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Student Union seeks to increase transparency with Town Hall event

The Student Union hosted a Town Hall for community members on Thursday, Feb. 2 to promote transparency between the Student Union and students. Student Union president Peyton Gillespie ’25 led a PowerPoint for community members followed by a Q&A session.

The Town Hall served to highlight the Student Union budget breakdown and explain the union’s structure, advocacy and administration. Gillespie explained to students the available funding on campus for student groups. 

Funding was broken down into four main subcategories: Student Activities Fee (SAF), Allocation Fund, Union Budget and Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund (CEEF) and Brandeis Sustainability Fund (BSF). 

SAF money is derived from the student activities fee, which is split between the Campus Life Fund, BSF, CEEF and Allocations Board Fund. The Allocations Fund is a subsection of the SAF and is used to fund both chartered and secured clubs on campus. Money for both types of clubs comes from the same location. The Union Budget is controlled by both the E-Board and the Senate. This is the money that is distributed during Marathon. CEEF and BSF grants pool money for student project grants. Students can submit an application for either of these grants to recieve money for specific projects. 

The CEEF grant, Gillespie explained, was able to fund the collaboration project between the Student Union and Period Activists at ’Deis (PAD) to distribute menstrual products across campus. 

Gillespie also explained the breakdown of how money flows, though the numbers used were not accurate to the current situation since amounts fluctuate year to year. SAF started with approximately $2.1 million, which then gets split across five different fields. Of this amount, $50,000 goes towards BSF; $250,000 goes towards CEEF; around $2 million goes towards allocations funds; $130,000 goes into off the top costs and the remainer goes to the campus life fund for student activities. The $2 million allocated towards Allocations Funds is what gets broken down for Student Production Services (SPS) funding, secured club funding, chartered club funding and probationary club funding. 

In the slideshow, Gillespie included that leftover funds will roll back into SAF to be distributed over the course of the next academic year.   

Gillespie also opened the floor up for a Q&A session. One student asked about the removal of the student representative position from the Board of Trustees. Gillespie responded by saying himself and other members of the Student Union contacted the Board of Trustees stating their points of concern over the removal of the position. The Board of Trustees has since responded, Gillespie said: “this to us is good news of progress … we have since established a line of communication… this to us is a path to a solution.” In the interest of both parties, Gillespie stated that he was unable to share details of that correspondence at this time. 

Another student asked for updates on the status of the Boston/Cambridge shuttle. Service for the shuttle has been suspended after the accident at the end of the fall 2022 semester. There is currently a short-term solution in the works with a Request for Proposal (RFP) which is being drafted by Matthew Rushton, Chief of Public Safety. Rushton is currently looking to partner with companies to bring back the Boston/Cambridge shuttle. He is also looking into a long-term solution for transportation on campus. Gillespie explained that Public Safety has been in contact with a third-party contractor for transportation. Student leaders have been brought into these conversations to get a student perspective on these initiatives, Gillespie explained. They are also looking at models where students could get discounts from ride services like Lyft or a discount on Massachusetts public transportation systems like the T.  

Currently, there is $200,002 left in the CEEF fund for the rest of the semester. There is no cap on how much students can request. Proposals are being evaluated by Student Union officials. 

Gillespie encouraged students to connect with the Student Union via their Instagram page, @brandeisuniversitysu. Students can use the QR code to engage with Student Union initiatives and updates.

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