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The evolution of activism

(10/20/09 4:00am)

At the time, my friend Leah Hartman '12 had already lived in East for about a month. But for some reason, at 11 p.m. on a school night, she wanted to explore. And for some reason, she took me with her. We walked down one of East's many staircases and opened a door that led to the basement of Hassenfeld Hall. To me it looked like a regular basement, filled with cardboard boxes and dust. But to Hartman it looked much different. It was prime real estate-a perfect headquarters for the Activist Resource Center. Hartman had unearthed the perfect place to revive Brandeis' spirit of activism-a legacy rooted in the upheaval of the 1960s.Hartman, a member of the Brandeis Labor Coalition and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, is one of the Brandeis students working to revive ARC. The Center will increase communication among more than 30 activist organizations at Brandeis, serving as a pipeline between clubs. Hartman says that ARC will also "be a source of centralized information, like how to start a club, how to get it chartered and how to reserve rooms." There is also a social element to ARC; as Annie Hodges '11, a member of Democracy for America, says, "We have so many people on campus who are awesome and passionate. I don't know why we don't all talk."Students today recognize that activism has always been central to the Brandeis psyche. Says Hartman, "We are not starting from scratch. Everything builds on what came before it." Brandeis' legacy as an activist institution stems from pivotal events that occured during the 1960s. From Jan. 8 to 18, 1969, student protestors occupied Ford Hall, a campus building that was demolished in 2000, and presented the administration with 10 non-negotiable demands, such as better minority representation on campus. About a year later, in the spring of 1970, Brandeis students established the National Strike Information Center. The Center developed in response to Students for a Democratic Society leader Tom Hayden's call for a national protest against the incarceration of several Black Panthers. Protesters were subsequently directed toward the Brandeis University Strike Center, thus making the University a hub of activism.Despite the legendary significance of the Ford Hall takeover, some students would prefer to see more focus on current activist concerns. When asked about the Brandeis of the 1960s, DFA member Liza Behrendt '11, coordinator of last April's DFA-co-sponsored Bill Ayers visit, responded, "We talk about it too much. It does very little to inspire activism today." Hodges, once "infatuated with the 1960s," admits, "I have learned that it is not good to be stuck in the past. I am appreciative of their work, and I am also aware of their flaws. We have to stay relevant." Years after Brandeis students protested the Vietnam War and the gentrification of the South and West Ends of Boston, current students have their own issues to face: Hodges says, "DFA works on whatever campaigns are relevant. Right now health care is on the tip of everyone's tongue." Behrendt also touched upon Palestinian rights and recent protests against the G-20, a powerful group of financial leaders from 20 international economies.Alumni who attended Brandeis during the 1960s are somewhat divided over the significance of the Ford Hall takeover. Elliot Frank '70, once a member of the Student Strike Committee and now a high school biology teacher, supported the Ford Hall takeover by participating in sit-ins in the Bernstein-Marcus Administration center. Yet Frank is hesitant to glorify the protests the way that others have, remembering the excitement as well as the fears. Asked to reflect upon his involvement in the protests, Frank says, "Sensible people had nothing to do with it. I wasn't sensible. It all makes great stories, but what nobody tells you is how incredibly anxiety-provoking this was-How many nights people worried about what the hell they were doing, if they were in fact doing the right bloody thing at all." Years later, Frank questions the impact of his actions during the protests: "Did they have a positive effect? Damned if I know. I'm not sure if we did anything useful, if the thrill of it all was remotely worth it."Some alumni believe that accounts of the takeover give Brandeis a somewhat distorted reputation as a radical institution. As Bill Callahan '69, once a member of the Student Strike Committee, explains, "The Ford Hall takeover gave the school an exaggerated reputation compared to lots of other campuses. Brandeis was really just another liberal campus with a reasonably competent core of New Left organizers." Although Callahan feels that "it's kind of hard to overglorify a decade that gave us the Voting Rights Act, decent popular music and the modern women's movement," he also says that "the 1966 to 1970 student left was a small piece of a big picture. It was way too self-obsessed at the time, and that obsession continues for a lot of people who should have gotten over it long ago."Yet other alumni value the 1960s Brandeis protests as a pinnacle in American political history. Ricardo Millett '68, a graduate student during the Ford Hall upheaval, was chosen to read students' demands of the administration. "I feel most definitely connected to the 1960s," he says. "The decade opened a moral compass. It was the formation of Jeffersonian democracy, calling America to live up to its principles." Of the notion that the takeover has been glorified and its realities obscured, Millett says he refuses "to have anyone characterize it as poppycock or radicalism."Today's activists see the 1960s less as a model for imitation than as a series of errors and achievements to learn from. Says Lev Hirschhorn '11, a member of DFA, "It is our responsibility as activists to build on the successes and learn from the mistakes. We do not live in the 1960s; we live in the 2000s. We must adapt our strategies to fit within the times." Sahar Massachi '11, creator of a blog about Brandeis called Innermost Parts, values the achievements of all Brandeis alumni activists: "There are Brandeis alumni who graduated in 2000 who are doing great things-just like Brandeis alumni who graduated in 1969. You have to look at the entire spectrum of the century."Hartman agrees with Massachi: "I love the idea of taking over a building. I love it. But I don't think that's the way to affect change now." I couldn't help but notice the tie-dye shirt peeking through her black cardigan.

