EDITORIAL: Address the underlying issues within Student Union
As the Student Union determines its priorities for this academic year, this board would like to offer suggestions for how Union leaders may better serve the Brandeis community.
The Union website has room for significant improvement. It lacks an easily accessible “Contact” page and instead relies on the assumption that users will search for contact information by looking at the various member pages. These pages fail to be user friendly, as many of the Union members’ biographies are not filled in. Worse, some members’ names are not even listed; instead, only their email is listed below unhelpful “[No Nickname]” text. As of press time, the website also fails to provide any of the Union office hours. Links to the office-hour pages for all of the Union groups — Allocations Board, Executive Board, Judiciary, Senate and Treasury — open to blank calendars. This board urges the Union to improve its accessibility by creating a general “Contact” page, updating member biographies and listing office hours on its website.
The Union can also provide better service to its constituents by creating an online suggestion box. This could be a simple Google form link on the website that allows students to quickly and easily express concerns or requests. The current website includes a “Petitions” page that allows Brandeis students to publicly submit and sign petitions. This board commends the existence of this part of the website but recognizes that the Brandeis community may benefit from an additional way to make suggestions that is less formal and more private.
Beyond that, it’s no secret that the Union struggles with recruitment. Historically, the Union has faced a dilemma during quad elections in which not enough students run to fill the positions for quad senators, Student Union President Jacob Edelman ’18 wrote in an email to the Justice.
In part to address this issue, Edelman and Union Vice President Hannah Brown ’19 introduced the concept of a new “community senator” position last week at the Senate meeting. The community senator would be able to fill the vacant senate seats in the event that no one is representing a certain group of constituents. This week, the Senate voted to indefinitely postpone this proposed bylaw amendment because all of the positions were slated to be filled.
Ultimately, this board considers the proposed position to be a “bandaid solution,” as Class of 2020 Senator Tal Richtman observed at last week’s Senate meeting. As an alternative, this board encourages the Union to improve the information it provides on all its available positions. A page on its website with a detailed description of each position’s responsibilities and notable past accomplishments could help with recruitment efforts. Interested students may be more likely to run for a given position if they have a clearer idea of what they would be able to do and how they could make a difference.