Student Union swears in the new president and vice president
Former Union President Peyton Gillespie ’25 welcomed the new administration and recapped the semester’s activities in the State of the Union.
The Student Union hosted its semesterly State of the Union event on May 1, at which outgoing President Peyton Gillespie ’25 swore in new President Noah Risley ’24 and new Vice President Erica Hwang ’25. Director of Community Engagement Emma Fiesinger ’23 also gave out several awards to Union members who had served for multiple years.
Beginning with Gillespie, members of the Executive Board gave brief speeches on their work from this past year. He recapped the Union’s work with Period Activists at ’Deis to get free menstrual products for the bathrooms around campus, an effort which is still ongoing.
Gillespie also acknowledged the lack of sufficient student housing and questioned the administration’s decision to build a new science building, which he said would cost $145,000,000, rather than new dormitories.“As students, we feel that our voices are either ignored or neglected on a campus which is our home,” Gillespie said. “[We] must remember that one of the most powerful tools available to us is our ability to remain unified to make our voices heard.”
Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees Inaara Gilani ’23 said in her speech that her work focused on bringing up student issues to the board of trustees. Gilani said this job was made more challenging by the Trustees’ decision to host meetings when she and Shelley Polanco ’24, the junior representative, had class. She also said that students should fill in the feedback forms that occasionally arrive in their emails. Without these, Gilani said, the representatives are unable to provide quantitative data to the administration about students’ concerns.
Rani Balakrishna ’25, the undergraduate diversity and inclusion officer, spoke briefly about the ongoing issues with the softball field, which she said was a Title IX violation. She said that even though the administration is aware of these issues, they have not yet acted.
Gillespie read the speech of former Director of Accessibility Hana Miller ’25, who recently resigned. In her speech, Miller highlighted the work she did this semester, including getting the funds for a ramp to the Brandeis Counseling Center and starting the Capsule project, which would make it easier for students to have their prescriptions delivered on campus.
“My overarching goal here has been to make accessibility part of the conversation, to make it something [the administration] cannot continue to ignore,” Miller wrote in her speech. “Together, we are realizing the power of our collective voices.”
Gillespie read the speech of co-chairs of Allocations Board Lexi Lazar ’24 and Elisha Gordon ’25, who were unable to attend. Lazar and Gordon wrote that they hosted several “town halls” this semester to help club leaders request funding from the Allocations Board.
Former Vice President Nicholas Kanan ’23 spoke briefly about his transition from president of the student government at his previous college to, eventually, vice president of the Brandeis Student Union. He also congratulated all of the senate committees on their work from this year.
After the other E-board members finished their speeches, Fiesinger handed out different pins to Union members who had served for two, three, and four years.