Student elections are tomorrow and we’re here to tell you everything you need to know, from how to vote, the difference between the parties, and everything in between. Let’s get started!
Part 1: The Basics – What Are These Elections Even For?
This week (Tuesday & Wednesday, June 14-16 2016), Bar-Ilan students will be voting on campus for:
- The Student Union (Agudat Hastudentim) Leadership – These are the people that decide agenda, determine budgets, add and create new student services, and plan events.
- The Department Representatives – These are the people in each department that lobby for their specific students needs, help get new students notes, organize academic complaints about teachers and the like.
Every Agudah member (students who pay “Dmei Revacha”) votes both for a leading party, and for their individual department rep.
Why are Elections important?
Despite yearly complaints about ineffective Agudahs, the Student Union actually has a lot of sway, and has done a lot over the years. In past years, they’ve created the campus shuttle system, got the libraries open longer, got more benefits for students called up for miluim, forced professors to show up to exams, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
For years, they’ve also been instrumental at strengthening the Anglo community – in fact, years ago they were the sole financial sponsor for all English-speaking events in the area!
Does my vote actually matter?
YES. Although there are more than 35,000 students in BIU, only around 3000 vote in an election! As more than 500 of those votes are Olim Chadashim, we have a disproportionate say – and that’s really important, when we need the Student Unions backing to get things done (*cough* test translations *cough*).
Part 2: Who’s Running?
This year there are
two three parties running for student union leadership. That being said, the third one only announced candidacy a week ago, and we don’t even know their name! For the sake of this article, we’re just going to focus on the two frontrunners: Gesher and Shachar.
Note: The GSC does not endorse any specific party, and most of the language that follows is taken straight from the parties’ platforms.
Ta Gesher (click for Shachar)
Gesher’s platform is based on diversity, and want to provide a solution for “every student’s academic, campus life, and welfare needs.” Their key to doing this is by having representation from all the various demographics within their party, which is different than many a prior Agudah.
So far they’ve made the following promises (and plans – not this list is not exhaustive):
- Creating an organized database of quality notes, by soliciting them from students who scored above a 90 on the course.
- Renovating study rooms and expanding hours during finals.
- Translating announcements and student resources into multiple languages as well as reinstating the Olim Representative (which was dropped this year due to budget cuts).
- Improving Olim Benefits – they’ve already been actively lobbying for an increase in test translations (and their reduction in price), and just recently met with various Knesset Members about expanding overall rights.
- Campus Life
- Offering Skill Development workshops, creating interships with major companies, more varied athletic extracurriculars, trips and vactions for individual departments.
- Working with and empowering student organizations on campus (and those in other universities), to create more and diverse clubs and events.
- Lowering prices for food items across campus.
- Building more student housing (also for non-students), increasing events and resources for both on-campus and off-campus dorm students, renting an off-campus dormitory building to address the closing of several dorm buildings this upcoming year.
This party is being led by Yankale Levenberg, current Treasurer of the Student Union, and has many Anglos in its ranks.
Ta Shachar (click for Gesher)
Looked at as the incumbent, many (but not all) of Ta Shachar’s leadership have been part of the current Agudah. As such their party has stressed their successes, and promises a continuation of these success and more to come. Shachar is focused on “the academic…culture and leisure level, on the student services and affordability level, and the entire Bar-Ilan experience.”
Specifically, Shachar has made the following promises on their platform (again, not exhaustive):
- Reduction and cancellation of payments for Moed Bet, Gimmel, and summer semester.
- Expand Test Translations to other languages, and create a larger database of course summaries. In the meantime, they successfully got the Dean of Students Office to allow second and third year students to translate the five exams as promised at the beginning of the semester.
- Creating more scholarship options and mentoring programs (for credits), as well as internship program and job fairs.
- Campus Life:
- Improve competition on campus to create better good and prices.
- Lobby for improved transportation to and from campus, and improved campus wifi.
- Create more break rooms.
- Organize monthly parties and create more student clubs.
- Creating various “sectorial councils” (e.g. for Olim), to advocate for special interest groups and minorities.
Shachar is led by Daniel Tayar and Hadar Doran.
Making Your Decision
As long-time Bar-Ilan students, we’ve seen dozens of student parties come and go, many equally ineffective. The lists above do not include the entire platform of the parties, and we encourage students to view their websites and reach out to one of the representatives who will be on campus tomorrow.
Don’t just ask yourself what matters to you; to increase the chances you’re voting for an effectual student union, make sure to learn how they plan to implement change and not just what they would change ideally.
Part 3 – Voting:
As mentioned, voting will take place on campus Tuesday & Wednesday (14-15 June 2015).
Voting Booths: There will be three voting locations set up: At the Student Union (Bldg. 107), at Mador Shema (Bldg 502/19), and at Engineering (1201). Polls will be open both days between 9:00-19:00.
For the first time ever, voting will be handled electronically. You must bring a picture ID (Teudat Zehut\ Student ID \ Passport) to vote.
Get out and Vote!
As the largest single group of students on campus, Olim Chadashim are disproportionately affected by student life and the successes of the Agudah.
Don’t waste your vote; every Oleh vote shows the strength of our community and causes future Student Unions to pay attention to our needs.
See you at the polls!