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

Views on the news: Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing

On Monday, Oct.12, the Senate Judiciary Committee began Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Judge Barrett, a textualist and originalist, prefers to interpret the exact words of a legal statute over the intent of the legislature. Throughout the hearing, Judge Barrett evaded answering questions on many topics, including how she would rule in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade and President Trump’s use of power. What do you think the purpose of Judge Barrett’s evasions are, especially on topics she has previously commented on elsewhere? Additionally, what do you think about Barrett’s use of originalism and textualism as legal ideologies?  

Zoomed out

I am a graduate student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and I just earned my MBA from the Brandeis International Business School. Like most students, all of my classes went fully online back in March.  Lesson plans were quickly adapted, and for the first few weeks, it felt like an adventure we were all experiencing together. I had taken online classes before, but to borrow a very popular phrase, it was “unprecedented times,” so to experience it with other Brandeis students created a sense of solidarity. Even though I was missing out on valuable in-person social experiences, being in school meant experiencing the pandemic through the lens of higher education.

Is mail-in voting really a good idea?

 I would like to preface this article by saying that I am discussing mail-in voting from a politically neutral standpoint. In the 2020 election, mail-in voting is an issue that has taken on a life of its own, and both sides have discounted the concerns of the other. As a college student who is unable to make it home for election day, I have been voting by mail for a few years. Whatever your stance may be politically, I ask you to read this article with an open mind so that we may engage in a meaningful discussion about the pros and cons of mail-in voting. I fear that Americans are no longer engaging with those they oppose and instead are repeating the position of their preferred political party. If we stay on this course, I am afraid that the United States will fracture beyond repair. 

Editorial: The Justice endorses former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. for President of the United States

As Election Day approaches on Nov. 3, this board has unanimously decided to endorse former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Sen. Kamala D. Harris for President and Vice President of the United States. This ticket’s stance on key issues is preferable to that of the incumbent administration, and we urge readers to cast their ballots early for the Democratic ticket. 

The coronavirus’ hubris crisis

In one of the final dialogues of “Antigone,” the third play in Sophocles’ epic Oedipus Cycle, the blind fortune teller Tiresias has some choice advice for his king, Creon of Thebes. As Creon is deciding his niece Antigone’s fate after she illegally buried her brother Polynices, he struggles to balance the urge to appear strong before his people — who had recently emerged from two long, bloody conflicts — and to understand that Antigone’s crime was committed out of love and religious duty rather than seditious defiance. Creon, choosing the former, imprisons Antigone in a stone crypt despite her romantic infatuation with his son. 

The medical underloads policy should be reevaluated to further encompass the varying circumstances of students

On Oct. 7, University Registrar Mark Hewitt sent an email to the Brandeis community announcing a new change in its medical underloads policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From now on, in addition to full time enrollment options with a minimum of eight credits, students who submit a request for medical underload will have the option to enroll in two classes in summer 2021 at no additional charge. While this board appreciates the initiative that the school has taken, we also believe that more should be done, both in terms of the policy itself and the communication of the decision. 

As cases spike, remain vigilant with COVID-19 precautions

For the third week in a row, two Brandeis students tested positive for COVID-19. Two weeks ago, we saw our first faculty/staff positive case. Four students are currently in isolation, and 15 of their close contacts are in quarantine (as of press time). Massachusetts health officials announced that Waltham is now a red zone on Wednesday, meaning that we have more than eight cases per 100,000 population per day. 

It’s time to cancel cancel culture

Have you ever been “canceled?” If not canceled, how about rejected or shunned for a particular view or belief?  People have been shunned or excluded for exhibiting misogynistic, rasist or homophobic beliefs. However, “canceling'' individuals for their beliefs, regardless whether they are problematic, bleeds into a larger phenomenon known as “cancel culture.” Cancel culture is a form of withholding and withdrawing support for an individual, as well as boycotting their work in social and professional circles. This toxic phenomenon rejects the democratic ideals of free speech and discourse, creating one-sided thought and a desire to ruin the lives of those who might disagree. 

How we can fix American democracy

“In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent member of the progressive Wing of the Democratic Party recently said about the stark difference between Democrats. There is massive division within the parties, and it is not just politicians who are frustrated by this. According to an NBC News/WSJ Poll, around 40% of Americans want a third party. If such a large number of Americans want a third party, and individuals within the parties see themselves as fractured, why is America still operating under a seemingly fixed strangle of the two-party system? 

EDITORIAL: Improvements need to be made to virtual Brandeis University

University professors have been working hard to adjust their class structures and systems this semester due to COVID-19. This board appreciates the time and effort that faculty has put into adapting their courses, expectations and communication on behalf of their students. Many instructors have gone above and beyond in ensuring that their students feel supported and are learning effectively. However, there have been discrepancies in students’ experiences and struggles with different classes that need to be addressed. 

