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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

First round of elections done as Shreeya Sinha takes presidency

Published: March 23, 2007
Section: News

The Student Union announced that Union Senator-at-Large Shreeya Sinha 09 won the mandate for the presidency during the first round of elections Tuesday, winning 752 votes. Class of 2008 Senator Michael Goldman 08 also won the mandate for Union Secretary with 600 votes, and Choon Woo Ha 08 retained his position as Student Union Treasurer after an uncontested election. During the second round of elections, current Union Secretary Alex Braver 09 won the Vice Presidency with 601 votes.

Now there's a lot of work to be done, said Sinha. As soon as the E-Board has been elected, four of the members are going to get together, we're going to talk about our visions, and come up with a vision of our own. She added that she would be getting my way into the intricacies of the Union a bit further, so that when I actually take over the office next month, I'll be ready to go.

My number one priority is getting out to the students first, said Sinha. In my campaign going door to door, I learned that people don't really know what the Student Union does, and people don't know where the pieces of everything go. According to Shreeya, her main goal was making sure the Union is more transparent.

Braver, on the other hand, said the first thing on my agenda is just to get down to business, and try to make sure that the new Union officers know how to do their jobs as quickly as possible. Elections always shake things up in the Union, so I think it's important to make sure we get right back to work.

Regarding issues like social life, Hiatt [Career Center], housing, and speakers, Braver said the President often takes the lead in setting the agenda, but I see my role as first and foremost making sure the inner workings of the Union government are running smoothly. That means making sure Union officers understand what students want, and know which methods are most effective in making change.

Meanwhile Ha, being the only Executive Board member to retain his job, said that I am excited to be the Treasurer one more year. I believe this is the first time in the history for any student to be the Treasurer two straight years… I am flattered. I take this as a sign that students want me to work even harder. He added that because he did not need a transitional period I am just going to be working as I have been so far. One huge benefit for me is that I can start transitioning the F-Board already. I already had a meeting with the new F-Board members last night and it went great.

In the first few days, I have already begun to meet with other elected E-Boarders to begin a discussion with my predecessor, Secretary Alex Braver, on the training process that will be crucial for the rest of the year said Goldman. I came into this office with a vision of making Union resources more accessible to the Student Body and I am excited to integrate this vision with the ideas of my colleagues.

In terms of the Unions future, the Executive Board members had various ideas of what should be done to improve the Brandeis Community. Sinha said that in the short term, she was looking at establishing a dialogue about fraternities on campuswhen's the last time we had a dialogue about that? Sinhas long-term plans, meanwhile, included building relationships with administrators in order to better navigate issues such as the recently-minted club sports proposal: What I'm trying to do is that when there are goals we have for the long term, I would have already established a relationship with them.

When asked about what they considered the Unions greatest flaws, the candidates had several different answers. I think the biggest problem is the mentality that people have in the Union;

people think that if you're elected, there ends the service, said Sinha. The mentality of the people in the Student Union needs to change: it needs to become an advocacy role. We are not elected to argue amongst ourselves for something that is meaningless to the community. We're elected to provide a service to our constituents, and it should be our honor to service as a senator in the Student Union.

To circumvent this problem, Sinha said I would definitely ride on peoples individual dedication to getting things done people have a passion for the Union that sometimes goes towards the internal aspect rather than the external. I would make sure we can complement each others strengths and weaknesses, so together as a whole, we are unified and we are dedicated.

According to Braver, he felt the Unions biggest failure was that we didn't do as much outreach as we should have. He added that I'm hoping for more dorm raps to help us get in touch with our constituents, a continuation of the town hall meetings idea that began in freshman quads this year, and working to create Senate meetings that are more inviting and friendly for constituents. The more work we do to have face-to-face time with constituents about the issues, the better advocates we can be.

Goldman, meanwhile, said that the biggest problem was poor coordination between the two critical branches: the Executive Office and the Senate. This is not to be blamed on any one personits largely because in the modern era, the E-Board and the Senate have the same job: advocacy. But the E-Board is more cohesive and has more access to administrators than an outgoing senator.

Both Sinha and Goldman agreed on defining clearer roles for the Senate and the Executive Board, thus increasing its utility to the entire student body, said Goldman. Sinha added that by structuring these roles more clearly and getting people to learn what their roles should be, it will have a more unified Union. If we can't work together, we can't get anything done and we can't be transparent, so we need to get on the same page.

Goldman also advocated greater transparency by establishing an initiative called Union Office Hours my proposal is that we staff one table in Usdan and Sherman, from 12 to 1pm every weekday, with rotating officers, including the E-Boarders, so students will have greater access to Union officials as Secretary, I have control over office hours, I get to do that.

Student reaction to the candidates elections were varied: I didn't really know [Sinhas] platform so I didn't vote for her, but she was endorsed by a myriad of clubs and was popular among the student body, said Miriam von Guggenberg '10. She seems to deserve the position.

Brandeis Republican President Megan Vijiarungam 09 said, I think its going to be a success you have a group of really diverse people and they have the capability of doing really diverse things. She added Id like to congratulate the e-board and I look forward to working w them in the future in my capacity as president of the Brandeis Republicans.

Mike Martin 09 said I think theyre a good group of candidatesthey all seem very involved with the school Im excited to see what next is year is going to be like.

However, some students accused some of the candidates of unethical practices. A student who wished to remain anonymous, sent in an e-mail to the Hoot that Shreeya began campaigning to the Senate in her open forum speech on the 11th, before the candidates meeting and she deliberately missed the Senate meeting on the 18th in order to receive an endorsement from the ICC, a very influential body on campus. The whistle-blowers found both those actions to not unfair to other candidates and a disregard of her responsibilities as Senator.

The anonymous student added that there were various other dirty moves that were placed on various candidates but were not e-mailed by Whistle-blowers. Posters from some candidates were ripped down, there were rumors that a certain candidate used more than the required 200 fliers to promote herself, and other violations that most likely happen every year. But because one needs proof that a certain candidate was behind the damaging acts, most of the violations could not be proven and proper action could not be taken on the defense of the victims. Therefore, many perfect crimes could take place during this semester's e-board election.

Elections Commissioner and Union Vice President Aaron Gaynor 07 would not comment on the Whistleblowers, only stating that the Elections Committee would keep all concerns regarding elections completely anonymous. Sinha meanwhile said that you know you got to take it with stride I didn't run a negative campaign, I ran a positive campaign, and I guess that won out in the end. You can't let these things get to you.

Each candidate stated their enthusiasm for the new Executive Board: I think they're great people, I've been with Choon for one year;

I've been with Michael Goldman for one year, but their dedication to the Student Union is unwavering, and we need that sort of people on the Executive Board, said Sinha. I look forward to meeting with those people, and getting started.

Goldman said that Shreeya brings an engaging personality and a slew of new ideas to the table. Choon brings his financial expertise and experience. There can be no better representative of the Senate than Alex Braver, whose work ethnic and smile make him an absolute pleasure to work with in the coming year.

I would just like to say thank you and really, honestly, as corny as it sounds, words can't express how thankful I am for the support I got in the first round. I wish the rest of the candidates good luckthey had a lot of refreshing ideas, said Sinha. In the end, the students made their decision, and I am honored that they picked me. While my integrity was questioned…I think my dedication to the Union proved me a worthy candidate.