Post-Election Thoughts

In stream-of-consciousness form.

Wow, what an increase in turnout. About 600 people voted in the primary round; 913 voted in the final round. That’s about a 52% increase in turnout to about 30% (assuming we have 3200 undergrad students).

Is 30% turnout something to celebrate? Well, the last “all-campus” election (Senator at Large) had a turnout of 895 students, which is pretty comparable to the 913 that voted this time.

How Adam did it – an army of volunteers who had polling stations in Usdan and Sherman at all times, as well as those who canvassed almost every dorm on campus. He also had us rooting for him too. Hopefully that meant something.

Well well now. So I ended up endorsing the current Student Union President, Vice President, and Three Senators, one of whom is the head of the Social Justice commitee, and one of whom co-founded Innermost Parts. Hell, the new VP is practically the second-in-command here on the blog as well. So – we’ve got good people in the right places. There’s no reason not to expect great things from them. Time to shift from a tone of “the nebulous student union should do this” to “dude I have a great idea let’s run with it!”

So yeah. Time to start laying out even more positive agenda items, etc. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t call out the Student Union if they act badly, however.

The runoff came down to two candidates, both running on activist platforms. I think this reflects a real desire from the students at Brandeis to bring back the “social justice spirit”, to rise over the balkanization of clubs and have a more unified campus. In other words, we students really take this whole “Brandeis Values” thing seriously. We all try to realize that through the lens of different clubs – DFA, SEA, SPA, etc. I think there’s a hunger for a more over-arching sense of campus solidarity.

I’m really impressed by Adam and his rapid ascent. Word up.

OK then. Now what mandate does the new VP have, based on the issues he ran on?

Well, taking a look at his website, we see this:

Dining: With Aramark’s contract running out next year, students’ need to be involved in the dialogue on the next step for our dining services.

Gender-Neutral Housing
: This important discussion must be carried on. Adam is committed to making sure everyone is comfortable with their housing.

Cell Phone Reception
: Adam will start a dialogue with the administration about being more proactive in courting cell phone providers.

Endowment Transparency: It is important that Brandeis students know where the University is spending money.

Public Safety:
Brandeis police officers are now armed. Adam will fight to make sure the community knows when and why an officer draws his or her firearm. Together we can foster a community that is both secure and open.

Weight Room and Solar Panel:
These two proposals both got an overwhelming amount of support last year. Adam will work with the adminsitration to garner funding for both of them.

OK then.
Endowment Transparency and Gender Neutral Housing are kinda supported by a broad swathe of the Union and the Electorate. I can see the Student Union more aggressively confronting the University about its veil of secrecy around the endowment, sure, but it seems to me that these two issues will go fairly on the positive track they were taking.

Dining and Cell Phone reception: Improving cell reception is a pretty cool idea. Apparently other schools have had success with making cell companies put towers closer to campus. I really don’t know much about this, and I hope Adam drops by to explain this idea more fully. As for the Aramark dining stuff, again, this would be great to fix and I know there are people talking about this and I trust they know what they’re doing and the Union will help out.

Weight Room and Solar Panels: The weight room is fine and was always was fine. It’ll be built, don’t worry. As for Solar Panels – awesome idea. Just like I wrote about so long ago…

And now we get back to my pet issue – Public Safety. Other schools make sure that any time a gun leaves its holster, the whole campus can know about it and a full report is filed. We deserve to know as well. Adam himself put it very well, I think:

If a Public Safety officer drew a gun tomorrow, you wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t know. Ed Callahan knows; he gets a full report every time a firearm leaves its holster. We deserve to know too.

That report must be publicly released. Transparency increases our safety, and I promise that preservating the secure campus environment will be a primary goal in my work as Student Union Vice President.

That’s pretty cool.

Bicycles: Adam didn’t stress this in his website, but he’s strongly pro-bike. Like, pro-free-bikes-for-everyone. I await this with bated breath.

Adam didn’t talk about this much on the campaign either, as much as I’m aware, but we definitely agree that we need to end or limit secret meetings of the eboard and senate. The eboard has historically been used as a sort of slush fund – let’s make sure that doesn’t happen this year.


5 thoughts on “Post-Election Thoughts”

  1. So, Jon, this is an over-simplified explanation of the rollover issue, as I understand it:

    The reason for the rollover is not that FBoard doesn’t allocate enough, it’s that clubs don’t spend all the money they’ve been allocated. Say club A gets $1000, but they only spend $800. The extra $200 goes into rollover. Last year the FBoard actually allocated significantly more money than they had. When clubs didn’t spend all of their funds, it wasn’t as big a deal. Think of it this way. The FBoard had $1000 in their budget and gave out $2000. Clubs spent $1500. FBoard was able to take the $500 that wasn’t in their budget from the rollover money. But the administration is against having a huge rollover so the Union decided to do something big to get rid of the extra rollover money, hence the weight room. Last year was one of the first times FBoard had actually handed out more money than it had, so every year the rollover got bigger.

  2. The f-board, from my understanding, has been reticent to supply clubs with the funds they need. Not reticent as in skeptical, but really hostile to doing so. How else could we wind up with $100,000 in rollover money? This lack of resources leads to a reduced ability for clubs (esp. small ones) to put on their activities, and fundraising amongst students is a very small, very competitive pool. Thus the amount of effort needed to fund and keep a group together is increased, decreasing intra-organizational activity.

    I’m not one to advocate sucking at the public teat, but the SAF is from the students, for student activities. When the money is actually distributed for that purpose – which a new Student Union MAY allow, the recent Chums decision notwithstanding – a major hassle for clubs will be lifted.

  3. John – sounds good. I agree with you there. Solidarity in spirit and (perhaps) action is the key.

    I don’t quite see how club balkanization necessarily ties into f-board or how the new Student Union E-board or Senate can influence f-board, however.

  4. Good post overall, and I personally wish to commend Adam on this victory; however, I can’t quite agree with the hope that this will engender campus solidarity. If anything, we should be aiming for a greater diversity of opinion on campus, a fuller flowering of activism. While I can’t say I enjoyed the ‘balkanized’ period we had before, a large part of the reason for that was the Student Union’s micromanagement and centralization of power.

    One need only look at their handling of the rollover money last semester: a year spent denying clubs necessary funds was capped off by diversion of our money into a contentious capital project that the university should have funded in the first place. What we can hope for (and expect) with this new leadership is not only competence, but also a loosening of the reins, the remaking of the Student Union in the image of a community resource center – not the Kremlin.

  5. Thank you so much for the shout out, Sahar, and thank you all for the voting and volunteering.

    I view my victory as part of the continuing mandate for social justice issues that Brandeis voters elected Mike Kerns, Noam Shuster, Alex Melman, and Lev Hirschhorn to represent. I look forward to working on each and every one of these issues, and I will involve the Innermost Parts community in every step of the process. I intend to start writing a series of policy posts detailing my plans to deal with each one starting this weekend, and I’m already in the process of contacting members of the Brandeis community that have worked on each one.

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