On Friday, April 11, then-Student Union President Shreeya Sinha wrote a campus-wide email soliciting ideas on how to spend the approximately $100,000 it had accumulated in roll-over funds.

Well, the proposals have been submitted, and we’ll all be able to vote on how to spend the money from noon today to noon Thursday.

While I won’t know what all the submissions will be until students receive the official email at noon, I do know what three of the submissions will be:
– Build a weight room.
Install Solar Panels on the roof a prominent building on campus.
– Fly 10 students to Rwanda.

I think each of these proposals has strengths and weaknesses, but I propose that, out of these three options that we know about, solar panels are the best option. They provide a benefit to the campus and environment in terms of less energy costs and less pollution, they are semi-permament fixtures that will serve the community in years to come, and they serve as an important signal and symbol that Brandeis is getting serious about this whole Global Warming thing.

In a few years, imagine bragging “So your campus has some tunnels? That’s nice I guess. Us? Oh, our campus isn’t that special. Unless you count the Solar-Powered-Castle! f’zyeah!”

I can see why people would want to refurbish the weight room, or create another one. While Gosman is modern and new and nice and all, it also features a pretty badly-maintained weight room. I’m assured that the equipment there is not taken care of and a possible hazard to student health. Furthermore, I can sympathize with the frustration felt at the dearth of treadmills and so forth in Gosman.

That said, I don’t think the Student Union should be picking up the tab for what Brandeis University should be building /maintaining already. Weight rooms are the responsibility of the administration, and before we clean up their mess, why don’t we try to make the University live up to its responsibilities and give us a functional weight room? Secondly, I don’t think that a weight room will fullfill Shreeya’s specifications and “enhance our community” to a significant degree. Instead, this proposal would enhance the physique and health of some members of the community. This opportunity is too big to sink into a project that aims to fix a minor problem – too few treadmills and ill-kept weight room machines. Especially since we shouldn’t even have to take of this ourselves.

That brings me to the Rwanda proposal. Don’t get me wrong: I would love to go to Rwanda. If only 10 students go, however, there’s a pretty low chance that I, or any individual, will go. Therein lies the rub. The proposal uses the funds of the entire student community to benefit a chosen few. That doesn’t seem right.

Solar Panels, therefore, are the best option of the three. They are an ethical and easy way to stop pollution. They will benefit the whole community, and continue to benefit the Brandeis community for years to come. Solar Panels are the gift that keeps on giving – the proposal specification includes a “the Brandeis Sustainability Fund [so that] the electricity cost savings on this system would be reinvested in further sustainability projects.” Lastly, the intangible effects of Solar Panels can be great: we will be one step further in honoring the Presidents Climate Commitment, and the Brandeis University brand will now include a student-led movement to install solar panels on campus buildings. You know Admissions will eat that up.

6 comments on “Solar Panels at Brandeis?”

  1. Nelson Rutrick Says:

    You can find them all here btw, although the info on them will not be updated until like 8am this morning:

    https://sys.brandeis.edu/voting/menu/1831

  2. Lev Says:

    I don’t like how this whole roll-over fund business has been carried out.

    For one, students had to research their ideas pretty well if they wanted to submit one. For some proposals that research is probably pretty minimal; but for some ideas, that research probably had to include things like going to a contractor or some other outside source to figure out price estimates. Pretty darn tricky for just one student to do as finals approach and over spring break.

    Furthermore, no one knows about this at all. Yeah there was the email like four weeks ago, but most people have long forgotten about it, and almost no one I know (aside from SEA people) that there is a vote today. I can’t find any more detailed information about the proposals (aside from the solar panel one) except for their names (the link on the voting site gives me an error). It just seems like a bad strategy to me.

    If I had designed the system, I’d have first called an open forum for ideas; after that I’d have allowed students to submit open ended ideas, not necessarily well-researched, but presumably interesting. Then I’d weed out the bad ideas that just couldn’t work. Then I’d create taskforces to research the ideas and determine price estimates; do another round of weeding out bad ideas; and then there would be a vote.

    I guess there wasn’t time for that. Whatever. I guess what we have now works a little.

  3. Adam Hughes Says:

    What are people’s opinions about the other two questions on the ballot? The Student Bill of Rights is obviously a good thing, but what’s the deal with the Constitutional Amendment for Finances?

  4. New point of View Says:

    I understand the motivation for solar panels here at Brandeis. It make this university slightly less reliant on power sources that are harmful to the environment. I personally suggest we use the money to fund the delegation to Rwanda. We here at Brandeis rarely have a chance to help people outside the university. The Rwanda delegation however gives us a chance to help a country that desperately needs assistance and will hopefully be the beginning of a long term commitment of aid from our university. So lets make a difference in the world.

  5. Innermost Parts » Blog Archive » Post-Election Thoughts Says:

    […] 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… […]

  6. Brandeis contracts huge solar array for Gosman roof! | Innermost Parts Says:

    […] a large solar array to go up on Gosman roof. I find this a bit ironic, considering that last year, a proposal to build a smaller solar array with Student Union rollover money was nixed in favor of a new weight room for Gosman. (now we get […]