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EDITORIAL: Coming to terms (with Marks term)

Published: March 25, 2005
Section: Opinions


Slightly less than one year ago Mark Schlangel 05 was elected to the position of Student Union President on a platform combining sexual innuendo and promises to improve how clubs are funded and supported. In his time in office, Schlangel has not achieved the broad reforms he hoped for, but he has laid the groundwork for good things to come.

Student Union President is a complicated and taxing job that requires balancing a good working relationship with administrators with a firm commitment to student advocacy. The president sets the tone for the entire Union government, leads advocacy efforts, and keeps things running smoothly. It is a difficult role to take on, and for Schlangel, whose only experience in student government was on Finance Board, it was a completely new job.

It took him a few months to settle in, but by second semester Schlangel had made some progress on a variety of issues. His Elections Task Force began to take on the difficult task of reforming a complicated voting system. His discussions with Barnes & Noble resulted in a new initiative to help lower textbook prices. He and his appointed officers fought to keep the Pass/Fail option available, and won. And recently, he announced the formation of AMP, a committee charged with reviewing all aspects of how the Student Activities Fee is used to benefit students.

These and other accomplishments, not to mention the myriad day-to-day tasks of the president, kept Schlangel moving forward. But at the same time, there were several issues where progress was not observed. The initiative to improve campus social life seems dead in the water, and the cancellation of ModFest is an issue that the Student Union failed to take as its own, resulting in continuing questions as to whether the event will ever take place. The Social Fund a special funding source for events that include alcohol has had $0 in expenditures.

A year is not a long time in the life of Brandeis, and some of Schlangels best initiatives are still in progress. The drive to better integrate club sports into Athletics is finally gaining momentum, with support coming from an unlikely source the Board of Trustees. Improvements to the Nest gameroom in Usdan are still being discussed, including using it as a venue to sell cheaper Brandeis merchandise. And of course the AMP review committee continues to meet and discuss, although a report may not be forthcoming anytime soon.
In all, Schlangels legacy is not a clear one, and his administration could be called, perhaps, a mixed bag. But not for lack of effort. Rather, it seems in some respects that the Student Union, disorganized, overly concerned with planning events rather than planning advocacy, has lost some of its respect in the eyes of administrators. That trend, if it continues, could make it even harder for the Union to get things done for students in the future.

This next year is a pivotal one in the evolution of the Student Union. Incoming president Jenny Feinberg 07 faces many challenges, not the least of which is unifying the Union under a common purpose and dramatically improving how it interacts with the constituants it serves. We can only hope that Feinberg aggressively pursues some of the not yet completed initiatives that Schlangel is leaving to her while at the same time working to put forth new initiatives that bear her own mark.

We wish Feinberg good luck in facing the challenges ahead and commend Schlangel on a year of fine service.