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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

UJ issues RMS ruling, RMS to remain for now

Published: April 28, 2009
Section: Front Page

The Student Union Judiciary (UJ) ordered Union Secretary Tia Chatterjee ’09 to hold Racial Minority Senator (RMS) elections as soon as possible after finding for the Student Union in the case of Klionsky and McElhaney v. Student Union Sunday evening.

The election for the RMS position was postponed for the trial, during which the constitutionality of the position was challenged because only students who are registered as racial minorities with the registrar are permitted to run and vote for the position.

The UJ also ordered that the Student Union President “ensure the constitutional review processes…address the issue of positions that may only be held or voted for by registered racial minority students.”

The constitutional review process is already scheduled for next year in accordance with the Union Constitution, which mandates a review process every four years.

The decision was not unanimous. Only three of five justices found in favor of the Student Union.

Associate Justice Julia Sferlazzo ’09 wrote in her concurring opinion that the UJ did not have jurisdiction over the case, and therefore should never have heard the case.

She continued to say that she believes the position of RMS is necessary.

“I would love to attend a school in which there was not a need for a racial minority senator. However, I do not go to such a school,” she wrote.

The two dissenting justices, Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan ’09 and Associate Justice Jordan Rothman ’09 disagreed in their dissents.

Kagan wrote in her dissenting argument that while she does not believe a position for which only racial minority students were eligible to vote was unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional to only allow racial minority students to run for such a position.

Despite her finding for the petitioner, however, Kagan agreed to direct the Student Union to hold RMS elections.

Rothman found for the petitioners, declaring the RMS petition “unconstitutional.”

In reaction to the ruling, the Brandeis Black Student Organization (BBSO) held a Town Hall at the Inter Cultural Center Monday night.

The discussion, led by BBSO co-presidents Kaamilla Mohamed ’11 and Kayla Sotomil ’10, focused around what the 18 students present thought of the UJ trial and what they thought should happen to the RMS position.

“I think there was a lack of safe space and community forum at the trial,” Sotomil told the group, “I’m hoping that this will be a safe space to talk so that people can air their grievances and we can move on in a constructive way.”

Editor’s note: Jordan Rothman is a member of The Hoot editorial board.