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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Do we have to let it linger?

Published: October 30, 2009
Section: Editorials

This week, nine students were appointed to a task force charged with reviewing the Student Union Constitution, a process that occurs every four years. Though the entire constitution is up for review, one provision deserves particular focus.

It is time for a definitive decision about the legality of the Senate and Finance Board positions for racial minority students. Two years ago, questions about the positions’ legality were raised and though a Union committee was created to explore ‘equal representation,’ no action was taken.

Last year’s Union Judiciary case challenging the appropriateness of the position proved that this issue will not go away. The trial, which was fraught with tension, became a very painful experience for many students who felt their views were marginalized and denigrated. And in the end, the Union Judiciary’s decision was inconclusive.

Instead of grappling with this question in a litigious context, we need to have a conversation that allows for a multiplicity of perspectives in an environment where students feel their voices are heard. The racial minority positions in the Senate and on the F-board can no longer afford to be ignored.

After three years of questioning, we need real information about the position’s legality under federal law. The Union task force is ill-equipped to tackle this question on its own. It is going to require campus dialogue and administrative cooperation and support.

Instead of nebulous answers from administrators that leave a stymied Union even more directionless, we need direct access to legal counsel who can advise us.

Letting these positions languish in a netherworld of questionable status serves neither the racial minority community or the campus community as a whole. Ignoring a problem only makes it grow.