The Union Senate charters new clubs and proposes new program
The Senate finished the semester with a vote to approve the chartering of two new clubs and a discussion on a proposed student leader payment program.
At its final meeting of the academic year on May 2, the Union Senate voted in favor of chartering –– and by extension, securing –– Branda as a club. This step was made possible because of a constitutional amendment, passed last week, which would add Branda to the list of nine secured clubs.
Though it was not previously a club, President Ilan Hascal ’21 said that the team in charge of the Branda app currently operates as one with a business portion, open to all students, and a coding portion, which is application only.
Sen. Joseph Coles ’22 also informed the Senate that the Club Support Committee voted in favor of chartering the Brandeis Barbell Club, which had been a probationary club last semester.
Student Union President Kendal Chapman ’22 and University Assistant Vice President of Student Living and Campus Life Shelby Harris also attended this week’s meeting in order to propose a “student leader payment pilot,” which they said would make it easier for low-income students to take part in leadership positions on campus.
Chapman said that the large amount of time required for these positions often prevents students with financial difficulties from taking up the roles, as the hours required take up time that students could be using for paid work hours.
Though Chapman and Harris both said they want to eventually expand the program to all student leaders on campus, the current proposal is only for the Executive Board of the Student Union, the Student Sexuality Information Service and the Waltham Group.
The money would come in the form of a lump sum deposit to the student leader’s bank account paid at the end of each semester. The money, Chapman specified, is not a stipend. A stipend would decrease a student’s financial aid by an amount equal to its value.
Though the money given to students would not be an hourly wage or an amount comparable to employment, the sum each student receives would be based on their position and the amount of hours worked. The exception to receiving the monetary compensation would be for appointed E-Board members.
The funds would come from Student Activities Fee, Harris said. She also said that while working on the proposal, she and Chapman looked at “comparable schools” in the Boston area to examine their student leader payment policies.
Coles expressed strong opposition to the proposal. Despite supporting the idea of paying student leaders, Coles took issue with which student leaders were to be paid first in the proposal’s current form.
“I understand starting with a small group, but why on Earth start with [the] Student Union [Executive Board], the drivers of this, paying themselves?” Coles said. He also said that other groups of student leaders, such as those at the Intercultural Center and Allocations Board, do more work and deserve to be prioritized.
“I know ICC clubs who have three different presidents 'cause it's so much work and they have so much other stuff to do,” Coles said. “I'm not opposed to paying student leaders. I'm saying pay the people who would most benefit from it first.”
Chapman responded that the program is not meant to benefit specific individuals who currently hold club leadership positions.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge that,” Chapman said. “But the point isn’t to support the people in those positions now, it’s about making it more accessible in general.”
Chapman did not say when the proposal would be given to the Senate for voting.
Student Union Director of Residential Living Nancy Zhai ’21 then presented her Spring Officer Report, updating the Senate on the initiatives she had been working on over the course of the semester.
Student Union President-elect Krupa Sourirajan ’23 then informed the Senate that Chapman will be delivering the State of the Union soon, although the date was not announced. Sourirajan added that she will be creating two new E-Board positions, Director of Sustainability and Director of Climate Justice, for the next academic year.
The last order of business for the semester was to pass two bylaw amendments. The first was the club bylaw amendment that Coles proposed last week. The Senate passed the amendment unanimously.
The last amendment moved the election of the next Executive Senator to the beginning of next semester, rather than at that week's meeting. The Senate passed the amendment unanimously.
The meeting concluded with the senators expressing their gratitude to each other and the Student Union for a successful year despite the hardships. Sourirajan called on senators individually to reflect on their time in the Senate over the past semester, as well as what they look forward to in their future in the Union.