We did it!

Think about this for a minute. We squared off against a pair of entrenched Union insiders, both of whom were listed on the ballot, with a freshman candidate and a grassroots group founded just hours before the election. Yet we still were able to pull together more than enough of the vote to ensure Noam Shuster ballot access for the final round. When it looked like our options for a progressive alternative in the at-large race were entirely non-existent, we pulled together as a community and now have a great opportunity to elect an amazing candidate to represent us.

There are two reasons for such a stunning and unexpected success. The first is the incredible burst of activism that we saw over the course of the past day. I have never experienced anything more inspiring at Brandeis; we pulled together everyone on campus who was disenchanted with the Union as it is and rejected the reactionary mentality that has gripped too many of our representatives for too long. Moving forward to the final round, we now have an incredible community of volunteers prepared to spend their time and energy making fliers, doing dorm-storms, designing a website, and writing messages and e-mails. And we’d love to have more people; anyone interested in volunteering should get in touch with myself or the campaign through Facebook, e-mail (athughes@brandeis.edu), or in person (or just leave a comment). You all owe yourselves a round of applause for this unprecedented victory.

However, none of this would have possible without Noam herself. She has proven to be the right person to lead this movement and win this election. Her passion for positive representation was the genesis of all we have seen in the past two days, and her optimism that change was possible made us all believe. It has been a great pleasure to get to know her better through this campaign, and I am thankful that I can now call her my friend. Her bio from her official campaign website gives some indication as to what makes her such a special individual:

I grew up in a village called Neve Shalom~Wahat al Salaam- the Oasis of Peace- the only community in Israel where Israelis and Palestinians choose to live together and build a harmonious community. I came to Brandeis as a Slifka Co-existence Scholar. The program chooses peace activists in Israel to be students at Brandeis and continue coexistence work.

She is exactly the type of person I would be proud to call my senator.

I would be remiss, however, if I were to fail to address the voting outcome for our other endorsed candidate, Kaamila Mohamed. In many respects, her campaign was doomed from the start; it only began to get off the ground after voting started, when many activists had already cast their ballots. However, it is a mark of the strength of our activism and the immense campus-wide respect for Kaamila that we finished just eight votes shy of number required for final round ballot access. Almost 100 people answered our call and wrote in Kaamila’s name, and the coordination between her campaign and Noam’s helped us claim at least one victory; the Vote Kaamila movement was definitely not in vain. I continue to hold out hope that she will opt to run for a Quad senator spot next year, for I know the Union will lose much without her involvement.

Still, considering how highly the deck was stacked against us, yesterday was nothing but an astonishing success. We have proven that the progressive activists on campus have the power to unite and make themselves heard, and we placed an excellent candidate on the ballot. There will be much more hard work ahead before we can claim victory in this race, but the primary results have made me more confident than ever that we can do it.

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