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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Impeach abstain for Off-Campus Senator

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: Opinions

As the position of Racial Minority senator has been scrutinized and could possibly be removed for its violation of Title VI, other positions that are completely valid have gone unrepresented. Most specifically, I am referencing this years senator for off-campus students, who goes by the name abstain. While students on campus have been pestering the administration about noise, arming the cops with guns, and other issues that occur on the Brandeis campus, our brothers and sisters who live in the real world in Waltham currently have no representation.

Considering that housing is such a big concern on this campus, the lack of an off-campus senator seems quite ridiculous. Yes, abstain was elected under a democratic process. But this is a troubling trend. Abstain has won a number of elections in the past. It as if students are just so apathetic about voting for representatives or they would simply rather not have anyone represent them than the people who aspire to run. According to the constitution, if abstain wins an election then the position will remain vacant until the next election, only with exception to the Student Union President. What if abstain were to win the treasurer position? Would that mean that we would just let the position that deals with the finances remain empty for months? After the initial chuckle that students were so apathetic of electing a Union official, it really is a sad state of affairs to see these kinds of things happen.

This problem might not be as big a deal for other positions, considering that many can overlap. For instance, the Class of 2008 Senator could also live in the same place as the Senator for a specific quad. Yet for those who live off-campus, which is a huge number of students currently, the overlap is much more difficult. Students who live off-campus could be a number of class years, international students, or other students who transferred.

It is sad to see many of the issues that plague students that live off-campus simply sit stagnantly. These issues range from giving off-campus students keys to get into buildings on campus, transportation to and from Brandeis, hosting off-campus social events, and parking passes. Every year numerous students are forced to move to Waltham, a place that for many students is considered as far away as Siberia. To not have an elected official available for these students to voice their concerns is unfortunate.

The question that presents itself is how these students can get their voices heard directly to Student government and the administration if they dont have a representative who will fight for them. The commuter lounge, a room a stones throw away from both the Student Union and the administration in Shapiro, seems to be one place to go. Another option is to write articles in the campus media to get people thinking about various issues that plague off-campus students.

Or perhaps an already elected senator or executive could shoulder the responsibilities of the off-campus senator and try to enact change. But hearing all of the political infighting and according to Union representative Zach Pyle in his column last week among others, it seems that our elected officials already have enough on their plates in regards to the positions they were elected for, let alone another.

Then theres the old students should take matters into their own hands idea. At the same time that we are arguing about a position that allows some students greater representation than others, we are throwing other students into the wild by voting abstain and leaving the position empty. Yet if we are too apathetic to elect a senator for the position, the odds that this kind of approach is used seems to be low.

I just simply cant believe that there are no issues, considering that I spent an entire year off-campus and know many individuals who have voiced their own concerns about their respective situations. As an off-campus student, I dont remember being contacted once about anything.

Then again, I couldnt exactly go to my senator and complain about the loud noises throughout the streets of Waltham, and I dont expect to do so once I leave Brandeis and enter the real world. As of right now, I can only hope that abstain is not re-elected. Then again, abstain didnt make any false promises or discuss platforms that werent actually realistic. No, abstain did everything it promised: absolutely nothing.