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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Student Union should practice what it preaches

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: Opinions

For the past six weeks, the Student Union has proudly publicized the Brandeis Citizenship Campaign, which values diversity, community, and respect above all else. Yet last weekend showed a different side of the Union, when it voted by a wide margin to table indefinitely the resolution regarding an email sent by TYP Senator Kamarin Lee that addressed comments by Asher Tanenbaum 08, chair of the Unions Ways and Means Committee.

Tanenbaum stated, based solely on the wording of the clubs written constitutions, that the committee found potential dualities of purpose between the Brandeis Black Student Organization and the newly-chartered African Culture club. In response, Lee emailed several minority members of the Senate, as well as members of the Executive Board, saying that Tanenbaums opinion sounds like something that would come from a White, Jewish Middle-Class Conservative.

Tanenbaums job, as committee chair, is to critically examine the constitution of any club coming before the Union to be chartered. He was merely executing his official duty by bringing up what he saw as a duality of purpose, and he even used the word potential to show that this duality was only a possibility. We are not commenting on whether or not the clubs constitutions did indeed overlap, but it was appropriate for Tanenbaum to raise the issue for debate.

It was completely inappropriate, though, for Lee to express his disagreement with Tanenbaum in the way he did. Instead of going behind Tanenbaums back, Lee should have addressed him in a legitimate forum. However, some in the Union felt that Lees statements were not actionable, and there were even those who felt that Tanenbaum had it coming, that even the merest hint of dissent earned Tanenbaum these remarks. The Union should have expressed dismay with Lee for taking this approach, and if nothing else, Lee needed to be informed that this is not the way that the Union should conduct its business.

The only member of the Union who should be commended for his part in this is Class of 2009 Senator Yuki Hasegawa, who, despite being much maligned for his efforts, brought Lees comments to light. Those at Sundays Union meeting know that Union members such as Vice President Alex Braver 09 tried to bully Hasegawa into withdrawing his resolution, and we are impressed that Hasegawa held his ground, even as the Union voted to close ranks rather than hold Lee accountable for his words. We can understand the Union not wanting to be consumed by yet another in-house controversy after weeks of long discussions, but in the end they are our elected officials and need to act accordingly.

This Student Union has made a name for itself claiming that it understands diversity and respect, and by trying to defend against racism, as it clearly showed by its rapid denouncing and attempted dechartering of Gravity Magazine. Still, the Union chose to do nothing about Lees email. In fact, its response is even worse than nothing, because by choosing to table indefinitely the only method of formal response, the Union is tacitly condoning Lees actions. The Union must practice what it preaches, and in this instance, it has failed to do so.