In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, I wanted to address one major issue facing a segment of the community at Brandeis. I would like to preface this by making a distinction between mental health and mental illness. Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological, social and emotional well-being. Mental illness is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health “as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder.” At one point or another we all experience a time in our life when our mental health is challenged. From my experience as a Brandeis student, I can say that the stress from academics has at times put a strain on my mental well-being. Mental illness is a health condition and should be treated as seriously as any other disease. As the Canadian Mental Health Association says, “Just as it’s possible to have poor mental health but no mental illness, it’s entirely possible to have good mental health even with a diagnosis of a mental illness.” It is important to clearly define these two terms because they are too often used interchangeably.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Really? Let’s start with where the whole recycling thing came from. Recycling began in the 1960s as an effort to be less wasteful and protect the environment. Plenty of us know how to rinse our aluminum cans and separate them from paper. However, after that, it gets incredibly complicated. Sometimes, the consumer is asked to separate paper waste from “everything else.” Other times, all recycling is done in a single stream, where paper, glass, aluminum and plastic are all tossed into the same receptacle and sorted off-site.
This past week, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the 2019 winners for all seven scientific Nobel Prizes for 2019, with the awards ceremony set to take place on Dec. 10. Of the 12 winners announced, 11 are men and one is a woman, despite the Academy attempting to diversify the Nobel Prize award process. Historically, women have been awarded only 3% of all Nobel Prizes. One physicist at the University of Copenhagen claims that a systematic bias against women accounts for this discrepancy in Nobel Prize awards, with the odds of women being nominated for any prize significantly lower than those for men. How do you view this selection process and lack of women Nobel Prize recipients? How do you see this lack of recognition for women’s achievements in the context of the greater academic community?
On Oct. 7, Student Union Vice President Guillermo Caballero ’20 and Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees Zosia Busé ’20 filed a joint complaint against Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21, alleging her interference with communication between the Executive Board and the Senate. The complaint centers on a Sept. 8 E-Board meeting that Caballero was unable to attend. Under the Student Union Constitution, the vice president serves as a liaison between the two branches and according to Article II Section 4.3, “the Executive Senator shall assume the duties of the Union Vice President in the Vice President’s absence.” When Caballero attempted to send Executive Senator Jake Rong ‘21 to the meeting in his stead, Tatuskar prohibited him from attending. When asked to explain this decision, Tatuskar cited a statement she made at the start of the year. Namely, “the Executive Senator did not need to be on E-Board this semester,” ignoring the particularity of the situation created by Caballero’s absence.
It’s been nearly two months since I started school at Brandeis. In my conversations with numerous people on campus, I began to discover a pattern among students’ majors. I cannot count how many times I have asked an individual about their interests and am greeted with the same series of responses: “Biology,” “pre-med,” “HSSP” or some other STEM-related field. I understand that Brandeis is a research institution geared towards producing the best results within each of its research labs, but I thought that in a big university such as Brandeis there would be more diversity among what students are studying. It seems as if the more people are geared towards the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math majors and that those interested in humanities fields are dwindling.
Trendlines in the RealClearPolitics average of polls show Elizabeth Warren on a continuous rise since the September debate at the expense of almost everyone else in the field. This surge has brought about more media coverage, but also increasing scrutiny coming from the remaining candidates. The night largely ended up as a vetting of Warren, which she mostly passed, but not without a few contentious moments. Each candidate’s grade reflects the extent to which their performance on the night is likely to help their chances in the primary.
70 years ago, Mao Zedong conquered all under heaven, driving the last remnants of General Chiang’s forces onto a barren island known as Taiwan. In the following years, chaos ensued as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution devoured the mainland, decimating the population and destroying the culture.
When you think about politically charged debates regarding the nature of the Iraq War and the morality of American military activity on the world stage, does Ellen DeGeneres cross your mind? Until very recently, I’d assume that answer was a definite no.
Wednesday’s terror attacks on a synagogue in Halle, Germany are yet another gruesome reminder of the world we live in. That is, a world filled with hate. The attack took place on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It is a time for atonement, a day during which many people belonging to the Jewish faith fast and spend hours in synagogue, trying to repent. I was raised Jewish and identify as such; even though I do not fast and I rarely attend services, this horrible event is one that struck me because it was live-streamed.
Last Tuesday, Oct. 8, University President Ron Liebowitz emailed the Brandeis community stating the University filed a “friend of the court brief in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” along with 164 other universities, as a part of an upcoming Supreme Court case. President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to rescind DACA, which “provides work permits and protection from deportation to nearly 700,000 undocumented people, known as ‘Dreamers,’ who were brought to the U.S. as children,” Liebowitz explained in the email. This board commends the University for taking a stance in support of DREAMers both on the Brandeis campus and around the nation, as it is consistent with the University’s values of social justice.
