Senate discusses attendance policy, Rong steps down
The Senate met on Sunday for its first meeting of the semester, where senators discussed a new attendance policy, and Class of 2021 Senator Jake Rong stepped down.
Rong read a letter during the Open Forum section of the meeting, expressing his gratitude to have served on the Senate, but said he felt he was “no longer able to serve the remainder of my term.” He added that he hoped to stay involved with the Union and did not rule out the possibility of running for the Allocations Board in next week’s election.
EXECUTIVE OFFICER REPORTS
Student Union Vice President Kendal Chapman ’22 reported that Chief of Staff Zac Wilkes ’20 is interested in creating a Union newsletter and told senators to reach out to him if they are willing to get involved. Wilkes will be meeting with members of the Justice and The Brandeis Hoot about the newsletter’s content.
Chapman reported that she and Student Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21 had received an email from the Department of Student Activities that said someone had broken a dolly cart at the Midnight Buffet. Chapman said she found it “a little amusing at first, but, on the whole, kind of disappointing.”
“We got an email out the blue during finals, Simran and I, with a picture of a literal cart snapped in half on the side of the road. And then they were like, ‘please explain this. Like, you need to get us a new cart,’ and for every Union event that we’ve partnered with somebody, something has gone missing, been broken or been damaged, and every single time, we didn’t know and communicate it,” Chapman said.
Chapman reported that $4,900 was used for the Union’s new commuter rail subsidy last semester, with over 150 people taking advantage of the subsidy for off-campus internships and jobs.
After the trial run of a Lyft subsidy in November, Chapman announced that the Union will be making the subsidy permanent. Once a month, students can get 50% off a Lyft ride from 10 pm to 3 am to or from the University. Tatuskar is talking with the administration to match the Union’s contribution to the Lyft subsidy.
The Senate postponed voting for a Senate Representative to the Allocations Board due to low attendance — only 11 of 17 current senators were present, with seven other seats vacant. Those seats will be filled in next week’s elections. The available positions are the Midyear Senator, Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program Senator, Ziv and Ridgewood Quad Senator and one seat each for the positions of Senator-at-Large, Class of 2021 Senator, Class of 2022 Senator and Class of 2023 Senator.
Chapman introduced a Senate Money Resolution to bring snacks to each Senate meeting and invited senators to suggest food items. The SMR will be formally introduced next meeting, and the Senate will vote on the items “so that we have a stash,” Chapman said.
The snack SMR also has a secondary objective of bringing the public into the Senate meetings and allowing community members to tell the Senate about their accomplishments.
“I think if we’re more engaged with everything that we’re doing, and everyone’s engaged, it will just be better overall and more effective, so one of the ways I want to do that and reward that is invite people into our meetings more to say, ‘Listen, look at all the stuff we’re doing. Look how you can get involved, you can be part of committees.’ That’s why the snacks are something that I’m thinking about, because that’s a way to lure people in a little bit more,” Chapman said.
The Senate will be rolling out a new attendance policy, with senators permitted two absences total, excused or unexcused. If a senator misses a meeting, he or she will be required to communicate with Chapman and Executive Senator Scott Halper ’20.
“As long as you communicate your reason, and it’s reasonable to an extent, it counts as an excused absence and there will be no further discussion,” Chapman said.
After two absences, any further absences “will be judged on a case by case basis,” and could result in removal from the Senate. The same policy will apply to committee meetings, but will only be applicable to Senate members of committees.
“The point of the attendance is to make sure that you’re at the meeting, because if you’re at the meetings, then you’re probably doing your work,” Halper said.
Halper said he wants to improve the “terrible congestion” for off-campus students traveling to and from campus, including by reducing the number of cars on the road for safety and environmental reasons. He plans to increase the efficiency and frequency of the BranVan to reduce the incentive for students to drive. Halper also addressed broken equipment in Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, which he said will be repaired at the end of this month.
North Quad Senator Krupa Sourirajan ’23 said she is in talks with the administration to get new water filling stations for Gordon and Scheffres Halls. Constituents have complained that water from the current gooseneck water fountains “tastes like chemicals,” Sourirajan said.