The Senate discussed a popular petition concerning the continuation of in-person classes if the coronavirus were to come to campus, passing several amendments and Senate Money Resolutions during its weekly meeting on Sunday.

Constitutional changes

The Justice proposed changes to its constitution regarding how it runs its elections for Editor-in-Chief to reflect the current procedures. Additionally, the Justice added a clause to recognize its new club consultant. The Senate voted by acclamation to approve the changes, with an abstention by Class of 2022 Senator Joseph Coles.

Executive officer reports

  The “Take Your Professor Out to Coffee” initiative has stalled after E-Board ran into issues getting coffee vouchers from Conference and Events Services, Executive Senator Scott Halper ’20 reported. 

The positions of Director of Advocacy and Accessibility as well as Director of Outreach have not been filled. The former position has been vacant for the entire semester, and the unconfirmed appointee for the latter position, Illanysh Rodriguez ’23, resigned before the March 1 Senate meeting. 

Halper said that there is an alumnus who graduated last semester who is interested in the Director of Advocacy and Accessibility position, but he raised concerns about having a non-undergraduate on E-Board. To find undergraduates, the E-Board will consider advertising the position with the Hiatt Career Center. Student Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21 decided that the Director of Outreach position did not need to be filled, and that the E-Board would therefore no longer be pursuing candidates for the position.

After the Union found a number of bikes in storage from a past bike rental initiative, Tatuskar began work to revive the initiative, but ultimately found that the logistics of restarting it were too difficult. She proposed selling the bikes to Brandeis community members at a “steep discount,” Halper said. Community Emergency and Enhancement Fund Chair Krupa Sourirajan ’23 said that the money raised from the bike sales would be used to buy two bike racks. 

Halper addressed a petition that has been circulating on several Brandeis-affiliated social media groups that advocates for the University to move all classes online because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. As of Monday afternoon, the petition had over 1,400 signatures. 

The petition is an extreme move, said Rosenthal Quad and Skyline Senator Leah Fernandez ’22, but added that the signers’ concerns are understandable because Brandeis has not announced any protocol for if the virus were to come to campus. Although the University has not issued any guidelines on the continuation of in-person classes, it has put out a website with facts about the coronavirus and said it is “prepared to provide housing and other care should students need to quarantine or isolate on campus.” 

The potential of an outbreak on campus is especially concerning for immuno-compromised students and faculty, who are in greater danger of complications from the virus, but senators advised the community to remain calm.

“I don’t think we need to create mass panic or have everyone refrain from going to class. We’re a university. We’re supposed to go to class, but I think the people who do have separate health issues should have the option [to stream lectures],” said Class of 2023 Senator Oona Wood.

  Committee chair reports

   Social Justice and Diversity Chair Priyata Bhatta ’22 reported that the committee’s International Women’s Day event was a success, and said that the committee would begin work on its employee appreciation project.

The Dining Committee’s employment appreciation project was also successful, reported Dining Committee Chair Nancy Zhai ’22. The tabling event ran out of cards, and collected over 200 messages from students. 

The forums for the University’s Request for Proposals for a new dining vendor took place on Wednesday and Thursday, and had high attendance, Zhai said.

Fernandez, who is also the chair of the Health and Safety Committee, reported that the menstrual project initiative is “basically done,” and that the products will be distributed in dispensers at nine locations around campus next week. 

Unfinished business

Class of 2023 Senator Skye Liu proposed a SMR to cover the extra money needed to pay for alcohol consumption awareness flyers. When she printed the flyers at the Copy Center, the prices were higher than expected because the Copy Center had not updated its prices on its website. The Senate voted by acclamation to pass the SMR.

The Senate voted by acclamation to pass the SMR for stickers for the condom dispensers. Senator-at-Large Alex Park ’22, who proposed the SMR, said that the Copy Center was “not very willing to cooperate” on pricing.

Coles’ amendment to allow audition-exclusive clubs to receive funding from the Allocations Board passed by a vote of acclamation. Coles said he would work to give these clubs Marathon training so that they can apply for full funding instead of resorting to emergency funding, which normally will only grant up to 80% of desired funds.

The Senate passed an SMR by a vote of acclamation to pay for the custodial fee for the Trans Day of Visibility on March 31.