With the Student Union elections coming up, it is time to think about how Brandeis as a community treats elections. Students who are interested in running for positions on the Student Union are given seven days to reach out to the entire student body and present their reasons as to why they are the best candidate for their preferred position.
This seven day period is not enough time for students, especially first-year students who are new to campus and may not know many people. They need more time to find ways to reach voters and put together a proper campaign. Sharing posts on the MyDeis Facebook group may not be enough, as many students are limited to the scope of their class year’s page or may not have a Facebook page at all. How can new students know how to impact a community they are not yet familiar with, and how can their freshmen peers make informed decisions? The difficulty of this limited time frame extends to candidates from other class years as well.
Candidates’ and voters’ reliance on Facebook groups and other social media platforms over-inflates the power of likes and shares on the results of an election rather than emphasizing the value of topical issues and resolutions. One of the events that the Union hosts that combats this problem is a “Meet the Candidates” session for students to approach and discuss topics with candidates. This event is a good opportunity for students to meet their potential future representatives, but it is unfortunately not broadcasted enough, and not many people attend. This lack of participation extends to voting; during the most recent election last year, less than one-third of the student body exercised their right to vote.
The Union should work to make this event more transparent to the student body and demonstrate the benefits and potential that an event like this holds. In addition, they should allow the students more time to campaign before and following “Meet the Candidates” so that first-years understand the responsibility of running and that there is time for voters to process the various campaigns. Having elections so soon after students meet the candidates could cause voters to make snap judgments, whereas more time to campaign would allow students to make more informed decisions about their representatives.
It will also allow the student body the opportunity to truly connect with the candidates who want to help make their lives at Brandeis better. Candidates will have to prove how they plan on delivering their major campaign points, instead of having constituents hear or read what they hope to do without any evidence that they will be able to accomplish their goals.
Additionally, having a greater amount of time for candidates to campaign would hopefully lead to more candidates choosing to campaign. Brandeis needs to use this extra time to inform first-years and uninformed upperclassmen of what the Union does and why it is important to run and to vote.
The Union is made up of five branches—the Executive Board, the Allocations Board, the Senate, the Treasury and the Judiciary—that work together to govern the student body.
Instead of simply choosing to not vote for a candidate with whom they do not agree, people might instead choose to begin a campaign of their own to address issues they feel are pressing. Therefore, a greater allotment of time for candidates to campaign could mean more candidates running, leading to a greater amount of choice for voters. Rather than having to elect a person running unopposed or whose name sounds the most familiar, voters would instead have the option to pick the candidate with whom they identify the most.
Editor’s note: News Editor Celia Young did not contribute to this editorial.