EDITORIAL: Support Jacob Edelman ’18 for Student Union President
The 2017 election for president of the Student Union has yielded three well-qualified candidates, all of whom share worthy goals and an admirable passion for the University. While Jacob Edelman ’18, Shaquan McDowell ’18 and Paul Sindberg ’18 have communicated similar objectives — such as increased accessibility to menstrual products — this board has decided to endorse Edelman as the next Union president. His clearer plans of implementation demonstrate bold visions, as well as an awareness of the necessary actions to bring those visions to fruition.
For example, all three candidates expressed a desire to increase transparency within the Union, but only Edelman outlined specific ways in which he would do so as president: By posting charts online that detail the Union structure, gathering hard data on diversity within clubs and the money allocated to them, and releasing the Union’s budget, Edelman hopes to increase student understanding of how, and with what means, the Union functions in the University community. The Union should be more proactive about communicating with its constituents about the availability of resources — especially regarding to groups for marginalized communities — as well as making club funding more easily accessible, according to Edelman.
Of the three candidates, Edelman inspires the most confidence in his ability to carry out these future plans for open communication, as he has historically demonstrated a tendency toward transparency. This is most apparent in his actions as Director of Communications after he filled a vacancy in the position earlier this calendar year. Taking on the role of the Union press contact, Edelman has been providing the campus publications and media — The Brandeis Hoot, the Justice and WBRS — with memos detailing recent Union activity on a weekly basis since Feb. 6. In doing so, he has provided timely insights into the noteworthy actions of each of the Union’s branches.
Another one of Edelman’s goals is to reduce the practice of free student labor on campus, particularly in the case of research labs and admissions. Forcing students to choose between either earning money or working beneficial but unpaid jobs only promotes further inequality and a “layer of exclusivity,” according to Edelman. By ensuring that jobs of this sort are appropriately compensated, Edelman hopes to ensure that all students, regardless of financial status, can take advantage of the valuable experiences that, at present, are only available to individuals who can afford to spend time on unpaid work. Though he acknowledges that these changes will be neither simple nor easy, Edelman recognizes the need to have the conversation.
In addition, Edelman plans to place a high priority on mental and physical health, aiming to open the Brandeis Counseling Center and the Brandeis Health Center on weekends and evenings to accommodate Brandeis community members whose schedules limit their ability to seek clinical assistance during regular weekday hours. Sindberg has also recognized the extension of Health Center hours as a campaign objective, but Edelman has already set up meetings at the BCC and the Health Center to evaluate the feasibility of this goal, as he recognizes it is a complicated issue considering budgetary restraints. This board commends Edelman’s initiative.
Edelman has also expressed interest in exploring the feasibility of subsidizing laundry and printing expenses for students who require assistance with financing these necessary services; in conversation with this board, he pointed out that these expenses are treated as luxuries, but are truly necessities.
Further, Edelman would pursue plans to expand dining availability during breaks. This is important, Edelman said, because some students who stay on campus over breaks during the semester may not be able to afford groceries or takeout, and this change is essential for combating food insecurity.
Beyond that, Edelman has proposed extensive sustainability initiatives, such as implementing automatic light sensors in more areas around campus, turning off lawn sprinklers more often, petitioning the University to use renewable energy sources for the majority of its electricity and offering A-Board grants to clubs in exchange for not using paper products for flyers and other club materials, according to Edelman’s campaign Facebook page.
This board supports these elements of Edelman’s platform and, above all, appreciates his efforts to be a proactive listener and advocate for the Brandeis student body. In light of this, in addition to pursuing his other objectives, Edelman must work hard to ensure he is responsive to the concerns of underrepresented communities on campus, and this board urges him, if elected, to promote inclusion and listen attentively to all of his constituents. Edelman has a plan for this, as well. He hopes to be proactive in communication with the University’s Chief Diversity Officer Mark Brimhall-Vargas, and he expressed interest in creating a position for a Chief Diversity Officer within the Student Union. This board believes that, if elected, Edelman must make these goals a priority.
Throughout the campaign process, Edelman has engaged in active outreach with the community, and this board recognizes these measures as a good indication of his future receptiveness to student voices, should he be elected. Such efforts are laudable, and this board encourages Brandeis students to consider candidates’ responsiveness to their constituents when deciding how to vote.
Regardless of whom you choose, this board urges all Brandeis students to participate actively in this election and vote for the candidate whose merits and values best align with their own. The phrase “every vote counts” has been particularly valid in recent years’ elections, notably when incumbent Union President David Herbstritt ’17 won his race by a mere margin of two votes. The result of this election process will set the tone for the upcoming year and impact the entire student body.