Last week, citizens of “the free world” cast their ballots for the 46th President of the United States. The world watched, not only because the United States has an important role in global politics, but also due to widespread recognition of the United States as one of the world’s most well-known democracies. This observation came with the realization that the world’s first draft of democracy needs major revision. In some regard, U.S. elections are conducted differently than in other democracies. These differences reveal weaknesses in American democracy.
During the election cycle, both race in the United States and the COVID-19 pandemic have been controversial topics. The Justice asked students of the Brandeis community about these issues and more. The participants include columnists for the Justice Reena Zuckerman ’23 and Vandita Malviya Wilson M.P.P. ’22, as well as Clay Napurano ’24 and a member of the Brandeis Democrats, Noah Risley ’24.
As COVID-19 cases increase across the United States, many of us are no strangers to social isolation. With social distancing guidelines expected to continue throughout the winter, feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety can creep in as one thinks of another few months stuck indoors. For individuals who suffer from seasonal depression, the COVID-19 pandemic can feel like an added layer of stress to the winter months ahead. However, this board hopes that proper preparation and these self-care tips can ease the transition into the pandemic winter.
As the weather becomes colder and more dangerous, this board would like to bring attention to some of the issues that may arise at Brandeis as we experience winter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I miss Halloween. Not the monstrous holiday/adult-themed party. Not the “it’s all about the children” tropes of recent years. I just miss the crappy Halloweens of my long-lost childhood. Some time ago, Halloween was a time to load up on some extra candy, which my immigrant parents would never buy for me. It was a time to see movies before I knew they were formulaic and to never ever turn my back on the door, or anything, because the frightening thing was always going to be right behind me.
Today, Nov. 3, Americans will decide how much more power China can gain in Africa. Very few Americans have thought about the impact of their vote on the lives of over 1.3 billion Africans, even though Americans’ choice of president will definitely affect African lives. It may be inappropriate for Africans to attempt to tell Americans how to vote in their presidential election, yet Americans must know that four more years of Trump in Washington, D.C. could result in China gaining decades worth of power in Africa.
Judicial confirmation hearings are not very entertaining TV. Nominees usually pledge allegiance to the “law” while avoiding statements about what the “law” is, or even how to define it. Yet Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett and her supporters claim that she is an “originalist”: they say she interprets statutes (including the Constitution) according to the evinced intent of their “drafters” — those people who wrote, amended or merely signed off on the law.
Editorial: As Election Day approaches, professors should adjust their expectations so students can exercise their civic duty
With the 2020 presidential election exactly a week away, tension is mounting, and voters are flooding to the polls. As this board wrote last week, it is incredibly important that Brandeis students vote up and down the ballot this election cycle. We now turn to professors and ask that they accommodate students on and around Election Day to ensure that everyone who is eligible can vote without it interfering with their academics.
In an unprecedented semester, the University has implemented a number of policies both to provide students with necessary campus services and to contain the spread of COVID-19. One such policy is the University’s use of a Campus Passport Portal system, where, in order to access certain services on campus, students must fill out a daily health assessment and confirm their COVID-19 biweekly testing status. Students receive a color and status through the passport system, which corresponds to their eligibility for navigating the campus and accessing dining halls, classrooms, the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center gym and testing sites. This board commends the University for its efforts to ensure the safest possible campus at this time. The passport system is a well-intentioned attempt to deliver a safe yet effective means of both ensuring the best possible campus experience, and making sure students, staff and faculty alike can navigate the campus safely. However, key issues remain with the passport service’s accessibility and ease of use.
One phrase stood out to me during the first presidential debate. In a night filled with constant interruptions, I had almost given up on listening to it, but one question made my focus sharpen. The moderator, Chris Wallace, asked President Donald Trump to denounce right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group. As I intently listened to his response, I heard Trump utter the words, almost as if he was issuing a command, “Stand back and stand by.” I was more worried than surprised. This statement was not out of the ordinary for President Trump. In fact, the president has been given countless opportunities to condemn right-wing extremists and has failed to do so. The problem is that a major catalyst for right-wing violence is quickly approaching.
