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.