Rosen delivers semi-annual address
On Dec. 2, Student Union President Ricky Rosen '14 delivered the annual State of the Union address in the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium to a crowd of approximately 70 students and administrators.
Rosen opened the address by thanking the members of the Union for being so vocal in advocating for their constituents, stating that this has been a "pivotal semester in Brandeis time." He listed changes and new initiatives such as the implementation of the strategic plan, efforts to turn Brandeis into a household name, the arrival of new campus partners like Sodexo and Joseph's Transportation and the changing administration-including Jamele Adams' promotion to dean of students and Cheryl Sousa's '90 new position as assistant vice president of health and wellness, as part of the pivotal semester.
Rosen highlighted Union successes this semester, including the addition of hammocks on campus, increasing communication with students through the Student Union bulletin board in the Usdan Student Center, holding more outreach events and making modifications to the Boston shuttle bus schedule to best benefit students. Rosen stated that the Union also hopes to change the time and access for the Wednesday and Thursday Riverside MBTA station shuttles.
Rosen also revealed information about a variety of upcoming dining changes. The New York-style delicatessen that will replace Quiznos will be called Louis' and will be constructed over the winter. The delicatessen will open on Monday, Jan. 13, the first day of classes for the spring 2014 semester. The food truck, which serves food in between the Shapiro Campus Center and the Feldberg Communications Center, will begin accepting WhoCash and points next semester. Plans to install a caf?(c) in the science quad are also in discussions that will continue next semester.
After an analysis of the results of a dining survey sent out recently, Rosen announced that the Student Union and Sodexo are presenting a joint recommendation to the University that The Stein be turned into a sports bar, instead of the Guy Fieri On Campus restaurant which was initially proposed. "We are hoping that The Stein will become the premiere on-campus weekend destination for Brandeis students," Rosen said. Rosen also stated that the project is in the final stages of planning approval, and a detailed construction timeline will be announced before winter break. The Stein was officially closed on Nov. 19 for the remainder of the semester.
Class of 2016 Senator Jon Jacob is also working to have local Waltham restaurants accept WhoCash as a form of payment, in addition to Cappy's Pizza and Subs, said Rosen. "So far, Carl's Subs, Sabatino's and Tree Top Waltham have all expressed interest in joining this program," said Rosen. He added that their goal is to get Asia Wok and Baan Thai to join in the project, which he hopes will be completed by the end of the year.
The Union has also been working on constructing new meal plans with Sodexo. These meal plans, which will likely be implemented in fall 2014, will include the element of unlimited access, "meaning students will be able to go in and out of all-you-can-eat dining facilities [using meals and points] as many times a week as they would like," said Rosen. He also stated that more changes would come in the next few weeks.
Rosen thanked Class of 2017 Senator David Heaton and Union Vice President Charlotte Franco '15 for their work with the Dining Committee.
Rosen also revealed three longer-term changes to the dining facilities: over the summer, the Usdan Caf?(c) will become a buffet-style location. To complement this, Usdan Boulevard will feature "retail food locations and potentially fast food franchise restaurants, including Quiznos," according to Rosen. Sherman Dining Hall will also be renovated the following summer in 2015.
One ongoing Union initiative that Rosen highlighted was divestment from fossil fuels. In response to the referendum on divesting Brandeis funds from fossil fuel corporations last semester, a Divestment Working Group was set up over the summer to investigate the possibility of divestment. Rosen stated that this is part of an attempt to "make Brandeis a sustainable institution and reduce our carbon footprint." The group will continue to examine alternative investment opportunities for the University throughout the academic year.
In addition to this, the Senate established a Sustainability Committee, headed by Class of 2015 Senator Anna Bessendorf. The goal of the committee, according to Rosen, is to reduce wasteful resource usage and streamline student efforts to increase campus sustainability. One notable success of the committee was being approved for a Brandeis Sustainability Fund grant in order to install 60 toilets with dual-flush capabilities on campus.
Another Union initiative is to create an email system for the mailroom to notify students when there is a package for them. Rosen hopes the project will be completed by the end of the year; Jacob and Executive Senator Annie Chen '14 have spearheaded the initiative.
Rosen also spoke about 'Deis Impact, the weeklong festival celebrating and focusing on social justice. 'Deis Impact is a collaborative effort between the Union and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. The festival will occur from Feb. 1 through Feb. 10 and will feature Ndaba Mandela and Kweku Mandela Amuah, founders of Africa Rising and the grandchildren of the recently deceased Nelson Mandela, as keynote speakers.
Rosen also discussed parking on campus, stating that it has been a "serious problem for over a decade." According to Rosen, the Department of Public Safety has issued 3,126 parking permits for the 2,300 parking spots available on campus this year. In response to student dissatisfaction with available parking, research by the Union found that Brandeis is the only school in its conference-the University Athletic Association-that does not have a parking facility on campus, does not allow sophomores to park on campus and requires faculty and staff to pay for parking. Rosen stated that this was one of the Union's "chief objectives," and that the Union wants to "make [parking] a priority for the administration and students in the years to come."
The final initiative that Rosen mentioned was the creation of a bus shelter outside of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center, which he hopes will serve as a memento to the 2013 to 2014 Student Union and its efforts.