EDITORIAL: Demand Student Union Communication
On Thursday, the Student Union will hold its annual presidential election. Undergraduates will vote on positions for the 2015 to 2016 academic year including president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and junior representative to the Board of Trustees. Only one student, Nyah Macklin ’16, is running for the position of president, while five students are running for vice president. The election date was announced in a weekly email from Vice President Charlotte Franco ’15 on Feb. 24 but was not publicized outside of these emails by the Union.
This board is troubled by the lack of publicity by the Student Union for the most important election of the year. This year’s presidential elections are significantly earlier than in previous years, yet have received a small awareness campaign. The only emails announcing the election kept the topic buried in a list of other campus goings-on. It was only the first item on the list in the email sent two days before the due date for students to announce their candidacy. It is entirely reasonable to hypothesize more students would have run for Union president if they were aware of the election beforehand.
The Union’s function is to represent the student body’s needs to the administration. This role cannot be fulfilled if students are unaware of even the Union’s ongoing functions. Many Student Union representatives have campaigned on platforms of bringing transparency back to the Union, including current President Sneha Walia ’15.
We ask that the Union make good on its consistent promises and communicate with the student body. The most important election of the year cannot be mentioned in a single paragraph of a email which includes a multitude of information about other unrelated campus functions and is then never discussed on its own.
Yet the future Union should not be put to judgement for the pitfalls of its predecessors. On the subject of the sole presidential candidate, this board applauds Macklin’s energy and focus on her goal of uniting the student body. In an interview with the Justice, Macklin said that she “wants to be a voice for the voiceless” on campus, and hopes to highlight all of the positive elements of the Brandeis community. She also hopes to draw students into Union activities by more widely publicizing activities the Union coordinates, as well as encouraging Union members to discuss their positions as representatives with students and better publicize their office hours.
We encourage Macklin to lay out specific programs and initiatives to accomplish these goals. As president, we would like to see her send weekly email reports to the student body on Union activities, highlighting the work she has done over the past week. We’d also like Macklin to personally attend Senate meetings and ensure that significant events in the Union are widely publicized. Developing transparency requires specific action and plans in mind before entering office and is critical to overcoming the indifference toward the Student Union that often leads to students electing “Abstain” to important positions.
But overcoming this indifference is a goal that the whole Union must work together to achieve, and this begins with clearer communication to the student body about significant Union events.