Why I’m Running to be Your Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees
Brandeis University is in a time of profound change. COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the college experience, and we are just beginning to understand its ramifications. Right now is the time to set a new direction for our University. I want to be my fellow students’ advocate during this time at the Board of Trustees, the most powerful decision-making body of our University. The Board makes the most important choices in the University: who becomes president, how and where money is spent, and the overall direction of the University.
I believe in translating the big ideals we believe in into practical change. My campaign is based on three principal issues that affect all Brandeis students. These issues require funding or policy changes that can only be made at the Trustee level; neither the administration nor the Student Union has the necessary power or resources to address these challenges. We need more investment in the Brandeis Counseling Center to support mental health, more effective COVID-19 management, and more communication between the Board of Trustees and students.
First, the BCC needs more financial support to properly provide needed mental health services to students. The pandemic has dramatically increased the need for mental health resources. As a University that cares about the physical and mental well-being of its students, the right thing for Brandeis to do is to ensure that the BCC can support students. Increased funding would help alleviate the backlog of requests for counseling and allow the BCC to hire more therapists. Additionally, it is important that the BCC’s therapists understand the diverse backgrounds from which Brandeis students come. One way we can do that is to hire more Mandarin-speaking therapists who can support the large Mandarin-speaking international student population.
As someone with diagnosed special needs who has seen therapists for over 10 years, I know the stigma that mental health care can carry. I am here to support fellow students seeking help.
Second, I believe that it is crucial to advocate for our University to think more strategically about COVID-19. According to Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a leading voice on COVID-19 issues and professor at Yale University, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue hitting us in waves, with it finally withering away in 2024. That means COVID-19 will unfortunately still be with us for at least another two years. When the University makes decisions about COVID-19, it must ensure that our student experience is as safe as possible, while continuing the social, cultural, and religious vibrancy that defines this campus. I will plainly explain to the Trustees that students want clear and consistent COVID-19 policies, and that the Board and administration must take students’ view into consideration.
We must manage this pandemic effectively and empathetically, but not be consumed by it.
Third, I will expand and formalize stronger communication between students and the Board of Trustees. As the most important decision-making body in the University, it is essential that the Board of Trustees hear from as many student voices as possible. To that end, I will establish a Student Advisory Committee, consisting of student leaders from diverse backgrounds, who can (1) meet with the Junior and/or Senior Representatives of the Board at least twice a semester, and (2) meet with Trustees at least once a semester. I will also create a feedback form that will be open any time, anonymous, and delivered directly to me.
The Board of Trustees needs to hear a wide variety of student perspectives before making crucial decisions, and I will facilitate that communication.
Brandeis has so many things going for it, first and foremost our fellow students. Let’s work together to build a better Brandeis for all.
—Meshulam Ungar is currently running to be the Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @meshulam4brandeis.