Leading from the front: Kendal Chapman ’22 supports students amid pandemic

Kendal Chapman '22 advocates for her fellow students as Student Union President.

Kendal ChapmanPhoto/Kendal Chapman

Kendal Chapman '22

Student Union President Kendal Chapman ’22 is confronting challenges no one in her position at Brandeis ever has: fostering a sense of community and tending to undergraduate needs while mostly working remotely during a pandemic.

Even so, the New York City native and Health: Science, Society and Policy major is making the most of the unconventional 2020/21 academic year, collaborating with peers in the Student Union to support university health and safety and enhance the Brandeis experience.

Chapman’s Student Union career began as a quad senator in 2018. She has also served on student committees and as the Student Union’s vice president. When the pandemic forced Chapman to abandon her plans to study abroad last fall, she chose instead to run for president and return to campus.

“I’m passionate about the Student Union and what it does, so I wanted to bring that passion and my experience to the job,” Chapman said. “I was involved in a lot of campus planning and Student Union activities over the summer as well, so I ran for president because I felt I could give the Union a good support structure and be in the best position to prioritize the needs of the student community.”

Much of the campus’ focus this year has been on the COVID-19 pandemic. Since last summer, Brandeis has had a robust testing and contact tracing protocol in place for students, staff and faculty on campus, and regularly updates its health and safety guidelines in accordance with federal and state government.

“Brandeis has done an incredible job responding to COVID-19 in terms of protocols and procedures, really by prioritizing testing for everyone on campus,” said Chapman. “It enabled our community to stay safe. But I’m also pleasantly surprised by how much we can get done by meeting virtually. The Union holds all its meetings over Zoom.”

Under Chapman’s leadership, the Student Union has also taken several steps to support Brandeis’ health and safety initiatives, and respond to student needs.

Chapman’s administration has spearheaded numerous initiatives:

Implementing 10-minute breaks in classes

In collaboration with the Provost, the Registrar, and the Dean of Students, the Student Union is now strongly encouraging courses to include a 10-minute break in classes to curb Zoom fatigue.

Facemask handout

The Student Union ordered 4,000 reusable cloth face masks with adjustable nose strips and ear loops optimal for double masking. The masks feature the Brandeis logo and will be handed out Feb. 12. 

Health and Safety guidance

In collaboration with the administration, the Student Union continues to share information about testing, contact tracing and basic health needs around the pandemic. The Union has also worked with Facilities to make all menstrual products in all public bathrooms on campus free.

Student Union Constitution review

Because it is a Constitutional review year, the Student Union is making changes to its policies and structure and revising, where necessary, the regulations for financing and organizing student clubs and organizations to be more supportive. Chapman said the process is meant to foster transparency and closer ties to students and departments across campus. 

Enhancing communications

Using social media and email tools, the Student Union is reviewing how it can better synthesize important news and information for undergraduates. The Union also continues to meet with senior administrators across campus to communicate student concerns.

“I want people to know that this isn’t just me – I am most proud of how unified the Student Union has been this academic year,” Chapman said. “There’s been a lot of teamwork. Our community is also amazing in general. As much as the Union does, it’s our students, clubs and organizations that create the community we have.”

Categories: General, Student Life

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