Hogan wins Union presidency

(04/07/09 4:00am)

Andy Hogan '11 will serve as the Student Union president during the 2009 to 2010 academic year, as he defeated his opponent Philips Loh '11 in the first round of Student Union elections last Thursday. Hogan garnered 678 votes, while Loh received 301.Hogan said he and Vice President-elect Amanda Hecker '11 are already working to formulate a concrete vision for the 2009 to 2010 academic year. Hogan declined to elaborate on the specifics of his vision, saying they will be fleshed out during his first Executive Board meeting in the coming weeks and will be disclosed to the public shortly thereafter.Hogan has already met with current Student Union president Jason Gray to facilitate the transition process of entering the office as the new Union president. "We've started contact, and we will be meeting on and off for the next few weeks. We want to make sure the transition process is done correctly so we can build off the work [Gray] has done and move forward from there," Hogan said. According to Hogan, they have already discussed the budgetary issues that Brandeis has faced this year as well as the budget challenges for the coming year. "I'm really happy that Brandeis had so much faith in me, and I hope to work as hard as I can to earn Brandeis' respect and trust and be a great president," Hogan said. Hecker will serve alongside Hogan after beating her opponent, Nathan Robinson '11, by 168 votes in the first round of elections. During her campaign Hecker said that she wanted to establish a Union blog through which students would be able to contact their Union representatives immediately if they needed assistance. "I'm really happy and thankful for the support I received, and I am committed to maintaining this blog that I promised in my campaign, which will really open up the Union to student ideas, more creativity and more student involvement and input," Hecker said. Robinson congratulated Hecker on her victory, saying "I think she will be a fantastic vice president, and I wish her all the best for her upcoming term." Robinson, the current Castle Senator, said he will not run in the second round of elections for senator. He explained, "As vice president, who oversees Senate meetings, I wanted to radically restructure the way in which Senate meetings operate, and without the ability to change the bureaucracy and stagnation in the Union, I don't think I would want to be a senator and continue to participate in that system." Daniel Acheampong '11, the only candidate officially on the ballot for the position of Treasurer, won with a grand total of 924 votes. "I really appreciate all the support from the Brandeis community," Acheampong said. Acheampong added, "I and my assistant treasurers look forward to participating in more events and activities to see firsthand how money is being used and also to provide resources for club leaders who need it." Diana Aronin '11 was elected as the Union secretary, having received 7 percent more votes than her opponent Esther Yi '11. "I'm really glad I won, and I'm excited to start. I want to start getting everything organized before the new Executive Board meets for the first time, and we will take it from there," Aronin said.In descending order of votes received, Akash Vadalia '12, Julia Cohen '10, Makensley Lordeus '11, and Gabriel Weingrod Nemzow '12 were elected as the new members of the Finance Board. Lisa Qi '11 won the position of racial minority member of F-Board, for which she ran unopposed. Nicole Coredero '11 was elected as the Junior Representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee with 704 votes.Two elections reached a second round last Sunday because no candidate received a majority after the first round. In the final round of elections for the junior representative to the Board of Trustees, Heddy Ben-Atar '11 reined in 274 votes to defeat Sahar Massachi '11 by just seven votes. Ben-Atar led Massachi 392 to 384 votes after the first round of elections, with Philip Lu '12 trailing behind with only 129 votes. "I'm really excited for this opportunity. It was tough getting here and I faced a tough opponent, but I'm really excited to work with the trustees," Ben-Atar said. Samuel Fuchs '11 beat Jourdan Cohen '11 170 votes to 152 votes in the final round of the elections for the Junior Representative to the Alumni Association last Sunday. In the first round of elections, 301 voters abstained, 240 voted for Cohen, 238 voted for Fuchs and 209 voted for Jordan Kert '11. "I am excited to begin working to create stronger connections between the alumni and current Brandeis students," Fuchs said after winning the elections.

Union candidates announced

(03/31/09 4:00am)

