Over winter break, Brandeis students responded to the recent controversy involving students Khadijah Lynch ’16 and Daniel Mael ’15 by engaging in a positivity campaign on social media titled “#BrandeisIsOurHouse." Well over a hundred students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff posted positive messages and stories about their Brandeis experiences on their Facebook and Twitter pages using the hashtag #BrandeisIsOurHouse as an identifier. 

The campaign was initiated mainly in response to negative social media backlash resulting from the Lynch-Mael controversy, in which Lynch posted tweets in response to the killings of two New York City police officers and Mael publicized her tweets in an online article. The article generated publicity, resulting in threats towards Lynch and calls for her expulsion. The controversy also sparked widespread social media discussion about race and free speech. This event, along with Brandeis’ decision to disinvite Ayaan Hirsi Ali from receiving an honorary degree at commencement last year, has put Brandeis in the spotlight and generated a lot of negative media attention. 

Kelsey Segaloff ’15 created the Facebook event, which took place online from Dec. 29 to Jan. 1.  In an email to the Justice, Segaloff wrote that she was “frustrated” and “enraged” by all the hate and anger being posted on social media in response to the Lynch-Mael controversy. Rather than respond online with anger, however, Segaloff wanted to respond with positivity—specifically by encouraging students and alumni to share positive and memorable experiences at Brandeis. 

The Facebook event description stated, “We are stronger than those who steal our emails from listservs for their agenda. We are better than those who use their words to hurt. We are an amazing community above this negativity. Let’s show what the Brandeis Community is through our own voices because #BrandeisIsOurHouse.”

While the event was her idea alone, Segaloff wrote that she did reach out to her friends and other student leaders on campus to gain support and to help promote the event. 

Segaloff said the hashtag #BrandeisIsOurHouse was inspired by the popular “This Is Our House” speech given annually by Dean of Students Jamele Adams. 

743 people attended the Facebook event and hundreds posted their stories using the hashtag, both on the event page itself and on many personal Facebook and Twitter pages. Students, alumni and staff posted messages ranging from anecdotes about friends or professors, the inspiring diversity on campus, experiences with extracurricular activities and even coming-out stories. 

Segaloff wrote that she was “beyond honored by reading people’s stories, what they overcame, and how the Brandeis community helped them” and thrilled by the outcome of the event. “I am so happy and thankful to be part of a community so willing to spread positivity,” Segaloff wrote. 

Segaloff also metioned that Assistant Dean of Students Stephanie Grimes has reached out to her regarding a way to make these messages of positivity visible on campus, and she is excited to hopefully continue the spread of positivity on and beyond the Brandeis campus.