This post is about the power of electoral activism. As the readers of this blog are well aware, Innermostparts.org campaigned pretty heavily against Andrew Brooks last spring in his campaign for Senator at Large (as well as Vice President). We charged he was right-wing, opposed to social justice, we even called him a ‘dinosaur’ and a few other mean and nasty things. Ultimately, whether due to us or to Brooks’ lack of popularity amongst the student body, we won. Noam Shuster, the write-in candidate, succeeded in receiving more votes than both Brooks and Sulsky. It was a clear mandate by the Student Body that we wanted a Student Union that advocated for Social Justice, both here at Brandeis and around the world.

A few moments ago I received an invitation to the Facebook group ANDREW BROOKS FOR VICE PRESIDENT, where Brooks outlines his platform and his experience in his current campaign to fill the seat vacated by progressive activist and former DFA member Mike Kearns. He writes, ” Andrew Brooks has spent most of his time at Brandeis working to change our campus for the better. As an activist leader on campus, Andrew has worked to stimulate interest in a variety of activist issues in order to change the world around us.” Of the six bullet points he includes, three of them relate to his social justice work:

*Sponsoring and passing legislation to expand the Union’s nondiscrimination law to include preventing discrimination on the basis of “color, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, and disability”

*Pushing for gender-neutral housing on the Residence Life Advisory Committee

*Signing onto and successfully supporting legislation to make the Student Union more environmentally friendly

His first of three platform points is entitled “ACTIVISM” and it reads: “Andrew wishes to bring an activist spirit back into how the Union does its business. He will work to make sure the Union is involved in issues that not only effect our campus, but the world around us. Andrew supporters the “Brandeis Votes” initiative and has helped collect donations to provide assistance to hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast.”


By contrast, his campaign website for Vice President last year featured a very different platform. On his ideas page he mostly discusses campus business issues, such as “Social Life Reform” and “Hiatt Career Center Reform.” His experience page emphasizes his laundry list of work with the Student Union. Only once on his entire website does the word ‘activist’ or ‘activism’ appear, in reference to him being a member of the activist group BIPAC (Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee).

Clearly Andrew Brooks has undergone a public transformation. Activism, unmentioned last year, is the core of his platform this year. I’m sure many people will look at this post and decide that it means Brooks is insincere… a flip-flopper perhaps. I’m not convinced either way. Having met with Brooks recently myself, I do believe that Andrew is serious about his interest in activism. Ultimately it shows a politically savvy move on his part. He recognizes the demand for change on campus, and he is trying his best to meet it.

Innermostparts.org played a critical role in changing the campus narrative. Even Andrew Brooks, demonized for his supposed opposition to Social Justice, is now campaigning to make the Student Union a powerful voice for change. Lets keep it up.

12 comments on “Andrew Brooks the Activist!”

  1. Mike Says:

    Lev–Phenomenal and brave post. Key sentence:
    “Ultimately it shows a politically savvy move on his part.”
    The fact is, Andrew Brooks, if elected, will serve as an activist. Whether he went through a fundamental change or merely more of a political one, who the hell cares? It seems that his double loss (the election and then the UJ case) last semester has humbled him somewhat over the summer, and he has realized what the Brandeis student body needs: progressivism. I have not exactly been his biggest fan. But he might prove to be a positive addition to the Student Union this year.

    I am voting for him.

    So are many of my friends with whom I’ve spoken about this.
    (And believe me, I’m not exactly friends with the right-wingers on campus…)

    Lev, I’m glad you realized all this.

  2. Bret Says:

    Hmm…

    Have to admit, I’m slightly suspicious of any candidate who has changed so much at such a, dare I say it, convenient time. Seems like he just really, really wants to be elected by a student body that is by and far progressive.

    And honestly, even if he Brooks has become a new man, it still hasn’t swayed me. He’s had plenty of chances to serve the student body, and I think his time is up.

    I’ll be voting for Adam Hughes. A new face in the Union who, unlike Brooks, has always been a progressive activist.

  3. Alex N Says:

    I agree with Bret here. The only reason Andrew Brooks is suddenly reverberating with talk of activism is because he has his finger to the wind. After a couple of hard losses last year, Brooks is probably desperate.

    And Mike, I agree with you on the key sentence: “Ultimately it shows a politically savvy move on his part.” My interpretation of it differs, however: while it is useful for Brooks to want the support of the progressive community, he is still not a true progressive, and I still don’t want him in the Union. You say “who the hell cares” whether Brooks has truly converted or not. It seems to me that it makes all the difference in the world. Even assuming Brooks will stick to his campaign promises when he does not face reelection, he will be far inferior to having a real progressive in office. He is willing to play along on the issues we have already beaten him on, but what about when a new issue arises (and it most certainly will)? Do you really think Brooks will react in a progressive way simply because he was smart enough to pander to us?

    If there were no candidates of value in the election, I would have no problem with picking Brooks as the best we have. Luckily, we have the perfect candidate: Adam Hughes. Whereas Brooks has just suddenly begun support activism on campus, Adam has been participating in activism since he got here. While Brooks has been in the Union, Adam has been involved across campus life and in touch with real Brandeis needs and values. He is someone I trust to stick to his promises and never back down on an issue. I expect no such thing from Andrew Brooks. Instead of going for the cheap copy, I plan on voting for the real thing for VP.

  4. Sahar Says:

    Perhaps the title should be: “Andrew Brooks: the Activist?”

    I think it’s true that people are begining to realize: you just can’t run against Social Justice at Brandeis.

  5. Andy Says:

    Ah, but Brooks has the EXPERIENCE.

    It’s pretty clear that he will be sticking to his platform. It seems that the only issues of debate are whether or not his platform comes from his heart or from convenience, and whether or not it matters that Hughes has a more progressive past.

