CEEF board announces four community improvement projects
The Student Union’s Community Emergency and Enhancement Fund announced on Tuesday that it will fund four student projects for the 2018-19 academic year. This year’s projects are the recently launched Branda app, a graphic display for the Shapiro Campus Center, the treadmill desks in the Farber Library and a renovation of the Berlin Chapel.
The fund totals $250,000, with $100,000 designated for funding student projects, according to the Dec. 4 email announcing this year’s projects. The rest of the fund goes toward on-campus emergencies, such as when “a BEMCO car is not working or if the theatre sound system [breaks],” Tal Richtman ’19, a Union representative to CEEF, explained in an email to the Justice.
The Branda app provides students with a hub of information about student life on campus, including dining hall hours and the Branvan and laundry trackers. As Richtman explained, CEEF traditionally funds physical campus improvements but funded the Branda app this year because they “believe in its impact” for the University community. CEEF allocated approximately $21,000 for this project.
Executive Senator Aaron Finkel ’20 proposed the second project, installing an “easy-to-access television” in the Shapiro Campus Center to advertise community events. This is intended to be “a great resource for all students to learn about and participate in events on campus,” and will cost approximately $3,800, per the Dec. 4 email.
Christof Rindlisbacher ’19 suggested the third project, which will install treadmill desks in Farber and is estimated to cost $10,000, per the same email. Rindlisbacher explained that the idea for the project came from student feedback the Brandeis Library received. Students responded positively to the bicycle desks installed a few years ago and “wanted more alternatives: specifically … treadmill desks,” he wrote.
The project will initially purchase two treadmill desks and then decide if up to two more desks should be purchased, Rindlisbacher explained in an email to the Justice. The project will purchase Walkway Commercial Use Treadmill desks, which are designed to be quiet and whose speed is “only suitable for walking,” to avoid disrupting the study space, he said. Installing the desks, which they hope to accomplish early next semester, will not decrease the amount of traditional study seating in Farber, as the preexisting desks will simply be moved to another area. According to Rindlisbacher, the news desks will be placed next to the study bicycles.
These desks are important because, according to Rindlisbacher, “There’s a lot of research that indicates that sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy, and [that] mild exercise helps people think.” He also explained that he believes students should have different options for how and where they study, which the bicycle and treadmill desks address.
Finally, Alex Friedman ’19 proposed a project to use an estimated $25,000 to revitalize two spaces in the Berlin Chapel: the Rabbi and Cohen Studies, per the Dec. 4 email.
Friedman explained in an email to the Justice that these spaces “simply weren’t being utilized,” and that renovating them would be a way to “create space without building a new building.” Friedman described the studies as being “dungeon-y,” something the renovation is working to counter by “installing new, efficient, light fixtures, repainting and patching the walls, and replacing the floor and windows downstairs.” Additionally, the project will add board games, white boards and comfortable seating to the spaces, according to the Dec. 4 email.
This renovation is expected to be complete by the end of next semester, per Friedman’s email. They have scheduled most of the “heavy-lifting” for over the winter break, to minimize the disruption to students, Friedman explained.
Friedman said that this project will create “a blank slate, and I’m so excited to see what our student body chooses to do with it.”
With this renovation, Friedman hopes to recommit the student body to “the ongoing project of building community together” by “[fighting] back against loneliness and social isolation.” He also wants to demonstrate that the community will not allow sacred spaces “to be abused and neglected.” According to Friedman, this CEEF project is part of a larger effort to improve the Berlin Chapel.
With these four projects, the CEEF board approved all the proposals that they received, although Richtman clarified that the board did not necessarily allocate all of the funds that students requested. The board has been changing its application dates and deadlines to ensure proposers have time to develop their projects fully, and the application will open in mid-March next year, according to Richtman.
—Editor's Note: This article was corrected to state that the Berlin Chapel CEEF project budget is $25,000, not the $18,000 originally printed, per information from Alex Friedman ’19.