Views on the News: New Year's Resolutions
A new year brings with it new resolutions, challenges and opportunities for self-improvement. 2013 was an eventful year for the college: Sodexo took over as the dining services provider, new administrators sat down in executive seats, the University suspended a 10 year partnership with Al-Quds University, and a front page article in The Boston Globe discussing President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz's compensation package led to petitions and protests. As the first semester of 2014 begins, what changes woul you like to see in the University?
Prof. Bernadette Brooten (NEJS)
I dream of a Brandeis that is free of violence, economically just, and active in pursuing peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. Unfortunately, students report that sexual and other gender-based violence is frequent, devastating and usually unreported. I dream of a day when everyone is trained in bystander intervention, and all staff and faculty know how to prevent and respond to such violence. If violence is in our own backyard, so too is economic injustice. The lowest-paid Sodexo workers earn $12.70 per hour, while senior administrators' compensation have ballooned, and the number of highly paid administrators increased. If these high salaries came down, everyone could earn a living wage of at least $15 per hour. The Daniel Terris, Susan Lanser, and Daniel Kryder report satisfies me that Al-Quds's administration vigorously opposed the hateful November demonstration. I hope that Brandeis will apologize to President Nusseibeh for its precipitous action and ask to re-establish the partnership.
Prof. Bernadette Brooten (NEJS) is the Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies, and the director of the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project.
As I look to 2014, I have many hopes for this upcoming year at Brandeis. I would love to see the passions of our community come through to the University not because it looks good in an Admissions video or brochure, but because it is truly a picture of what our students can accomplish. I want students to be involved in what matters to them-whether that is the creation of a conference dedicated to the discussion around Israel, excelling on the sports field or choreographing a dance for their peers to perform in the next show. I want all of us to do things like this because we want to-not because it looks good on our resumes or we want to look good for our supervisors. I would like the students to continue to push the minds of our professors and administrators to think beyond what they know to what they can imagine. Too many times in 2013, I heard comments like "well, I need to do this for my resume" or "if I say no to this project, will I still have a job?" We need to get back to doing things because we want to ... because we love it.
Stephanie Grimes is the Director of Student Activities.
Why did some of the most brilliant minds of the '40s decide to teach at a no-name school with barely any students? Maslow, Roosevelt, Bernstein, etc. came here because Brandeis was meant to be something amazing: a university committed to social change. For the first time in well over 10 years, we have a chance at moving toward that vision, instead of continued backsliding. But should Brandeis run like a non-corrupt corporation, or a non-corrupt social justice university? A Brandeis true to our values would allow students, faculty, and staff an equal say in decision-making. There would be faculty, worker, student, and alumni seats on the Board of Trustees; a cap on administrative salaries tied to our lowest wage; student, faculty and worker input on the budget; a just cause firing language for staff; a written commitment to place students on all search committees regarding hiring administration; not to mention urgent non-structural priorities like divesting from fossil fuels, diversifying our faculty and freezing tuition. It's time to remember why Brandeis was founded in the first place.
Sahar Massachi '11 M.A. '12, works at the Wikimedia Foundation and started the "Petition for Fair Executive Pay" on actionnetwork.org.
Last semester was my first at Brandeis University and I tried my best to get a sense of the atmosphere of Israel-related activity on campus. While I was impressed by the vast programming available, it became evident that there are still many apathetic students. As I enter my second semester here in Waltham, I hope even more students elect to speak up about Israel, whether it is Israeli-Arab politics or simply why Israel matters to them. The number of students who care about and talk about Israel on a daily basis is already truly remarkable, and I look forward to seeing additional students voice their opinions and engage in dialogue. With speakers coming to campuses on a weekly basis, I can think of no better arena in the United States for young college students to explore everything and anything related to Israel. I hope everyone, regardless of their previous knowledge, takes advantage of Brandeis' unique climate.
Daniel Mael '15 is the President of Students for Accuracy about Israeli and Palestinian affairs.