What is a progressive union?

Rivka made a great point in the comments that I think everyone should read, so I hadher rpeost i tto the front page: –Sahar

As for whether or not the last Union was “progressive”… it feels really, really weird to apply that term to the Union/Brandeis Senators, but for lack of a better one, I understand it to mean the following:

A progressive Union is one that seeks to use what limited power they have to actively improve student life at Brandeis, with an emphasis on the institution’s historic commitment to social justice and an awareness that the school is part of the outside world.

Last year Phil and I sat and watched incredulously as several Senators spoke against and voted against a simple measure to inform the administration that the students of Brandeis would like to be more actively involved in important decisions (such as, but not limited to, the arming of the public safety officers) and feel that setting up an ad-hoc summer committee with two appointed students is not adequate involvement. 850 students signed their names to this resolution– almost exactly as many as voted in the last election. But the Senate voted it down. One Senator gave pedantic and condescending musings about the dangers of “too much democracy,” comparing the students telling the administration “gee, it would be nice if we had just a little more input” to the election of generals in Athenian democracy and the early Continental Army. (WTF?!?!) Another Senator told Phil and me that our collecting 850 student signatures voicing frustration over the administration’s procedures was “disgraceful” and that we should “just focus on our homework.” One Senator actually told us that he could not support the resolution because “what about all the students that DONT want their voices heard by the administration? What about THEM??” Finally, a Senator informed us that passing a polite, toothless resolution that expressed a student desire for more comprehensive student input in certain decisions was simply beyond the power of the Union.

…As I already mentioned, I know the use of the term “progressive” to describe the Union/Brandeis Senators is loaded and awkward. But I think that the incident described above shows that whatever the Union was… it was absolutely ridiculous and embarrassing.

I look forward this year to a Union full of Senators that dont use their positions as personal ego-boosters but who understand that they DO have some power– and they use that power to improve Student life at Brandeis and to preserve Brandeis’ reputation for a commitment to social justice both on campus and in the world.