After a year of virtual college due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I, a sophomore, returned to the Brandeis campus feeling like a first-year. The freshness of real college life soon faded away with the academic and social stresses of a new environment striking me, and the depressing cold of New England approached at the same time.
During the 2020 primary elections, my eyes were fixated on whatever electronic device was in front of me. I anxiously watched as news anchors mulled over the predictions while the nation’s map was checkered with an array of blue and red. When the time came, my parents headed to the polls to cast their votes. They made participating in this democratic process look easy, accessible and clean-cut. However, over the past few years as more and more voter suppression laws target vulnerable communities, it has become evident that our current voting system does not equally represent America’s population. What systematic practices encourage this discrimation and what can be done to stop it?
Throughout the U.S., cases of domestic violence have increased across genders and sexual orientations, and within LGBTQIA+ communities they remain a particular threat. In addition to physical and verbal abuse, LGBTQIA+ survivors of domestic violence often face threats of being ‘outed,’ having increased economic and housing risks as a result of domestic violence and other unique challenges. What can individuals, campuses, communities and/or policy leaders do to better support survivors of violence, or to foster healthier and more inclusive communities for all? Is there room at Brandeis for improvement of services and support systems, or a need for increased education to combat domestic and identity-based violence?
Content warning: this editorial discusses general mentions of domestic violence and sexual assault. This October marks the 40th year of observing national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Justice Editorial Board would like to recognize the importance of this issue by discussing recent abuse and sexual violence incidents on other college campuses, highlighting the work and support systems of on-campus organizations and providing a list of resources for Brandeis community members who have or are experiencing domestic violence or abuse of any kind.
I miss high school. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write in my entire lifetime. Believe me, I was ecstatic to graduate. I practically skipped across the stage with my diploma in hand. But there is a part of me, now on my own at college, that misses the morning 8:20 bell and our school announcement detailing a weird meat “surprise” for lunch that was definitely last week’s leftovers. I dreaded walking up the three flights of stairs to get to my first class of the day but now I think back to it with fondness. High school came and went and as I spent over a year of it inside my home, begrudgingly logging into Google Classroom and treating every class like it was a personal podcast.
Oct. 11, 2021 marks Indigenous Peoples Day, a time when many recognize and honor the history, heritage and experiences of Indigenous and Native American populations. As early as 1990 and in recognition of the past and ongoing genocide experienced by these communities at the hands of colonists such as Christopher Columbus and other non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous activists around the world have been pressing states and countries to adopt the commemoration’s title change in honor of these communities and the realities of their lived experiences. To this day, 36 U.S. states still do not recognize Indigenous Peoples Day as an official holiday, including Massachusetts. How will you spend this day? What is the significance of commemorating this day in Massachusetts, and/or as a nation as a whole (in the United States or otherwise)? The University recognizes the day and staff do not work in observance, but faculty and students still attend classes. Should the University be closed on this day in commemoration?
On Sept. 29, the Brandeis Office of Sustainability posted on their Instagram that the University has an Oct. 25 deadline to “save our compost.” Since then, the office has engaged in a campaign to raise awareness of the deadline, deploying its ambassadors to speak in classes, pushing social media content and adding a slew of new signage to campus.
With students back on campus after a year of mostly online classes, and with the colder months approaching, having a reliable transportation system around campus and beyond is crucial. Since the start of the semester, all of the transportation services available to students from before the pandemic have returned, along with their accessibility and timeliness issues.
Every year, autumn starts on my birthday. 29 big ones this time around. Things feel more or less the same. They also feel different. Despite the dawning of a pandemic, 28 felt important in other, more clearly positive ways. Like the beginning of a new era, it felt like some large but beneficial change I am yet to fully understand. 29 was a bit more of a shock to the system, its positivity less clear. It felt quick. It came fast. Whether or not it came “too” fast is up to interpretation, and maybe that is the point. Younger ones may roll their eyes at yet another cynical millennial, while older individuals will tell you 29 means “nothing” in terms of experience. Many of them perceive their age as having wed far more wisdom to their lives than your relatively shorter 29 years of life.
I used to hate small talk — the awkward silences as my eyes connected with someone else’s and we both struggled to fill the space with fragmented sentences about the weather, our weekends and the workload we endured the past week. I would try not to be rude as my mind drifted off elsewhere, anywhere really to help me escape the repetitive monotony of the small talk I experienced during my first year at Brandeis. The constant mini-biographical questions of, “What is your name?” “What year are you?” “What is your major?” and, “What are your plans for the future?” bored me to death. At one point I considered wearing a name tag with answers to all of these questions, so I wouldn’t have to sound like a broken record repeating words that appeared so separate from me for what seemed like the 100th time.
