After over 15 years at Brandeis, Dean of Students Jamele Adams left his role Friday, April 9 to take on a new opportunity. As a board, we wanted to devote this week’s editorial to say thank you and goodbye to Adams, who did so much for the student body during his time at the University.
In the 2020 presidential election, more than 159 million people cast their ballots. After every ballot was counted and a special Senate election was held in Georgia, Joseph R. Biden was declared the 46th president of the United States and the Democractic Party retained control of the House of Representatives, and, following a runoff election in Georgia, gained control of the Senate. With a Democratic majority in Congress, constituents expected the Democratic Party to pass the sweeping legislation it had promised and voters had voted for. However, even with control of the executive and legislative branches, Democrats face an uphill battle in passing any of their promised legislation. A simple Senate procedural rule stands in the way of the result of the largest Democratic election ever held in the United States. The rule is called the filibuster, and it has a long history of subversion.
As we reach astronomical levels of inequality worldwide, navigate a pandemic and combat the rise of global authoritarianism, world institutions have repeatedly accepted our frightening historical trajectory. Oftentimes, these institutions even cause injustice, actively refusing to divest from violence and inequity as the status quo has provided exponential concentrations of wealth and resources. With dwindling support toward systems of policing, state violence and imperialism, many of these institutions have decided that they do not need the consent of the governed.
Our collective memory is plagued with places and dates — Columbine, April, 20, 1999; Sandy Hook, Dec.14, 2012; Orlando, Jun. 12, 2016; Parkland, Feb.14, 2018; Atlanta, Mar. 17, 2021; Boulder, Mar. 22, 2021 — the list goes on. Each mass shooting jerks our memories back to the previous killings and empty promises made by politicians — now is the time for change.
On Monday, Mar. 29, the Arkansas Senate passed a bill that would prohibit transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming hormone treatments and surgeries. HB 1570, the SAFE Act, would prohibit trans youth from accessing health care and insurance coverage for gender-affirming care. Doctors would be both prohibited from offering gender-affirming care to trans minors and unable to refer minors to other providers for treatment. This bill passed amid a surge of anti-trans legislation that is being considered in state legislatures across the country. On Monday, Apr. 5, Gov. Hutchinson vetoed the bill calling it a “vast government overreach.” However, considering the overwhelming Republican support, his veto is likely to be overturned. Rather than limiting trans youths' access to gender-affirming care, what are the most important protections that state governments should enact for trans people? How may this bill relate to broader discussions of medical rights for marginalized groups?
Well, that didn’t take long. It’s been a little more than a week since the Georgia legislature passed its heinous anti-voting law, S.B. 202, and the national press has kicked off the most unfortunate stage of the contemporary civil rights coverage cycle — suggesting we take seriously the civic opinions of the corporate class.
On March 1, The Department of Community Living unveiled plans for the fall 2021 housing selection process just as the University prepares to welcome students back for in-person classes. This board expresses concerns about the stress caused by the housing procedure changes, as well as confusion surrounding the lack of explanation for these changes. This board calls on the Department of Community Living to provide students, especially upperclassmen, with rough estimates of the type of housing that would be available for each given lottery number.
*CONTENT WARNING*: Violence, homophobia, transphobia, mention of death, links to details of assault I still remember being berated. I remember the fear, the nerves, as they swim down my spine upon recall. Someone screams “God is watching” in front of a crowd as I share a quick kiss with my girlfriend at an outdoor festival. A cackle of laughs ensues from the anonymous herald’s friends who decide to join in on the casual homophobia. The anger is visceral, but out of fear for my and my girlfriend’s lives, I suppress it. We hurry home in the dark.
On Wednesday, March 10, the House of Representatives approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. House Democrats passed the bill on the party-line vote of 220-211 with no Republicans voting in favor of the bill. The bill includes direct payments of up to $1400-per-person stimulus payments for most American households, an expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child and an extension of $300 weekly unemployment supplement. Dependents 17 and older are now eligible for stimulus payments, which will benefit Brandesians and college students around the country. With the challenges this bill faced in Congress, what was your reaction to the final approval of Biden’s stimulus package? What part of the bill is most important to you and which aspects of the bill should people be most aware of? Why do you think what should have been a bipartisan, common-sense bill became polarized along party lines?
Editorial: A hybrid commencement ceremony is unwise despite the possibility of increased vaccine distribution
In response to the announcement that campus operations will ostensibly return to normal for the Fall 2021 semester, a petition has been circulated requesting that Commencement include in-person elements. The petition, which as of press time was signed by over 400 people including students, alumni and other community members, outlines two ideas for safe, in-person graduation ceremonies to be attended by current seniors only (no friends or family). This board understands and acknowledges that Commencement is an important part of many students’ college experiences and that it holds cultural and emotional significance. However, the board is of the opinion that holding an in-person graduation ceremony of any kind would be unwise.
