EDITORIAL: Move past Union to community
Advocate for students
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 23:04
On May 1, President-elect Todd Kirkland ’13 will assume his new role as Student Union president. We congratulate him on his successful campaign and his decisive victory. In the upcoming year, this board hopes that Mr. Kirkland will be able to effectively respond to a number of pressing issues continually expressed by students.
We encourage Mr. Kirkland to learn from current Student Union President Herbie Rosen’s ’12 shortcomings and successes. It would serve Kirkland well to continue the projects Mr. Rosen began, including the ’DEIS Impact social justice festival and a close relationship with students and faculty. At the same time, as Mr. Kirkland noted at the presidential debate, Rosen sometimes suffered from an inability to delegate projects to members of the senate and executive board. It is crucial moving forward that the Union functions efficiently and stays focused.
That being said, it is particularly important for students’ needs to take center stage. The president’s focus should extend beyond the narrow purview of the Union and its workings. While Mr. Kirkland’s platform focused on communication efficiency and the importance of the strategic planning initiative, a facet of the Union that certainly merits attention, there is a wide range of concerns that also require action: subpar dining services, an ever-growing housing crisis, tuition increases and a lack of club funding are of utmost importance.
This board understands the challenges of addressing all of these issues simultaneously. However, students are interested in real, practical changes in their lives at Brandeis. Seriously addressing even one of these concerns would be a significant achievement.
We urge Mr. Kirkland to not only focus on the issues he raised in his campaign platform but to also advocate aggressively on students’ behalf for the issues noted above. The job of Student Union president is not only to make connections with the administration but to also make use of these connections in order to improve student life. Opening channels of communication with the administration is helpful only if those channels are used to their full potential. It may sometimes be necessary to challenge the administration on pressing issues.
Our president cannot just be a figurehead who delivers addresses to faculty and students. He cannot solely work to make the Union more efficient. While it’s imperative the president individually assumes these roles, it’s important that they be synthesized with the most significant element of any presidency: impacting the constituents’ lives. It will serve Mr. Kirkland well to keep this in mind as he leads students this upcoming year.