Students differ in Union debate
In the hours just before the polls opened last night, candidates for the open Student Union Executive Board positions debated one another. In the debate, which was moderated by representatives from The Brandeis Hoot and the Justice, candidates addressed constituents, upholding their respective platforms and vying for students’ votes.
Presidential candidate Hannah Brown ’19 — this year’s Union vice president — drew upon her three years of experience in the Union as she discussed her wish to be more proactive and to seek out diverse student opinions to inform future policy.
“It is important that I made an effort to be involved in the student body … because it’s very easy to get blindsided and trapped in our own worlds, trapped in our own little Brandeis, sometimes, but I’ve made an effort to join other clubs. I’ve participated in all sorts of clubs, and I’m making an effort to go to all sorts of events as well,” Brown told the audience.
As president, she promised she would focus on accessibility, sustainability and affordability — specifically by easing the burden of excessive fines and re-evaluating need-based aid.
“Let’s get to work,” she urged constituents.
While Brown is running unopposed, the race for the vice presidency is the most contested in this round of elections, with Vidit Dhawan ’19, Aaron Finkel ’20 and Benedikt Reynolds ’19 facing off.
In addressing the audience, Dhawan spoke about his goals of improving inclusion, collaboration with administrators and transparency within the Union.
Finkel used the platform to emphasize his prior Union experience. He also discussed his initiatives for improving efficiency, community leadership and accountability within the Union.
Reynolds, on the other hand, spoke of his goals for improving sustainability and addressing unpaid student labor on campus. He discussed the possibility of providing stipends to students who work unpaid positions with Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps, for example.
The candidates also touched on opportunities for improvement in the club recognition and chartering process, with Finkel criticizing the existing club support system. Reynolds rebutted that Finkel does not have enough experience with the Senate’s Club Support Committee to address the issue sufficiently.
As the only candidate running for the two-year position of junior representative to the Board of Trustees, Zosia Busé ’20 placed an emphasis on empowering students and listening to their concerns. Specifically, she touched on maintaining and improving the state of campus resources like the Brandeis Counseling Center.
Busé, the director of the Office of Student Rights and Advocacy, explained that her current position has helped her gauge student needs and interests. “I have had the incredible experience of hearing from a lot of students, hearing their testimonies, as well as attending a lot of the open forums that have been hosted in collaboration with the Student Union,” she said.
The audience also heard from Jerry Miller ’19, a candidate for Union treasurer, who expressed a desire to make Treasury training sessions more interactive and engaging, reforming the current training process, which is limited to a lengthy PowerPoint presentation.
Secretary candidate Rachel McAllister ’21 spoke about wanting to use social media accounts that students already have, such as Snapchat, to engage with the student body. Her opponent, Qingtian Mei ’21, spoke about wanting to utilize platforms like Instagram to make Union communication more personable.
One of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee candidates, Kavita Sundaram ’20, spoke about her desire to give students an outlet through which they can embrace their individual identities in their academics.
Her opponent, Carrie Sheng ’20, spoke about her goal of focusing on the new University general education requirements.
The polls opened today at midnight, with voting open online for 24 hours.