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

Made to choose: spirituality or school?

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.

It didn’t have to be this way

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. 

Returning to Brandeis: our lives resume but our traumas persist

I thought I would be happy to return to Brandeis this fall. But as I drove to Theater Lot to check in and collect my dorm keys, the sinking feeling I had been experiencing all summer intensified. As the Department of Community Living student workers ushered cars through Theater Lot, many of them excited to see friends after a year and a half of virtual learning, I was caught in a state of disbelief. I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, this is happening. Everything is in person again, with limited to no restrictions.” The reality of living on campus during a pandemic hit me as one of the DCL staff members handed me my room key and informed me that if I did not get tested by 4 pm, I would have to quarantine myself for two days, whether or not I tested positive for COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 pandemic persists in spite of vaccination efforts

With the rollout of vaccines in the United States and with tens of millions of people vaccinated, there may be a sense that the pandemic is a thing of the past. This sense is one that is harbored by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. This idea that the pandemic has come to an end is, of course, untrue. The United States, like the rest of the world, is still in a pandemic. According to data reported by the New York Times, America is still rocked by an average of about 146,000 new COVID-19 cases every day. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that about 750,868 people will have died from COVID-19 related complications by Dec. 1. The fact is that people have not stopped getting infected and people have not stopped dying from COVID-19. 

The sciences at Brandeis: action and accountability deferred

We are representatives of Anti-Racism Alliance in the Sciences (ARAS), a collective of current and former students that has operated since August 2020 to promote a culture of belonging and support in the Division of Science. We advocate for institutional changes that advance diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in many aspects of STEM higher education. We have learned that each department has since formed its own diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) committee. More than a year since our inception, we have observed that expressions of sympathy and mutual understanding have not yet been translated into progress. 

Driver’s licenses are a milestone for some

Imagine that you are 16 years old and excited to get your driver’s license alongside your friends, only to be told you cannot obtain one. This is the reality for Jose Antonio Vargas , an undocumented journalist, and for millions of others in the United States. Vargas crafted a support system to bypass the system, but lived in fear every single day that his truth would come out. It is hard enough to be undocumented in the United States without access to many public services and benefits. A driver’s license would expand the economic and social prospects of individuals and families.  

Editorial: Clarification is needed regarding University’s COVID-19 policies

This past year and semester, marked in particular by a global pandemic, have been unlike any other in the University’s history. To best balance both the health and safety of the community and ensuring a lively, memorable academic year for its students, the University has instituted a number of new protocols. These policies are influenced by advice from the Centers for Disease Control, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and state law regarding mask mandates, vaccinations and capacity restrictions.  

Supporting the Healthy Youth Act is imperative for the good of LGBTQIA+ students

LGBTQIA+ representation and queer theory continues to be villified in most grade and high school environments — even when the introduction of that knowledge might hugely improve or even save a student’s life. As kids trickle back to class in-person this fall, some leave the danger of prejudiced family homes only to enter risky school environments in which identities are restricted and homophobic attacks from students, staff and teachers go unpunished. Others will watch while administrations degrade and demonize LGBTQIA+ students, or fire gay teachers and coaches without due process. A majority of schools still refuse to teach any semblance of LGBTQIA+ history, not to mention LGBTQ-specific health or sex education. All the while too many students — like transgender students who report much higher rates of feeling unsafe in school or fall into the 35% of students who attempt suicide — continue to suffer silently. 

Editorial: The Justice welcomes students to a hopeful new year with advice for living, learning and everything in between

The Justice Editorial Board would like to extend a warm welcome to the Class of 2025 as they  begin their first year of college and the Class of 2024 as they begin their first year of in-person classes. This board has compiled a list of its favorite survival tips on the Brandeis campus for navigating these new and exciting times. 

Editorial: Honoring the achievements and contributions of the Class of 2021 Justice editors after an unprecedented year

It is bittersweet saying goodbye to our seniors after a year of navigating school and student journalism in a pandemic — bitter because we’re saying goodbye, but sweet because we’re so incredibly proud of them for getting through this year and making the most of it. Each of our graduating seniors has made invaluable contributions to the Justice. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. We as an editorial board want to take a moment to recognize each senior and celebrate their achievements. 

