Representatives from the Brandeis chapter of Active Minds presented to the Senate on Sunday to request club status. Active Minds is a national organization designed to raise awareness for mental health and wellness, the presenters explained.

The representatives, including Events Chair Rachel Karp ’18 and Vice President Cat Gibson ’21, argued that their organization has been shown to have a positive impact on the communities it is implemented within. The Brandeis chapter of the organization was founded in 2015, and since then has collaborated with many campus groups, including Triskelion, the Neuroscience Club, the Brandeis Counseling Center and Students Talking About Relationships. The chapter, which meets every week, holds events and campaigns to raise awareness of mental health. 

The representatives emphasized that they want to promote mental health and wellness, but that they are not an organization for mental health support. Without club status, they argued, they are unable to receive funding from the Student Union, which significantly hampers the reach of their organization.

Senator Alex Chang ’22 expressed his support for the organization. “I can firmly attest to their value on campus, and I can strongly voice my support for them,” he said.

Senator Aaron Finkel ’20 advanced a motion to vote on the chapter’s status by acclamation. The vote would grant the chapter probationary status, giving them $1,000 and 12 weeks to prove their ability to use the funds responsibly and their dedication to their cause. The vote passed unanimously.

Senators Linfei Yang ’20 and Alex Chang ’22 reported that they met with Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Tim Touchette, who had sent them an email saying the Department of Community Living would be wholly supportive of their Senate Money Resolution to purchase pianos. Touchette also said DCL would pay for any security items for the pianos. This marked a reversal in the department’s stance on the project: Just two weeks ago, area coordinators for Massell Quad and North Quad said DCL would not support the initiative because it was inaccessible to students in wheelchairs.

Chang explained that while the original plan was to use upright pianos, they have decided instead to purchase electric keyboards, citing the high maintenance costs of acoustic pianos. The senators urged the Senate to schedule a vote on the SMR for the pianos in that same senate meeting session because the keyboard models they had in mind were on sale.

Senator Kendal Chapman ’22 objected to their motion to suspend the rules and approve the resolution, on the basis that the pianos were not an urgent matter. Chapman said she wanted to make sure the Senate would still have enough funding for the upcoming Midnight Buffet before approving the measure, in reference to ongoing discussions between the Senate and Allocations Board about the Senate’s budget. Senator Kent Dinlenc ’19 made a second objection on the same grounds, arguing that there are “dozens” of other pianos on campus that are available to the student body. “Your SMR is a luxury,” he told them.

Linfei expressed concern that after weeks of delays, there was no guarantee that the piano SMR wouldn’t be delayed for a vote at next week’s meeting as well. The SMR vote was tentatively rescheduled for next week.

Finally, Senate Bylaws Committee Chair Jake Rong ’21 proposed suspending the rules to vote on an amendment to the Bylaws that would remove irrelevant language from the description of one of the Senate committees. Yang objected to Rong’s motion, saying the motion was not “urgent.” The vote was postponed until next week.