    But the fact still remains: Brooks has been on our Student Union for 3 years! He knows how to get basic projects done. It is a fair bet that he will be more capable and effective at pushing through his platforms, whatever they may be.

  6. Andy Says:

    Not to mention Brooks is at least “political.” He knows how to present himself, and is NOT (thank god) one of those “awkward turtles”…

    I am undecided about whether or not to vote for Brooks or Christina Khemraj. But at least both Brooks and Christina have political experience.

    Anyone who knows the other candidates is well aware of the fact that, well, some of them don’t know how to effectively communicate their ideas. More like, they’re just awkward. Uch.

  7. Lauren Says:

    I’m going to vote for Brooks also. If he is being phony, which I don’t think he is because I’m in a politics class with him and he doesn’t espouse conservative views, I don’t even think it’s relevant.

    Adam Hughes will not be good for activism because he has no Union experience. Brooks has experience working with the administrators to see change such as Mark Collins.

    I want to see real change on this campus, but real change only comes with knowledge and experience.

  8. Andy H (different Andy than above) Says:

    here are some comments to add to the mix when you vote on Monday…
    I would like to concentrate on past elections at Brandeis. I understand there are some diehard supporters for Brooks in which case, this commment will not affect you. However, if you’d like to learn a little more about this candidate then tune in.

    Andrew Brooks has been in the student government for a while, but lets look at the elections he has participated in. You will notice a pattern of technicalities and a slight taste of sore loserness.

    The first is the 2006 Senator-at-large election. It would come to happen that Brooks would win this election, however, only by a little. Before the second round two of candidates (Brooks was one of them) were separated by two votes. The first seat for the senate position was clinched by a third candidate. Brooks opponent made a fatal mistake… He used illegal staples. Instead of using the Union’s materials, he used staples thereby earning himself red letters in the second round. Brooks managed to pull in the undecided voters in the second round because his opponent had red letters next to his name. It was obvious that the red cost his opponent the election (considering his opponent was ahead before the staple incident) but Brooks only commented that it didn’t play a very big role. My friends, Brooks won by a staple, not by his platform.

    The second election I want to look at was last years senotor at large election. Brooks and Sulsky were running unopposed until the very last second when two significant write-in candidates would change the election. One of the write-ins did not make it to the second round. The other did. In the final round, Sulsky and the write-in won the election. Brooks’ ego must have been demolished, beaten in an unopposed election. So, he did what any candidate would do, he claimed libel and went to the UJ. Following a ridiculous case and unanimous decision Brooks’ sore loser libel case was shot down. His opponent was sworn in at the beginning of this semester.

    I don’t care if Brooks’ is a changed man. He only has the experience he does because another better activist candidate has not come to challenge him. I will be voting for Adam Hughes. If you have questions regarding any of his issues please email him at athughes@brandeis.edu. It doesn’t matter that Adam does not have the experience. One quick email to Adam will prove to you that Adam cares about the issues. Brooks wants an ego trip, I entirely hope this campus is smart enough not to waste this valuable position on this sore loser.

  9. Alex N Says:

    I’m noticing something in these comments. Something that I think is much worthier of address than nonsensical, “awkward” ad hominem attacks. There is this pervasive idea that the Student Union is something only specialized people are capable of handling. The experience question is part of this. Surely only someone with such exhaustive time in the Union as Andrew Brooks could possibly manage the job of Vice President of the Student Union. I reject this idea. The members of the Student Union are there because they are passionate and dedicated, but they aren’t there because nobody could better do the job. The experience claims of Andrew Brooks are part of this misplaced elitism, and so are the Union transparency issues.

    Think about it, the government of the country maintains some degree of secrecy because they are dealing with issues that could potentially kill Americans were they leaked. The Student Union maintains a degree of secrecy…why exactly? They aren’t dealing with anything that requires student ignorance, or at least they shouldn’t be. They do this because they have forgotten that they are not as important as actual government and their primary purpose is to help and inform us, the student body. Experience is necessary to become Vice President of the United States, because the United States is a large and complicated place. Brandeis is much smaller, and much less complicated, so the idea that one would need “political” (heavy emphasis on the quotes) experience is laughable. So for me the major qualifications for the Student Union are these: dedication and involvement with Brandeis. The dedication is necessary because we would not want a representative who is not willing to work for us. Involvement is necessary because we want a representative who is in touch with what Brandeis students want and what they need to know. Experience is not the issue, and it may be that we need a candidate who is completely new to the Student Union in order to push transparency through.

    Andrew Brooks has experience, and he even has dedication. But his only involvement with the wants of Brandeis students has been running against them last year and making an about face this year. And so I vote for Adam Hughes.

  10. Avi Says:

    What the previous writers fail into account is that in order to implement a true change agenda one must be familiar with the workings and procedures of the senate itself. While both Adam Hughes and Andrew espouse the mentality of change and are sincere on this fact, only Andrew at the current moment can effectively guide us towards the change that we so desperately need. As far as change goes Andrew has often been at odds with the student union establishment for its lack of transparency and dealing with issues that students care about. If you look at his record closely, Brooks has always been in favor of many of the reforms that have been the focus of his current campaign. However, they have not previously been highlighted as well as they could have been. Thus rather than call Brooks a flipflopper the previous posters should get to know him and see someone who not only calls himself a change agent, but actually is one.

  11. Bret Says:

    In fact, the previous comment written by Alex N did in fact take into account the amount of “experience” needed to be in the Student Union. And I think it is quite clear that such an organization can only be so complex. I’m confidant that Adam will be able to learn his way around in a short period of time. I;m not so confidant in Brooks, because no matter how well he knows the Senate, I find it hard to believe that he has ever tried to be a reformer before this election.

    I hate to repeat talking points, but it seems like everyone is is doing it, so I will too.

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