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

Letter to the Editor: Accessibility: One Year Later

 One year ago, a new movement was beginning to form on this campus, with people from many corners of the Brandeis community coming together. Students with and without disabilities were fed up with the structural ableism and inaccessibility at Brandeis, and after years of frustration, knew that they needed to take action. This action took the form of a letter to President Liebowitz, the Student Union, and both campus newspapers, along with an attached document of anonymous personal testimonies illustrating the discrimination and barriers that students with disabilities face at Brandeis. The planning and drafting of these documents took two months, with much collaboration from a large group of students, and conversations and edits across multiple social media platforms. But our final product was something we would learn to be powerful —- not just a strongly written document, but a new era for disability activism at Brandeis.  

Letter to the Editor: Protest Response

 I want to thank the Editorial Board of the Justice for raising important issues with respect to the University policy on student protests in the students’ Rights and Responsibilities handbook. But it is important for the community to understand that there has been no change in the advance notice policy in this year’s handbook: instead, three new sentences were introduced this year to underscore the university’s commitment to free speech and freedom of expression, not to restrict it. 

EDITORIAL: University needs improved winter safety policies

 Winter is coming, and with it, increased danger to the safety of the Brandeis community. In the past several weeks, Brandeis and its surrounding area have seen the signs of the season approaching, from the dropping temperatures to the snowy weather right after Thanksgiving break. This board appreciates the work the University — and especially the facilities department — does to keep the community safe, but sees clear areas of improvement regarding snow day procedures and shuttle tracking services. 

Understanding ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ in a positive light

 As December is well on its way, we once again find ourselves within the magical short window of time during which it is socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music. Unfortunately, listening to socially acceptable songs has become increasingly difficult. In a time of heightened awareness about social injustices, many classics are deemed deeply problematic; “Santa Baby” is too materialistic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” justifies bullying until the victim’s undesirable look proves useful and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” reinforces gender stereotypes.  

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: AAAS statement on student protest policy

 The faculty of the Department of African and African American Studies write to express our concern about the new changes to the student handbook regarding campus protests and demonstrations. As announced by Provost Lisa Lynch in an Aug. 29, 2019 email to the Brandeis community, student groups and individuals must now “seek prior approval for schedule and location” of any campus protest. We commend the Justice for bringing attention to this important policy change that, perhaps due to the timing of its announcement at the beginning of the academic year, seems to have escaped critical attention and for reporting additional details about how this policy will be implemented.   

Fifth Democratic primary debate: candidate ratings and analysis

 The Democratic Party seems to be scrambling to find an alternative to Biden before the imminent implosion of his campaign. Both former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and businessman Michael Bloomberg have entered the race at an unprecedentedly late juncture. While uncertainty and apprehension are gripping elements of the party, the debates seem to have bored the public, as the viewership has been trending steadily downwards since the first pair of debates in June. The lack of excitement and even disinterest or rejection of the party that this may represent is a worrying sign for the Democratic party, who will need to drive up turnout in November of 2020 to secure the White House and even win a majority of seats in the Senate (although the odds do not appear to be in their favor for the latter). I hold the belief that Democrats ought to whittle the field down considerably, both for a chance at greater interest and viewership and in order to maintain more focused and substantive debates. 

This Thanksgiving, have a conversation about gun safety

 As the holidays are approaching and we prepare to gather together with family members who have varying opinions on our current political climate, it’s important to be informed on issues we care about. We all have points of contention within our families, but discussing important issues, such as gun violence prevention, at your Thanksgiving table can help contribute to the national discussion and encourage support of common sense gun legislation. While this topic may seem scary and daunting, here are some tips and points to bring up in your conversations. The following pieces of legislation are all widely supported across the country and will help maintain the safety of every citizen, gun owners and non-gun owners alike. 

Universities need to clarify their role in social movements

 A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a lecture when a professor suddenly asked us,“Why are you here?” The first answer that crossed my mind was the very generic “to get an education so that I can find a job” type of response. However, it wasn’t until intensely thinking about this question that I began to realize that going to college is much more than a means to an end. In the chaos of confirming whether or not one has all the necessary credits in order to graduate, I believe college students (myself included) sometimes forget that the world is bigger than the campus they walk on, and the issues that seem to only affect the outside world continue to leak into campus life. Although a university symbolizes higher education, it is not immune to the many issues American society faces.  

Views on the News: Obama's thoughts on the Democratic primary

 In a speech delivered before the 2019 meeting of the Democracy Conference, former United States President Barack Obama argued for a more moderate approach to left-wing politics. Obama stated, “Voters, including Democrats, are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain left-leaning Twitter feeds, or the activist wing of our party. And that’s not a criticism to the activist wing. Their job is to poke and prod and text and inspire and motivate. But the candidate’s job, whoever that ends up being, is to get elected.” The remarks were interpreted by many to be an attack on the party’s left flank, particularly Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Do you agree or disagree with Obama’s remarks? What approach do you think the Democratic Party needs to take to defeat President Trump in 2020? 