Hogan Loh The campaign for positions on the Student Union during the 2009 to 2010 school year began last week. Candidates are vying for the roles of president, vice president, junior representative to the Board of Trustees, junior representative to the Alumni Association, treasurer, secretary, members of the Finance Board, Member of the Finance Board for racial minority students and junior representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. The polls open April 2 and close April 5.Current Senator for Rosenthal Quad Philips Loh '11 and current Director of Community Advocacy Andy Hogan '11 are the two candidates for president. Loh has been the chair of the Diversity Committee, co-Chair of the Brandeis Operations Working Group and leader of the Student Support Services Program, which is a program designated to provide academic and professional guidance to students throughout their college careers. He has also been involved in Brandeis' environmental sustainability efforts, specifically in increasing the number of garbage cans, recycling bins and bicycle racks on campus as well as adding water tabs on the Usdan Student Center soda machines. Loh said he aims to make the Student Union more accessible to students and more receptive to student voices. He also said he intends to implement programs that will provide clubs with greater sources of funding, such as the establishment of a grant that clubs and individual students can apply for in order to acquire funding for their projects. "It is now time for the Union to work with the administration to uncap the Student Activity Fee and ensure clubs have sufficient funding," Loh said. He also plans to increase opportunities for students to act as leaders outside of the Student Union by giving passionate students access to higher-level administrators and staff that are usually only accessible to the Student Union senators. "As president, I'll ensure that students know the Union is a student-run club and that anyone can come to the Student Union as a resource to get involved and better our campus," Loh wrote in an e-mail to the Justice. Hogan said he has a wide range of experience spanning from Squash Club president to North Quad senator in 2008 and director of the Student Union Executive Board of Community Advocacy. Earlier this semester, Hogan implemented a cell phone reception amplifier in Lower Usdan and led a fundraiser in which the Student Union raised $2,000 in response to the burning down of a predominantly African American church in Springfield, Mass. early this semester. Hogan said that he wants to foster financial partnerships between clubs in order to create a system of co-sponsorship for a club event. In this system, a club that lacks sufficient resources to fund an event can request another club to co-sponsor the event, thereby providing clubs with an additional outlet for funding as well increasing the number of events on campus. He also aims to give the student body a greater voice in the Student Union by including students in important decision-making processes such as the various budget cut committees that will be formed next year to reduce costs in all areas of Brandeis affairs. Hogan said he is committed to implementing the Clubs in Service Program and expanding it to ensure that all clubs add community service projects to their clubs"Next year is going to be a defining year at Brandeis, and I am running because I know I will do a great job serving the Brandeis community," he said. Current Senator for the Class of 2010 Amanda Hecker and Castle Senator Nathan Robinson '11 are the two candidates for vice president. Hecker, who served on the F-Board from 2007 to 2008, said, "I want to make it easier for students to voice their opinions in Union decisions." Hecker plans on instituting office hours for senators directly before their senate meetings and wants to get involved with the student side of the club chartering process. "If someone is going to put their heart and energy in creating an organization based on what they care about, I want to be there to make sure they succeed and that it gets approved," Hecker said. In addition to being Castle senator, Robinson has been an attorney in a Union Judiciary trial. "I have been immersed in Union politics, and I feel that I am qualified to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the organization," Robinson wrote in an e-mail to the Justice.Three candidates-Heddy Ben-Atar '11, Sahar Massachi '11 and Phillip Lu '11-are running for the position of junior representative to the Board of Trustees. Ben-Atar wrote in an e-mail to the Justice, "I will work with trustees to ensure the University continues to improve the undergraduate student experience." Ben-Atar is not including any specific issues to her platform because she recognizes that "general student opinion can change, and I'm ready to adapt to those changes in order to properly represent the student body," she said.Massachi has been involved with the Brandeis Budget Cut Committee, a student-led committee formed to argue for transparency in budgetary issues that arise, Brandeis Votes, which was a Student Union-led initiative to increase voter registration, and the Committee on Ethics and Endowment and Responsibility as well as a founder of the blog Innermost Parts. According to his Web site, Massachi intends to organize an Alumni Union to provide Brandeis alumni with a formal outlet to voice their opinions. Lu could not be reached for comment.Daniel Acheampong '11 is running unopposed for Student Union treasurer. Diana Aronin '11 and Esther Yi '11 are competing for the position of secretary. Akash Vadalia '12, Gabriel Weingrod-Nemzow '12, Julia Cohen '10 and Makensley Lordeus '11 are running for F-Board. Lisa Qi '11 is running unopposed for Member of the Finance Board for racial minority students. Competing for the position of representative to the Alumni Association are Jordan Kert '11, Samuel Fuchs '11 and Jourdan Cohen '11. Nicole Cordero '11 is running unopposed for junior representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

Students demand to be more involved

(01/27/09 5:00am)

Many students are demanding more transparency and more student involvement in decisions regarding the University's budget cuts and financial situation, especially after the University's recent proposals to create meta-majors, increase the student body by 12 percent, decrease the faculty by 10 percent and institute a required summer semester.Students were not allowed into last Thursday's emergency faculty meeting held to discuss this academic proposal. Unlike most Faculty Senate meetings, this emergency meeting was closed to students and campus media, a decision implemented by the senior administration and the Faculty Senate so that faculty members would feel comfortable expressing their opinions, according to Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe.Sahar Massachi '11, Alex Melman '11 and Daniel Cairns (GRAD), who write for the blog Innermost Parts and members of the Justice and The Hoot were turned away at the door. Since the faculty meeting, students have continued to call for more student involvement. Last Friday, students concerned about the budget cuts met in the Castle to discuss how to become more involved. "The pillars of Brandeis are social justice, academic excellence, Jewish sponsorship and nonsectarianism," Massachi said. He added that the students agreed to "focus on ways to promote and preserve and extend the University's commitment to academic excellence."At the meeting, the students created committees to increase student activism by focusing on projects such as letter-writing and dormstorming. Massachi said he would focus on faculty relations. Several students attended Sunday's Senate meeting, where they and Student Union senators asked Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer and Associate Dean of Student Life Maggie Balch questions about the University's current financial situation. Many students plan to attend this Thursday's Faculty Senate meeting, which will be open to students."We stand in solidarity with faculty; we have the same interests at heart. . We're not against anyone, we're just for the University . We feel hurt that we aren't being trusted or haven't been involved . as much as we feel we could contribute," Massachi said."Honestly, I can't tell you what to cut because the University hasn't given me their budget," Massachi said. He asked Sawyer for a detailed description of the University's budget at Sunday's Senate meeting, but Sawyer referred Massachi to other members of the senior administration, such as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter French, for this information.Massachi initially suggested that the University should cut the entire athletics program, not including club sports, before cutting one faculty member. "Right now we pay a lot of money for official University sports, but . they're not essential to the character of Brandeis," he said. Massachi later wrote in an e-mail to the Justice, "I've changed my mind and no longer hold the same views [regarding] Athletics as I once did." He clarified that this does not reflect the position of the Brandeis Budget Cuts Committee, which was created last semester to encourage student involvement in conversations about University budget cuts.When Massachi, Melman and Cairns went to last Thursday's faculty meeting, Assistant Provost for Graduate Student Affairs Alwina Bennett met them at the door. Melman demanded they be allowed into the faculty meeting, Massachi explained. Bennett said that it was a closed-door meeting, but Melman literally put his foot in the door."[Bennett] said to [Melman], 'Do I need to call somebody?' and [Melman] responded, 'I suppose you do,'" Cairns explained. Within minutes, two Brandeis police officers were inside the building, along with Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan. "[The police] said they would charge us with trespassing if we went into the faculty meeting," Cairns explained.Massachi and Melman made phone calls to their friends to organize some form of protest while they waited for the police to arrive. Eventually, a crowd of about 30 protesters gathered outside Olin-Sang Auditorium. The students decorated the building's corridor with flyers that read, "Sunlight is the best of disinfectants," a Louis Brandeis quote that, according to Melman, demonstrated the importance of student involvement and the danger of transparency. The other flyers read, "Students need to be a part of the discussion," and "Transparency! Transparency! Transparency! NOW!!!!!!" The students were standing outside the auditorium when the faculty members exited the meeting. Many protestors had the flyers taped to their shirts.The students invited each faculty member to what they called a "student-faculty summit," a meeting that took place after the emergency faculty meeting to discuss the issues that had been addressed. Prof. Jacob Cohen (AMST) and Prof. Sabrine von Merling (GRALL) attended the meeting."I understand why the students want to be involved, and I think that they should be," Jaffe wrote in an e-mail to the Justice. However, Jaffe believes that the "Faculty meeting is not . the appropriate forum for student-faculty discussion." He wrote, "Although certain student representatives typically attend faculty meetings, these meetings have never been a forum for faculty-student dialogues-they are meetings of the faculty."-Hannah Kirsch, Miranda Neubauer and Mike Prada contributed reporting.

