Student Union candidates present platforms, debate in preparation for the upcoming election
Candidates discussed how to support Black and marginalized communities, as well as plans to promote sustainability and community building.
The Student Union held a delayed Spring 2020 election debate, postponed due to COVID-19, over Zoom this Thursday. Candidates discussed their goals for the Student Union during the debate, led by current Union Secretary Taylor Fu ’21. Since candidates are restricted to virtual campaigning for safety protocols, they used this chance to share their platforms prior to the election, which will be held today.
Kendal Chapman ’22 is running for Union president. Having served in the Union since her first year and eventually securing the position of Vice President in the spring 2020 semester, Chapman feels that her experience makes her an ideal Presidential candidate. Not only does Chapman have deep knowledge of how the Union operates, she said, but she also spent the COVID-19 pandemic working with administration to ensure students stayed informed with University updates.
Chapman said she hopes to foster communication between different branches of the Student Union, as well as between the Union and the student body. One way Chapman plans to do this is to build the Union’s online presence so students have access to up-to-date information, she said. She also seeks to ensure that students feel heard and part of the Brandeis community, especially throughout COVID-19.
In order to support Black students and students of color, Chapman said she plans to select an executive board that “has representation [and] has a lot of people who are involved with those issues,” she said. She also would like to reach out to students who started the Black Action Plan to make sure that “we are the people opening doors for people who are leading the movement already.”
Krupa Sourirajan ’23 is running for the vice presidency on a ticket with Chapman. Like Chapman, Sourirajan has experience working in the Union, with her roles including serving on various Union Senate committees, as a Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund Board member and as a North Quad Senator.
Sourirajan said she hopes to improve communication between various branches of the Union, specifically ensuring a strong relationship between the Executive Board and the Senate. She shared that she would like to “bring positivity, and consistency, and definitely openness and transparency” to the Union.
Increasing members' attentiveness and attendance to Senate meetings is something Sourirajan said she plans to address by encouraging members to keep their phones at a distance and separate from work, especially when meeting over Zoom.
She also said she would like to improve the Union’s relationship with the student run publications, setting up monthly meeting times with The Hoot and the Justice.
Alex Hanseop Park ’22 is running for Secretary. One of his main goals, he said, is to ensure that the Brandeis community is informed, especially when students are taking classes from different parts of the world. As an international student who was raised in the United States, Park believes he is uniquely qualified to support students who are abroad right now. He also said he would like to increase readership of the Union's weekly update emails, which the secretary sends out.
Running for treasurer, Ashley Miller ’22 believes her experience previously serving as assistant treasurer and then deputy treasurer makes her fit for the position. While treasury operations and systems are changing, she said she hopes to be a good leader, pushing herself to ask her peers questions in order to improve communication.
Miller also would like to make the treasury training run as smoothly as possible, setting up a system in which she can personally train peers.
Junior representative to the Board of Trustees
Sonali Anderson ’22 and Nancy Zhai ’22 are competing for the position of junior representative to the Board of Trustees.
Anderson has served as the racial minority representative, the CEEF representative and three-semester Allocations Board member. Over the summer, Anderson helped develop the Black Action Plan, a 25-page document that targets structural changes to be implemented on campus. The Black Action Plan looks through various lenses, whether that is dining or sustainability, to ensure that the Black community and other marginalized communities are supported. Anderson said she hopes to present these ideas to the Board of Trustees as “another opportunity to connect and really make change happen. … Imagine what it’s like when I have the opportunity to directly talk to these very influential people who impact our daily Brandeis experience,” she said.
Having gathered over 100 students on Zoom over the summer to discuss the Black Action Plan, Anderson believes that her ability to take action, rather than just talking about it, makes her the perfect candidate for this position. She is dedicated to helping “people cultivate their own environment and their own experiences on the campus,” she said.
Having served as the Dining Committee Chair, as Senator at Large and on the Request for Proposal Steering Committee, Zhai says she has a “proven track record of making substantial improvements” on campus. Using her experience of communicating with administration, she hopes to “foster an inclusive and spirited community to raise the voices of all.”
As a first-generation student from China, Zhai said the experience of immigrating “really made me … care so deeply about how every single person here is treated.” She said she hopes to find common ground with members of the Board of Trustees and would also like to build a strong relationship with the Brandeis Counseling Center and the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center to make sure students of color are supported.
Both candidates are also eager to improve sustainability efforts on campus. As a part of the Presidential Sustainability Task Force, Zhai said she already has experience with delivering recommendations regarding sustainability to the Board of Trustees. As the communications assistant to Mary Fischer, the manager of Sustainability Programs, Anderson said she has direct access to someone who can provide her with relevant data and information to pass on to the Board.
Junior representative to Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund
Jiale Hao ’22 is running for reelection as a representative to the CEEF board. Hao said he hopes to continue working on projects that were cut short last semester, such as the East Quad renovation plan. He also would like to host regular informational meetings for students who wish to start projects with CEEF funding. During his time as a representative to the CEEF board, he said he has learned the importance of communication.