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

Why 'thoughts and prayers' aren’t enough

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. 


Views on the News: Arkansas passes bill to prohibit gender-affirming care to trans youth

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?


Editorial: New housing selection process sparks confusion and anxiety for upperclassmen

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.  


“Panic”: America’s excuse for anti-LGBTQ violence

*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.


Views on the News: President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package

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. 


The world is racist

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.   


It is time to end the presidential system

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. 


HIV criminalization perpetuates intersecting forms of discrimination

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. 


America’s obsession with liberty and justice is destroying BIPOC communities

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…”


Editorial: Students need the support of the administration during another virtual semester

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. 


D.C. should become the 51st state in the union

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.  


Brandeis students can play a role in the fight for Uyghurs’ rights in Northwest China

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.  


Views on the News: Former President Trump acquitted following his second impeachment trial

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? 


Editorial: Feedback on Hiatt Career Center section of the University’s Anti-Racism Draft 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 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. 


Losing a roof

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. 


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