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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Committee formed to discuss representation

Published: March 14, 2008
Section: Front Page

To address questions regarding Student Union representation, Director of Research and Development Sridatta Mukherjee ’09 formed the Committee to Explore Equal Representation. The committee, which includes Senator for Racial Minority Students Gabe Gaskin ’08, had its first meeting Tuesday night.

The idea for the committee was “triggered by RMS,” and the conversations the Union E-board had with Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer and Associate Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams on that topic, explained committee chair Mukherjee. But, she added, “we wanted to expand the scope of research.”

In addition to Mukherjee and Gaskin, other members of the committee include Class of 2009 Senator Julia Sferlazzo, Jess Kent ’09, Lily Swartz ’08, Kevin Yim ’10 and Blake Hiatt ’08.

Each member of the committee is charged with bringing to the table the voices of different campus groups, including the activist community, interfaith community, Queer community, and minority and international student community.

Part of the committee’s goal is to “find out what different groups on campus feel about representation,” Mukherjee said. “I want to look at all types of minorities…all pockets of people.” Mukherjee mentioned that her personal focus would be international students.

While the RMS senator position is not the committee’s “primary focus,” Mukherjee said, “it is one of the things we’re looking into.”

The RMS senator position, she explained, “was created 10 years ago. Our community right now has changed; there is a greater diversity, not just in terms of race.”

“In order to cater our government to our community,” she continued, “it’s time to reach out and see what [students’] needs are and how we can serve them.”

“There is no straight path,” said Mukherjee, “we’re just looking to know how people feel.” She added, “we’ll take it as it comes, move with it in a direction that will give me a conclusion.”

In an interview before the committee’s first meeting, Gaskin said he hoped to better understand the position he holds. “I’m guessing that Brandeis has suffered from equal representation problems in the past,” said Gaskin, “has RMS fixed this? I’m not sure.”

He added, “the committee is going to make more people know their representation.”