Students protest after being denied admission to emergency faculty meeting

(01/23/09 5:00am)

Sahar Massachi '11, Alex Melman '11 and Daniel Cairns (GRAD) walked into Olin-Sang yesterday afternoon expecting to attend a faculty meeting that, like most others, would be open to the general public. Instead, as they approached the door, they were turned away. After some resistance, the police arrived minutes later to provide a barrier between the three students and the Olin-Sang Auditorium.Unlike most Faculty Senate meetings, this emergency meeting was closed to students and campus media, a decision implemented by the senior administration and the Faculty Senate so that faculty members would feel comfortable expressing their opinions, according to Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe. Members of the Justice and The Hoot, along with Massachi, Melman and Cairns -- who write for the blog -- and several other students were turned away at the door.Assistant Provost for Graduate Student Affairs Alwina Bennett met students at the door. Melman demanded they be allowed into the faculty meeting, Massachi explained. Bennett said that it was a closed door meeting, but Melman literally put his foot in the door."[Bennett] said to [Melman], 'Do I need to call somebody?' and [Melman] responded, 'I suppose you do,'" Cairns explained."I wanted them to respect the fact that it was a faculty meeting," Bennett explained after the meeting. "They said they weren't going to leave and they were going to find another way to get in. That's when I called for some assistance."Within minutes, two Brandeis police officers were inside the building, along with Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan. "[The police] said they would charge us with trespassing if we went into the faculty meeting," Cairns explained.According to Massachi, Melman and Cairns, Bennett mentioned in front of the police that Alex had hurt her hand. "There was a little bit of a push, and my hand got jammed in the door," Bennett explained. The students said the police asked her if she wanted to press charges, but she said she did not want to. "[The police] said that since [Bennett's] hand was squeezed that it constituted assault and battery, which I find ridiculous," Massachi said. "I find the very describing of a squeezed hand enacting assault and battery just to be a mockery of justice."Student Union President Jason Gray '10 was called to the scene, and Cairns said Gray eventually helped defuse the situation: "I spoke with the police and with the [students], and we all resolved it," Gray said.While they were waiting for the police to arrive, Massachi and Melman made phone calls to their friends to organize some form of protest. Eventually, a crowd of about 30 protesters gathered outside the Olin-Sang Auditorium. The students decorated the building's corridor with flyers that read, "Sunlight is the best of disinfectants," a Louis Brandeis quote, which according to Melman demonstrated the importance of student involvement and the danger of transparency. The other flyers read, "Students need to be a part of the discussion," and "Transparency! Transparency! Transparency! NOW!!!!!!" The students were standing outside the Olin-Sang Auditorium when the faculty members exited the meeting. Many had the flyers taped to their shirts."This is a matter of us knowing what's going on," protester Noah Braiterman '11, said. "It seems like we're always told through e-mails after the fact a week or two later. It's time for us to hear really what's going on through the horse's mouth. This can't keep going on."The students invited each faculty member to what they called a "student-faculty summit," a meeting that would take place after the emergency faculty meeting to discuss the issues that were addressed in the faculty meeting.At the student-faculty meeting, the protesters discussed the importance of student involvement with Prof. Jacob Cohen (AMST) and Prof. Sabine von Mering (GRALL). Von Mering said that students should be consulted because they know what attracts other students to Brandeis. Cohen called students "primary sources" for the administration to use in deciding whether or not ideas would appeal to potential applicants.Prof. Peter Woll (POL) said, "It's pretty neat that the students are here. I don't know why I'm surprised; I guess I shouldn't be, but I am."However, not all professors felt the same way. "Students will be involved in the process established by this meeting, so I have no problem with students not being [inside]," Prof. Steven Burg (POL) said. "Right now I think the [administration] is handling it exactly the right way," he added."If they're not going to ask for a student voice, we are going to proclaim a student voice," Massachi said.-Hannah Kirsch and Miranda Neubauer contributed reporting.

Senate Log

(12/09/08 5:00am)

