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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Union secretary emails inappropriate

Published: October 26, 2012
Section: Editorials

As a board, we like to reserve this space for weighty matters, like conversation gripping the student body in a given week, analysis of Brandeis’ goals for the future or our take on a critical community decision. But we have been distracted this week, as the community has been all semester, by the conduct of Carlton Shakes, the Student Union secretary.

We have already written at length about the debacle during last month’s elections. Shakes neglected his duties as chief elections officer, failing to even submit the list of voters to the system. But it is his behavior regarding his only other constitutional power, that of Union communications through the weekly campus-wide email, that concerns us now. His emails are an embarrassment to this university.

Shakes’ emails contain far too much personal information about the writer himself, and far too little about actual goings-on at Brandeis. Some of the gems, contained in subject lines or introductions:

“So … awkward … Mondays are a thing again … Good morning ‘Deisykins!”



“I deliriously studying for my Calculus midterm. I swear, my ceiling started to move…I am definitely suffering from Lack of Sleep Disease….-___-”

And this week, in what was the entire subject line, (and sent from his personal address): “So…this weekend was definitely a blur.” The header was “Wakie Wakie Brandizzle!!”

We will not even go so far as to critique for grammar and punctuation. But at a school like Brandeis, we believe students should be able to expect more from their elected officials. A bare modicum of professionalism is not too much to ask.

Emails, even if official, can be funny. We are not throwing stones because we don’t do funny. Shakes just isn’t even that. Former Union President Herbie Rosen, when secretary, included the occasional YouTube video and nearly always an incredibly corny joke.

This board had, to say the least, a sizable share of complaints about his presidential administration. But Rosen never strayed from a competent and organized communication policy, one that better merited the Brandeis email from which is was broadcast. Shakes has not only tarnished this legacy but has correspondingly shamed the Union at least once each week.
We hope there will be a noticeable difference in communication next week.