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Brandeis University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1949 | Waltham, MA

Views on the News: #StillConcernedStudents

  On May 1, the activist group #StillConcernedStudents voiced its concerns about persistent diversity, equity and inclusion issues at Brandeis despite Ford Hall 2015’s demands. Last week, University Provost Lisa Lynch sent out an email discussing numerous administrative efforts and reforms, such as to provide a holistic review of students’ mental health needs, improve the scheduling of room inspections, increase equitable access to transportation services, reform DCL and Public Safety policies and modify the regulation of protest banners on campus. What are your thoughts on these changes? Do you think that the administration is doing enough to address the demands of the #StillConcernedStudents? If you think more work needs to be done, what additional changes should be made? 


EDITORIAL: Sodexo contract expiration leaves room for growth

 In June 2020, the University’s contract with Sodexo is set to expire. In the meantime, the University will be developing a Request for Proposals, during which the University will compile a list of requests for the next contract that they make with any food vendor. Community input will be taken into account through town-hall-style forums in September and October. This board commends the University for seeking the Brandeis community’s opinions when choosing its next steps — whether it is improving our contract with Sodexo or choosing a new vendor — and has some suggestions for the University’s next contract. 


EDITORIAL: Workday improves campus, yet has issues

 Over the summer, the University transitioned to Workday, a portal that functions as a one-stop shop for students and other campus employees to log work hours, maintain a record of their financial transactions, view paychecks and have a seamless space for working multiple jobs. It can also be useful when requesting an absence, accessing work benefits and finding a job on campus. This board commends the University for its use of Workday and its attempt to provide employees and community members with a safe, reliable and easy-to-use interface for all things concerning on-campus jobs. However, Workday is plagued with numerous quality-of-life issues that make its use difficult and cumbersome to adjust to, especially for students who do not necessarily have time to devote to learning the nuances of the program.  


Hong Kong protests should teach democracies a lesson

 The democratic liberties experienced in the United States are easy to take for granted. Many Americans are not afraid to voice their opinions regarding the state of the government, the actions of the president, or new legislation that is expected to pass. After all, our current society was formed through the fiery personalities that resulted in long lasting change. These days, the idea of physical protests have transformed into popular Twitter rants. Nevertheless, we aren’t afraid of being threatened or arrested if we criticize the actions of the government. It’s in both our blood and our constitution; but for those currently living in mainland China and Hong Kong, speaking up is equivalent to risking your life. 


Campus landscaping is in desperate need of improvement

  I walk a lot. For the past few years, my average step count has hovered near 20,000 per day. When I started my MBA program at the Brandeis International Business School (IBS) last fall, I vowed that I would not change this good habit, and I prioritized it over many other things. Walking helps me with so many things, so I decided that taking walks would be the best way to familiarize myself with the campus as well. 


Artificial intelligence’s influence raises many ethical problems

 In 1942, Isaac Asimov formulated the Three Laws of Robotics. First, a robot must not harm a human being. Second, a robot must obey the orders that a human gives it. Third, a robot may protect its own existence, so long as this protection does not conflict with the first and second laws. Let us analyze how these laws apply to the current situation, when big data and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly prevalent and their misuse is gaining momentum.  


Views on the News: Amazon fire

Following catastrophic damage to the Amazon rainforest caused by an ongoing series of fires, the Brazillian government rejected $20 million pledged by the international community at the G7 Summit, alleging imperialistic ulterior motives on the part of French President Emmanuel Macron. However, Bolsonaro’s administration later stated that they would accept the aid, on the condition that the French President Emmanuel Macron apologize for his comments regarding Bolsonaro’s behavior and what appeared to be a disrespectful potshot at Macron’s wife. Furthermore, numerous environmental scientists and indigenous people have alleged that the cattle industry is starting the fires to clear land with Bolsonaro’s support, raising questions as to whether the President even cares about the rainforest and the people and wildlife living within it. Faced with this cataclysmic destruction, how should we view Brazil’s delayed response and this political back-and-forth between world leaders? What do you think these actions mean for the rainforest, and how might they affect global conservation and environmental protection movements? 


Cautious optimism on University promises

 Brandeis’ tradition of student protest continued last May when a group of #StillConcerned students—a callback to the Concerned Students 2015 group which led the Ford Hall sit-in—held a protest on the Rabb Steps, per a May 20, 2019 Justice article. These students argued that concerns relating to race on campus in 2015 had not been sufficiently addressed. Among other demands, they expressed a desire for collaboration between activists and offices such as Public Safety, the Department of Community Living, Escort Safety Services and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, saying they “operate as policing forces that disproportionately impact the on-campus experiences” of marginalized students. 


Sensationalist ICE analogies are insensitive but defensible

 I spent a number of days this summer at protests — often branded “actions” — led often, but not always, by Jewish people, in response to the human rights abuses currently being committed by ICE and Customs and Border Patrol against immigrants and asylum seekers in detention facilities along our nation’s southern border. All of these demonstrations involved analogies to the Holocuast — usually centered around the expression “Never Again.” There’s been much discussion in Jewish circles about this analogy ever since it was seized on by the activist collective #NeverAgainAction earlier this year. I think it’s worth sorting through it.  


Take a break from all the depressing news and try to enjoy life

 The news can feel like a thick drink I’m forcing down before breakfast every morning. My classes start early, and morning hours beforehand may be better spent splayed out on a yoga mat or listening to classical music. It seems that some days, I forego mindfulness and mental health in favor of reading news that is the same but different every day; it is a Groundhog Day of X with a side of Y on the front page of Z week in and week out. Can’t I pass on this? Because I certainly cannot blame any one of the people I know that have completely cut off their subscription to the daily sludge of violence, hatred and fear on planet Earth 2019. Despite this, here is  why I make an effort to read the news. 


Parlimentary gridlock around Brexit is a lose-lose scenario

 Having just spent the previous semester working in Parliament, I can speak from experience that Brexit has made the British political class and hoi polloi thoroughly miserable, having sucked up every last bit of political oxygen and energy from an already exhausted nation. So how did they get here?  


Democratic debate reflection: each candidate's performance, graded

 With the first democratic primary debates behind us, each candidate will be pressing to spin their performance favorably, no matter how middling, lackluster or even self-evidently superb their performance may have been. Now that the campaign is underway and candidates are being scrutinized by voters and moderators alike, I will be sharing my own post-debate takeaways. The ranking system is based on who did the most to improve their chances and — especially for the lesser known candidates — get their name out. 


Celebrating the achievements of Justice seniors

 The end of the year is very bittersweet. As we finish finals and the semester, Commencement approaches, which means that we have to say goodbye to our graduating editors. We thank all of our seniors for their work over their time with the Justice. As much as we will miss them, we are confident that they will go on to do amazing things in the future. 


Interfaith dialogue needed

 As someone who grew up in Kashmir, a politically fraught place, and being continuously and unnecessarily frisked and stopped by authorities has been unwelcome but unsurprising. But this time, after living in Boston for a few weeks and experiencing constant stares, I was truly learning how “otherness” works in American social, political and religious contexts.   


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