Student Union members gathered in Cholmondeley’s Coffee House to discuss relevant issues with constituents and enjoy tea party refreshments during a coffeehouse on Thursday night. 

The coffeehouse included a performance from Brandeis’ pep ensemble, the Music and Dance Band, which played hits like Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back” and Adele’s “Hello.”

Student Union Communications Director Callahan Cox ’18 said that her goal was was to make the gathering intimate, which drove her choice of venue, music and the tea party theme. In an interview with the Justice, Cox explained, “Last semester we had a ‘Meet the Union’ that was larger-scale and outside. This time, I wanted to do something more intimate and discussion-based in case people had some concerns they wanted to talk about.”

Other Union members agreed with Cox. In an interview with the Justice, Student Union Vice President Hannah Brown ’19 stated, “It was nice to talk informally with people, because a lot of the time the way we talk is kind of stilted.”

“It’s great to see the community together. We’re here to listen to everybody, so it’s a great opportunity to come meet us,” Executive Senator Aaron Finkel ’20 added in an interview with the Justice.

There were a few constituents eager to discuss critical issues with their representatives, but most in attendance were Union members or MAD Band members and supporters. 

Aviva Davis ’21 stated, in an interview with the Justice, that she was concerned by was the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, particularly in residential buildings. Davis elaborated, “I have friends in gender-neutral housing who have [gender-neutral bathrooms] there, but when they come to visit me, they don’t have them [in my dorm]. So that’s something that’s really been on my mind lately.” 

Davis also touched on the Union’s recent trial run of free menstrual products in bathrooms, adding, “I really appreciate the free tampons movement. … I think that should be a thing.”

One common desire was “to end the meal plan requirement for students with a kitchen in their suites,” stated Charles River Senator Oliver Price ’20 in an interview with the Justice. 

Ridgewood Senator Leigh Salomon ’19 elaborated, “I’m part of the Senate Dining Committee and they’ve relayed to me that the meal plan system is being mended… [Brandeis] has to pay [Sodexo] a certain amount of money, so students have to have meal plans.” Salomon added, “The administration has been very understanding of this issue and is working on a solution.”

Speaking to the Justice, Brown encouraged students to get involved with the Union and enumerated the many options for those wishing to take part. “There are a lot of ways to get involved,” Brown stated. “You can join any of our Senate Committees.” Brown also mentioned that anyone can run for a position on the Student Union’s Executive Board or for open seats in the second round of elections in the fall. 

While the coffeehouse allowed Union members to talk with their constituents, it was also a way for the Union to raise awareness of its work. 

“I don’t think a lot of students realize or ... take advantage of the fact that ... we’re here to serve them,” Salomon said in the same interview. 

“I just want to make students aware that the Union is here for them.”

—Editor’s note: Leigh Salomon ’19 is a Features writer for the Justice.