Winter is coming, and with it, increased danger to the safety of the Brandeis community. In the past several weeks, Brandeis and its surrounding area have seen the signs of the season approaching, from the dropping temperatures to the snowy weather right after Thanksgiving break. This board appreciates the work the University — and especially the facilities department — does to keep the community safe, but sees clear areas of improvement regarding snow day procedures and shuttle tracking services.
This year’s Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook laid out new and more restrictive guidelines on student protests. The 2018-19 handbook had mandated that students notify the Dean of Students Office of upcoming protests — but for the first time this year, students must also gain pre-approval for protests with DOSO. Per a Nov. 15 email between University Director of Media Relations Julie Jette and the Justice, in which Jette cited Assistant Dean of Students Alexandra Rossett, students who fail to speak with DOSO would be liable for disciplinary consequences determined on a case-by-case basis. This board finds this restriction problematic ideologically and practically. It both contradicts the University’s social justice-oriented ideology and endangers vulnerable students seeking to make change or have their voices heard. This board calls on the University to revoke or clarify the policy, to remove case-by-case opportunities for subjectivity and bias and to reify their alleged belief in the importance of student action for change.
Throughout the last week or so, internet access through eduroam on campus has been intermittent. The spotty WiFi on campus has been an ongoing issue affecting students, faculty and staff. This has been a noticeable problem on campus for a while, but connection has been particularly unreliable as of late. Brandeis Information Technology Services had acknowledged the “intermittent connectivity issues” as early as the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 12, but this problem has persisted. These connectivity issues coincide with the completion of scheduled maintenance to the campus wireless network, which ended on Nov. 12. As of the time of this issue’s publication, no campus-wide communication about these internet lapses has been sent.
On Nov. 7, the Spring 2020 semester course registration reopened and will remain open through Jan. 27. Registration opened over a month earlier than it had in previous years and also opened earlier than it was initially planned for this year.
In February, Charles River Senator Oliver Price ’20 plans to introduce an amendment to the Union Constitution that would allow certain members of secured clubs to be paid. According to a Nov. 5 Justice article, the amendment would give secured clubs the opportunity to request a wage-eligible status. Wage-eligible clubs could then petition the Allocations Board, which would decide whether or not club members would be paid, which select members would be paid and how much those members would earn. Though this board sees both potential benefits and potential downsides to implementing this amendment, we do not approve of its passage as it stands.
Despite the existence of precise policies on paper, many University residents are still unclear about the Department of Community Living’s room inspections process in practice. This board calls on DCL to clearly convey their policies and to ensure that every DCL staff member understands and follows them. Without a uniform process, students are left in the dark about the current room check process and about any future changes.
On Oct. 24, University President Ron Liebowitz announced the formal implementation of his Springboard funding proposal, designed to achieve numerous goals of the President’s Framework for Our Future. The entire funding package itself is valued at $84.7 million, and is intended, according a University-wide email sent by the President, to “address gaps in University operations that must be filled before pursuing a major capital campaign.” This board commends this aspirational funding plan and the many aspects of University life it addresses.
On Oct. 22, Student Union President Simran Tatuskar sent an email to the Brandeis student community announcing a potential partnership between the Student Union and the ridesharing application Lyft. For the two weeks around Halloween, from Oct. 22 to Nov. 5, students will be able to use a one-time use code to get up to $5 off of a ride to or from campus between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This board commends Tatuskar for taking action to make this high-risk time of year safer for the Brandeis community.
Last Tuesday, Scott Berozi and the Kindness Day team sent out an email to the University community asking students on campus with meal plans to donate a meal swipe in order to host a lunch to “thank our Facilities and Custodial staff for all that they do in our residence halls.” This board commends the efforts of the Kindness Day team to honor the commitment of our facilities and custodial staff, and we encourage students to participate in this event — without them, our college experiences would not be the same. It is important to appreciate them, whether it is by donating a meal swipe or thanking them in person. This event has been hosted annually since 2015, with approximately 100 facilities members in attendance at the lunch in Ridgewood Commons, and with food left over afterward, according to Berozi in an email to the Justice. This event has taken place with the same meal-swipe donation logistics for the past few years.
On Oct. 7, Student Union Vice President Guillermo Caballero ’20 and Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees Zosia Busé ’20 filed a joint complaint against Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21, alleging her interference with communication between the Executive Board and the Senate. The complaint centers on a Sept. 8 E-Board meeting that Caballero was unable to attend. Under the Student Union Constitution, the vice president serves as a liaison between the two branches and according to Article II Section 4.3, “the Executive Senator shall assume the duties of the Union Vice President in the Vice President’s absence.” When Caballero attempted to send Executive Senator Jake Rong ‘21 to the meeting in his stead, Tatuskar prohibited him from attending. When asked to explain this decision, Tatuskar cited a statement she made at the start of the year. Namely, “the Executive Senator did not need to be on E-Board this semester,” ignoring the particularity of the situation created by Caballero’s absence.