The Senate elected Ziv Quad Senator Andrew Brooks '09 as Executive Senator after a two-hour executive session with 11 votes in an instant runoff. The other candidates were Senator-at-Large Justin Sulsky '09, who received three first-choice votes, North Quad Senator Andrew Hogan '11, who received three first-choice votes, and Senator for the Transitional Year Program Terrence Johnson, who received two first-choice votes. Brooks received eight first-choice votes. The second-choice votes for Johnson went to Hogan, and the second-choice votes for Sulsky went to Brooks. Union Director of Communications Jamie Ansorge '09 reported that a forum on the Mumbai tragedy will be held Tuesday afternoon. He also reported that Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a former speechwriter to President John F. Kennedy, would be coming to Brandeis Jan. 14 and 15 and that an official invitation had been extended to Governor Deval Patrick to speak on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Union President Jason Gray '10 reported that he had a meeting with administrators about meal plans and discussed students having the choice to buy multiple meals in a meal period, meal plan structure and point-dollar parity. He reported that Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer would look into different ways to direct money from late fees for bicycles back into the planned bicycle program. He reported that he had emphasized to administrators that Adagio must have "equally suitable space" for rehearsals after the installation of the new weight room. He reported that the Union had received a report back from Health Center officials about the Health Center review. Points included establishing a better feedback processes, including Beth Israel Hospital members on the advisory committee meetings and customer service. Union Vice President Adam Hughes '11 announced that Senator for the Class of 2011 Alex Melman, Daniel Millenson '09, Stefan Nikolic '09, Sahar Massachi '11, Liza Behrendt '11, Carly Greenberg '11 and graduate students Nery Rivera and Toni Schwarzenbach would serve on the Committee on Endowment Ethics and Responsibility. The Senate tabled discussion of chartering the Swimming Club. Daniel Sternberg '11 said few students attended events this semester. The Senate passed a resolution in support of the Brandeis University Swimming and Diving Team. Senator for the Class of 2009 Eric Alterman reported that Dean of Academic Services Kim Godsoe is considering an overhaul of the advising program so that staff would focus on first year advising instead of faculty.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Justice distorted the facts about proposed endowment committee

(11/18/08 5:00am)

To the Editor:Last week's Justice editorial "Financial Expertise Needed" (Nov. 11 issue), gave the impression that students on the Student Union's newly formed Committee on Endowment Ethics and Responsibility would be making or suggesting financial investment decisions to the University.This is not the case, and if it were I would agree with the Justice that a good deal of financial expertise would be needed on these students' part. Indeed, merely requiring that applicants to the committee "have under their belt at least one class that discusses investment-related material," as the Justice editorial board has recommended, would hardly be enough to enable them to juggle investments involving hundreds of millions of dollars.However, CEER exists for a different purpose -- to serve as a voice for social responsibility and ethical considerations in investment decisions. It will not be making decisions as to which investments will give the highest returns and best grow the endowment; that is the responsibility of the University's investment managers.CEER's work will not deal with dividends but ethical considerations -- is it right for our University to be profiting from companies doing business with corrupt and abusive governments, such as Sudan or Zimbabwe?Should the University be initiating shareholder resolutions on environmental or labor issues in companies where it holds stock? These are the kinds of things CEER will be grappling with and on which it will voice its concerns to the University and Board of Trustees.The Justice called for "financial expertise" among the members of CEER if it is to be taken seriously. This would be necessary if the committee were providing input on specific financial investment decisions of the University endowment.Instead, CEER will be an independent voice calling for morality and ethics in Brandeis' investment considerations. If its members require anything, it is not a semester of economics, but a conscience and a proven dedication to advancing worldwide social justice.-Alex Melman '11, Adam Hughes '11 and Sahar Massachi '11 The authors are the senator for the Class of 2011, the vice president of the Student Union and an editor of the blog, respectively.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Student Union is not a glorified 'mock government' club

(05/20/08 4:00am)

To the Editor:I would like to respond to Sahar Massachi's '11 comments on that were printed in the Justice ("Brooks files injunction following election," April 29 issue).Massachi wrote: "Andrew Brooks '09 and Justin Sulsky '09] are the embodiment of those people who 'treat Student Union Senate as Mock Government Club.' They are simply self-interested roadblocks to progress."That comment greatly hurt me because during my time as Ziv Quad Senator and a member of several University committees since my first year here, I have been working incredibly hard to bring tangible changes to campus.Every student politician talks about extending dining hours. As a first-year, I worked with then-Dining Chair Alison Schwartzbaum '08 and others to extend hours at the Boulevard until 10 p.m. on Fridays. This year, I worked with Dining Chair Jenna Brofsky '10 and others to extend the hours of weekend brunch at Usdan to 3 p.m.If I am truly self-interested, then how come I spent many hours answering e-mails and Facebook messages from first-years nervous and confused about the housing lottery?I take on every role with seriousness and professionalism, no matter how large or small. During my time here, I have corrected dark areas of campus and implemented several popular dining items, such as lox at Einstein Bros. Bagels and hot dogs at the Boulevard. I worked with the Ziv-Village Quad Council to plan low-key events that drew a lot of students who might not otherwise have participated in campus events.As I said when I first ran for Ziv Senator, I care. If I didn't genuinely care about other students, then I would not have continued to campaign so hard in the face of constant bashing by students who never met me before.I am so thankful that Brandeis students ignored the trash and chose to elect me senator-at-large, and I would like to encourage students to get in touch with me over the summer to give me some project ideas for next year.-Justin Sulsky '09

Brooks files injunction following election

(04/29/08 4:00am)

