The Student Union has passed legislation mandating that all secured clubs must register an official “Club Consultant.” This amendment is serving as a “trial run,” with the intention of eventually applying to all university clubs, according to Vice President Aaron Finkel ’19.
The Brandeis Media Coalition (BMC), made up of representatives of the Justice, Brandeis Television (BTV), WBRS Brandeis Radio Service and The Brandeis Hoot, attended the Student Union’s weekly Senate meeting and gave their opinions on the proposed legislation.
Isaac Zukin ’19, the general manager of WBRS, spoke on behalf of the BMC. “We are not in opposition to this proposal, we are in opposition to this proposal as it stands. I think this is a great idea for the majority of clubs on Brandeis’ campus, and I think that this is something that would go really far to improve efficiency and transparency of clubs,” said Zukin.
“However, the requirement to have a club consultant or club advisor for independent media organizations is a problem and is, I would even argue, an existential threat to our organizations and our ability to provide this campus with the service that we were secured to do, which is independent journalism,” he continued.
Zukin said that the proposed legislation would be problematic for media organizations for a number of reasons. He explained that the image to the external and internal community would be affected by the appearance of being connected to a faculty or staff member, and it could create potential conflicts of interest.
The BMC sent Vice President Aaron Finkel ’19 an additional clause for the amendment that would require media organizations to “register a ‘Financial Consultant’ that will serve as a resource for these organizations in making club financial decisions,” but the clause was not included in the final version of the amendment.
Tal Richtman ’19, a former senator for the class of 2020 and one of the people who originally worked on the initiative three years ago, spoke at the Senate meeting and described that when the initiative was initially created, he and others invited club leaders and press to talk about this initiative. He explained how they “don’t want to harm any media independents.”
The idea for the initiative was inspired by other universities, according to Richtman, and he said that he reached out to other universities, and they found that many other clubs have advisors. In addition, he emphasized how the club members themselves have the ability to switch advisors if needed. He said that an advisor would be a great leader for clubs and allow for support. Richtman explained that the intent of the initiative is not to harm any of the media organizations.
The managing editor of the Justice, Natalia Wiater ’20, spoke on the fact that the titles “Club Consultant” and “Club Advisor” are extremely general, therefore individuals can use these advisors for tasks not relating to finance. Wiater further emphasized that the title financial consultant creates a different idea for the advisor’s role in the club.
Finkel read from the Amendment and said that an advisor would have a limited role in the club.
“Do you expect every single administrator on this campus, faculty member, student, as well as everybody off campus that we deal with to read that? Do you think that’s realistic?” asked Wiater. “I do,” answered Finkel. Finkel said that if an issue arises, then they will show them the Constitution.
Wiater then attempted to say more, but Finkel asked that the public only speak further if they were answering a question.
Off-campus Senator Jacob Diaz ’20 explained that the concerns people have for this initiative are only concerns until the amendment has passed, and they see the effect that it has.
Senate Sustainability Committee Chair Kent Dinlenc ’19 motioned to vote on the amendment, but several senators said that they wanted more time to discuss the proposal. Finkel then called for an executive session, in which only senators would be allowed in the room to deliberate about the BMC’s concerns. After approximately 37 minutes of deliberation, the room was once again opened to the public.
Finkel announced to the room that senators had come to an agreement that they felt was a reasonable compromise. He said that they agreed that leaders would be able to write constraints and terms for their advisor in their club’s contract but that the official name would still be club consultant.
Zukin asked if they could officially change the name to financial consultant in their own contract, Finkel said that he “personally did not care,” but Senator-at-Large Noah Nguyen ’21 interjected, saying that the name of the role could not be adjusted in the Constitution. Finkel said that clubs could, however, list them as a financial consultants on their websites.
Finkel then called for a vote, and the senators voted unanimously to ratify the amendment. Senator for Village and 567 Quads Jake Rong ’21 later said that while he voted for the ratification of the amendment, he wishes that it had been handled differently.
Editor’s Note: News editor Celia Young was involved in the BMC negotiations and did not contribute to the writing of this article.