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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Stop undermining student input

Published: April 23, 2010
Section: Editorials

Initially, this editorial board was pleased to learn that the administration had asked for student input as part of its decision on how to replace the Kalman and Friedland buildings in the science complex.  After all, during the last year, this editorial board has repeatedly called for the Brandeis administration to listen to student voices before making rash decisions.

Then we picked our jaws off of the floor, took a step back and reviewed the events of the past year. The familiar feeling that students have no say in university policies quickly returned.

The decision to build either a garden or sand volleyball courts–or both–is inane.  This university is short on funds, so instead of replacing the torn down buildings with new ones, administrators have settled on a low-key replacement. While this is a noble quest, the fact remains that whether students choose volleyball or a garden is inconsequential when one considers the vast majority of decisions which have been decided without a student vote such as academic cuts, the closure (or not) of The Rose Art Museum and the creation of the Justice Brandeis Semester to name a few.

By putting the final decision to a vote the administration is throwing us a line. It seeks to quell student anger over a systematic lack of input while simultaneously allowing those same administrators to say, “students chose this solution,” when future generations ask why Brandeis has an overgrown garden or soggy volleyball courts.

Call us conspiracy theorists, but we’re not biting.

We realize that not every decision on campus can be put to a student vote, but we maintain that every decision on campus could benefit from focus groups, or surveys–none of which happened in the three major examples listed previously.

This vote on the Kalman and Friedland spaces is certainly a step in the right direction and is definitely an example of how decision-making should be done. We are too wary, however, to take it as an indication of how decision-making on campus will be done.  We have been watching the administration for too long to be that naïve.

If the adminstration wants students to take this vote with anything more than a grain of salt, they must be willing to give us a similar voice on decisions that matter more.