Several days ago, I received a note via email from a member of our community. The subject line was “Riverside shuttle…thanks,” and the email stated the following:
“As one of the fall riders, thanks very much for helping get the Riverside shuttle back into action: it’s been an expensive spring of using Lyft and Uber to get here each morning. And I’m glad someone noticed, as well, that a 40-person bus isn’t needed to ferry just a few students! Thanks again.”
To provide a bit of background, I was a member of a small working group of Student Union and Graduate Student Association (GSA) members who worked to bring back the Riverside Shuttle service earlier this semester, which had been discontinued due to budget constraints. After a bit of work, the service was restored, and it was done using less money than before.
When I paused for a moment to think about what happened in order for that email to have been sent at all, a few things jumped out.
First, we considered the needs of the community based on hearing straight from students—we did not have to guess in order to gauge a student need.
Second, we thought about how to cater to the specific need—transportation—and respond in a more efficient way than how the old system of delivery had been operating. To do this, we simply started hiring a much smaller shuttle bus than the original.
Third, we formed a special connection with the Graduate Student Association, also realizing that this sort of collaboration had the potential for many future partnerships down the road. It is the hope for next year that the GSA and the Student Union will have more collaborations of this sort in any number of areas.
Fourth, the individuals involved in formulating the solution engaged in creative thinking to better define the role that they should play—as a Union and as people—in tangibly helping our community.
Fifth, a student at Brandeis was pleased enough that she took personal time to sit down and express herself.
More often than not, there will be no email. More often than not, the effects of an improvement will not be as profound as restoring a shuttle route. More often than not, it will take longer than we hope in order to fix what seems like a straightforward issue.
Yet human beings still work to make things better. We must always remember that no matter how we choose to involve ourselves in the pursuit of improvement, there will be thankful folks out there and people whose experience was made better.
This year, I am extremely proud of the work that has been done by the Student Union, yet the work will continue, and so must the ways in which we improve upon ourselves as a group. We must continue to find new ways to collaborate, new ways to listen and new ways to think about the common problems that we too often overlook.
To improve, we must have continual participation from the community, and for that, I ask you to consider stepping up. This Monday, March 27 at 8 p.m., the 2017 Spring Elections Round Two meeting will be hosted in the Student Union Office, SCC 301. The seats up for election include five seats on the Judiciary, senator at-large, class year senators, racial minority senator and the new international student senator position. Coming to the meeting is not a commitment to run, but it is a way to find out more if you are interested and to sign up if you would like to get involved.
If you are interested in making a tangible difference, representing your community and joining one of the most hardworking and dedicated student teams on campus, as well as making some of the best friends you could have, consider coming to this meeting. Consider joining the Student Union.