New Univ. ice rink should be named “The Justin Booska Memorial Rink” in honor of an archetypal Brandeisian
Justin Booska ’13 was that rare Brandeisian who exemplified the best of our university. He was a natural leader, a kind soul and a thoughtful colleague who always thought of others before himself. Tragically, Justin disappeared before his fifth-year Brandeis reunion. Brandeis should honor his legacy, the asset he was to our little slice of Waltham, and the impact he had on the people he touched, which rippled across the entire globe.
Editorial: Feedback on the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the Brandeis International Business School sections of the University’s Draft Anti-Racism Plan
In light of the Nov. 10 release of the University’s Draft Anti-Racism Plan, the Justice’s editorial board will be reviewing and providing feedback on prominent sections. We hope that these forthcoming editorials will serve as a resource for students to provide feedback to the administration. We also recognize, however, that our editorial board is predominantly composed of white students, and we will work to ensure that we are not taking space or attention away from the voices of the BIPOC students who are most directly affected by racism on campus. In line with this goal, we have grounded our analysis of the appendices in the demands put forward by the Black Action Plan. This editorial will focus on Appendix G: Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Appendix H: Brandeis International Business School. Two subsections of the University’s Draft Anti-Racism Plan, G and H, which concern the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the Brandeis International Business School respectively, outline clear visions for the University’s attempts to remedy any discrimination within them, and diversify their student, faculty and staff base. However, this board believes that they could be improved through further accountability from the administration, as well as cooperation with the writers of the Black Action Plan.
I am generally not interested in the goings-on of the royal family. Sure, I’ve watched decades of weddings and divorces and visits, so it’s not like I don’t know what’s going on. But recent events led me to free up my schedule and I found myself transfixed on Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah Winfrey on Mar. 7.
I have watched the U.S. government fail to successfully handle challenges from the start of my political consciousness. I am not alone in this opinion; the United States Congress’ approval rating has not reached above 50% since 2003. In a democracy, if an institution sustains a low approval rating over a long period of time, it is a failure and the citizenry no longer approves of it. Beyond Congress, the Presidency has succumbed to party differences resulting in the increase of executive orders and the simultaneous weakening of our democratic system. Congress and its relationship to the executive branch must be rectified; however, before this process can begin, Congress and the federal government must become functional.
Imagine you are a transgender Black woman in Florida. You are already facing housing and workplace discrimination, gender-based violence and social and institutional racism. One of your few options for financial support is sex work, but you do not plan to have intercourse with clients. Unfortunately, a sting operation leads you to be taken to the police station. You wonder why the cisgender white woman you work alongside was not caught. Upon arrival at the station, you are forced to get tested for HIV. You test positive. You are now a convicted felon and may have to register as a sex offender.
And just like that, February is over, and we made it through the first month of the spring 2021 semester. We as a board wanted to pause, break from our usual style of editorial and take this opportunity to remind our fellow students that you are doing a fantastic job, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
Flashback: It’s 7:50 in the morning. You just arrived in your classroom, still groggy and trying to remember if you finished your math homework from yesterday. Yet, before you can check your backpack or even take another moment to think, you are called to stand up and recite the daily vow. Right hand over your heart. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands…”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University adjusted spring 2021 semester calendar for public health purposes. To limit the amount of travel to and from campus, the start date of the semester was delayed to Feb. 1, and the usual two week-long breaks were reduced to five “no university exercise” days distributed throughout the semester. Although it makes sense to modify the schedule so that the safety of the campus will not be compromised by frequent traveling, the loss of the week-long breaks adds additional stress to students who are already dealing with hardships related to the pandemic. This board urges professors to consider these factors and adjust their courses accordingly, and we urge the administration to create a specific feedback system and enact requested changes if necessary.
At the start of this congressional term, Sen. Tom Carper (D-De) introduced legislation S. 51, which would admit Washington, D.C. as the 51st state. A similar bill was first introduced in 2017 by D.C.’s delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, as well as in 2019. Making D.C. the 51st state should be a priority for the 117th Congress.
On Nov. 13, some attendees at a Brandeis-hosted panel on human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China zoombombed my friend Rayhan Asat. As she began to tell the story of her brother, Ekpar Asat, who has been detained by the Chinese government for five years, despite never being charged with a crime, Rayhan’s voice was drowned out by the Chinese national anthem. Her screen was hijacked with annotations reading “bullshit” and “fake news.” That night, she had nightmares.