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.
Last Tuesday, Oct. 8, University President Ron Liebowitz emailed the Brandeis community stating the University filed a “friend of the court brief in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” along with 164 other universities, as a part of an upcoming Supreme Court case. President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to rescind DACA, which “provides work permits and protection from deportation to nearly 700,000 undocumented people, known as ‘Dreamers,’ who were brought to the U.S. as children,” Liebowitz explained in the email. This board commends the University for taking a stance in support of DREAMers both on the Brandeis campus and around the nation, as it is consistent with the University’s values of social justice.
On Oct. 2, University President Ron Liebowitz emailed the Brandeis community inviting students, faculty and staff to his open office hours on Oct. 10, Nov. 6 and Nov. 14. The President’s availability lasts for two hours on each day, and each individual can sign up for one 15 minute slot. More office hours will be available in the future, though specific dates are not mentioned in the email. As of press time, one time slot dedicated to students was available, and two slots for faculty are still available.
On Sept. 26, the Office of Sustainability, the Senate Sustainability Committee and the Brandeis Sustainability Ambassadors sponsored the State of Sustainability presentation. At this event, various new environmental initiatives were announced. Upcoming campus sustainability initiatives include the elimination of approximately 10,000 plastic bottles annually from many on-campus vendors, the addition of about 40 more compost bins around campus and the investment in renewable energy efforts around the country to compensate for Brandeis’ carbon footprint. These are outstanding steps toward making the University more sustainable.
In a Sept. 17 email, the Department of Community Living announced that fire drills would be occurring over the two-week period following the email. During these drills, the City of Waltham’s Fire Marshall will be asking DCL staff to enable them to “enter rooms at random,” and if any prohibited items are found, the items “will be confiscated at that time and a member of [DCL] staff will follow up,” the emails stated. But what does “random” mean? Will DCL staff also be entering rooms, or only accompany the Fire Marshall to the door? This board recommends that DCL make this process as transparent as possible — especially given recent controversy over DCL Health and Safety Inspections.
In the previous weeks, three illuminated exit signs on the third and fourth floors of Hassenfeld Residence Hall were damaged or stolen. On Sept. 9, the Department of Community Living sent an email to the residents of the first floor of Hassenfeld announcing that the cost of repairing the signs will be equally distributed among the residents of the building, as per section 9.6 of Rights and Responsibilities. This board condemns any kind of action that may endanger the safety of the residents on campus — however, this board also encourages DCL to reconsider its decision to charge all residents of the building, as it doesn’t necessarily punish those who caused the damage and won’t prevent it from happening again. Moreover, such an action will burden students who may not have the financial resources to pay an unexpected fee and who were likely not at fault.