The Student Union Senate Fails its Constituents

I heard something very disturbing tonight from one of my sources inside the Student Union Senate relating to their session on Sunday. The Senate supposedly spent two hours debating a resolution on wishing Israel a happy 60th birthday. I realize that many students at Brandeis feel very passionate about Israel, but this was a true waste of time. The priorities within the Student Union Senate must be reordered. Last semester I appeared at one of their sessions to speak for a resolution disapproving of the process by which the decision was made to arm the campus police and calling for more student input in future decisions. Debate went on for hours and in the end the Senate decided to take no action.

United States Senator Joe Biden once said, “My dad used to say, don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget. I will tell you what you value.” Let’s take a look at the recently-proposed Student Union budget, which can be found in their minutes:

Student Union Government

a. Newspaper Program: $3,000 (9.76%)

b. Office Resources: $3,500 (11.39%)

c. Election System: $2,464 (8.02%)

d. Course Evaluation Guide: $700 (2.28%)

Union Executive Office

a. Outreach: $2,500 (8.14%)

b. Project Support Fund: $1,000 (3.25%)

c. Social Fund: $3,700 (12.04%)

d. Officer Development: $500 (1.63%)

e. Total Union Executive Office: $7,700 (25.06%)

Union Senate

a. Communiversity: $550 (1.79%)

b. Diversity: $1,500 (4.88%)

c. Services: $7,000 (22.78%)

d. Social Justice: $1,000 (3.25%)

e. University Spirit: $850 (2.77%)

f. Senate Discretionary: $2,462.23 (8.01%)

g. Total Union Senate: $13,362.23 (43.49%)

Total Student Union Government: $30,726.23 (100%)


The largest item on the budget besides services to keep the Union running is social life. Combined with school spirit, it equals about 15% of the total budget.  Diversity is worth less than half as much as social life at 4.88%.  Social Justice is worth only a quarter of social life at 3.25% of allocated funds.  I came to Brandeis because Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ vision and commitment to social justice appealed to me.  I knew that social life at college would be great no matter what the events were just because I was at college, with so many interesting people to get to know and spend time with, many of whom share my values.  So fellow Brandeisians, pay close attention to the debates and budgets of the Student Union Senate–do they reflect our values?






8 responses to “The Student Union Senate Fails its Constituents”

  1. […] Student Union Senate and E-Board proper are in no way in the clear. The Senate has a discretionary fund of $2,462.23. Rumors have it that the discretionary funding is used as a slush fund for the Senate. We […]

  2. […] Over at the Student Union, funding for “social justice” is 40% of the funding for E-board “outreach”, and less than 15% of the funding for the nebu…. […]

  3. Matt Lawrence

    Not to mention when you consider how stupid most of the union-funded social events are!

  4. Wow, really?

    More reason to have activists run for the Student Union, I guess.

  5. Louis Brandeis

    They just recently spent two and a half hours debating whether or not they should wish Israel a happy birthday. Um, talk about waste of time.

  6. Phil is on a roll!

    We really should keep a better watch on student union senate meetings. According to /my/ sources there’s all sorts of shenanigans going on there.

    Alex – I see your point. I think what Phil wanted to do here was both a. have a jumping off point for further investigation and discussion and b. have an example of what he views as the overarching problem: Brandeis’ orientation away from Social Justice.

  7. Interesting.

    As a side note, I heard once that, not too long ago, the Student Union voted to condemn Iran.

    A worthy cause, I suppose, but once again it shows how they waste time.

  8. A caveat:

    I understand the argument being made, but I think it’s important to compare what kind of activities or services does that funding achieve in the different areas. Social events often have higher external costs based on supplying food and drinks at larger level than non-social events, while the success of efforts for Social Justice or Diversity are more impacted by human energy than cash. Especially with the increasingly monopolistic hold by Aramark over on-campus food services, the costs for social events have gone up. In the Graduate Student Association, our baseline weekly social event increased in cost by more than 50% over last summer when Aramark forced us to stop using outside supplies, but we chose to increase the funding slightly but cut the frequency of the events.

    So basically, while budget priorities are important, different objectives have different kinds of costs, and the real question may be whether the goals in these areas are being achieved or if they would be better achieved with more funding.

    I think it’s great that there are $2500 available for Diversity and Social Justice, but I’d be more concerned about nearly the same amount listed as “Senate Discretionary”…