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Student Union holds elections for next academic year

The Student Union released the list of candidates running in the spring 2022 elections via email on March 27. There are ten positions that are being filled in this round of elections including: Student Union President and Vice President, Secretary, Head Treasurer, Junior representative to the Board of Trustees, two representatives to the Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board, two seats to allocations board and CEEF representative. 

 

President and Vice President 

For the President and Vice President positions, students must run on the ballot together. The position is open to anyone in the student body. The two pairings running for the President and Vice President respectively are Ariel Schultz ’25 and Elisha Gordan ’25 and Peyton Gillespie ’25 and Lia Bergen ’25. 

Gillespie spoke with The Brandeis Hoot in an interview over his campaign for President with Bergen as Vice President. “We are running for the position of President and Vice President because of our shared passion for using our experiences and skill sets to elevate the voices in our student community to affect positive change,” wrote Gillespie. 

Both Gillespie and Bergen have experience in the Senate, having together worked on projects on sustainability, dining and menstruation accessibility. If elected, in the position, they plan to continue their work from these projects to, “build a strong campus community, based in student agency, where everyone feels as though they have an equal chance to have their voices heard on issues that matter to them,” wrote Gillespie. 

Initiatives Gillespie and Bergen would like to tackle include ensuring access to free menstrual products for all students and improving access to facilities for the Brandeis Health Center, the Brandeis Counseling Center and the Intercultural Center. Other initiatives they would like to handle include: improving campus transit— using Bergen’s experience as a BranVan Driver— and expanding sustainability measures on campus— using Gillespie’s experience as Chair of the Senate Sustainability Committee and Co-Chair of the Brandeis Sustainability Committee.

“Both Bergen and I are strongly committed to appointing an Executive Board that is diverse, qualified, dedicated, and engaged; this includes the creation of a new position devoted to raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault on campus,” wrote Gillespie. 

The Hoot also spoke to Schultz and Gordan on running for the position of President and Vice President. Schultz told the Hoot he was running for the position for two reasons: his belief that he has the ability to make positive changes for the students in this position and this position is an opportunity to give back to the community that has meant so much to him. “The people I have met continue to amaze me and I want to do everything I can to enhance the community and improve the Brandeis experience for the people here,” wrote Schultz. 

Gordan shared a similar sentiment for wanting to run for the position as Vice President writing that it is, “a want to give back to the community and utilize my strengths.” 

For experience, Schultz wrote that he was Student Council President in high school which is a similar position to the Student Union president position. In this previous role, Schultz gained experience working with administration at his school to organize wellness and morale events which he also wants to execute on Brandeis’ Campus. Gordan has worked on the Allocations Board which gives him an understanding of the Student Union and its finances, he explained in an interview with The Hoot.

Both Schultz and Gordan want to make student mental health on campus a priority. They want to improve mental health services offered on campus so that students have easier access to getting help. Their goals are threefold, wrote Gordan, with a focus on mental health services, improving COVID-19 policies and communication and establishing student union accountability and visibility with the student body.

Secretary 

There are three students running for the Secretary position. This is one seat, open to the entire student body. The students running for the position are: Emma Fiesinger ’23, Ashna Kelkar ’24 and Gonzalo Palafox ’24. 

In an interview with The Hoot, Fiesinger wrote that she wanted to run for Secretary since she wanted to give back to the Student Union. Fiesinger has served on the Allocations board for six semesters, with three of those semesters serving as chair of the Allocations Board, and wanted to take her skills in communication and organization to assist the Executive Board.

“I want to be concise and effective with my communication towards students. No one likes being barraged with emails, and I hope that by conducting elections properly and being fully informed on current events hosted by the Union and other clubs, my weekly briefings will be succinct,” wrote Fiesinger to The Hoot.

In an interview with The Hoot, Kelkar wrote that her experience in the Student Union as the chair of the dining committee and the Executive Senator will help her in this position. She has an understanding of how the Student Union communicates with the greater Brandeis community and how they implement their initiatives. 