On Sunday, the Union Judiciary issued an injunction preventing Noam Shouster '11 from being sworn in as senator-at-large for five days. During that period, the UJ will discuss Senator-at-Large Andrew Brooks' '09 claims that Shouster's campaign violated election protocol with slander, libel and campaigning without consent of the elections commission.Shouster defeated Brooks in the three-way senator-at-large elections alongside former Ziv Quad Senator Justin Sulsky '09, who was sworn into his new post on Sunday. Shouster received enough votes as a write-in candidate in the first round to be included on the ballot for the second round.Brooks made clear that he is suing the election commission, headed by Union Secretary Nelson Rutrick '09, which he said failed to disqualify Shouster, not Shouster herself. Brooks said that the offending actions were not committed by Shouster herself, but by her campaign. However, "Candidates are responsible for their campaigns," he said.Brooks said that although he does not know whether or not the UJ will overturn the election, he wants to hear what the UJ has to say.Brooks is accusing Shouster's campaign of slander and libel. Rutrick said part of Brooks' complaints included Shouster not meeting with the elections commissioner prior to campaigning. Brooks said that both offenses should warrant disqualification from the election.Rutrick said the he stands by his decision to allow Shouster to continue in the race and that he encourages candidates to appeal the election commission's decisions. Given the subjective nature of his decision, he said, a lawsuit was inevitable regardless of whether or not he chose to disqualify Shouster.Brooks said that the Shouster campaign claimed that he is anti-Palestinian and that he has denied Palestinian students their right to a national identity by voting against chartering Brandeis Students for Social Justice in Palestine, claiming that Palestine is not a recognized state. Brooks said that the claim that he is anti-Palestinian is "unfair, untrue and [a] total and complete lie." Brooks said that he does not deny the existence of the Palestinian nation and that he personally supports the partition of Israel into two separate Israeli and Palestinian states. He said that his comment simply pointed to the fact that Palestine is not an official country. Brooks said that this issue could have been rectified if the club had changed its name to Brandeis Students for Social Justice for the Palestinian People.Spreading the rumor that he is against Palestine meant that Brooks could lose the vote of the Palestinian students, so he claimed that this was an unlawful attack on his character, he said.Brooks also said that the Shouster campaign publicized the fact that he voted against spending Union money to buy T-shirts for the Transitional Year Program. Brooks said that he supports the program, but that this resolution included buying T-shirts for professors as well as students, which he believes is a misuse of the Student Activities Fee, which, he maintains, is exclusively for students.The allegations of slander concerning the claims about Palestine and the T-shirts refer to blog postings made by Adam Hughes '11 and Sahar Massachi '11 on, a blog developed and run by students, without the support of the campaign, said Shouster. "I read it just like everyone else," she said. "Someone else told me about it.""Andrew Brooks and Justin Sulsky are two dinosaur reactionaries in the Senate. They are the embodiment of those people who 'treat Student Union Senate as Mock Government Club.' They are simply self-interested roadblocks to progress," wrote Massachi in the blog.Massachi said that what he wrote was his opinion, not slander. "I am a private citizen expressing my views," he said. He said that he is sorry for offending Brooks and Sulsky and that he personally apologized to both of them. Shouster is in no way responsible for his actions, he said, and Shouster should not be held accountable for them."Here we see a person who is trying to defy the clearly expressed will of the people," said Massachi. What's really happening is that Brooks is being a sore loser, he said.Rutrick gave Shouster, fellow write-in candidate Kaamila Mohamed '11 and the two bloggers a warning by e-mail on April 15, which said that although Shouster and Mohamed are not responsible for these comments, they would be disqualified if they fail to abide by election rules in the future.Shouster said that she asked the bloggers to remove the offensive material from their site as soon as she saw it. Massachi said that he struck the offending material from the blog, but did not want to remove it completely because to act as if it was never written would be a lie.Despite Brooks' claims about the Shouster campaign, students supporting Brooks' and Sulsky's campaigns sent e-mails to Students United for Israel regarding Shouster and Mohamed, insinuating that the two candidates are opposed to Israel. "[Mohamed and Shouster] are involved in Students for Justice in Palestine, and while they are great people, there is no doubt that they would not be friendly toward Israel in their official capacities as members of the Senate," wrote Sara Hammerschlag '10 in one e-mail.Shouster, who is Israeli, said that she was extremely offended by this comment, and that she supports her country.Rutrick said that Brooks' second claim, regarding the fact that Shouster campaigned before meeting with him, is unfounded. By definition, write-in candidates have not met with the Commission prior to the first round of elections, Rutrick said. However, Shouster was required to meet with the Commission before entering the second round of elections."Every write-in campaign is unorthodox, so it is hard to say if it is unorthodox," Rutrick said.

Close race leaves winners undecided

(04/01/08 4:00am)

Director of Union Affairs Jason Gray '10 will face off against Deputy Treasurer Justin Kang '09 today in the second round of the race for Student Union President after Gray gained 49.64 percent of the vote in the first round of Union elections, which ended Sunday night.Only one vote separated Village Quad Senator Michael Kerns '09 and Finance Board member Jordan Rothman '09 in the race for the Vice Presidency, according to the primary round uncertified results sent to candidates from the elections commissioner. Kerns led Rothman 360 to 359 votes, each receiving 25.7 percent and 25.62 percent of the vote, respectively. Gray received 685 votes, ahead of Kang, who finished second place with 39.78 percent, or 549 votes. Candidates needed to win over 50 percent of the vote to receive a mandate and win his or her respective election in the first round. Gray finished six votes shy of a mandate. Executive Assistant to the Treasurer Tia Chatterjee '09 was elected to the position of Union Secretary over Ziv Quad Senator Justin Sulsky '09. Deputy Treasurer and Finance Board Chair Max Wallach '09 won the race for Union Treasurer over Ryan McElhaney '10. Students were informed that candidate for vice president Nelson Rutrick '09, the Union Secretary, had broken one or more election rules on the Union Web site. Pyle said there were no other unusual occurrences to report. He said the commission gave out a few warnings throughout the election but he declined to provide any details. Chief of Elections Zachary Pyle '09 said that Rutrick's infraction had concerned rule 1D of the election rules, which states that "no libelous or slanderous statements may be made by a candidate." The elections commission did not release further details on the case. Pyle said the commission determined that adequate action had been taken, including the advisory notice, and that he did not expect any further action.Rutrick responded after last Sunday's Senate meeting, before the end of the first round of voting, that "false accusations like this are why I'm running for vice president," and declined to comment further. Rutrick finished third in the race, ahead of Senator for the Class of 2009 Julia Sferlazzo and Senator-at-Large Andrew Brooks '09. Gray stressed last week that as president he wants to lead a team that is dedicated to working for students by meeting with them one-on-one, as he had the previous year. He said he would seek student input for plans to renovate the Usdan Student Center, advocate for longer dining hours by building on the relationships he has developed with administrators, and create a more accessible Union Web site."I'm excited that the race is still going on," Kang said. "I have an extensive and active campus experience, I have a solid understanding of how club finances work, I have a strong and thorough commitment to social justice." Change could start, he said, through the election of new officials who could bring new communities into the government. Kang emphasized last week that he would ensure Brandeis' commitment to environmental sustainability and social justice by establishing a sustainability fund, creating an environmental action plan with the city of Waltham and advocating for more transparency in the University's endowment."I think Justin [Kang] is a great guy," Gray said. "I believe that I can transform the Student Union so that it is about the communication and dialogue necessary for people to effectively complain, for the students to access their Student Union so that we can be advocates for them."Kerns said he was excited by the outcome of his election and the support for his plans within the student body. "I'm the one with the actual experience in the Senate," Kerns said. "[Students] want a real connection with their Student Union, they want to feel like there are people that are really reaching out to them, rather than reaching out to each other within their own Student Union, and . that's the kind of change I want to bring." Rothman said he expected the results of his election. He said he hopes, "win or lose, the difference in the final elections isn't as close," and called the result "representative of the fact that all five of the candidates appealed to different constituencies, so no one could get a runaway majority." Candidates for member of the F-Board entering the second round are Senator for the Class of 2009 Yuki Hasegawa, current F-Board member Emily Moignard '09, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Treasury Jahfree Duncan '09, Julian Olidort '11, Nicole Cordero '11, Sara Enan '11, Sahar Massachi, '11 and Devora Rotter '10. No student announced a candidacy for the position of Finance Board member for racial minority students. The e-mail to candidates indicated that an election date for that position will be set at a later time. Other winners in the first round were Jon Kane '10 as Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees, Sarah Bernes '10 as Junior Representative to the Alumni Association, Michelle Barras '10 and Julia Simon-Mishel '09 as junior and senior representatives to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Editor's note: Devora Rotter is the managing editor of the Justice.