Worldwide, people continue to wrestle with the ongoing impacts of climate change. The first “Fridays for Future” global climate strike of the year took place this past Friday, Sept. 24, with youth leaders at the helm. At the same time, policymakers and businesses continue to fund expansive oilfield extractions and other endeavors with high risks to the health of the environment. Others continue to deny the existence of climate change altogether. According to a recent study from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, today’s toddlers “will live through three times as many climate disasters as their grandparents.” How do you think climate change and the ongoing debates surrounding it will continue to impact the behavior, character and lives of future generations? Do you think there is a feasible solution to climate change as we stand now? Is there one in which individuals, communities, leaders and nations can realistically work together to nurture and prioritize climate health?
In this unprecedented year, students continue to grapple with mental health struggles. Although not foreign to most, mental health has come to the forefront of everyday life, but these issues have continuously been ignored.
In the last few days, you may have noticed the trees changing colors, the mornings getting colder, and the days are getting shorter. This board offers a few pieces of advice on how to thrive and add a bit of color to the darker months with some fun activities.
Wednesday, Sept. 15 marked the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time when many people recognize and honor the history, heritage and social contributions of Latin Americans, Latine populations and Hispanic culture. Over the 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, commemorators spend time recognizing the anniversaries of independence of multiple Latine, Caribbean and Hispanic countries. In the wake of a long, tumultuous year, the theme for 2021 is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” What does this month mean to you? How are you commemorating Hispanic, Latine and Latin American culture and history?
As students and faculty reacclimate to a predominantly in-person semester, several members of this editorial board have raised concerns over pandemic safety on campus. Over the past month, many have witnessed both students and faculty become more relaxed in adhering to COVID-19 policies such as mask-wearing in shared spaces, truthfully filling out the daily health assessment and professors ensuring that students enter the classroom with a yellow or green passport. Additionally, many have questioned the effectiveness of the campus passport system and the risk associated with in-person lecture classes that hold 100 or more students in poorly-ventilated classrooms for over an hour. As the COVID-19 cases continue to rise in some areas across the country — including Waltham — it is more important than ever that all COVID-19 policies be reinforced or, in some cases, reviewed to ensure the safety of all those in the community.
On Monday, Sept. 13, the annual New York Met Gala saw attendees don varying garb in response to this year’s theme, “American Independence.” From Hollywood entertainers to political pundits and social media users, viewers praised and/or criticized certain attendees for wearing outspoken fashion in support of varying social justice causes. Some rallied behind the use of fashion as a medium for these expressions. Others questioned if it was rather a display of hypocrisy above all else. What kind of responsibility do members of Congress, activists and artists have in spaces of such juxtaposition of wealth and expression like the Met Gala? Where do celebrities and politicians stand and what roles do they play when they call for accountability and equality, yet also play into trends or attend spaces where these values are challenged?
I honor Halloween more than most holidays. The horror, thrilling and gory genres across movies, television shows, books and other forms of storytelling have provided me an outlet since childhood to dissect some of my most isolating and terrifying moments better than any other commemorative day or cinematic medium.
For most of the world, Sept. 8, 2021 was not significant in any way. For the University of Wisconsin’s population of roughly 4,000 Jewish students and faculty, it was a day where they had to choose between spirituality and school. This year, Wisconsin’s first day of class — a day that appeared to be insignificant to the university’s administration — happened to fall on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and one of the holiest days of the Hebrew calendar.
Contrary to the words of many conservative pundits, there is nothing unprecedented or tyrannical about President Joe Biden’s rules that would require vaccination against COVID-19 for certain groups of Americans. Acting as a sort of mandate, the new rules require all employers with 100 or more employees to fully vaccinate their personnel. Additionally, any and all contractors who do work with the federal government must vaccinate their employees. Healthcare workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals must do the same. All in all, it obligates vaccination for around 100 million Americans, part of a larger effort to combat the contagious delta variant.
Editorial: Class accessibility: applying lessons of the pandemic to make higher education more inclusive
Along with the trauma that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, it has taught humanity many lessons, among them the power of video conference technology and digital forms of engagement. While most of us have yearned for a return to in-person activities and classes, it seems that we are quickly forgetting the importance of alternative forms of communication, particularly for disabled members of our community.