I want to be a part in continuing and improving that so-called ‘power’ and increasing transparency, access to resources, and communication the Student Union gives to the student body,” Kelkar wrote to The Hoot. 

Kelkar’s main goals are to increase transparency, maintain regular communication through means that work for students and increased access to resources for students including professional development, self-care, education and personal opportunities. 

The Hoot reached out to the third candidate Palafox, but did not receive a response by the time of publication. 

 

Head Treasurer 

There are two students running for the position of Header Treasurer: Maggie Chang ’23 and Emily Adelson ’23. 

“I am very excited to be running for this position this year because I want to be able to serve the clubs on campus and be able to provide support through p-card and reimbursements. I am experienced in both processes and believe that I can be of help to not only the deputy and assistant treasurers but also the rest of the club treasurers on campus,” Chang told The Hoot. 

In terms of experience, Chang served as Deputy Treasurer for the Brandeis Student Union Treasury and has also been club treasurer for clubs before.”My experience of working as both club treasurer and deputy treasurer gave me the opportunity to see how the process works on both sides and I understand the importance and responsibilities of being Head Treasurer for the Brandeis Student Union Treasury team,” added Chang. 

“If I were to be chosen as Head Treasurer in the upcoming school year, I will support and train my Treasury team to be able to effectively assist the club treasurers on campus. I understand how difficult and confusing some of these processes can be to incoming and new treasurers and I will ensure that any and all questions or concerns will be addressed and answered,” said Chang. 

Adelson also served as a Deputy Treasurer as well as Senator for the Class of 2023 for the Student Union. “I know the two critical areas of the P-Card and reimbursement process and am knowledgeable about how to use Presence. Most of all, I’m passionate about helping clubs and making a difference in the Brandeis community, and if elected I would bring all of these qualities to the role,” Adelson told The Hoot. 

“In addition, I also serve as a BUGs tutor for Financial Accounting, Corporate Finance and Study Skills, and have served as a TA in Financial Accounting which further expands my knowledge of finance, and will help me to effectively work with you if elected,” she said. 

Junior representative to the Board of Trustees

There are two students running for the position of Junior representative to the Board of Trustees: Shelley Polanco and Meshulam Ungar ’24

Ungar spoke to The Hoot regarding running for the position and said, “ I have three priorities on this campaign: invest more in the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC), effective & empathic COVID-19 management, and strengthen the communication between Trustees and students,” said Ungar. 

Ungar noted that despite not having served on the Student Union before, he has had leadership positions in the Brandeis community serving as mid-year representative to the Brandeis Orthodox Organization (BOO).  

He is also involved in the Brandeis-Israel Public Affairs Committee (BIPAC), where he has held the position as legislative director and event advisor. The most important part of his campaign, Ungar said, is to engage with the student body. 

The Hoot reached out to Polanco, who is running for the position due to her motivation and personal mission to make the university, “a home for everyone.” If elected to this position, Polanco would make it a priority to “highlight the diverse voices of our students.” 

“I am committed to supporting the longevity of cultural spaces, improving the student experience by addressing mental health access and sexual violence on campus and emphasizing student concerns by introducing collective action through town halls,” wrote Polanco. 

Polanco has experience in leadership roles on campus, she currently serves as the Undergraduate Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Student Union Executive Board. She has collaborated with faculty, staff and administrators about diversity projects and initiatives. She has also collaborated with students at weekly E-Board meetings, Polanco told The Hoot, and has expanded her network with community members. 

Some initiatives Polanco has run included compiling a list of student concerns for the Intercultural Center (ICC) Director Habiba Braimah. Polanco has also been a part of the ICC’s 30th Anniversary earlier this semester and with DEISImpact which was held from March 30 to April 1.

Two representatives to the Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board

For the two representatives to the Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board, there are three candidates running: Aman Qutab ‘24, Max Lerner ‘23 and Ana Loza Pérez ‘25. 

