The Student Union is intended to be a supportive organization to better students’ experiences while at Brandeis by representing and advocating for the interests and needs of the student body, and they provide a variety of programs and services that enhance the student experience. However, recent protests on campus have highlighted important shortcomings surrounding the Union’s response to student activism on campus. Even if protests are met with controversy and criticism, it is crucial that we continue to support student protestors and their right to express their opinions.

It is unfortunate that the Union’s response to the protest was unsupportive in some cases. There have been numerous protests on campus throughout this school year. Student protestors reported feeling unsafe on campus and some were even subjected to police intervention. This kind of response by University employees is unacceptable and goes against the principles of free speech and peaceful protest.

 The Union recently responded to a protest led by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine and the Brandeis Leftist Union in a Feb. 13 email, calling for unity on campus while inviting the student body to share their views on the situation. The Union held a “short silent gathering” for community members on Feb. 14, where students were told to “not bring additional signs or flags of any kind” beyond the ones brought by the Union. This board criticizes the hypocrisy of the Union’s assertion that they “strongly believe in and support every student’s right to free expression,” while simultaneously organizing an event that explicitly circumvents freedom of expression.

 Over the past few weeks, a senator of the Student Union has been under heavy criticism for a comment that they made in high school. Some students have been calling for this senator to resign and for the union to take action to address the issue. It took the Union months to release a response to the issue, and the comment section of the Instagram post containing the statement was turned off. Why won’t the Student Union allow students to comment on the post? Also, the Student Union stated that they had been aware of the video since December; why did it take so long for the Union to publicly acknowledge the Senator’s behavior and to take action? 

 It is only fair that the Student Union should provide a space for students to speak their minds. In future cases such as this, this board hopes that the Union will create a more open dialogue with students instead of merely turning off comments on social media and leaving it at that. The silence toward the issue does not fix the problem. We urge the Student Union to listen to the voices of students more and take actions accordingly. 

It is only through open communication and active engagement that we can move forward as a community.