RBG Is One of My Heroes

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on the first night of Rosh Hashana. Having no access to technology because of my religious observance, a friend notified me of her passing by a friend at a socially distanced service Saturday afternoon. It was not until Sunday morning — still with no access to technology — that I was able to read the full story from the newspapers my aunt and uncle brought me. It is very possible that I would not have been aware of the passing of one of my heroes until two days afterward. 

Beware of Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Just eight days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to fill Justice Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat. Make no mistake, Judge Barrett poses a serious threat to the Constitution.  

EDITORIAL: The problems that come with navigating the Bite app

Entering the fall 2020 semester, the University made many changes to ensure the safety of individuals coming to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those changes was the addition of the Bite app. According to the Bite by Sodexo website, this app is a way to avoid lines, see what is available to eat, make a reservation for a time/table and allow for on-the-go ordering. This board would like to critique the app and its use as well as state where changes can be made.  

EDITORIAL: How to live more sustainably both on and off-campus during COVID-19 pandemic

As Brandeis prepared to open for an unprecedented fall 2020 semester, the University took significant measures to limit the number of students, staff and faculty who contract COVID-19. These measures include rapid frequency testing, daily health assessments and the installment of food ordering apps such as Bite and GET. However, while Brandeis has proved capable of containing the spread of COVID-19 on its campus, there is an area upon which the University and its community can improve — sustainability.  

Liar liar pants on fire

As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, California is literally on fire. Wildfires have engulfed millions of acres of land across California, Oregon and Washington. These wildfires are the worst that California has seen in over 18 years, and it has been reported that San Francisco, Portland and Seattle have the worst air quality in the entire world. Oregon’s air quality is so poor that it has surpassed the state’s Air Quality Index scale, which is a tool used by the government to measure the level of pollution in the air. On this scale, the highest possible score an area can receive is 500 and is considered to be the most hazardous. The city of Sisters, Oregon, recently scored a 582. Back in August, major cities in Oregon were scoring an 11. I could continue to list depressing facts about this crisis. I could even mention how a firefighter lost their life to the El Dorado wildfire that began as a gender reveal party. No matter how many news organizations cover the horrors of the wildfires or middle-aged moms post a picture on Facebook “sending their prayers,” the only people who have the power to enact lasting change are our government officials.

VIEWS ON THE NEWS:Connection to the virtual Brandeis community

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, college students and professors have experienced a start to the academic school year that differs from those in previous years. At Brandeis, the beginning of the fall 2020 semester was met with virtual classrooms, club meetings and campus activities. For some, the fall semester is taking place off-campus or at home. Has the shift to online learning changed your relationship to the Brandeis community? If so, in what ways? Additionally, for those participating in the community remotely, whether that be off-campus or at home, do you still feel connected to those living on-campus? And for individuals either living or participating on-campus, do you feel connected to the virtual community being created?

DOJ Attempts to Assume the Defence in Trump Defamation Lawsuit

On Sept. 8, the DOJ announced that it was taking over from Trump’s lawyers in a defamation lawsuit brought against Trump by E. Jean Carroll. Carroll is an American journalist who claimed in her memoir, “What do we need Men For?,” that Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store sometime between 1995 and 1996. Trump denied her claims, stating, “I have no idea who this woman is. This is a woman who's also accused other men of things, as you know. It is a totally false accusation." Based on this denial, Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump.   

Universities need to condemn the use of problematic online proctor services

It is no secret that online learning is drastically different from the traditional classroom-based education we took for granted in a pre-COVID-19 world. Although lectures and discussion sections can be approximated with Zoom calls and breakout rooms, many have worried about how to recreate a classroom testing environment remotely, with many colleges and universities turning to online proctor services as the solution. However, these online proctor services — such as Proctorio, ProctorU and Honorlock — violate student privacy and exacerbate existing systems of oppression. This board is grateful that Brandeis has not instituted the use of these proctor services in response to the pandemic, and we call on all educational institutions, including our own, to take a bold stance against these services. 

The intersectionality of COVID-19, the environment and climate justice

In the months leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, awareness of climate change and environmental concerns seemed to be at an all-time high. Unfortunately, since COVID-19 took over our lives, many people are wrongly treating the pandemic and environmental degradation as two separate emergencies. Some claim that environmental action should be put on the backburner in favor of dealing with the effects of the pandemic, while others have celebrated “wins” for the climate as our harmful activity slows due to quarantines and social distancing. In reality, the pandemic is not in the best interest of the planet. Many of the causes of the outbreak and its subsequent effects only highlight our harmful relationship with the environment and the necessity of taking action. 

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