Lerner has spent three semesters on the board; additionally, he is in the new Climate Justice, Science, and Policy minor, and participated in the sustainability pre-orientation,” he told The Hoot in an email. 

“I’m running for this position to attempt to continue representing the student body and fighting for increased voice from the Brandeis community in the fund,” said Lerner. “One thing the board is currently working on with the senate sustainability committee is the ‘year on climate action,’ which is an upcoming academic year with increased emphasis––in and out of class––on sustainability and environmental justice,” added Lerner. 

“Furthermore, one hope of mine is increasing the voice students actually have in the administration, particularly in sustainability related ways,” he concluded. 

Pérez also spoke to the Hoot and said that she is running for this position because she believes, “in the importance of sustainability, and that Brandeis can, and should, be doing a lot more in this sense.”

Pérez said that her commitment to environmental action and climate justice will help her in this position. She has taken environmental classes since high school, and is currently a Climate Justice, Science, and Policy minor. For students in this position, Pérez wants to prioritize supporting individuals and groups on campus and listen to what they want to see on campus to make it more sustainable.

The Hoot reached out to Qutab but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Allocations Board Member for a two-semester seat

For the Allocations Board Member seat, there are two seats open which are held for two semesters. There are four candidates running: Jacqueline Floro ‘25, Lexi Lazar ‘24, Peter Meng ‘23 and Owen Chan ‘24.

The Hoot reached out to Lexi Lazar for comment on why she is running and she explained that her current seat on Allocations Board is ending and she wants to reapply. “I was a member of the allocations board for the past two semesters,” Lazar explained, “so I know the ins and outs of a-board.” 

Lazar explained that during her time on the Allocations Board, she has been a part of the initiative to make marathon more sustainable. According to Lazar, she was unable to complete her goals due to her term ending and would like to continue this project if re-elected to the position. Lazar explained a goal of hers is to make marathon more equitable for community members. She wants the marathon process to be equitable for clubs, “that may feel underrepresented or not advocated for.” 

In this position, Lazar hopes to be a “friendly and approachable face” so that students feel comfortable coming to talk with the Allocations board.  

Floro explained that she has great interest in being a part of the union and that being a part of the board would be the “best way to start a career in the union”. Floro wants to ensure that all clubs have a chance to express their needs before the final budget is published and claims that she will value meeting with people “one-on-one over zoom during office hours” every week. Floro has gained various leadership experience during her high school career including “helping with financials” at her family’s small food business, Foodega and being part of the fundraising committee in the National Honor Society. 

In this position, Floro believes “we all can make real change through the Student Union”.

The Hoot Reached out to Chan and Meng but did not receive a response by the time of publication. 

CEEF Representative

There is one seat open for the Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund (CEEF) Representative Position. The seat is open to the entire student body and one candidate is running for the position: Carolina Jacobs ‘25. 

Jacobs spoke to The Hoot via email about why she is running for the position, according to Jacobs, “I am running for the CEEF Representative position in the Student Union because I am determined to effectuate change in the Brandeis community.” 

The CEEF Representative works with the CEEF fund which provides funding for student initiatives, according to their webpage. Jacobs has already begun talking with students about initiatives which can enhance the Brandeis community and improve the campus for community members. Jacobs wants to work with students on projects which will have long term benefits for our campus. Jacobs has experience with different clubs and activities on campus which have shown to her the “importance of teamwork and communication, both of which are essential components for the role of CEEF Representative,” wrote Jacobs. 

“I really want to be able to hear students’ ideas for improvement first hand which the position of CEEF Representative will allow me to do. I believe that there is always room for improvement and Brandeis is no exception, I know that with the input of students we can help better our community..” wrote Jacobs.

UPDATE April 2: A previous version of this article said that Polanco did not respond by the time of publication, however, she did send in a statement. The response is now reflected in the updated version of this article. A previous version of this article said that Floro did not respond by the time of publication, however, she did issue a response. The response is now reflected in the updated version of this article. 

 

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