Student body votes to support Student Bill of RightsPublished: May 2, 2008
Section: Front Page
In a campus-wide vote Wednesday, the student body voted to support the Student Bill of Rights. Approximately 90% of voting students voted in favor of the document.
The Student Bill of Rights, spearheaded by Union President Jason Gray ’10, was compiled by a student committee this semester.
“The vote was to determine the will of the student body,” Gray explained. The high approval rating “shows that this is something that not only the Union wants but the student body desires,” he said.
Gravity Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Zornow ’08 commented, “I voted for it because I think it’s a good thing. It’s in the best interest of my organization to vote for it.”
“I guess I voted for it because I didn’t see any reason not to. It’s a valuable addition to student life given the amount of activism and involvement at Brandeis,” said Max-Fischlowitz Roberts ’10.
He added, “students should know that they have a certain freedom to express how they feel especially given Brandeis history.”
Gray explained that he and the committee envisioned the Student Bill of Rights developing in three phases. The first was the creation of the document and the vote to gauge student support is part of the second phase.
The third phase is “working with the administration to incorporate [the Student Bill of Rights] into their governing structure.” Gray would also like to create “know your rights cards” for students in their dorm rooms. This is the “implementation stage,” he said.
While Gray is looking to the future of the Student Bill of Rights, Director of Student Development and Conduct Erika Lamarre does not support the document. “I respect where the Union is coming from on this, however the rights expressed in the Student Bill of Rights already exist so there is really nothing new there. When rights are violated it is usually on a peer to peer level and regardless of the circumstances, the university has many ways in which to address perceived violations of rights.”
She continued, “I think any discussion of rights should be about awareness and also the balance of those rights with responsibilities.”
“Students on this campus don’t know what their rights are,” said Gray. And while he and Lamarre both commented on the need for rights awareness, Gray commented that “in some cases, [students] don’t have the rights they ought to have.”
“We want to do two things,” explained Gray, “substantiate the rights student deserve and let students know what their rights are.”
In response to claims that Rights and Responsibilities enumerates the same rights as the Student Bill of Rights, Gray responded, “I don’t think R and R is bad…[but] R and R is not effective. [We] need to provide a more effective way for us to know what our rights are.”
Kathleen Fischman contributed to this report.