27 students announce candidacy for Union elections
There are 16 seats up for election for seven different types of positions in the Student Union. Voting will take place on Thursday.
Senator to Class of 2022 (2 seats)
Joseph Coles ’22 told the Justice in an email that he is running with a desire to support new clubs and improve the overall “student experience.” He added that one of his priorities, if elected, would be to add air conditioning to all residence halls. Coles wrote in his email that he is qualified to be on the Senate because he is a Posse Scholar, which is a “prominent leadership scholarship.”
Topaz Fragoso ’22 is running for reelection with the intent of continuing to “work with the Brandeis community,” according to her candidate biography. She is currently working on an “exciting project” for the Senate that she wants to continue throughout the next year. Although she is still “learning how to represent everyone equally and make the best decisions,” she is excited to continue her work with the Senate.
Senator to Class of 2021 (2 seats)
Jake Rong ’21 said in his candidate biography that he wants to continue serving the Senate as Class of 2021 senator. As the current Village and 567 Quad senator and chair of the Rules committee, he expressed pride in his “perfect attendance” at Senate meetings and his “quadrupling” of the Rules committee’s productivity. He also initiated partnerships with the Residence Hall Association and the Undergraduate Library Council.
Sissel Tan ’21 wants to make the Brandeis community “more active and energetic” by helping with Union legislation and problem-solving, according to her candidate biography. She believes her leadership as vice president of Global China Connection and as the undergraduate departmental representative of the International Global Studies department has prepared her for the role, instilling in her a desire to make an impact on campus.
Senator to Class of 2020 (2 seats)
Jacob Diaz ’20 is interested in representing the views of his class in the Senate next year. Since being elected this semester, he said in his candidate bio, he has focused on holding senators accountable for their responsibilities. He has “worked tirelessly to keep the free press [on campus] free” and says that his experience in the Senate has helped prepare him for this role.
Trevor Filseth ’20 is running for reelection and wants to focus on improving transportation accessibility, improving communication between the Union and students and “streamlining funding for clubs,” according to his candidate biography. During his time on the Union, he has helped to organize the Sustainability Student Leadership Symposium, Brandeis SaveOhno and Facilities Appreciation Day. He has also worked on the Meatless Monday initiative in Usdan dining hall and on the ban on the sale of plastic water bottles on campus.
Scott Halper ’20 is running in pursuit of “a more civil and democratic union that represents the interests of the people,” he said in his candidate biography. He feels his leadership on the Mock Trial Association and his time serving as Vice President for an off-campus Greek organization have prepared him for this position. He wants to work closely with Prevention and Advocacy Resource Center to strengthen sexual assault prevention, “especially off-campus.”
Dane Leoniak ’20 wrote in an email to the Justice that he is running for the Senate because “the past year of Student Union antics has frankly been embarrassing, and the de-fund the Hoot debacle was just the icing on the cake.” His priorities if elected, he wrote, would be to help students and clubs, such as by repealing or “at least fix[ing]” the club consultant bylaw and increasing campus accessibility. Leoniak said he was qualified for the position because of his involvement in campus politics “from the outside” during his time at Brandeis.
Senator-at-Large (2 seats)
Josh Hoffman ’21 cited his previous two years of experience on the Student Union as qualifying him for the position, according to his candidate biography. He mentioned his role in getting free menstrual products placed in campus restrooms and his position as chair of the Health and Safety Committee. Hoffman emphasized his focus on continuing to promote sexual health on campus.
Nancy Zhai ’22 wrote in an email to the Justice that during her time as Class of 2022 Senator, she has “built a proven track record of enacting improvements that will benefit the community in the long run,” making her a qualified candidate for Senator-at-Large. Zhai wrote that, if elected, she will prioritize “improving the dining experience.”
Senator to International Students (1 seat)
Leah Fernandez ’22 is running because she wants to “make the campus more accessible,” according to her candidate biography. She intends to work with the administration to help international students better understand the accommodations available to them, and acknowledged the importance of recognizing the differing educational backgrounds of international students.
Shuorui Wang ’22 said in his candidate biography that, if elected, he would work on improving dining as well as international students’ accessibility to news and activity information. Wang wrote that he wants to make sure international students can be involved in campus life.
