On April 5, Brandeis University fired men’s basketball coach Brian Meehan hours before the release of a Deadspin article detailing Meehan’s history of racist and unprofessional behavior and the University’s failure to address a formal complaint lodged by several players. University President Ron Liebowitz announced that the school has brought in an independent counsel to fully investigate the University’s process for handling complaints. How should the University handle the fallout from Meehan’s conduct, and what steps should be taken to ensure a fair and equal campus for all students? 

Sam Weiss ‘20 

I think that it was the right decision for Brandeis to hire outside lawyers to investigate the university’s poor response to the complaints against Brian Meehan.  Of course, the independent counsel is only necessary because the administration has already proven itself incapable of protecting its students and holding offenders responsible for their words and actions.  In his latest email President Liebowitz stated that creating a more inclusive campus must be a top priority for Brandeis’ administration, and I take him at his word that his desire to address this problem is genuine.  However, like many of my peers I currently find it difficult to place my confidence in the administration, and I think the burden is on President Liebowitz and other Brandeis leaders to earn back our trust by taking concrete steps to address the needs and concerns of marginalized students

I also hope that this incident will serve as an inflection point for all of us in the student body to consider what we can do to combat systemic racism on our campus.  That means that we all need to play a role in holding the administration accountable for its promises and that we can’t let the burden of speaking out on issues of discrimination continue to fall so disproportionately on students of color.  We also each need to consider what more we can do as individuals to make Brandeis a more just and inclusive place where everyone can feel welcome. 

Sam Weiss ‘20  is a politics major.

R Matthews ‘19

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through this incident with former Coach Meehan for a while now. And to be honest, it’s not even tethered entirely to this specific situation. Racism exists on college campuses across the country, and yes, even at Brandeis. So, what frustrates me are these reactions of utter shock that something like this could happen at our social-justice-driven institution. To address the question, I’d suggest that the university (students, faculty, staff, administrators, etc.) stop addressing this as an isolated incident and consider it a byproduct of a larger issue of racism on campus. I’d then encourage the administration to keep speaking with the students as to action plans because lack of communication and transparency are what helped fuel the culmination of this (and other) incidents. Finally, to me, the most important thing I want to see is actual action. Prioritize this.

R Matthews ’19 is a Brandeis University Posse Scholar and is majoring in Computer Science and African & Afro-American Studies.    

Mara Khayter ‘19

I don’t think there’s a right answer to this-- it’s really difficult to maintain a campus that entirely addresses and takes action against something I consider too pervasive to prevent. It’s a matter of brevity that can’t be tackled by a single organisation. It’s also a general matter of keeping up with the thoughts and concerns students almost constantly bring up, which, I don’t think, is something the respective faculty has been doing well enough. The problem arises from the “what” to do, not in terms of keeping racists at bay, but in terms of how to espouse an environment that doesn’t allow such outbursts to occur in the first place. Even if they do, the confidence with which our students and faculty have in voicing their opinions and concerns should be such that they actually feel that the administration does something tangible with their words.

Mara Khayter ’19 is a cartoonist for the Justice.