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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SEA reacts to CRC vote

Published: March 26, 2010
Section: Front Page

The Brandeis group Students for Environmental Action (SEA) reacted this week to the March 18 vote of the student body against securing the club, one of Brandeis’ largest undergraduate organizations.

“I was surprised that we weren’t deemed to be providing services that are integral to student life,” SEA President Hannah Saltman ’12 said. “You can’t have social justice in a society ravaged by the effects of climate change.”

According to the Student Union Constitution, which governs the management of clubs, a secured organization is guaranteed a designated amount of funds per year as opposed to asking the Union Finance Board for money each semester. The purpose of this is to provide a necessary service to the university.

On the ballot last week, a student or a group of students submitted arguments against SEA’s being secured, arguing that the group did not meet the standards of mandatory Finance Board funding.

“Secured organizations are hereby defined as those organizations that the student body recognizes as fundamental to the mission of the university,” the argument began.

“SEA is a fantastic club which has contributed much to Brandeis, and they should be commended for their work. However, there is no compelling reason to secure SEA. SEA’s aims are neither fundamental to the operations of a university nor particularly relevant to Brandeis,” it continued. “SEA is one among many activist groups at Brandeis, and while all of these groups work towards social justice, a pillar of Brandeis’ mission, none of them deserve special consideration” over another. The argument evidently convinced enough voting students to reject the organization widely expected to win security.

Saltman disagreed, saying that the environment was not a strictly activist or partisan cause.

“In advocating sustainability, it relates to everyone,” she said. “We show everyone how to work toward sustainability, no matter what their interest or ideology.”

SEA Vice President Matt Gabrenya ’13 said the recent and coming events in SEA will keep the organization strong. “From Bike Bloom,” an event Thursday encouraging bike travel as green living, “and our recent sleep out, we have been very successful—we had a lot of people come out.”

Saltman said that her club will not let the vote, which passed by a simple majority but not the required two-thirds, be deterred.

As the argument against them said, they have been able to accomplish everything, she said.

“I think that because we’re one of the biggest clubs on campus it speaks to students’ commitment to sustainability,” she said, illustrating the case for security. Contrary to the charges of ordinary and common activism, Saltman called environmental action “the defining value of our generation.”