Views on the News: Vaccine nationalism, Big Pharma and the distribution vacuum in India

On Tuesday, April 27, India reported 320,000 new COVID-19 cases and 2,771 deaths, as a second COVID-19 wave ravaged the country's healthcare system. The Indian government has responded to the crisis by restricting its own exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has had drastic repercussions on impoverished nations. Last week, President Biden defended the current ban on exports of raw materials used in vaccines in response to urgent requests to lift it, citing obligations to prioritize vaccinating the American population first. In a recent turn of events, the Biden Administration proposed a plan to export up to 60 million AstraZeneca doses to India when available, and countries such as the UK have sent ventilators and additional medical equipment to assist in navigating the catastrophe. In light of the situation, some physicians have alluded to ‘vaccine nationalism’ — when nations procure doses on behalf of national interests at the expense of other countries. How does vaccine nationalism or pandemic profiteering factor into the current nature of global and domestic vaccine distributions, if at all? Many of our own community also have loved ones in the impacted area. At a local level, how can the Brandeis administration and faculty support South Asian students at this time?

Why are hard pants still a thing?

I am confused by clothing lately, in particular, pants. Trousers have gone into disfavor during the past year due to the pandemic and the new norm of Zoom meetings that allows people to generally only show themselves from the shoulders up. Some people even seem to think that bottom clothing is optional. You know who you are!

Views on the News: Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict and the road to racial justice in the United States

*Trigger warning: Death of Black people at the hands of police violence and white supremacy* Email note: We understand and take very seriously the heaviness of this topic, especially for our Black community members. While we believe it extremely important to continue shedding light on the atrocities of racism and state-sanctioned violence in the United States, we also recognize the need for space to heal away from constant news of this violence. We deeply appreciate any thoughts our community has the space and energy to offer at this time.  Last week, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter for murdering George Floyd after violently detaining him on May 25, 2020. Given the ongoing police brutality against Black people in the United States, what do the results of this trial mean for the fight to achieve racial justice? What kind of cultural, legal and policy changes are necessary to achieve racial justice in the United States?  

Pandemic relief for undocumented Americans is the only path forward

Many of us grumbled at some point during the pandemic about delayed unemployment checks or the nonsensical arithmetic behind the two recent stimulus bills. While these were valid concerns, it was shamefully rare to hear public complaints on behalf of undocumented immigrants who were excluded from pandemic relief entirely. While COVID-19 did not discriminate based on citizenship status, our elected officials did. As we receive our first and second doses of the vaccine this month, it is long past time to prioritize the community members the United States  has left behind.  

Editorial: An extension of the second vaccination clinic would greatly benefit the student body during the final exam and move-out period

This board would like to congratulate the Brandeis COVID-19 vaccination program on a largely successful first COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Brandeis offered approximately 1,200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to students on April 22 and 23, and the clinic itself was well-run and efficient. However, there were some frustrating hiccups with the vaccine appointment sign-up process, and this board still has some concerns about the plans for the second vaccination clinic scheduled for May 13 and 14. 

Views on the News: Changes to vaccine rollout plans bring new light to public health challenges

On Tuesday, April 6, U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed that all adults will become eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations beginning on April 19. The move marks a shift from original official projections of vaccine availability back in January, and a change in Biden’s foreshadowing that everyone would be eligible by May 1, a prediction he offered in March. Since their initiation, states' registration processes to sign up for vaccine appointments have been a source of frustration for many people across the country. How has the vaccine rollout program worked for — or neglected — particular communities? What challenges might this new rollout plan, which coincides with multiple states lowering restrictions on social distancing, pose for achieving herd immunity? 

There is no wellness in Brandeis’ Wellness Days

I suffered from Zoom fatigue last fall. Now, I am in the midst of Zoom burnout. After an extended winter break over December and January, classes commenced in early February and they have not stopped. Sure, they give us “Wellness Days,” but so far those days have been consumed by extra homework assigned by professors. There is absolutely no wellness going on. 

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