Jason Baddoo ’19 accompanying on saxophone. After the rendition, LaShawn Simmons ’18 introduced Macklin, describing her as a selfless person who put the needs of the Union and student body before her own: a person who found ways to bring students and the administration together, especially during the Ford Hall 2015 movement.
Macklin began her address with a moment of silence to recognize the students that have passed away, and then sang a heartfelt rendition of Lianne Le Havas’ “Goodbye,” with Reno Kersey ’17 on the guitar, to roaring applause.
Macklin also praised last year’s president, Sneha Walia ’15. “[Sneha] has taught me to keep going when I have been beaten down,” she said. “We’re going to move this university forward, come hell or high water.” Macklin remarked on how this academic year has not been an easy one, but the school has made progress. There were students in the audience who had never been to a State of the Union address before who now are interested in school politics, Macklin explained.
“We have administrators who have pushed and pulled with us to move this university in the right direction,” she said, adding that “uplifting the most marginalized communities uplifts us all.” She also praised various activist groups on campus, including Ford Hall 2015, the Brandeis Asian American Task Force (BAATF), those unrecognized people doing work behind the scenes and “those who held up signs telling us you loved us.”
“Black womanhood and power will always stay synonymous,” Macklin said. “We need black women and transfolk in these spaces because we need to redefine who has access to power and who has access to change. Doing so shifts our focus and includes marginalized bodies in any and all of the work that we do.”
Changing gears, Macklin gave an update on the Executive Board’s activities this year, thanking Gleaton for helping the structure of the State of the Union change for the better. According to Macklin, the Student Union is planning on releasing a statement on diversity as well as looking into ways to get more diversity in student representation to the Board of Trustees.
Macklin also said she was in awe of the of the work incoming president Herbstritt will do.
Chief Justice of the Judiciary Brian Levi Dorfman ’16 explained the Judiciary has become more structured in terms of meetings and goals for the next academic year. The Judiciary will strive to review the Student Union’s constitution, for example, to identify and remove gendered language, said Dorfman. The departing Chief Justice said that it has been “a joy to be a part of” the Judiciary and welcomed the newly elected justices.
Incoming Student Union Vice President and current Executive Senator Paul Sindberg ’18 then gave an update on the activities of the Senate. Sindberg touted increases in resources for international students, reviews of the status of campus sustainability policy and a resolution passed to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day on the Brandeis campus. Sindberg said his experience with the Union was “a wonderful experience,” and expressed a profound eagerness to get to work with the Senate again next year.
Finally, Allocations Board Chair Alex Feldman ’19 updated the audience on changes to the club funding process. The board, which funded over 160 clubs this year, is looking to become more transparent and thus more responsible to the student body. Feldman also announced a system for funds management to replace SUMS, which was followed by cheers from the crowd.