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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Senators forget responsibilities

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: Opinions

It is after 7:30 on the night of Sunday, Oct. 28. The Senate meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m., has not yet been called to order. The reason: our representatives, our senators, have simply not shown up. Theyre watching football, getting dinner at Usdan, or at an event for another, apparently more important, extracurricular activity. The unreasonably high number of senators required for a meeting to officially be called- 11 out of a total of 21 senators.

It would be one thing if these positions were completely undesirable and the Student Union was begging for people to fill spots. The truth is that very few senators run campaigns unopposed. There are people on the Brandeis campus who are willing to do the work that our elected officials seem unwilling to do. In a year where much debate and discussion has centered around the immoral behavior of former Secretary Michael Goldman, 08, behavior that only through a long trial in the Union Judiciary could be determined as unconstitutional, other representatives are not facing similar consequences for more clearly failing to adhere to their constitutional obligations. Several Union officials even informed me privately before the beginning of the fall semester that they had no intentions of attending office hours. This type of attitude in large part comes from the very top. Two members of this years Executive Office, both senators at the time, last year infamously skipped a Senate meeting in order to campaign for higher positions at a meeting of one of the campus most powerful student organizations. Other senators running for those same positions attended the Senate meeting. Surely, sitting in meetings and helping students in the Club Resource Center is not all that these representatives are expected to do. However, it is an integral part. Goldman recently told the Hoot that the Senate basically just charters clubs. With such poor attendance at constitutionally and by-law mandated events, it is unclear for how much longer they will be exercising even that power.

When Senators do decide to get together and talk about Student Union affairs, rather than concern themselves with the students they represent or the promises they made in order to get elected, considerable amounts of time are wasted politically plotting their next move to best screw over the opposing faction. Many Union insiders say that they hoped the infighting would end after last springs presidential election, or after the Senate decided to censure Goldman, but still the conflict ensues. A senator who just once votes against a faction risks forever being alienated. Now in November, some senators are already attempting to form alliances for potential runs at the Executive Senator position. Most senators view the body as divided in two, with a youre either with us or against us attitude. Among all this scheming and backstabbing, too many senators forget the most important objective that any representative faces: to think about their constituents, to do whatever possible to make Brandeis better.

The students will say that none of this matters, that they couldnt care less about Student Union. But where does this apathy comes from? Every spring and fall students are bombarded with flyers, Facebook groups, and door to door visits with promise after promise for change. Yet election after election, we see too many of our representatives fall into the trend of inefficiency, indifference, and pettiness. Who can blame the students for not caring? The onus for change ultimately lies in fourteen individuals, the fourteen members of this years senate serving for the very first time. They must stay true to their election promises, and reject the culture of politicking that has developed. They owe it to themselves, to the Union, and most of all to the students. If ever a group of Student Union members had a chance to regain some of the organizations former credibility, this is it. In theory, the Senate has always had the power to advocate for student needs. Now it is time for the students to see this power in practice.