The 2019 Student Union presidential election has several well-qualified candidates, each of whom has a vision for creating a better Brandeis. Candidates Lizy Dabanka ’20, Oliver Price ’20 and Simran Tatuskar ’21 have similar ideas on how to improve campus life, such as working to improve the relationships between students and the University and ensuring that student needs are met. However, the candidate with the most concrete vision of how to improve the Union is Tatuskar. As such, this board endorses Simran Tatuskar for 2019-2020 Student Union president.

Of the candidates, we consider Tatuskar to be the best-prepared for the presidency. Among other accomplishments, she has served as secretary of the Union Executive Board, co-chair of the Health and Safety Committee and member of the Dining and Rules Committees. These experiences have provided her the necessary knowledge of how the Union can and should be improved, what is running successfully and what is not. Tatuskar told the Justice that she has spoken with every member of the E-Board and has numerous plans for ensuring that their accomplishments continue under the next administration. For example, she wants to implement the online platform Presence for use by all student clubs. Presence is expensive, but it would streamline club processes. With Presence, clubs could post announcements viewable by everyone — thus eliminating inconvenient or numerous emails as well as listservs — and post their events to a shared calendar accessible to all clubs and students. Tatuskar also hopes to continue implementing the commuter rail subsidy supported by the administration of Union President Hannah Brown ’19, which would allow some students free access to Boston for off-campus therapy or internships.

Tatuskar has plans to improve a few other spheres of University life. She anticipates improving communication between the student body and the University’s administration. She sees the Union as an intermediary between the two, and hopes to increase transparency regarding the issues members of the Union are tackling and what exactly they are getting done. She also wants to ensure that cultural clubs feel they have a voice in the Union and can air grievances and collaborate on solutions. Similarly, Tatuskar hopes to open a direct line of communication between the Union and the Brandeis Counseling Center as well as implement an online BCC booking system and create an STI clinic through the Health Center. 

Like Price, Tatuskar believes in increasing campus sustainability. She admits that she is not an expert on the subject but says that she is willing to reach out to more experienced members of the Union. Demonstrating her knowledge of the Union, she said she defers to Kent Dinlenc ’19, the head of the Senate Sustainability Committee, on the subject. Price had several sustainability goals which Tatuskar should take note of, including the addition of a presentation on sustainability during first-year orientation. He also suggested the implementation of sustainability ambassadors in each residence hall.  

In addition, Tatuskar can speak extensively on Union initiatives she wants to continue — from conversations with administrators regarding Title IX procedures, getting members of Greek life involved, bringing graduate students closer to the undergraduate counterparts, advocating for meal plan options at the SSC cafe and creating better opportunities for student activists to voice their concerns in the most productive manner possible. In the same vein, Tatuskar makes every effort to meet with not only Union members from various branches, but also many club leaders as well, seeking to hear their concerns. This effort to establish clear lines of communication between students and their representatives epitomizes what this board respects about Tatuskar — her time is devoted to speaking to the people whose experiences she seeks to improve. 

While this board believes that Tatuskar is most ready for the presidency, we acknowledge the value of other candidates’ ideas, especially those of Dabanka. In an interview with the Justice, Dabanka discussed community members’ discomfort with calling BEMCo, saying that some students feel judged and punished for needing the potentially life-saving service. Social justice is another key part of her platform: “I … want to really work to push this administration and remind it that there are students from all over the world, all over the country, coming from racial, ethnic, national backgrounds that want to be here.” Dabanka wants each member of the community to be heard and feel welcome, explaining, “A lot of people just transfer because they just don’t feel like they fit in here, because they are not the ‘typical Brandeisian.’ But there isn’t a ‘typical Brandeisian.’ We’re not a monolith. Brandeis is super diverse, even amongst people who consider themselves monolithic.” Dabanka has a great vision of the Union’s future and regardless of who wins this election, her ideas deserve recognition and incorporation into the Union.

Despite some room for growth, Tatuskar has the most far-reaching and well-developed plan for her administration of the four candidates. She will benefit by working closely with both the current administration and with her current opponents, and this board appreciates that she acknowledges this. Overall, Tatuskar is an extremely qualified candidate for Student Union President and this board endorses her campaign. 

— Jocelyn Gould and Jen Geller did not contribute to this editorial, as they moderated the Student Union presidential debate.