The barrier for involvement in the Student Union is not as high as it may seem. The Union might seem like an exclusive club from the outside, but is not that difficult to join.
While the Special Elections are this coming week, general elections will open later in the semester for positions in the next academic year. But running for official positions on the Union is not the only way to get involved. The Union has eight committees that any student, or even faculty member, can join even if they are not in the Union.
Union committees include: Social Justice and Diversity; Campus Operations Working Group; Sustainability; Rules; Club Support; Dining; Services and Outreach; and Health and Safety. These committees work on a variety of issues and affect real change on campus. Committee heads update the Union at Senate meetings to keep their progress integrated.
In light of last semester’s Union controversy, now is the time to ensure that the Union moves in a positive direction and does not repeat its former mistakes. The only way to accomplish this is to add new people and ideas to the Union. With the new round of general elections coming up, the arriving wave of elected students can effectively change from the outside what has for so long been a closed-off group.
The more people who are aware of and attempt to learn about the Student Union, regardless of whether they become part of it or not, the more prepared the student body will be to understand and react to the future actions of the Union. In addition, this awareness will increase the voting participation and competency of the student body.
The majority of beneficial campus initiatives come out of the Student Union and it is up to the general student body to inform the Union about any issues on campus that should be approved. The Senate Sustainability Committee hosted a Meatless Monday in Spring 2018 to help promote healthier eating and sustainability practices. The Campus Operations Working Group and the Health and Safety Committee worked together to bring the menstrual products initiative that brought tampons and pads to bathrooms all around campus for emergencies.
The Union has also headed initiatives that have not succeeded, such as the goal to put pianos in first-year common spaces. Many thought of this proposal as a waste of money, during a time when the budget for the Union was not enough to allow this extravagance. It is initiatives like these that show how we need new people in the Union, not only to bring new ideas, but to prevent the premature depletion of funds and promote responsible and ambitious modes of improving the university experience at Brandeis.
Anyone interested in making any sort of change on campus should join a committee and voice their opinions to the Union. As the governing body of the student population, our elected officials are the ones who are there to help turn your ideas into reality. Now is the time to throw your hat in the ring, because it can only go up from here.