State of the Union: March 19
The Union has been improving, slowly but surely. A-board processes are being streamlined through new servers in the fall, the Treasury is deftly handling the budget and the Senate is re-evaluating the way it conducts itself through bylaw reforms. Simply put, the Union is headed in the right direction. The members of the E-board and A-board are working their hardest to think about long-term progress, a state of mind that Brandeis has not really embraced.
However, nobody in the Union is perfect. People still butt heads, disparate ambitions conflict with each other, and despite the departure of a couple of notorious senators from last semester, pettiness still lingers. Though these are not problems uncommon to most organizations or businesses, this tells us that incompetence within the Union is not a major issue. The passion with which officers express and carry out their projects is what hold them back.
From what I’ve observed during my time as Executive Senator, liaison between the Senate and E-board, I’m updated on efforts to improve communication with administrators, to foster a more caring community and to ensure that students make the best of their academics as well as their free time. From afar, one may not know what these branch heads do, but they have long-term goals to be achieved by their successors. These include the University’s website/software updates, providing valuable insight and advice to visiting task forces and administrators in meetings and improving transportation to Boston with airport shuttles and commuter rail subsidies.
The Senate has stepped up its game, as well. Though the meetings are reserved mostly for updating the bylaws, at least this means people are actually reading them and taking them seriously. It’s tedious at times, but weeding through ambiguity and clarifying some of the bylaws is necessary. Senate committees are performing efficiently. Events are being put on that students attend, and the dining experience has improved (no matter what your Sodexo baseline was in the past).
The Senate Sustainability Committee, which I chair, has been hard at work. Though last semester seemed a little directionless, this semester we’ve set our sights on major projects. By frequently collaborating with Brandeis Sustainability Manager Mary Fischer and the Brandeis Sustainability Fund, more than $98,000 worth of projects are being implemented during the summer in time for the arrival of the class of 2023. A significant majority of this money is going toward the installation of solar panels and water refill stations. With the renovation of all fountains on campus and the bulk purchase of many reusable water bottles, we intend to cease the sale of disposable water bottles (Dasani, SmartWater, etc.) by the fall semester. This is a big step toward reducing the University’s carbon footprint and improving its water usage.
You might not see it, you might not agree with it, but the Union is still working. You might see us as “those people who run the Turkey Shuttle and Midnight Buffet,” but we’re still fulfilling our duties while maintaining part-time jobs and studying full-time. We are not infallible, but we are still dedicated to improving student life. And if you don’t like how we’re doing, run for a position in April in the sixth election cycle this year.