On Wednesday, Turkey launched an offensive into northern Syria, claiming it is an assault on Kurdish forces hostile to Turkish interests and security. Many analysts and members of the United States government, a major Kurdish ally, are labeling this offensive as highly detrimental to American security and humanitarian interests, because it jeopardizes the Syrian Democratic Forces’ and others’ ability to guard some 11,000 ISIS prisoners in the region, who now have a greater chance of escaping to Europe and other parts of the Middle East. What is your view on the Turkish military operation in the region? Given the fact that a withdrawal of American troops allowed this invasion to happen, how do you think the United States’ geopolitical security interests will be affected?
Backpacks are everywhere. Everywhere except on the actual back of the person carrying said backpack. On and off campus I see the latest trends of how not to wear a backpack. By now we all know that one-strapping (i.e. carrying the backpack using one strap on only one shoulder) the backpack is the wrong way to go, if you want to keep both your balance and your posture. But two-strapping the backpack and then wearing it low on the back is also the wrong way to go.
If you have been paying attention to the news recently, you’ve likely seen numerous headlines from numerous major news outlet regarding 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and her international protest movement, which is centered around combating climate change and its effects on a global scale. Thunberg, who hails from Stockholm, Sweden, rose to international prominence in 2018. Then, she spent her days outside of the Swedish Parliament demanding stronger action on global warming, holding a sign which declared, “School strike for climate.” Depictions of Thunberg’s valiant protests went viral, and her address to the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference sparked worldwide protests against inaction on the part of world leaders in the face of an unprecedented existential threat. Those protests were primarily led by students seeking to emulate Thunberg’s actions — many walked out of school in a similar fashion.
Last week, an anonymous member of the Trump administration alleged that the President, in a phone call with Ukranian President Vlodymyr Zelensky, asked Zelensky to investigate the business dealings of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Many historians and politicians have called this action an apparent abuse of power warranting President Trump’s impeachment. On Sept. 24, the House of Representatives announced that it was moving forward with impeachment proceedings. Given how complicated this issue is and how quickly the story is developing, do you think that the American public can keep track of all of the facets of this issue and form their own opinions? How should Democrats and Republicans frame this story to try to convince Americans of their party’s interpretation?
On Sept. 26, the Office of Sustainability, the Senate Sustainability Committee and the Brandeis Sustainability Ambassadors sponsored the State of Sustainability presentation. At this event, various new environmental initiatives were announced. Upcoming campus sustainability initiatives include the elimination of approximately 10,000 plastic bottles annually from many on-campus vendors, the addition of about 40 more compost bins around campus and the investment in renewable energy efforts around the country to compensate for Brandeis’ carbon footprint. These are outstanding steps toward making the University more sustainable.
On Oct. 2, University President Ron Liebowitz emailed the Brandeis community inviting students, faculty and staff to his open office hours on Oct. 10, Nov. 6 and Nov. 14. The President’s availability lasts for two hours on each day, and each individual can sign up for one 15 minute slot. More office hours will be available in the future, though specific dates are not mentioned in the email. As of press time, one time slot dedicated to students was available, and two slots for faculty are still available.
I am a class of 1991 alum who student-taught at Waltham High, and became engaged in Waltham civic life through the Waltham Group and other university-community partnerships. Through Brandeis, Waltham became my new hometown, and then Brandeis became a second home for my daughter, Marisa Diamond, whose childhood as a Waltham Public School student was enhanced greatly by her regular visits to Brandeis for cultural events.
The board is both excited and engaged for the new school year. Prominent topics for this year’s opening meeting included improving student life, enhancing campus culture and advancing the institution. In his “Framework for Our Future” report, President Liebowitz highlights three main strategic areas that Brandeis’ senior team will be working on this fall. These strategies include creating a more inclusive and vibrant on-campus community, fostering a culture of intellectual rigor and advancing both national and worldly knowledge of community. The trustees have expressed interest in engaging more actively with students on campus. Both Trustees and Senior Administration expressed commitment to the continued efforts to bridge the gap between academic and on-campus life for students.
When I read the takeaways from Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard, I stepped out onto the top of the Rabb Steps the next day and took a good hard look at a 2:00 p.m. rush, a hundred strong. I felt two things. The first was immediate relief. Affirmative action is safe for now, and the diversity I saw only stands to grow from here. The second feeling I had, however, was more malignant. Would this campus be better with less people like me?