Grimes discusses student experiences, senators debate 12 new amendments
Presidential Task Force
Assistant Dean of Students Stephanie Grimes and Director of Academic Fellowships Meredith Monahan came to the March 4 Senate meeting to discuss University President Ron Liebowitz’s Framework for the Future. Grimes said that members of the Student Learning/Living Experience task force are “going out into our community to try to hear about your experiences.”
Chapman then brought up complaints about the Orientation process, and Grimes asked senators to elaborate on their experiences. Rosenthal and Skyline Quad Senator Josh Hoffman ’21 stated that many of the events were repetitive and, thus, a waste of time, emphasizing the three events about consent.
East Quad Senator Taylor Fu ’21, who was a Midyear last year, countered that she’d had a positive Orientation experience, as it was very intimate and helped her bond with her class.
Grimes then asked about experiences with residential life. Diaz said that one of the biggest off-campus student Facebook groups is “Brandeis Students Screwed by the Housing Lottery,” going on to say the Department of Community Living does not support off-campus students in finding housing. Vice President Aaron Finkel ’20 added that students living off-campus “feel completely disconnected from the … institution” and have few opportunities to interact with the on-campus community.
Additionally, Chapman stated, it is unfair for the University to charge high prices for housing when many of the Massell Quad buildings lack basic amenities like hot water or kitchens. Midyear Senator Madeleine Scherff ’22 said that though her constituents love living in the Village, they feel isolated from other first-year students.
Grimes then asked how the University could do more to encourage students to go to events. Chapman complained about the length of the midterm period, stating that the barrage of tests prevented people from attending events out of fear that they could suffer academically if they did not use that time to study. Hoffman suggested that the University hold events with food on days when Sodexo’s dining hours aren’t ideal for students’ schedules.
Next, Grimes asked how the University could increase community engagement. Chapman said the University needs to be “a little more fun, a little more relaxed, a little less academic about everything.” Class of 2022 Senator Topaz Fragoso suggested that the school have larger events that would bring the school together, and senators cited Springfest, Midnight Buffet and the Library Party as events that, as Monahan said, students would have “[Fear of missing out] about not going to.”
Executive Officer Reports
Finkel announced a “Meet the Union” event on March 22, and stated that attendance was mandatory for senators. Chapman said that the event would be more informative rather than just a casual chat, and wanted senators to “communicate exactly what our government does, and what we can do for [our constituents].” She emphasized that she wanted to inform students of how they could get involved in the Union.
Committee Chair Reports
Health and Safety Chair Hoffman reported that a number of professors were “refusing to record lectures” or “change lab spaces” for students with accessibility issues.
Sustainability Committee Chair Kent Dinlenc ’19 reported that the committee has proposed adding more water bottle refill stations around campus, and announced that the sale of plastic water bottles will be banned. He added that the committee will distribute water bottles, which can be scanned upon refilling and will allow students to redeem points toward gift cards.
The Senate first discussed the Community Senator Amendment, which was proposed last year and would allow anyone from the community to be elected to any unfilled seat if no one from the seat’s constituency ran. Hoffman was strongly in favor of the idea, stating that there were “too many unfilled seats.” The Senate voted by acclamation to pass the amendment.
The Senate then discussed an amendment to require judiciary attendance at Rules Committee meetings. Village Quad Senator and Rules Committee Chair Jake Rong ’21 explained that the amendment would hold the Judiciary accountable and increase transparency. Ridgewood Quad Senator Leigh Salomon ’19 added that the amendment would keep the Rules Committee in check, as it creates policies by interpreting the laws. The Senate voted by roll call to pass the amendment.
An amendment to enforce attendance at committee meetings, introduced by Salomon, would hold senators accountable if they missed a certain number of committee meetings.
Off-Campus Senator Jacob Diaz ’20 asked why Senators should be disciplined for missing these meetings when they have other clubs to balance, to which Hoffman replied that committees make an effort to meet at times that work for the greatest number of its members, and that Senators should only join committees for which times work for them. The Senate tabled the amendment until its next meeting.
—Editor’s Note: Kent Dinlenc ’19 and Jake Rong ’21 are Justice staff members.