EDITORIAL: University protest regulations endanger activists

This year’s Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook laid out new and more restrictive guidelines on student protests. The 2018-19 handbook had mandated that students notify the Dean of Students Office of upcoming protests — but for the first time this year, students must also gain pre-approval for protests with DOSO. Per a Nov. 15 email between University Director of Media Relations Julie Jette and the Justice, in which Jette cited Assistant Dean of Students Alexandra Rossett, students who fail to speak with DOSO would be liable for disciplinary consequences determined on a case-by-case basis. This board finds this restriction problematic ideologically and practically. It both contradicts the University’s social justice-oriented ideology and endangers vulnerable students seeking to make change or have their voices heard. This board calls on the University to revoke or clarify the policy, to remove case-by-case opportunities for subjectivity and bias and to reify their alleged belief in the importance of student action for change.  

EDITORIAL: Campus WiFi outages need urgent fixing

 Throughout the last week or so, internet access through eduroam on campus has been intermittent. The spotty WiFi on campus has been an ongoing issue affecting students, faculty and staff. This has been a noticeable problem on campus for a while, but connection has been particularly unreliable as of late. Brandeis Information Technology Services had acknowledged the “intermittent connectivity issues” as early as the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 12, but this problem has persisted. These connectivity issues coincide with the completion of  scheduled maintenance to the campus wireless network, which ended on Nov. 12. As of the time of this issue’s publication, no campus-wide communication about these internet lapses has been sent. 

Views on the News: Bolivian Uprising

 On Sunday, Evo Morales resigned as Bolivia’s president, following an increasingly violent uprising, coupled with the country’s military pulling its support for his government. The conflict arose due to an alleged manipulation of votes in the most recent election, in which Morales declared victory. Morales has since been granted asylum by Mexico, while officials in Bolivia have a warrant out for his arrest. What do you think the consequences of Morales’ resignation will be for the country, as well as the international community?  

Offering an unorthodox opinion on the Hong Kong protests

 Recently, a friend of mine studying at a university in Hong Kong told me that she is considering leaving her school and transferring to one in the United Kingdom or somewhere else. “It’s starting to get a bit difficult here…” she texted. “I want to either leave this place for a semester or so or just transfer somewhere else.” 

Apple Card gender discrimination reflects hidden biases

 As if I don’t have enough student loan debt, Apple came out with a credit card just before the start of this semester. According to their press release, it’s “built on simplicity, transparency and privacy” with cash back, no fees and an easy user interface that allows one to view their spending along with enhanced security. Sure, once I’m employed maybe I can apply for one and add another Apple product to my tech ecosystem. And it’s a credit card by Apple, not a bank. But if you read the small print, the card is issued by Goldman Sachs Bank, United States of America, based in Utah. It seemed cool anyway, given its all white titanium exterior, with only the bearer’s name laser etched on it. To get the actual card number, when not using Apple Pay or the Apple Wallet, you have to actually open the wallet app and verify your ID to access that information; the digital card number is different than the actual physical card number, which enhances the card’s security. 

Debunking Trump’s ‘Quid Pro Joe’ conspiracy theory

 President Donald Trump has been extremely successful at turning attacks on him into attacks on his opponents. Take, for instance, the term “fake news.” The concept originated in 2016 as a description of shocking but false stories designed to circulate faster than they could be debunked. Many of these stories benefited Trump in some way, so the term was seen as hostile to him and implicitly critical of his own cavalier relationship with the truth. But Trump co-opted the label, applying it to any news organization he disliked; the mainstream media is now labeled the “fake news media” by his adherents. 

Settling the ‘Ok, Boomer’ debate once and for all

On Nov. 7, Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old lawmaker, was delivering a speech in front of the New Zealand Parliament in favor of the Zero Carbon Bill, a piece of legislation designed to set a target for the country to be at zero carbon emissions by 2050. During her speech, Swarbrick was heckled by an unidentified older member of Parliament, whereupon she nonchalantly responded with the phrase “Ok, Boomer,” seeming to acknowledge, but parry the attacking verbiage of her detractor. Swarbrick’s choice of words here could be perceived as  quite intriguing, as she was clearly referencing a viral meme referring  to baby boomers, a generation of Americans and Western Europeans born in the two decades of economic prosperity and abundance following the Second World War. 

Views on the News: Four day workweek

As part of its experimental “Work-Life Choice Challenge,” Microsoft Japan closed its offices every Friday of August 2019, but still paid their employees for a five-day work week, and reported a nearly 40% jump in productivity. Additionally, the company found that the policy helped cut down on electricity usage and preserved a significant number of office resources such as printer paper and drinking water. What should other employers learn from this experiment? Given these results, do you think that a four-day workweek should be implemented on a larger scale? 

EDITORIAL: Secured club leader payment bylaw needs work

 In February, Charles River Senator Oliver Price ’20 plans to introduce an amendment to the Union Constitution that would allow certain members of secured clubs to be paid. According to a Nov. 5 Justice article, the amendment would give secured clubs the opportunity to request a wage-eligible status. Wage-eligible clubs could then petition the Allocations Board, which would decide whether or not club members would be paid, which select members would be paid and how much those members would earn. Though this board sees both potential benefits and potential downsides to implementing this amendment, we do not approve of its passage as it stands. 

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