State of the Student Union
My focus this year on the Student Union can be summarized by three key words: transparency, affordability and connectivity.
The Student Union has continued and expanded its transparency efforts. In every Student Union weekly email, we include updates from branch heads and E-Board members as well as the updated Student Union budget. All Student Union members continue to hold office hours, and have even expanded office hours to other locations, including the library and the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium. We moved the Student Union website to an easier-to-edit platform, and provide all documents and updates that are useful to the public on the site. Additionally, I will meet with anyone who wants to have a conversation, during or outside of office hours. We also sustain intra-Union communication by having all willing branch heads serve on the Student Union Executive Board.
As emphasized in my campaign, affordability is an issue I take seriously. Through student advocacy, departments around campus, including the library, have lowered fines and introduced programs such as the canned food donations in lieu of payment. Additionally, academic departments have begun encouraging the use of open-source textbooks and LATTE versus other expensive academic platforms, including Sapling and Pearson. With the helpful partnership of Vice President of Campus Operations James Gray and the Hiatt Career Center, the Student Union will also introduce a full commuter rail subsidy for students pursuing internships and educational opportunities in Boston during the academic year. Capitalizing on what we learned about transportation preferences following the spring 2017 Riverside shuttle pilot, this new program aims to capitalize upon our proximity to the Brandeis/Roberts Commuter Rail stop and Boston to increase access to unpaid internships during the year, saving students time and money. The program will begin in Fall 2019. More information will be coming soon on logistics.
Finally, I am working with a team of Student Union members and Student Activities staff to bring club life into the 21st century. We have explored online platforms to better connect and streamline all parts of student life, including clubs, club members, university departments and the Student Union. As the University updates its enterprise system with Workday, we hope to do the same with a reasonably priced and effective software called Presence. If adopted, Presence will greatly improve the club and student life experience at Brandeis, not to mention limit the amount of emails students receive.
We’ve been lucky to have the partnership of many students, faculty and staff on efforts like these, and these projects are just a subset of the areas we on the Student Union have been working on this year. However, no project or initiative can be successful without the input of other students. I encourage you to reach out to me and your class representatives with your ideas and feedback. Tell us: what else should we work on?