Every summer, the University selects a book for incoming students to read and then participate in a discussion with the author(s) of that book. In past years, this conversation was only open to the first-year students arriving on campus in the fall, because the event was held before upperclassmen arrived on campus for the fall semester. As a result, the author would only come during what is now known as ’Deis Week.
Over the summer, the University transitioned to Workday, a portal that functions as a one-stop shop for students and other campus employees to log work hours, maintain a record of their financial transactions, view paychecks and have a seamless space for working multiple jobs. It can also be useful when requesting an absence, accessing work benefits and finding a job on campus. This board commends the University for its use of Workday and its attempt to provide employees and community members with a safe, reliable and easy-to-use interface for all things concerning on-campus jobs. However, Workday is plagued with numerous quality-of-life issues that make its use difficult and cumbersome to adjust to, especially for students who do not necessarily have time to devote to learning the nuances of the program.
In June 2020, the University’s contract with Sodexo is set to expire. In the meantime, the University will be developing a Request for Proposals, during which the University will compile a list of requests for the next contract that they make with any food vendor. Community input will be taken into account through town-hall-style forums in September and October. This board commends the University for seeking the Brandeis community’s opinions when choosing its next steps — whether it is improving our contract with Sodexo or choosing a new vendor — and has some suggestions for the University’s next contract.
Brandeis’ tradition of student protest continued last May when a group of #StillConcerned students—a callback to the Concerned Students 2015 group which led the Ford Hall sit-in—held a protest on the Rabb Steps, per a May 20, 2019 Justice article. These students argued that concerns relating to race on campus in 2015 had not been sufficiently addressed. Among other demands, they expressed a desire for collaboration between activists and offices such as Public Safety, the Department of Community Living, Escort Safety Services and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, saying they “operate as policing forces that disproportionately impact the on-campus experiences” of marginalized students.
The end of the year is very bittersweet. As we finish finals and the semester, Commencement approaches, which means that we have to say goodbye to our graduating editors. We thank all of our seniors for their work over their time with the Justice. As much as we will miss them, we are confident that they will go on to do amazing things in the future.
Last week, Executive Senator Kent Dinlenc ’19 introduced a proposal to de-charter The Brandeis Hoot, a campus newspaper established in 2005. The Senate waited a week between the proposal introducing to the Senate members and voting on it. This break allowed time for students to rally in support for The Brandeis Hoot, which circulated a petition asking students and clubs to “stand in solidarity with us and support that The Hoot should not be de-chartered as a club on campus.”
On March 31, the Student Union passed a bylaw requiring all secured clubs to select a club consultant from the University’s faculty or administration. According to the bylaw, the consultant, while not a voting member of the club, will be required to meet with the club’s treasurer at least twice a semester. The consultant can also be sought out for advice on other issues the club faces, such as “leadership or membership issues which arise.” The bylaw was passed despite the strong and clear objection of the University’s secured independent media organizations — the Justice, WBRS and BTV — and this board opposes both the content of the bylaw and the process by which the bylaw was passed.
Another year, another month of students complaining about the University’s housing lottery. The limited amount of housing creates a situation by which many students are left without housing, and there will always be dissatisfaction until more housing is built — a priority this board urges the University to act on. Until then, we have to work within the system that currently exists. The Department of Community Living has made some improvements in the past few years, but there is still more that can be made.
When the Department of Community Living posted housing lottery numbers, it advertised a plan to make laundry “free” starting next school year, based on the results of its SkyFactor survey. On March 13, each student enrolled in the housing lottery received an email informing them that their number had been posted and that use of the laundry facilities would be free from Fall 2019 on, an initiative this board commends.
One of the wonderful things about going to a university like Brandeis is being able to hear intellectual leaders, change-makers and industry powerhouses speak about their work. Clubs, organizations, institutes and departments all work to bring important individuals to campus so that members of the Brandeis community can learn directly from their personal experiences and scholarship. Recently, the University has hosted a wide range of influential speakers.