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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pondering the purpose of The Pulse

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Editorials

We applaud the Student Union for its initiative, The Pulse, to capture student input through a series of online surveys that will take place this coming week. Student input is certainly a good thing, especially in helping Union leaders justify their initiatives to administrators.

But at the same time, The Pulse assumes that the answers to the questions posed are not presently known. The Union has conducted polls in the past but, more importantly, it has held a slew of elections and students have had a chance to vote on the initiatives of the Union when they chose their representatives.

It’s time to implement those changes—the promises from elections and campaigns—which students considered when electing their Union representatives.

Union leaders have every right to feel that they don’t represent the entire student body considering low student turnout in elections. But consider President Herbie Rosen: He was elected with 44 percent turnout. Why would Union leaders assume more students will vote in The Pulse than in an election with 44 percent turnout? (If the rationale is the random prize drawing for participants, perhaps that’s the answer to low election turnout).

Many of the changes that the Union has been proposing are pretty straightforward: increase in hours, options and programs. The administration will naturally counter those proposals by saying they need proof. At a certain point, this back and forth becomes a game. Student surveys will always suggest that student want longer hours, more options and more diverse programs.

The key is for Union leaders to negotiate for reasonable demands with the underlying understanding that by holding their position they have a mandate to represent students.
If administrators won’t recognize Union leaders without surveys such as The Pulse, that problem can’t be fixed by more and better polls.

The Pulse is a great step toward gaining student input but we’re not convinced the Union will learn anything new. We hope that once the poll ends, the Union won’t get the run around anymore, that data will back up ideas and that we’ll finally see some real changes implemented.