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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student Union to draft Bill of Rights

Published: December 7, 2007
Section: Front Page, News

The Brandeis Student Union has unveiled plans to draft a Student Bill of Rights, which will be a major union project during the Spring.

“The Student Union ought to be defending student rights,” explained Director of Union Affairs Jason Gray ‘10, who initiated the plan along with Union Advocate Brian Paternostro ‘08. Paternostro could not be reached for comment.

“Students on this campus have rights [but] oftentimes we don’t know what our rights are,” Gray said. “We need to codify the rights that students currently have and the rights that they deserve.”

“The process of creating it is going to be a semester long,” Gray said of drafting the document. “We’re going to bring together different members of the community as an executive task force.”

Additionally, Gray explained that “We’re going to make this…open to the Brandeis student body” though “forums and discussion sessions.”

Eventually, the Union hopes that the Bill of Rights will be “put through a referendum, and have a Student Union vote” to make it official, Gray explained.

However, for the time being, he stated that “we’re at the very beginning” of the process.

The committee that will draft the bill itself is currently in the process of being created. So far, the Union executive office has “selected people [with] diverse perspectives,” to form the beginning of the committee.”

“At the beginning of the [Spring] semester, it will be made open” to more students who wish to participate, said Gray.

Gabe Gaskin ’08, who has already agreed to be a member of the committee, explained that “creating a salient and concise Bill of Rights that students can use and understand is crucial.”

“I think it’s cool that there is actually an investment coming from the Union,” in codifying student rights, he continued.

Gray specified that the creation of the Bill of Rights is not a direct reaction to any recent incident on campus. “It’s something we’ve been planning since before the protest today,” said Gray, adding that Union members have been “talking about it since the summer.”

“The Bill of Rights certainly isn’t part of the protest,” he said. “Regardless of the protest, it’s unbelievably important.”

Still, he added, “the fact that we had to protest [indicates that] people in the administration sometimes don’t respect the rights of students.”

Although Gray stated “it’s too early to tell,” what the long-term effect of drafting the bill will be, “we hope it will provide a way for students to know what their rights are,” he said.

He also stated that he hopes it will be possible to “provide and enforcement mechanism” for the Bill of Rights, although he was unable to give specific details. Enforcement is “something we’ll have to look into” later in the process, he explained.