Thank You, Jason Gray

If you’re a regular reader of Innermost Parts, you probably already know how I feel about Jason Gray.  Getting to know him over the past year has been a complete pleasure and an honor for me, and I cannot repay my debt of gratitude for all he has done for me.  As a newly elected Vice President with little formal Union experience, I relied on his leadership to become comfortable on the Executive Board.  During the fall semester, his guidance never failed to point me in the right direction to accomplish the goals I had in office.  And when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to remain at Brandeis in the spring, his compassion and friendship gave me the strength to choose the path that was best for me, even in the most difficult moments.  But his influence this year extended far beyond me;  it’s safe to say that every student at Brandeis has profited from his peerless talents and genuine concerns as President of the Student Union.  With yesterday’s spring inaugurations, Jason’s term leading the Union has come to an end, and I want to take a quick moment to summarize all he has meant to the Brandeis community.

Jason told me once that, more than anything else, he wanted his legacy to be as an advocate for student rights and a promoter for student involvement.  “It’s about you” was his campaign slogan, and he never forgot to represent every viewpoint in each project he took on.  When many students were complaining about the service they received at the health center, he convinced the administration to give the center a through review, one which led to a number of substantive improvements.  When the student body opted to use the SAF rollover money for the creation of a new weight room, Jason not only consulted student athletes to determine what how we could purchase the most effective equipment, he made sure to find space for the dance groups which were displaced, and he fought to ensure that all students had equal priority to use it.  When the budget crisis hit and students felt left out of the decision making process, Jason fought to put students on all the newly formed committees, and he successfully planned town hall forums and informational meetings to give every student a clear picture of our finances and a voice in our future.

But his influence was also felt in far more subtle ways.  As leader of the Union government, Jason created an environment where every officer felt capable of leading his or her own projects.  ‘Deis Bikes happened thanks to the incredibly hard work of the eight-member Special Task Force on Bicycle Sharing, but their job was made easier because Jason would solve any logistical problems that came up with the administration.  When both the Coalition for Food Services Reform and the University Dining Committee were working to solve problems in dining, Jason helped to iron out the groups’ differences and to coordinate their efforts to achieve meaningful changes.  It was not rare for him to spend over eleven hours a day in meetings and on other Union work while still attending classes and staying on top of his schoolwork.  And not only did he always serve his mandatory Union office hours, he would frequently serve them in Usdan or in the Shapiro atrium so he could open himself to as many students as possible.

These accomplishments only scratch the surface of everything he achieved as Union President.  Proof of his success can be seen in the universal acclaim he received.  His praises have been sung publicly by trustees and administrators, activists, campus publications, athletes, and his fellow Union officers.  He has, in many ways, changed the way we perceive the Union on campus and ushered in a new level of student involvement in every facet of the University.  And while he has left the formal power structure of the Union government, I’m sure that he will continue to serve as an active voice for the causes he believes in next year.  Thank you, Jason, for all you have done for me and for Brandeis, and I know that I’m just one among the many who recognize what you have meant to us.


4 thoughts on “Thank You, Jason Gray”

  1. Not a bad point to be made, but I think those influences had made Jason Gray the candidate and President he was and were not necessarily needed during his term to bring about the results he did.

  2. These accomplishments are not the work of Jason Gray alone. For, without ‘grassroots’ student pressure Jason would not have been able to pursue all of the ends that mattered – particularly those that were contrary to the perceived aims of the university administration. If more student pressure was felt, there would have been more won…

  3. Well said, Adam! I think Gray has left behind a legacy, showing that a student union president, can, with the right vision and drive, implement serious policy, and stand for a platform of ideas which seek to empower us as individuals, and assure the university isn’t overbearing on us. Having a student bill of rights may seem trivial in light of our constitution’s own, but the consideration with which such a document was envisioned is worthy of praise. While Andrew Hogan is of course his own person with his own ideals and visions, I voted in the SU presidential election with the following in mind,”Who will best continue the legacy and precedent of Jason Gray?” I feel Andy is up to the task, and, in whatever capacity he deems it appropriate, does so.

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