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Senate to consider bypassing UJ decision with by-law amendment

Published: March 27, 2009
Section: Front Page


The Student Union Senate is considering an amendment to its bylaws that would change the way it can allocate money. The amendment, which was proposed by Senators Lev Hirschhorn ’11, Aaron Mitchell Finegold ’09, Alex Melman ’11, Nathan Robinson ’11, Amanda Hecker ’10, and Alex Norris ’11, comes less than two weeks after the Union Judiciary (UJ) overturned a Senate Money Resolution funding an event to bring Bill Ayers to campus because it was not a “union government project.”

The current wording of the relevant clause states, “All Senate Money Resolutions must be used for Student Union Government projects and/or operations.”

The proposed amendment would change the wording to “All Senate Money Resolutions must be used for projects for the betterment of the Brandeis University undergraduate student body at the discretion of the Senate.”

At the Senate meeting last Sunday, Senators voiced their opinions about the amendment.

“My basic feeling is that the precedent set by the UJ hearing last week severely limits Senate funding in general,” Hirschhorn, who helped plan the Ayers event, said.

Ayers was originally scheduled to speak on campus Mar. 30, however because the original Senate Money Resolution did not pass, he will not be able to visit. Hirschhorn said that Democracy For America hopes to reschedule the Ayers visit for sometime next month and said “we’re working on it.”

Norris agreed. “We are saying to clubs ‘if you have an idea that will benefit the entire student body, then come to us.’”

Senator Eric Alterman ’09, who brought the UJ suit originally, disagreed. “I don’t think the current wording is confining,” he said.

He later added, “The emphasis of the Senate discretionary [fund] should be for Senators to fund their projects.”

One idea that surfaced at the meeting was to institute an application process for individuals or groups with ideas to obtain funding from the Senate. This would alleviate one of the main concerns voiced that the Senate could become a second Finance Board and would be swamped with funding requests.

The Senate will reconsider the amendment at its upcoming meeting Sunday night.