Students express worries

(12/04/07 5:00am)

The use of intimidation, the cost of campus events requiring security and the number of campus police officers that will be armed were among the concerns students raised at last Tuesday's forum on the procedures for the arming of University Police. Approximately 18 students attended the forum, which was organized by the Student Union Outreach Dream Team, a task force to communicate between the Union and the student body. Student representatives on a firearms advisory committee formed by University President Jehuda Reinharz at the end of October, including Matt Rogers '08, Fanny Familia '09 and Student Union President Shreeya Sinha '09, will bring the concerns raised at the forum to their first committee meeting.Reinharz reached the decision to arm campus police last September after the recommendations of a committee of students, faculty and staff that convened over the summer. The date for the first meeting of the new advisory committee, the members of which also also include Prof. Robert Moody (THA), Prof. Paul Jankowski (HIST), Chief Operating Officer Peter French and Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan, has yet to be determined, according to Rogers.Senator for the Class of 2009 Julia Sferlazzo, who led the forum, and representatives on the advisory committee said student response is extremely important in communicating ideas to the administration during meetings. "What's really important is that we continue these forums [as decisions are being made]," Sferlazzo said. Concerns brought up during the forum included whether all public safety officers will be armed, proper procedure in using or motioning towards guns worries about intimidation by public safety officers and how the decision to arm public safety officers will affect the cost of events on campus that require security. The psychological effects that could result from having guns on campus were also discussed."There's a lot of elements that go into the [gun] policy," Sferlazzo said, "and we just want to gauge what students want."Etta King '10 raised the issue of students' lack of knowledge about the policy to arm Brandeis police and called this "one of the greatest issues surrounding guns on campus." Students don't have the time to gather the information they need, she said. According to student representative Fanny Familia '09, representatives will put minutes from the advisory committee meetings online so that students can access them. King agreed this would be beneficial and added that having resources online would allow parents and those outside the Brandeis community to know what is going on regarding the arming of campus police. "To be able to have that be a transparent process would be most comfortable for me" and for other students, King said. Other students brought up the issue of having protocols for when officers are allowed to draw their weapons, and if they do so, how it should be done.I want to make sure that if a police officer gets upset for some reason, he won't just be able to pull out his gun, Sahar Massachi '11 said. According to Senator-at-Large Jessica Blumberg '09, there should be clear steps that all public safety officers must take before pulling out their guns or certain phrases they must say. "If all students know what those phrases are . that would be a good way for people to have that extra level of checks on [the proper use of guns by police officers]," Blumberg said. Students then discussed whether or not all public safety officers should be armed. "Arming campus police does not necessarily mean that every police officer has a gun in their holster," Sferlazzo said. "There's a big spectrum between every police officer having a gun in their holster and no guns at all.""I think the ability to stop violent crimes is a lot greater with guns," Sarah Bernes '10 said. Ben Serby '10, who formed the group Students Opposed to the Decision to Arm, disagreed. "I really don't see a need for any [public safety officers] to carry their weapons on a day-to-day basis," Serby said. "[Virginia Polytechnic Institute] police were, in fact, armed, and it didn't really serve as a deterrent to the shooting that ensued." Jamie Ansorge '09, however, said that with respect to Virginia Tech, "the idea was to have quicker first-response time with armed officers," and that here at Brandeis, public safety officers know the campus and would be able to arrive at the scene of emergency situations quicker than the Waltham Police Department would. Students also expressed the need for an improved relationship between students and public safety officers at Brandeis, adding that intimidation is a big factor introduced with guns. "Especially at night when they're breaking up parties, that's the only time when people come into contact with public safety officers," Senator for Racial Minority Students Gabriel Gaskin '08 said.

