On Tuesday Dec. 17, University President Ron Liebowitz announced that Brandeis would be adding caste to its non-discrimination and harassment policy, becoming the first private university to do so. The term “caste” refers to one’s designation within a rigid social stratification system. This statement from the president may have come as somewhat of a surprise, with many Brandeis students unaware that such discrimination happens in the United States where there is no explicit caste system. Banning caste discrimination is an important step toward protecting Brandeis community members from discrimination.
The seventh Democratic debate on Tuesday marked the final debate before the Iowa caucus takes place and the race officially gets underway. It was befitting of the night that the debate was held in Iowa, which was no doubt a deliberate choice on the part of the DNC. Among the storylines which soaked up the most media attention in the leadup to the debate was a report that at a 2018 meeting between Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Sanders told her he thought a woman could not win the presidency in the United States. After Sanders publicly denied the report, it set the stage for a contentious argument on debate night over what really happened at the meeting. Moreover, questions abounded over whether this story was deliberately leaked by the Warren campaign in the leadup to Iowa for political gain — as the meeting had taken place at least a year and a half prior to the debate — and whether one of the two was playing fast and loose with the facts. Overall though, it was a fairly uneventful debate with no clear winners of the night.
The Climate Movement’s call for divestment has been one of the most widespread and effective movements of our time. And with $617 billion in aggregate university endowments across the country, it’s important that universities invest portfolios that refrain from investing in oil and gas. But here’s the thing: our universities should do more than just divest. Rather, universities must invest in initiatives that support the kind of world we want to see. In other words, universities must start impact investing.
When we speak about loneliness, we often imagine an old person living in solitude. To a certain extent, our imaginations do not deceive us. The loneliness epidemic amongst Baby Boomers has attracted a great deal of attention over the last few years, and rightly so; one of every 11 is growing old without a support system. However, a major survey of over 55,000 people conducted by the BBC found that the loneliest individuals are not the Baby Boomers, but those aged between 16 and 24. Loneliness among the youth is an epidemic that is found all over the world. Research done by Cigna and market research firm Ipsos found that young people age 18 to 22 are most likely to be lonely in the U.S. In another study conducted by the American Sociological Review, the average person in the U.S. claims to only have one close friend.
Tuesday night’s Democratic debate defied my expectations and remained largely civil. I wasn’t thrilled that my first choice, Andrew Yang, had been excluded because of a dearth of early January polling, but the remaining candidates had a nuanced discussion of foreign policy and largely steered clear of personal attacks. The one notable exception to this broader trend of civility, however, was the messy onstage breakup of progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
On Nov. 21, billionaire politician Michael Bloomberg announced his candidacy for President of the United States as a moderate alternative to a Democratic swing to the left in an attempt to defeat current U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Many have been quick to criticize the launch of his campaign, citing the undue influence billionaires have within politics to launch and self-fund campaigns without relying on average citizens’ support, as well as concerns that this wealth makes for politicians that are unaware of the struggles of the common man. How do you view Bloomberg’s campaign in the context of our current political and economic climate? Do you think he presents a new type of candidate that could beat Trump in 2020?
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.
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.
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.
This year’s annual Harvard-Yale game slipped past my attention, as it does most years — until I saw in the Associated Press’s headline that it made the news: it was one of the rivals’ longest games on record.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
On Nov. 7, the Spring 2020 semester course registration reopened and will remain open through Jan. 27. Registration opened over a month earlier than it had in previous years and also opened earlier than it was initially planned for this year.
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.
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?