Today is Andy Hogan’s second full day on the job as Student Union President, and despite this high-profile position, I feel he’s still something of an unknown quantity to much of the student body, much more so than Jason Gray was last year.  There are several reasons for this: the Presidential race was much less competitive and low-profile than last year’s, Andy has only been a Union officer for one year, and his work has been much more organizational than Jason’s very public advocacy for the Student Bill of Rights.  However, in a very short period of time, Andy has quietly built up a stellar Union resume.  Last fall, he handily won the North Quad Senate seat despite running as a sophomore in a mostly freshman quad.  In just one semester of work, he impressed Jason Gray enough to be named Director of Community Advocacy.  And last month, he won the Union Presidency by over 350 votes.  His talents and character have already changed the Brandeis community for the better and are quickly gaining wide recognition; however, for those who still don’t really know Andy or who would like to know him better, I’d like to give a quick introduction to our new Union President.

I should start by saying that I’m far from an unbiased source.  Though I felt that being off campus made it appropriate for me to refrain from public comment on the spring elections, I was personally very happy to see Andy win.  But my relationship with him is much deeper than mere Union politics.  Andy has been one of my best friends since our first few weeks at Brandeis.  We joined (and subsequently left) TRON together, played together on countless intramural sports teams, served together on the Squash club E-Board, served together on the Union Senate, roomed next to one another, shared music, been repeatedly mistaken for brothers, and generally shared some of the best times I’ve had at Brandeis.  He was my campaign manager during my run for the Vice Presidency, and I still credit my victory more to him than to anyone else.  So yeah, I kinda like the guy.  But I also know him very well, and looking as objectively as possible, I can say that I think he’ll make an excellent leader for the Student Union.

Innermost Parts is an activist community, so it’s of particular importance to us that Andy has established himself as a leader on activist issues in the Student Union.  One of his first major projects was planning the Combating Hate Fundraiser, which broke all attendance expectations and raised over $2,000 for a black church that was burned in protest of Barack Obama’s victory.  He followed that with another successful fundraiser for rape victims in the Rwandan genocide.  On a more Brandeisian level, he played a huge role in launching and running the Clubs in Service program, and he helped dorm-storm with Student for Environment Action to raise awareness of water-bottle reduction.  He’s the only Union officer I’ve seen to devote a page of his campaign website just to explaining his views on the importance of social justice at Brandeis.  Clearly, he intends to make these issues a focal point of the Union’s work next year.

Andy is particularly dedicated to the Union government’s role as an advocacy body, and one of his primary focuses is on bringing the Union’s work to every student.  In this way, I see his mentality as a natural successor to Jason’s core value of increased student involvement, both within the Union and in the entire Brandeis community.  He was one of the first senators to join the new Senate Outreach Committee, and he was one of its most active members, drafting the Stall Street Journal and planning events targeted at spreading awareness of the Union’s work to freshmen.  Critically, he views outreach as a tool for generating student feedback, not as a self-promotion gimmick.  He gave us the cell phone amplifier in Usdan in response to numerous student complaints, working successfully with administrators to improve student life.

His plans for next year come naturally from these concerns, and I’m very excited to see some of them implemented.  I’m particularly impressed by his ideas in the long-overdue area of club collaboration reform, which will create an online system for booking spaces and discussing co-sponsorship, making event planning quicker and less expensive.  Andy also wants to improve methods for instantaneous student feedback on Union projects.  Discussion boards have been very effective at generating diverse ideas from the whole community for the CARS subcommittees, and there is no reason why they cannot be used on a Union level as well.  He remains committed to starting and expanding environmentally-friendly projects like Deis Bikes, and his planned social justice identity forums will inspire discussion on the many ways this pillar of Brandeis is interpreted in the community, ultimately creating connections for socially responsible programs where none currently exist.

This past year has been unprecedented in the scope and importance of the Union’s successes, largely because of Andy’s contributions.  I expect Andy Hogan’s leadership to make next year just as productive as this one has been.

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