Senate discusses IfNotNow’s club status, diversity and inclusion training at Oct. 1 meeting
The Senate met on Oct. 1 for a make-up meeting after the holiday, where they discussed new amendments to office hours and the Union Code of Conduct, as well as IfNotNow’s club status.
Club changes and decharters
The Senate voted by acclamation to allow the Brandeis University Conservative Organization, an organization for Conservative Jewish members within the Brandeis community, to change its name to Masorti.
Union Vice President Guillermo Caballero ’20 announced that the Senate had miscounted last week’s vote to recognize IfNotNow Brandeis as a probationary club. The original vote was that 13 out of the 19 senators present at the previous week’s meeting were in favor of recognizing IfNotNow, which passed the two-thirds majority threshold. However, the number of senators present at the meeting was miscounted, and the vote was actually 13 out of 20 senators in favor with one abstention — 65% of the Senate and just under the two-thirds requirement. The motion needed 14 votes to pass. Therefore, the recognition of IfNotNow technically did not pass.
Caballero spoke to IfNotNow members and gave them the option of coming back to the Senate for a new vote, or remaining a probationary club like the Senate voted, as an acknowledgment of the Senate’s miscalculation. Instead, IfNotNow dropped its application to become a probationary club, and will not come up for chartering in the coming weeks.
Club Support Committee Chair Joseph Coles ’22 said that he would meet with IfNotNow to discuss their options, because he was unsure if IfNotNow understood the disadvantage of their current status.
There was a lot of confusion about the vote miscalculation, with senators arguing about the number of senators present during the vote and whether the club’s recognition passed. Caballero pulled up the voting log to recheck the vote another time, and confirmed that the motion did not pass, with 13 in favor and seven against giving probationary status to IfNotNow.
Caballero announced Pride Deis, an event sponsored by the Student Union, the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Prevention, Advocacy, and Resource Center. Pride Deis will take place on Oct. 11 and will include pride flags hung around campus, tabling and speeches by members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
Executive officer reports
Caballero brought up the Union’s diversity and inclusion training initiative, which was postponed after low attendance. The idea for the training came in response to the #StillConcernedStudents’ allegations that accused the Union of racism and that there is a lack of diversity in the Union’s branches.
There had also been allegations of “not woke things” happening in the Union, Caballero said, but did not specify any allegations because he was unsure of what they were and was confused about the exact nature of the problems. Senator-at-Large Josh Hoffman ’21 looked around the room and asked, “Where is the diversity problem?” and seemed equally confused about the issues the #StillConcernedStudents had with the Senate.
Caballero encouraged senators to take the diversity and inclusion training to eliminate any underlying problems with diversity and inclusion in the Union.
Committee chair reports
Dining Committee Chair Nancy Zhai ’22 reported that the price labeling initiative in the Hoot Market is complete. The list price of all items in the Hoot Market is now the price students will be charged at checkout. She also said that workers at Einstein Brothers Bagels will receive training to reduce the number of wrong orders.
Hoffman, also the chair of the Health and Safety Committee, reported that his co-chair, Director of Advocacy and Accessibility Sasha Manus ’21, met with the Health Center for four hours and discussed rebranding its public image, promoting the Student Health Advisory Committee and addressing accessibility issues at the Health Center and Brandeis Counseling Center.
Hoffman also reported that he spoke with Dean of Students Jamele Adams about creating a mandatory sex education program for students because many students arrive at the University having only learned about abstinence.
Dining workers were not allergy trained until very recently, Hoffman told the Senate, a fact which apparently “annoyed” Administrative Director Diana Denning, according to Manus.
There is also an ongoing investigation of racism and ableism in General Chemistry, Hoffman said, noting the high dropout rates of students with accommodations.
Facilities and Housing Committee Chair Trevor Filseth ’20 said he wants to address collective punishment by the Department of Community Living for damages to residence halls.
Services and Outreach Chair Alison Leibowitz ’20 reported that she met with Union Director of Outreach Kendal Chapman ’22, who previously chaired the committee, and spoke with her about Midnight Buffet, which will be on Dec. 10.
After returning from an Executive Session, Class of 2020 Senator Scott Halper proposed an amendment granting senators the power to enforce the Union Code of Conduct. As it is written, the Code of Conduct does not outline how a Union member can be punished for a violation. Under the new amendment, if someone believes another Union member is in violation of the Code of Conduct, they should submit a complaint to Executive Senator Jake Rong ’21, and the Senate will deliberate on the complaint to determine who is at fault and which consequences are necessary.
The Senate decides punishments for violations of the Code of Conduct by a two-thirds majority, and appeals go to the Judiciary. Punishments can range from revocation of access to the romper room to a referral to the Dean of Students for more severe punishment, Halper said.
“I’ve been on the Senate for three years. We should have had this on day one,” Hoffman said of the Code of Conduct.
The amendment passed by a vote of acclamation.
—Editor’s Note: Editor Gilda Geist and Editorial Assistant Sarah Katz are members of IfNotNow and did not edit parts of this article related to the club.
—Editor’s Note: Editor Jen Geller is an Undergraduate Departmental Representative for and is employed by the Brandeis Chemistry Department and did not edit part of this article related to the department.
—Editor’s Note: Senator-at-Large Nancy Zhai and Trevor Filseth are Staff Writers.
—Editor’s Note: Editor Eliana Padwa is a member of Masorti, and did not contribute to this article.
—This article was updated with Sasha Manus' correct position.