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

EDITORIAL: Transparency required in room inspections

 In a Sept. 17 email, the Department of Community Living announced that fire drills would be occurring over the two-week period following the email. During these drills, the City of Waltham’s Fire Marshall will be asking DCL staff to enable them to “enter rooms at random,” and if any prohibited items are found, the items “will be confiscated at that time and a member of [DCL] staff will follow up,” the emails stated. But what does “random” mean? Will DCL staff also be entering rooms, or only accompany the Fire Marshall to the door? This board  recommends that DCL make this process as transparent as possible — especially given recent controversy over DCL Health and Safety Inspections. 


Views on the News: New York Times Kavanaugh Coverage

 Last Sunday, The New York Times published an essay based on an upcoming book written by two of its writers that includes a new allegation of sexual assault against United States Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The piece details alleged misconduct by Kavanaugh during a residence hall party at Yale University — though the alleged victim declined to comment and later said that she did not remember the incident, which The Times did not report. Some Democratic representatives are calling for Kavanaugh to be impeached, while other senior Democrats have pushed back against the idea. Do you think the Times was right to publish this allegation in the way it did? How should the government respond to these allegations?  


Kamala Harris’ campaign failures resemble Rubio in 2016

 Unless you’re perennial front-runners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or the ascendent Elizabeth Warren, it’s tough to be a Democratic candidate for president. With the troika of the former vice president, the left-wing folk hero and the plan-touting senator eating up almost all available political and media oxygen, the other 20-odd candidates looking in are shut out in the cold. No one has felt this deprivation quite like California Senator Kamala Harris, once pegged by many as the odds-on favorite of the race. 


Democrats’ swing to the far left is cause for serious concern

 The traditional logic surrounding presidential runs is that one should campaign as a moderate, because the American electorate is understood to be a bell curve with small wings and a large center. This strategy remained fairly consistent until 2016, when Hillary Clinton, by most accounts a pragmatic centrist, was defeated by Donald Trump, who pandered almost exclusively to the far right. 


Is Universal Basic Income poverty’s silver bullet?

 I was trying my best to work off the box of cookies I had eaten earlier in the day when a surprising video popped up on my newsfeed — a clip about universal basic income. As someone who was trying to bike their way out of caloric purgatory, I of course was interested in anything that could keep my mind off of the pain I was feeling. What ensued was a barrage of information explaining how a universal basic income would be the solution to the country’s poverty problem. So, if the claims about it are to be believed, why is there so little buzz around this idea? 


Thinking for oneself counters campus indoctrination

 This particular submitter sent me a rather lengthy article on — what they perceived to be — the worthlessness of a liberal arts degree from most universities due to subjects in the humanities being “bathed in political leftism.” The individual claimed that anyone who majors in these subjects is a fool and not worth hiring. The article went on at length regarding how young college students have been brainwashed into hating America and “American values,” and that this mass persuasion is begetting a generation of college graduates wholly unaware of the many facets of American civil and intellectual life.  


Third Democratic primary debate recap and rankings

 The third Democratic debate was scheduled for after Labor Day, a time many consider to be an inflection point in attention paid to the race. It was the first single-night debate, with all the candidates congregating on stage to dance to the tune of the moderators’ questions and crowd reactions. 


EDITORIAL: Book forums can attract a larger audience

 Every summer, the University selects a book for incoming students to read and then participate in a discussion with the author(s) of that book. In past years, this conversation was only open to the first-year students arriving on campus in the fall, because the event was held before upperclassmen arrived on campus for the fall semester. As a result, the author would only come during what is now known as ’Deis Week.  


A personal perspective on Jordan B. Peterson’s psychology

 In  late  2017, I developed a very serious mental health problem: after encountering crushing catastrophes in multiple facets of life, I became an angry, bitter, resentful, purposeless and vengeful person. As a self-proclaimed radical liberal who believed in moral relativism and subjectivity, my intellectual composition only helped exacerbate my worsening situation. In short, I had fallen into a chaotic abyss that was myself, and my long-standing personal philosophies only rendered prospects of recovery even dimmer. 


EDITORIAL: University should reconsider who pays for damages

 In the previous weeks, three illuminated exit signs on the third and fourth floors of Hassenfeld Residence Hall were damaged or stolen. On Sept. 9, the Department of Community Living sent an email to the residents of the first floor of Hassenfeld announcing that the cost of repairing the signs will be equally distributed among the residents of the building, as per  section 9.6 of Rights and Responsibilities. This board condemns any kind of action that may endanger the safety of the residents on campus — however, this board also encourages DCL to reconsider its decision to charge all residents of the building, as it doesn’t necessarily punish those who caused the damage  and won’t  prevent it from happening again. Moreover, such an action will burden students who may not have the financial resources to pay an unexpected fee and who were likely not at fault. 


