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.
On Saturday, Feb. 13, the U.S. Senate acquitted former President Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The final vote was 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, which was just 10 votes short of the total 67 guilty votes needed to convict Trump. Unlike his first impeachment trial where only one Republican Senator, Mitt Romney (R-Utah), found Trump guilty, seven Republicans voted to convict Trump this time. Do you think that Trump was exercising his constitutional right to free speech or inciting violence and violating the law? What do you make of seven Republican senators voting to convict Trump, and what consequences might these senators face in the future?
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 Q: Hiatt Career Center. In the draft of the University Anti-Racism Plan released last semester, Brandeis had constructed a set of strategies aiming to offer diverse representation to the BIPOC student population and to make resources more accessible and equitable to every student. In Appendix Q, the Hiatt Career Center drafted their plans from four different perspectives: the improvement of student internship and career attainment data regulation, a better visualization of staff members’ backgrounds and specialties, building stronger local connections to provide hands-on opportunities for BIPOC students and new programs that feature long-term mentorship as well as other opportunities. Appendix Q shows a lot of potential for future Hiatt development. This board urges Hiatt to firmly follow through with the plans presented and take actions as the new semester moves forward.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, President Biden extended a ban on home foreclosures to June 30. Originally, Biden had extended the ban to March 31 via an executive order issued on his first day in office. According to the White House, one in five renters is behind on rent and just over 10 million homeowners are behind on mortgage payments. People of color face even greater hardship and are more likely to have deferred or missed payments, putting them at greater risk of eviction and foreclosure.
The Spring 2021 semester has continued with many restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic implemented in the Fall 2020 semester. As classes continue in both a remote or hybrid learning modality, this board is concerned with the lack of 10-minute breaks in some classes.
On Feb. 1, the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, deposed the democratically elected parliament and arrested a prominent leader of the majority party, Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League of Democracy. The Tatmadaw also declared a one year state of emergency and took control of Myanmar’s government.
If you hand a cranky toddler a hammer, chances are they attempt a good hashing at whatever is in front of them. If you give a patterned fraudster unchecked executive authority, is it fair to say he will use that power to pardon his co-conspirators?
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 O: Dean of Students Office. Appendix O is organized into four subheadings — Student Activities, Student Rights & Community Standards, Care Team and Department of Community Service — along with an introductory section explaining the DOSO’s “actions steps in response to the Black Action Plan.”
As another semester on campus dominated by COVID-19-related restrictions kicks into gear, this board would like to offer an appraisal of some of the recent changes to dining on campus.
Recently an article was published by your team reflecting on the services provided by Escort Safety Service, specifically that of the Accessibility Transport van service that is offered. We, the current management team and the appropriate campus partners, came together to review the concerns raised in the article and the policies currently in place. We would like to use this platform to address some of the concerns raised in the article, as well as how we are looking forward to the future.
In an open letter to the Division of Science published in the Justice on August 27, 2020, a challenge was leveled against what was dubbed the “meritocratic extreme” in science education, arguing that its ethos has been used to rationalize outmoded, non-inclusive teaching practices and a generally unsupportive culture. The letter also argued that the Division’s failure to address this and to prioritize matters of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has produced a litany of inequitable experiences for many of our underrepresented minority students (URM).
The events of Jan. 6, 2021 need no introduction. A month ago, the nation and the rest of the free world watched in horror as the Capitol building was breached by a fanatical Trump-supporting mob that sought to overturn an election and execute several elected officials. In the aftermath, five people, including a Capitol police officer, died, and hundreds more were injured. Several high-ranking cabinet members resigned, and representatives and senators both Republican and Democrat strongly condemned the riots, explicitly placing the blame for the incitement of the irate horde on the shoulders of former President Donald Trump himself. Trump and his repeated, unsubstantiated claims of election fraud stoked the fear, anger and prejudice of millions. Unfortunately, this is where the unity ended. In order to both prevent the spread of dangerous election-related conspiracy theories and the future planning of violent terror, nearly every social media platform, from Twitter to TikTok, banned former President Trump and suspended the accounts of thousands of his supporters. One platform in particular, the right-leaning, “free speech”-supporting Parler, was deplatformed entirely, with the App Store and Google Play Store banning its presence, and Amazon Web Services refusing to host its servers.
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, President Biden signed a series of executive orders addressing the climate crisis. These executive orders ranged from pausing federal oil leases to increasing the use of electric cars, with a specific goal of making the United States carbon neutral by 2050. Some have praised Biden for his ambitious policies in addressing the climate crisis, while others believe it is not ambitious enough. Over this century, the world is on track for a temperature rise of three degrees Celsius, making this coming decade critical for slowing carbon dioxide emissions. Another common critique of Biden’s climate plan is the potential economic impact it will have on middle-class families who depend on fossil fuel jobs for income. Is Biden’s 2050 goal too ambitious considering the years it will take to reverse the Trump-era policies on climate change, or not ambitious enough? What else should Biden do to fight climate change?