Three face off for the Student Union presidency
As the first round of spring Student Union voting heats up, 12 candidates have kicked off their campaigns, ready to face off in Thursday’s election.
The candidates will compete for seven open seats: president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, junior representative to the Board of Trustees, representative to the Brandeis Sustainability Fund and representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.
Jacob Edelman ’18
Edelman, the Student Union’s director of communications and academic involvement, is running for the Union presidency. His platform includes initiatives to make campus resources more accessible to community members, to better represent marginalized communities and to promote Union transparency.
In particular, Edelman wants to make the Union’s finances more transparent to the student body, especially regarding funds used toward student clubs.
All students pay a student activities fee, annually, which accounts for approximately one percent of all tuition, Edelman said in an interview with the Justice. Transparency is crucial regarding the allocation of these funds, he said, “when it is on all of the student body to give it in.”
He explained that he would make this data accessible not through data dumps but through visual explanations that rely on charts and images to make the information more easily understandable.
Edelman also explained that, once in office, he plans to tackle these goals immediately. If elected on Thursday, he said, “I’m working Friday afternoon.”
Shaquan McDowell ’18
Like Edelman, McDowell is running for the Union presidency. Before traveling abroad to London, McDowell served on the Student Union Senate as Senator-at-Large and Campus Operations Working Group chair last semester.
In a phone interview with the Justice, McDowell explained that he is running for president because the position would allow him to bring the concerns of his constituents to light in a way that pulls in all of the Union’s branches.
One of his favorite activities on campus, he said, is walking around idly and interacting with others. “I love Brandeis; I love the people,” he said. One of his platform goals is to make the Union the first step in organizing University task forces, thereby ensuring that community members with a stake in an issue are always represented and involved in discussions.
McDowell also said that his three primary initiatives involve making menstrual products readily accessible across campus, creating and organizing spaces to have the Union Executive Board interact with students and fostering dialogue to hear what students are thinking.
He would also like to strengthen the ties between the community and the Union through a series of regular, informative email updates.
Paul Sindberg ’18
Sindberg, the third candidate for the Union presidency, is the Student Union vice president. In his platform, Sindberg stressed the importance of thinking critically about marginalized voices on campus. He campaigned for making club funding more equitable, making sure the Union carves out space for underrepresented groups on campus and making the Union an inclusive and accessible space.
Sindberg’s platform also included goals to make the Union more transparent.
In an interview with the Justice, he said that he might accomplish this through publishing public E-board agendas to which community members can add suggestions.
Reflecting upon his time on the Senate, Sindberg spoke about the role he played in organizing past Thanksgiving Turkey Shuttles and Midnight Buffets, which he said the University has come to expect but which rely on students to organize.
“It is work; it is labor. … This University is quick to ask for student labor,” he said. “It illustrated to me the fact that I need to be mindful of the labor I ask of the people around me,” he said, citing examples of marginalized students asked to explain contemporary issues to their majority peers.
Hannah Brown ’19
Brown, the Senate’s executive senator, is running for the Union vice presidency.
In an interview with the Justice, Brown explained that she wants to be more of a manager, taking on structural weaknesses and inefficiencies within the Senate.
In her platform, she stressed Union accessibility and advocacy, also noting that she wants to make the campus more sustainable and the Union more transparent. These are “things I care deeply about,” she said.
Brown, who chairs the Senate Services and Outreach Committee and has organized past Turkey shuttles — “I’ve become shuttle lady,” she joked — also spoke about reinstituting the Office of Student Rights and Advocacy, for which there is a provision in the constitution. This agency would advocate for students’ rights, especially on behalf of marginalized and underrepresented communities.
Lian Chen ’19
Chen, the Senate’s Racial Minority senator, is running for Union secretary, a position she hopes to attain because of its important interactions with students.
“I like a job with the impact of secretary,” she said in an interview with the Justice. “I want to make that connection.”
If elected, Chen said she would like to make the weekly email from the Student Union more organized, as she says these emails are the most regular and easily accessible communication between students and the Union.
Her time as Racial Minority senator has informed her campaign, she added.
“I feel that by talking with people [through this role], I know what people want and what I can do,” she said.
Emily Levine ’18
Levine, who served as deputy treasurer last semester and assistant treasurer the year before, is running for treasurer unopposed.
In an emailed statement to the Justice, Levine emphasized her platform goals regarding easier and more transparent funding and payment processes for club leaders. She also stressed the important relationship between the Union and clubs. “I enjoy meeting different members of the Brandeis community and learning about what they are involved in on campus,” she wrote. “Additionally, I have been the treasurer for two clubs at Brandeis, so I understand the needs and responsibilities of clubs. But, I also understand the importance of the relationship between the Student Union and clubs.”
Kate Kesselman ’19
Kesselman, the Senate’s Class of 2019 senator, is running for junior representative to the Board of Trustees.
As a student representative, she said in an interview with the Justice, “the job is not to have my voice be heard,” but to help marginalized voices find a place in the community. “It’s the idea that everyone is heard,” she said.
From her time spent on the Senate and as chair of the Senate’s Dining Committee, “I know a lot about students’ needs and wants,” Kesselman said. She added that she looks forward to representing the underrepresented on the Board of Trustees.
Alex Feldman ’19
Feldman, an Allocations Board representative and the former A-Board chair, is also running for junior representative to the Board of Trustees.
Though he noted that it is not the role of the representative to drive platforms regarding smaller on-campus initiatives, Feldman said in an interview with the Justice that he would like to keep diversity and inclusion an ongoing priority if elected.
Feldman has worked with trustees before during an open forum with trustees, during which he got a sense of what issues the Board is interested in and “the speed at which they’re operating and the scope they’re looking at, which is much slower and way, way broader than students ever really look at,” especially when it comes to reactions to campus social movements, he said.
Also running in this round of elections are Nakeita Henry ’19 for the vice presidency, Amy-Claire Dauphin ’19 for secretary, Christian Nunez ’18 for junior representative to the Board of Trustees, and Tiana Murrieta ’18 for representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Henry, Dauphin, Nunez and Murrieta did not return requests for comment by press time.