EDITORIAL: Chabad-Senate snafu brings concerns to light
The Chabad of Brandeis Club (CBC) emerged again as a Union-chartered club last week after a September of argument and discussion between the club's members and Union senators. The CBC was supposed to be de-chartered last spring because its leaders did not submit anti-hazing forms and because its contact person, listed online at my.brandeis.edu, was not a Brandeis student. But last week, senators discovered that the club had never actually been de-chartered.We commend the senate for the restrained manner in which they dealt with the CBC, a club that represents an organization of some concern to many members of the Brandeis community. Chabad is an international Jewish organization which seeks to bring unaffiliated Jews back to religion. Many have criticized its practices for creating divides in Jewish communities and for proselytizing within Jewish communities.
That senators, leaders of the CBC and other interested parties spent many hours discussing whether to have the CBC chartered is embarrassing, however; although no member of the current Union government should be blamed for this mix-up.
The CBC's newfound status has effectively ended the discussion in the Senate, in which some senators and Hillel leaders argued that the CBC should be under Hillel, the long-standing Jewish umbrella organization. The CBC could have been pushed to join 26 other clubs under Hillel aegis, but now little possibility of this remains.
As it currently exists, the CBC acts as an on-campus front organization for the Waltham Chabad on Turner Street. It is unacceptable for a club to exist on campus only to take students off campus. This is retrograde to what should be our collective ideal of bringing students together in campus facilities.
We should also be concerned about the precedent the CBC's recognition sets. There is little difference between a Union-chartered club that fronts for an off-campus Jewish group and a similar club that fronts for a fraternity. And just as in off-campus fraternities, underage students who have gone to Chabad for events have had easy access to alcohol. The University and the Student Union have no control over this troubling activity. And it is much more worrying that underage students are going off campus to drink than staying in the protected confines of the campus.
There is nothing objectively wrong with the existence of Chabad at Brandeis, but for the sake of student safety and campus unity, we encourage the club's leaders to bring themselves under the Hillel umbrella. This change will help Hillel's mission of coordinating Jewish activities to prevent overlap and encourage Jewish unity, and it will ensure that questionable activities are observed by a student group of repute.