Please welcome Nelson Rutrick, who is the newest member of the Innermost Parts team. He starts off his tenure here with a special report. ~ Sahar
As a former member of the Student Union Executive Board, as the only EBoard to attend nearly all Senate meetings although it was not mandatory (besides the VP and Executive Senator), and as the only student who attended Senate meetings regularly who didn’t “have” to be there – I, sadly, have a lot of experience with the procedures of the Brandeis University Student Union. Sure, maybe attending all of these meetings makes me a loser in some sense, but it also gives me the ability to speak knowledgeably about what goes on in our Student Union.
I am working on finals right now, but I am a bit bored writing about the morality of political assassination and instead would prefer to clue in the non-insiders of the Student Union as to what really goes on there on this relatively new blog which often deals with the Student Union.
In all of my time in the Student Union, I have never seen a single objection raised in the senate when a senator called for the meeting to be put into ‘Executive Session’ – or barred to all non-Union members. Executive Sessions are called at around one-third of Senate meetings to discuss material deemed to sensitive to be reported on by The Justice or The Hoot. So, read once again: in the last semester, to my knowledge, there has never been an executive sessions motioned that was not greeted with unanimous consent by the 21-member Student Union Senate.
Entering an Executive Session requires a majority votes, and were often called over the last semester to discuss issues too important to be heard or reported to the Student Body such as:
1. The amount of money the Student Union has in unspent funds that it has left over from past years.
2. Whether the past Secretary of the Student Union should be held responsible for releasing vote totals to his friends mid-election.
3. Whether it is more important to uphold freedom of speech rights for Student Union sponsored journals or whether it is more important to uphold protections against “hate speech.”
Although I personally am opposed to all Executive Sessions, no senator in the Student Union has yet opposed one being called. Are our two new Innermost Parts senators going to start objecting to these oft-called sessions?
The Executive Office
Every Executive Office session is closed. What happens during meetings is generally not allowed to be discussed with anyone outside of the Executive Board, on the discretion of the Student Union President. The main difference between EBoard meetings and Senate meetings is that Brandeis administrators attend EBoard meetings often, and are much less likely to be candid when speaking with The Justice reporting their words. I think there is legitimacy in not inviting students to all EBoard-Administrator meetings. Beyond these meetings, though, I will say that I see no reason for the EBoard to maintain its intense secrecy that is often considered unnecessary even by other Union insiders who consistently vote for Senate Executive Sessions.
The Finance Board
The Finance Board, officially, holds all meetings openly unless outsiders are removed by a majority (4/7) vote. To my knowledge, however, no student has been allowed to attend a FBoard meeting unless they were specifically invited since (and perhaps even before?) Choon Woo Ha was elected treasurer. Does anyone have an interest in following and questioning the allocations granted by the FBoard? Maybe not, it really isn’t that exciting – but perhaps it might shed some light on why we have so much extra money that we are renovating the Brandeis gymnasium with Student Activities Fee dollars.
The Union Judiciary
Perhaps the only open branch of the Student Union Government – all meetings are open. It requires a majority vote of the five justices to close meetings.
This is a brief breakdown of the transparency granted in the Brandeis Student Union Government, an organization that has over a million dollars a year to dole out on behalf of students. Is there something wrong here?