Senate discusses communication issues, potential amendment
At the Senate’s weekly meeting on Sunday, Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21 presented a series of ongoing Executive Board projects, but was met with backlash from senators who were engaged in similar projects and accused her of poor communication.
Executive Officer Reports
Union Secretary Taylor Fu ’21 announced that there will be a special election on Thursday for an international senator and two community senators. This election comes after the resignation of former Class of 2021 Senator Jake Rong at the Jan. 19 meeting, and the dismissal later in this week’s meeting of Class of 2021 Senator Sissel Tan and International Senator Capo Wang ’22 for missing too many meetings. Because no one signed up to run for the two Class of 2021 Senator roles or Ziv and Ridgewood Quad Senator, the positions became Community Senators, meaning they are essentially Senator-at-Large seats.
Tatuskar announced the launch of a new partnership with the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center to implement a “Sip Chip” initiative. “Sip Chips” are devices designed to detect common date-rape drugs in drinks.
Tatuskar also announced the relaunching of a bike rental initiative. The Union bought 63 bikes nearly a decade ago for a similar initiative, but the parties involved in the project graduated, and the project stagnated. The bikes have been in storage in non-temperature-regulated conditions, and the administration threatened to throw them away unless the Union found something to do with them, she said.
Executive Senator Scott Halper ’20 criticized Tatuskar for poor communication which he saw as promoting duality in projects, and for not involving Senate committees. He mentioned that the “Sip Chip” initiative could involve the Health and Safety Committee. Other E-Board projects, including International Women’s Day and a plan to redo the Market Basket Shuttle, could go through the Social Justice and Diversity Committee and the Facilities and Housing Committee respectively.
“A lot of these projects are great, but they seem like things that would normally go through the Senate. So I’m wondering why you consider these E-Board things and why you haven’t reached out to the Senate committees so that would be related to these issues,” he said.
Tatuskar said that “Sip Chip” needed funding “ASAP,” and that the project’s facilitators reached out to her personally. The Market Basket Shuttle was an administration initiative, and thus never had Union involvement, and the International Women’s Day team also reached out to her personally.
Class of 2022 Senator Joseph Coles saw the overlap as an opportunity for the E-Board and Senate to work together, but expressed disappointment in the lack of communication. “There’s a lot of projects that are very similar that are being done two different ways, and that does not really seem okay,” he said.
Committee Chair Reports
Standing in for Services and Outreach Committee Chair Alison Leibowitz ’20, Midyear Senator Michelle Kleytman ’23 reported that the Midnight Buffet theme will be “Pool Party.”
Health and Safety Committee Chair Leah Fernandez ’22 reported that the committee met with Student Sexuality Information Service to discuss the committee’s condom dispenser project. The Union purchased 16,000 condoms, but the dispensers have not been set up yet. Fernandez and Tim Touchette, assistant dean of Student Affairs, scouted locations for the condom dispensers last week.
Facilities and Housing Committee Chair Trevor Filseth ’20 reported that the ceiling on the fourth floor of East Quad had caved in. In a message to the Justice on Monday, Filseth said that Class of 2022 Senator Joshua Feld had informed him of the issue, and that Facilities Services was “on it.”
Sustainability Committee Chair Oliver Price ’20 reported that community members often throw trash in the recycling bin, which makes the recycling ineligible for processing and forces Facilities to discard it as trash. He said that Mary Fischer, the manager of Brandeis’ Sustainability Programs, has received complaints from custodians who have been sifting through the recycling bins to remove trash in order to “purify” the recycling. Price plans to make a video explaining what can and cannot be recycled so that the community will feel “morally inclined to take two seconds” to throw trash in the correct bin.
Senate Representative to the Allocations Board Jasmyne Jean-Remy ’22 reported that A-Board met with Assistant Dean of Students, Stephanie Grimes, and decided that its old financial management system SUMS would be replaced by Slate. A-Board has been in the process of implementing Slate for several semesters, but the rollout has been held up by delays.
Coles introduced an amendment to streamline the structure of the Union’s Club Bylaws. Coles’ amendment passed by acclamation.
Price introduced an amendment to exempt the Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board from the Bylaws’ ban on clubs paying students. The Sustainability Ambassadors who are part of this program do intensive labor during move-out, when they take items such as school supplies that would otherwise be trashed and repackage them for donation. Even with the ambassadors’ help, move-out is routinely understaffed, and the University has to then hire movers for $40 per hour when students could be hired to do the job for $12 per hour, Price said. This program could potentially be expanded to move-in for Orientation, when the Sustainability Ambassadors give presentations as volunteers.
Confirmations and Dismissals
The Senate confirmed former Racial Minority Senator Joyce Huang ’22 as the new Union Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Bishal Baral ’20 as the Union Director of Technology. Future Union Director of Outreach Ilannysh Rodriguez ’23 was not at the meeting.
North Quad Senator Krupa Sourirajan ’23 reported that Polaris Lounge has become a mess, and that drastic measures may need to be taken to rectify the situation, including shutting down Polaris for a weekend. Class of 2023 Senator Oona Wood agreed, describing the conditions in Polaris as the “epitome of entitlement.”
Class of 2022 Senator Joshua Feld announced that the Chief Information Officer of Brandeis reached out to him about putting printers in each dorm and lounge. The two are discussing ideas for locations.
—Editor’s Note: Trevor Filsethe ’20 is a Forum Staff Writer.