As the newest class of Union members were sworn in at the State of the Union on Thursday, former President Hannah Brown ’19 reflected on the ups and downs of the Union during the past year. She cited successes, such as the implementation of free transportation from Logan Airport after major school breaks, as well as more sobering situations, like the mishandling of the passing of the club advisor amendment as examples of the positive and negative influence that the Union has had on the Brandeis community.
Even though the internal issues (like the piano project, among others) that the Union faced prompted many negative responses from the student body this past academic year, we should not discredit all the initiatives that members of the Union worked on to improve the lives of students. The loudest voices in the Union may have been the only ones you heard this year, but behind the scenes, many members of the Union were working hard on helpful projects to improve students’ experiences. Take a closer look, and you’ll see the various things that dedicated members of the Union were able to accomplish.
Members of the Executive Board were able to set aside $10,000 next year for a commuter rail subsidy for students with jobs, internships and educational opportunities in Boston and will continue to provide free shuttle services from the airport coming back from major breaks. They also hosted a series of open and honest conversations with members of the student body about issues concerning finances and community living.
They even “partnered with administration to lower library fines, extend mailroom and library hours and expand open-source textbook and software resources for professors,” said Brown in an opinion piece submitted to The Brandeis Hoot this week.
Looking ahead to the next academic year, we hope that the Student Union not only continues to improve and becomes more receptive to concerns of the student body, but that the Brandeis community is in turn understanding that a few individuals do not make up the whole. The issues that permeated the Union this year, and seem to have engendered a belief that the Union is unable to properly serve its constituency, are only a small part of the whole story.
In addition, we hope that the Union can work harder at including students outside the Union, such as incorporating non-senators into committees. The Union can increase its transparency and better inform the community about its ongoing initiatives. It can also make itself more accessible to students who may not want to run for actual positions by making the Union more widely known as an available resource to help students work through and potentially implement their own initiatives.
In response to the archival of the Class of 2019 Facebook page
The action to archive the Class of 2019 Facebook page accomplishes exactly the hypocrisy that the anonymous moderators criticized. They have accused the Union of being out of touch with the student body, specifically, that “the student union can’t seem to learn that they have no business dictating campus life and our freedom of speech.” And yet, the moderators of the class group, ironically, felt they had the power to take it upon themselves to archive the group, preventing any members from posting, liking or commenting. To our knowledge, they did not ask any member of the class of 2019 if they wanted the group to be archived and stated in the email that they are “unable to accept interviews at this time,” impeding dialogue in the same way that they accused the Union of doing. Recently, students have been using the group to find extra commencement tickets that their peers won’t be using. Cutting off this mode of communication eliminates one of the few places the majority of the senior class has to communicate with each other. In light of this, archiving the page seems an extreme action to take that affects constituents who were not consulted about the decision.
Further, the moderators’ claim that “this group will serve as a monument to the complete and utter failure of the student union” is an overgeneralization and does not accurately reflect the class of 2019. The senior class is a monument to a lot of things—accomplishments, leadership, activism—but not to the “failure of the Student Union,” as the moderators claim. The class of 2019 is also the last class to have taken part in the Ford Hall 2015 protest and carried that memory to the recent #StillConcerned #ProudToBeAProblem organizing.
The editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot—especially the senior staff members—do not support the archival of the senior class page, nor were we involved in the process. We were unaware that the proposal to de-charter The Hoot would be used as reasoning in the moderators’ decision. We are also unsure why an email from the moderators, addressed to “the brandeis press,” was sent exclusively to “the brandeis hoot, the brandeis bagel, and gravity magazine” [sic]. The Brandeis Bagel and Gravity Magazine are both satirical media outlets; of the three groups the email was sent to, The Hoot is the only legitimate news source.
Following the proposal to de-charter The Hoot and limit voices on campus, we are disheartened to see that some students are actively working to further stifle communication on campus. We do not believe that the mistakes made by some members of the Union justify the encouragement of harsh criticisms against the Union as a whole; however, we do not condone restrictions on the channels through which students can express these concerns.