Students meet with Reinharz, submit anti-arming petition

(10/23/07 4:00am)

A group of 23 students voiced concerns about University President Jehuda Reinharz's decision to arm campus police at his office hours last Thursday afternoon, protesting the decision itself and the manner in which it was made. The initiative was taken by a new campus organization: Students Opposed to the Decision to Arm. The students brought Reinharz a petition signed by 830 undergraduates, 16 staff and 20 faculty members.A clear policy has not been created yet. In an e-mail to the Justice, Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan wrote, "The University will be forming a Firearms policy group to assist me as new policies are drafted."Reinharz chose to arm the officers last month after a firearms advistory committee of students, staff and faculty, which met over the summer, made that recommendation. SODA founder Ben Serby '10 said, however, that Reinharz should have consulted many more students and faculty members before making his decision."The burden of proof is on you, and any decision pro or con arming has to be thought out and discussed in the larger community; it just has to," Serby said to the president.Reinharz disagreed, explaining that any decision involving the safety of students is an administrative decision that he has the authority to make unilaterally."I could have come to this decision without a committee," he responded. "But I decided to have a committee, and it did not make sense to me to waste a single moment once I had their recommendation, which was a unanimous one."Members of SODA are also upset that just two students, Student Union Treasurer Choon Woo Ha '08 and Union Vice President Alex Braver '09, served on the firearms committee. "His idea that this was a representational panel is ridiculous," Sahar Massachi '11, another SODA member, said in an interview following Reinharz's officer hours. "That's just like taking two men off the street, asking them a question and extrapolating that for the whole population. That would fail you in the most basic fourth grade statistics class."Massachi also expressed his opinion to Reinharz. "I feel that your argument is essentially an elitist and undemocratic one," he said during the office hours. "The reason we have a Student Union and a faculty Senate is so that you can take these sorts of questions and ask them."Reinharz emphasized repeatedly that he decided to approve arming the officers to ensure the safety of students on campus."If I have the opportunity to make a slight difference in saving somebody's life, this is not an issue on which I am willing to compromise," Reinharz said multiple times during the meeting. "I wish you could say that we don't need guns . but to say that would be utterly irresponsible."Serby, on the other hand, said that Reinharz went too far in arming the officers and that he made that decision out of fear."It seems like [this decision] is succumbing to fear, fear of the worst possible case scenario," he said. Serby didn't want to focus primarily on the arming decision itself, though. "We're not here because of the merits and dis-merits of arming," Serby said. "We're here because of the dialogue, or lack thereof." He added that the discussion should be reopened for student input. The students at Reinharz's office hours said they felt that many Brandeis students were not only unaware of the components of the training Brandeis police officers will have to undergo, but also that many students were unaware of the decision itself.Reinharz, however, did commit to better informing the Brandeis community about the consequences and the process of arming campus police."You can take this as a commitment from me that at some point this semester or the beginning of next semester, we should have a session that's open to anyone on campus in which the police or the chief of the police explain what the process is going to be, answer all those questions of how exactly the review takes place [and] what kind of testing will be done," Reinharz said.Although they didn't fulfill their goal of reopening the discussion, SODA members expressed optimism after the meeting."I think [Reinharz] finally realized that he needs to do a better job communicating," Justin Bakal-Balik '10 said. Serby said he was satisfied with how the meeting went despite the fact that Reinharz didn't meet the students' demands. "We weren't really expecting that, so there's really no disappointment here," he said. "We have a sense of renewed commitment to continue with the next steps that need to be taken. This is not the end of the line.

Phi Beta Kappa Inductees

(04/29/03 4:00am)

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and considered by many as the most prestigious undergraduate honors organization in the United States. Founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776, its high and rigorous standards of excellence have made election to it one of the highest academic honors an undergraduate at a college in the United States can receive. Brandeis has announced this year's inductees.Phi Beta Kappa Inductees Class of 2004Hannah F. Agran Samuel Arbesman Salinee Jencharat Rachel E. LebeauxKatherine R. Pruzan Rita B. TrivediMichael D. WeinsteinPhi Beta Kappa InducteesClass of 2003Taher M.S. Baderkhan Lucas K. Ballard Leah R. BerkowitzJessica W. BerlerJordan S. BermanDorothy A. Biberman Kathryn E. BirkbyDavid M. BlockDaniel Braunfeld Noah L. BrowneLillian B. Christian Christopher T. Clark Whitney S. Cohen Aarti D. Daswani Lillian R.Davidson Sarah E. Davis Joshua C. DeflorioChristopher M. DeRienzo Katherine C. DomjanJulio Dreszer Lonn N. Drucker Polina Eidelman Ari J. Elliot Benjamin P. Falit**Greg R. FarrellJordan A. FeirmanRochelle A. FleischmanAdam I. Fogel Jennifer A. GueguenYelizaveta Y. Gutina Georgia Hadjipavlou Laurence J. HassonMariko T. Holbrook**Mark P. Hopkins Elida B. KamineBeth I. Kander, David H. Kaufman Kathryn S. KieranMiriam L. KingsbergElana J. KleinJaime R. KoffSarah C. Kornfeld Stefanie E. KuchinskyGregory D. Lawrence Leah V. Lerman Anne P. LeungAixin Liang Jacqueline F. Marcus**Tracy P. Marien Anurag S. MaskeySasha D. Massachi Themistoklis E. MastoridesRina T. MazorAnna M. MedakLeslie A. MeltzerMara I. MichaelsKatherine R. MillerMelissa Morales Trang V. Nguyen**Sarah E. Novacich Rebecca OraMargaret E. PawlowskiAdam A. PerlinMiriam C. PhilipsElena M. PoberPhillip G. Reisman Lilia R. Rissman Morton D. RosenbaumGregory W. Schwartz**Joseph F. Schnurr** Yael R. ShinarShira A. SiltonPeter F. SirokmanYevgeniy Sirotin Manisha R. SnoyerPamela L. SpivackRachel L. SteinAbigail S. TenenbaumGeorgios Triantafyllou Kathryn R. VogelJoshua Wiczer Michael J. Zoosman ** Elected in 2002