Views on the News: Bolton gets the axe

 On Tuesday, President Trump announced that he fired National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton, who is known for his hawkish and militaristic foreign policy stances, stated that he had offered to resign the previous evening, citing harsh and irreconcilable differences between him and the president over numerous foreign policy issues. With Bolton no longer serving in his previous role, how do you think the foreign policy and national security strategies of the United States will be impacted? What do you think are the ethical implications of Trump vacating a highly influential and powerful national security position over an ideological disagreement? 


Views on the News: #StillConcernedStudents

  On May 1, the activist group #StillConcernedStudents voiced its concerns about persistent diversity, equity and inclusion issues at Brandeis despite Ford Hall 2015’s demands. Last week, University Provost Lisa Lynch sent out an email discussing numerous administrative efforts and reforms, such as to provide a holistic review of students’ mental health needs, improve the scheduling of room inspections, increase equitable access to transportation services, reform DCL and Public Safety policies and modify the regulation of protest banners on campus. What are your thoughts on these changes? Do you think that the administration is doing enough to address the demands of the #StillConcernedStudents? If you think more work needs to be done, what additional changes should be made? 


EDITORIAL: Sodexo contract expiration leaves room for growth

 In June 2020, the University’s contract with Sodexo is set to expire. In the meantime, the University will be developing a Request for Proposals, during which the University will compile a list of requests for the next contract that they make with any food vendor. Community input will be taken into account through town-hall-style forums in September and October. This board commends the University for seeking the Brandeis community’s opinions when choosing its next steps — whether it is improving our contract with Sodexo or choosing a new vendor — and has some suggestions for the University’s next contract. 


EDITORIAL: Workday improves campus, yet has issues

 Over the summer, the University transitioned to Workday, a portal that functions as a one-stop shop for students and other campus employees to log work hours, maintain a record of their financial transactions, view paychecks and have a seamless space for working multiple jobs. It can also be useful when requesting an absence, accessing work benefits and finding a job on campus. This board commends the University for its use of Workday and its attempt to provide employees and community members with a safe, reliable and easy-to-use interface for all things concerning on-campus jobs. However, Workday is plagued with numerous quality-of-life issues that make its use difficult and cumbersome to adjust to, especially for students who do not necessarily have time to devote to learning the nuances of the program.  


Hong Kong protests should teach democracies a lesson

 The democratic liberties experienced in the United States are easy to take for granted. Many Americans are not afraid to voice their opinions regarding the state of the government, the actions of the president, or new legislation that is expected to pass. After all, our current society was formed through the fiery personalities that resulted in long lasting change. These days, the idea of physical protests have transformed into popular Twitter rants. Nevertheless, we aren’t afraid of being threatened or arrested if we criticize the actions of the government. It’s in both our blood and our constitution; but for those currently living in mainland China and Hong Kong, speaking up is equivalent to risking your life. 


Campus landscaping is in desperate need of improvement

  I walk a lot. For the past few years, my average step count has hovered near 20,000 per day. When I started my MBA program at the Brandeis International Business School (IBS) last fall, I vowed that I would not change this good habit, and I prioritized it over many other things. Walking helps me with so many things, so I decided that taking walks would be the best way to familiarize myself with the campus as well. 


Artificial intelligence’s influence raises many ethical problems

 In 1942, Isaac Asimov formulated the Three Laws of Robotics. First, a robot must not harm a human being. Second, a robot must obey the orders that a human gives it. Third, a robot may protect its own existence, so long as this protection does not conflict with the first and second laws. Let us analyze how these laws apply to the current situation, when big data and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly prevalent and their misuse is gaining momentum.  


Views on the News: Amazon fire

Following catastrophic damage to the Amazon rainforest caused by an ongoing series of fires, the Brazillian government rejected $20 million pledged by the international community at the G7 Summit, alleging imperialistic ulterior motives on the part of French President Emmanuel Macron. However, Bolsonaro’s administration later stated that they would accept the aid, on the condition that the French President Emmanuel Macron apologize for his comments regarding Bolsonaro’s behavior and what appeared to be a disrespectful potshot at Macron’s wife. Furthermore, numerous environmental scientists and indigenous people have alleged that the cattle industry is starting the fires to clear land with Bolsonaro’s support, raising questions as to whether the President even cares about the rainforest and the people and wildlife living within it. Faced with this cataclysmic destruction, how should we view Brazil’s delayed response and this political back-and-forth between world leaders? What do you think these actions mean for the rainforest, and how might they affect global conservation and environmental protection movements? 


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