Racial Minority Senator (1 seat)
Rajan Vohra ’21 wants to bring together students through “more inclusive social events” to “show them how to celebrate a wide variety of cultures,” he wrote in his candidate biography. He said that he was taught traditional Hindu beliefs and raised to “embrace the opportunity to learn about different cultures.” He and his family went to India “often … so as not to lose the long established roots which I come from.”
Associate Justice to the Judiciary (5 seats)
Maxwell Hunsinger ’20 said in his candidate biography that his “pursuit of perfecting and enforcing” the Brandeis Rowing Team constitution makes him qualified to serve on the Judiciary. If elected, he wrote, his “passion for interpreting Constitutional issues could be better appreciated with respect to the Student Union Constitution.”
Ruth Itzkowitz ’22 is an art history and prospective business major who wants to “ensure the Student Union is run fairly and justly,” according to her candidate bio. She has read through the bylaws and constitution to better understand the workings of the Student Union. In addition, she works as a tour guide for the Brandeis Admissions Office and is a member of the Waltham Group.
Junhan Lee ’20 and Yehoshua Rubin ’20 did not submit candidate biographies.
Jack Ranucci ’22 is running for reelection because he wants to “create an environment where students can responsibly, within the limits of the constitution, by-laws, and general spirit of the university, pursue fully their innovative ideas,” according to an email to the Justice. He said his previous experience on the Student Union makes him well-equipped to serve on the Judiciary.
Mack Schoenfeld ’21 wrote in an email to the Justice that he is running for office because he wants to be more engaged with the campus community and help run campus affairs efficiently. He cited his work experience both on and off campus as a reason he is qualified, as well as his problem-solving skills and connections to club leaders. Schoenfeld wrote that his priorities, if elected, would be to work with Allocations Board to make sure “their resources are going to the best possible sources and in fair quantities.”
Rachel Sterling ’21 is running for reelection. She wants to “foster an environment that is built upon a foundation of trust and honesty within our community,” according to her candidate biography. She believes “every student deserves the opportunity to be recognized and fully contribute to our school.”
Shania Thomas ’21 is majoring in Health, Science, Society and Policy and Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. She is interested in “not only upholding existing precedents but setting new precedents that reflect the values and needs of Brandeis,” she said in her candidate biography. She added that she would like to bring forward legislation that “expands the fruitfulness of our time at Brandeis to better not only ourselves, but the greater community as well.”
Maya Walborsky ’22 said that she is qualified to serve on the Judiciary Board because of her wide involvement in extracurriculars on campus, she wrote in an email to the Justice. She is on the board of Sigma Delta Tau, HerCampus and more. Walborsky said that, if elected, she “will work with the judiciary board to improve legislation and make student union as efficient as possible.”
Representative to Community Emergency and Enhancement Fund (2 seats)
Mike Bender ’22 hopes to serve another year as the representative to CEEF. He cited in his candidate biography the renovation of the Berlin Chapel and creation of Branda as initiatives he is proud to have worked on. He would like to continue supporting projects like this if he is elected.
Anthony Cai ’22 wrote in an email to the Justice that he is running for CEEF representative because he is “responsive to people’s ideas” and “good at making decisions.” If elected, Cai wrote, he will make decisions that “benefit Brandeis as a whole rather than a specific group of people.”
Jiale Hao ’22 has seen the positive impact of student proposals to CEEF and wants to “help facilitate” that process, according to his candidate biography. He says his experience with education and start-ups will allow him to better evaluate the “practicality” of proposals.
Representative to Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (1 seat)
Lyle James ’21 is “deeply interested in all aspects of the undergraduate education experience,” according to his candidate bio. He wants to help make Brandeis’s undergraduate education even better by tailoring programs to the needs of the community, an end he would pursue by listening to students and conveying their experiences to the UCC.
Although Steven Luo ’21 mostly studies math and science, he has always been “passionate about exploring other disciplines and each of its pedagogies,” he wrote in his candidate biography. He would like to focus on skills that undergraduate students want to acquire at Brandeis, “whether it’s for graduate/professional school or employment.” He also intends to make sure tuition is used as effectively as possible for each student’s education.
—Editor’s Note: Jake Rong ’21, Trevor Filseth ’20 and Nancy Zhai ’22 are Justice staff members.