April 1958: Early Justice April Fools Edition

As written in an April Fools edition of The Justice in 1958, then President Abram L. Sachar ordered for an issue of The Justice to be “confiscated.” It was of the paper’s first April Fools editions, which has since become a beloved tradition where the editors publish a thorough prank-issue.

The front-page article in the 1958 April Fools publication wrote that the University had objected to a news article exposing an underground faculty organization called the “Freedom Fighters.” It claimed that security officers were ordered to retrieve “every last copy” of the issue from The Justice office to be burned. The issue was framed as an “extra edition,” that was distributed “only through clandestine arrangements on the part of the editors who, it is expected, will be expelled today on the recommendation of a faculty committee …” 

They continued to write that to prevent any similar recurrences, Sachar organized a Faculty Committee on Censorship. With meticulous detail, the article made up accounts of student outcry to these events, such as the Student Council calling for a strike and the student body declaring a boycott of classes. In a cleverly righteous diatribe, the editorial board demanded for “renewed freedom for The Justice.” 

“We have existed for ten years. This looks like our last issue for a while! But like other newspapers that have recently been suspended, we promise to return. We hope that in the near future there will be a reaffirmation of the Brandeis tradition of Justice—administration cooperation and mutual [interfertilization] of ideas,” the article concluded.

Oct. 1967: The Grapes of Rabb —  Protest at the Rabb Graduate Center

The opening of the Rabb Graduate Center at the start of the fall semester sparked controversy due to protests against the Rabb family’s business practices regarding their Stop & Shop supermarket chain, which sold grapes from California farms with poorly-paid migrant workers. 

Picket lines formed outside the new facility, leading to weeks of fallout and debate. Some questioned the wisdom of the protest, suggesting it lacked prior dialogue with the Rabbs. The Justice published an opinion piece titled “The Grapes of Rabb” on the issue. 

Irving Rabb expressed frustration with what he perceived as ingratitude from students, and the Rabb family’s association with Brandeis persisted. Norman Rabb, a trustee, and his wife were honored in 1990 with the establishment of the Rabb School of Summer, Special, and Continuing Studies.


Feb. 1975: Michael Sandel ’75 named Rhodes Scholar

Michael Sandel ’75, author of “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?,” became the second person from Brandeis to win a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Notably, he was the first American citizen from Brandeis to receive this honor. 

Sandel, selected as one of the four New England regional winners and one of 32 nationwide, went on to study at Balliol College, Oxford University. There, he pursued a combined degree in philosophy, politics and economics. Established by Cecil Rhodes, the scholarship provides $4700 per year for two years of study at Oxford University. 

Sandel was described by his professors as “the epitome of the intellectual” and a student with his “own ideas and the courage to follow them up.” Professor Barney Schwalberg noted that Sandel was an “unusually imaginative student.”

Now a political philosopher and lecturer at Harvard Law School, his course “Justice” is freely available online.


Nov. 1986: Oprah Winfrey lectures

Daytime talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey made a visit to campus to deliver a lecture called “A Black Woman’s Plight for Success” in Levin Ballroom. In her lecture, Winfrey shared the struggles  that she faced in establishing her career. According to a 1986 Justice article covering the lecture, Winfrey stated that “excellence is the best deterrent to racism.” Winfrey also spoke on how despite her lack of positive role models having grown up on a farm in Mississippi, she always tried to do her best in school and be resilient through the obstacles in her career in media. 

She ended the lecture with two pieces of advice to students: “Your heart always leads you in the right direction; listen to your heart, not to your head,” and “What you do will always come back to you, the good as well as the bad; what you put out, you get back.”

Sep. 1992: Shen Tong ’91 Detained in Beijing

According to a Sep. 8 1992 news story in The Justice, Shen Tong ’91 — a former prominent student leader in China’s pro-democracy movement — was arrested in Beijing just hours before he planned to announce the opening of a pro-democracy organization’s office in the city. Shen, who had returned to China at the government’s invitation after fleeing in 1989, was arrested in a police raid at his mother’s home. 


The arrest occurred following a planned press conference, indicating Shen’s intention to continue his activism. He had traveled extensively across China to understand societal changes since the Tiananmen Square uprisings and had aimed to legally establish the organization’s office in Beijing. Shen’s arrest raised concerns about fabricated charges and potential imprisonment by the Chinese government. Despite his efforts for nonviolent transformation, Shen’s arrest exemplified the ongoing suppression of dissent in China. 

The Brandeis community responded with rallies, petitions, and letters to local politicians. Then President Samuel Thier sent a letter to Senator John Kerry urging him to take whatever steps necessary to make sure Shen is fairly treated by the Chinese government. “We at Brandeis (and countless others) are concerned about Shen’s well being, especially in light of reports in (the Sept. 1 issue of the) New York Times of the torture of other pro-democracy campaigners imprisoned in northeast China,” The Justice quoted from Thier’s letter to Kerry.

As a former Wien Scholar at Brandeis, Shen had advocated for democracy even during his time as a student and was recognized by Newsweek as one of the “People of the Year” in 1989. Shen is now an activist, entrepreneur and managing partner of FoodFutureCo.