Last year, Student Union President Jacob Edelman ’18 ran on a platform that included a proposition that the Union release its budget at the start of the academic year. Now, in late March and with only a few weeks left in Edelman’s term, the student body is still awaiting the budget’s release. This board calls on Edelman and the Student Union to fulfill this initiative, a powerful show of transparency and accountability. 

“Let us restore the idea of the Undergraduate Student Union as a force for community good,” Edelman wrote in his official platform, expressing his plans to release the Union’s budget in an accessible manner. This would be followed by open meetings with the student body to discuss spending priorities, as well as online polling of the student body to reflect shifting opinion on budget allocation, per the platform. Edelman reaffirmed this sentiment in a recent interview with the Justice, asserting that it is important to release the budget for Union transparency. Yet despite emphasizing both transparency and accessibility in his platform and in his presidency, Edelman and his cabinet have failed to follow through on this crucial promise. 

A transparent and accessible Union is necessary for an informed and participatory student body, something that Brandeis has lacked in recent years with voter turnout and contested Union elections in short supply. By releasing its budget, the Union can better engage with the students it advocates on behalf of, allowing them an inside look into how their representatives use resources to address their needs. 

“I hope,” Edelman said when asked whether the Union still plans to release its budget. The time for hope has passed; it is now time for action. 

Edelman added that it is still something that he is “carrying around” with him as an unfulfilled campaign promise, as students “deserve a clear understanding of what the Student Union’s budget typically goes to.” He cited issues with cleaning up the budget spreadsheet and keeping it updated. 

This past year, the Allocations Board made public secured clubs’ allocations and spending, an important step in the direction of transparency. This arms students with information about where their student activities fee is going and what it is being used for. With this in mind, it is even more important that the Union release its own budget. 

To be clear, this board does not blame Edelman alone. A leader is only as strong as his team, and this burden falls on the entirety of the Union’s Executive Board and branches. Throughout his tenure on the Student Union, Edelman has demonstrated a dedication to transparency and accessibility; as the Union’s director of communications last year, he began the practice of releasing weekly media updates to the general public, a practice he intended to continue this year. However, like the plans to release the budget, these weekly updates have fallen by the wayside. Transparency and accessibility cannot be taken lightly, especially in the organization intended to act as a voice for the student body. This board urges Edelman to uphold his campaign promise to release the budget, and it also asks the rest of the Union to support him in this endeavor.