Six candidates vie for presidency in Union debate
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:04
The six Student Union presidential candidates and two vice presidential candidates participated in a debate cosponsored by the Justice, the Hoot, the Student Union and the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society last night in Olin-Sang..
Polls will open for the first round of voting today at noon.
Presidential candidates Louis Connelly ’13, David Fisch ’13, Dillon Harvey ’14, Joshua Hoffman-Senn ’13, Todd Kirkland ’13 and Steven Milo ’13 responded to questions from the moderators, the editors in chief of the Justice and the Hoot, as well as from student audience members. Topics ranged from the recently announced tuition increase to Greek life to chartering and funding clubs.
Communication and transparency were common themes, cropping up in discussion of the Board of Trustees’ decision to raise the cost of attending Brandeis for the next academic year, as well as concern from several of the candidates that the Union is not communicating effectively with the student body.
Most of the candidates expressed their dissatisfaction with the budget approval process, urging for students or Union liaisons to have a larger role. “Right now, the goal would be more transparency to decide if this increase is necessary,” said Hoffman-Senn.
Kirkland, Fisch and Harvey all cited effective communication between the Union and the student body as a major flaw that needs to be addressed. “I think we need to tap more into our social media. We really need to up our ante,” said Harvey.
Connelly disagreed with the emphasis on social media and communications, saying, “It’s more important that things actually do get done.”
Clubs and funding also emerged as an important topic early on, with Hoffman-Senn identifying the chartering and funding policies as one of the biggest problems within the Union. Hoffman-Senn noted that the large number of clubs and ease of chartering was “a good thing,” and proposed solutions to the problems that it causes for the allocation of funds. “We can expand club resources through private sponsorship, [and] we can be more involved with how clubs are run,” he suggested. “We can drastically raise the budget by providing support from private companies.”
Harvey and Fisch challenged the idea of private funding. Harvey questioned whether these private companies’ records would be in line with Brandeis’ values, while Fisch mentioned that the Union constitution might have to be amended to allow the practice.
Hoffman-Senn repeatedly emphasized the need for large-scale initiatives. “I don’t think that the president of the Student Union should be prioritizing specific events. What the Union should be doing is prioritizing revolutionary changes,” said Hoffman-Senn.
When asked about their stance on Greek life, responses were mixed.
Connelly and Kirkland agreed that discussion of the issue was necessary. “The most important issue is opening up a dialogue since it’s an issue that hasn’t really been brought up in a big way since the ’80s,” said Connelly.
Harvey was directly opposed to recognizing fraternities and sororities. “Greek life is very exclusive and Brandeis tries to preach inclusivity and interwoven connections,” said Harvey.
Milo contended that, “There’s a certain type of person that is pushed away from the school when they find out that frats are not recognized by the school and I think we can use a greater diversity of students.”
Hoffman-Senn declared it to be neither the responsibility of the Union to regulate Greek life, nor to try to stop it. Fisch generally agreed, but added, “I would be in favor of regulating rush a little bit to keep it safer.”
Vice Presidential candidates Ricky Rosen ’14 and incumbent Gloria Park ’13 addressed issues similar to those of the presidential debate.
Rosen urged the Union to continue to work for changes within dining services and other areas. “It’s all about listening to the students and acting based on what they want,” said Rosen.
Both called for more transparency in the budget process. “I respect the school’s decision to maintain a small class size. What did bother me, though, is that they didn’t really ask for a lot of student input. We have the right to know exactly where [tuition money is] being spent,” said Park.
Park also called for more support for arts, music and sports, as well as more involvement of administrators in student life.