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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Abuses of power have no place in the Senate

Published: March 6, 2009
Section: Opinions

Tomorrow, in its first case of the semester, the Union Judiciary will consider the constitutionality of using a Senate Money Resolution to finance a club event.

Class of 2009 Senator Eric Alterman filed the case after Class of 2011 Senators and Democracy for America club members Alex Melman and Lev Hirshhorn proposed that the Union Senate pass an SMR to help DFA and Students for a Democratic Society bring former Weatherman and Sarah Palin favorite Bill Ayers to campus. The $900 SMR would help DFA and SDS pay Ayers’ $2,500 speaker fee.

Whether the Ayers SMR violates the Union constitution is for the Union Judiciary to decide. However, constitutional or not, the recently passed SMR sets a concerning precedent about the privileges of elected office on this campus.

Melman and Hirshhorn sought out an SMR after DFA and SDS did not receive sufficient monies from the Finance Board to bring Ayers themselves. And the clubs are certainly not alone in their financial predicament. Clubs across the board received less money this semester than in semesters past. There is no doubt that the entire campus is hurting.

Even so, the Union’s budget should not be seen as a supplement to the monies allocated by the Finance Board. F-board exists so that clubs have equal access to funding. Finance Board members are elected to allocate monies. Union senators are not.

In that regard, it is particularly troubling that the two individuals who proposed the SMR are at once DFA club members and Union senators.

Undoubtedly they have more influence as voting members of the Senate to influence a decision in their club’s favor. Clearly, this represents a conflict of interest. Using one’s elected position to garner special privileges is wrong. Two Senators who ran on the platform of social justice and transparency should know better.