Two weeks ago, I cast my first mail-in ballot for President of the United States. I have been waiting to vote since I was 10, especially for president. When I filled in the bubbles, I felt proud to have reached this milestone and proud to be an American. I could never imagine having my right to vote be taken away. However, this is the case for millions of ex-felons across the United States.
The Bill of Rights guarantees the civil rights of the American people. It symbolizes individuals’ freedoms from higher institutions, particularly from the federal government. Each amendment in the Bill of Rights speaks of its own freedoms. For example, the Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, this amendment has been challenged through the process of civil forfeiture. This process allows law enforcement officials to seize assets from those suspected of being involved in illegal activity without charging them with wrongdoing. Law enforcement officials must prove that there is probable cause before they seize an individual's property. The concern with civil forfeiture is that state actors will take advantage of the public by seizing property for their monetary benefit. Instead of feeding the wallets of greedy law enforcement officials, the money can be used to create a more equitable legal system by funding the Public Defender's Office.
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, questions about registration deadlines, mail-in voting requirements and other available forms of voting participation have become prevalent. With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, these concerns have been magnified as individuals around the country search for the safest way to participate in the voting process. This board would like to encourage all eligible individuals, particularly Brandeis students, to use available resources to facilitate their participation in this year’s presidential, state and local elections. Links to these resources can be found at the bottom of this article.
On Monday, Oct.12, the Senate Judiciary Committee began Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Judge Barrett, a textualist and originalist, prefers to interpret the exact words of a legal statute over the intent of the legislature. Throughout the hearing, Judge Barrett evaded answering questions on many topics, including how she would rule in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade and President Trump’s use of power. What do you think the purpose of Judge Barrett’s evasions are, especially on topics she has previously commented on elsewhere? Additionally, what do you think about Barrett’s use of originalism and textualism as legal ideologies?
I am a graduate student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and I just earned my MBA from the Brandeis International Business School. Like most students, all of my classes went fully online back in March. Lesson plans were quickly adapted, and for the first few weeks, it felt like an adventure we were all experiencing together. I had taken online classes before, but to borrow a very popular phrase, it was “unprecedented times,” so to experience it with other Brandeis students created a sense of solidarity. Even though I was missing out on valuable in-person social experiences, being in school meant experiencing the pandemic through the lens of higher education.
I would like to preface this article by saying that I am discussing mail-in voting from a politically neutral standpoint. In the 2020 election, mail-in voting is an issue that has taken on a life of its own, and both sides have discounted the concerns of the other. As a college student who is unable to make it home for election day, I have been voting by mail for a few years. Whatever your stance may be politically, I ask you to read this article with an open mind so that we may engage in a meaningful discussion about the pros and cons of mail-in voting. I fear that Americans are no longer engaging with those they oppose and instead are repeating the position of their preferred political party. If we stay on this course, I am afraid that the United States will fracture beyond repair.
Editorial: The Justice endorses former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. for President of the United States
As Election Day approaches on Nov. 3, this board has unanimously decided to endorse former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Sen. Kamala D. Harris for President and Vice President of the United States. This ticket’s stance on key issues is preferable to that of the incumbent administration, and we urge readers to cast their ballots early for the Democratic ticket.
In one of the final dialogues of “Antigone,” the third play in Sophocles’ epic Oedipus Cycle, the blind fortune teller Tiresias has some choice advice for his king, Creon of Thebes. As Creon is deciding his niece Antigone’s fate after she illegally buried her brother Polynices, he struggles to balance the urge to appear strong before his people — who had recently emerged from two long, bloody conflicts — and to understand that Antigone’s crime was committed out of love and religious duty rather than seditious defiance. Creon, choosing the former, imprisons Antigone in a stone crypt despite her romantic infatuation with his son.
The medical underloads policy should be reevaluated to further encompass the varying circumstances of students
On Oct. 7, University Registrar Mark Hewitt sent an email to the Brandeis community announcing a new change in its medical underloads policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From now on, in addition to full time enrollment options with a minimum of eight credits, students who submit a request for medical underload will have the option to enroll in two classes in summer 2021 at no additional charge. While this board appreciates the initiative that the school has taken, we also believe that more should be done, both in terms of the policy itself and the communication of the decision.
For the third week in a row, two Brandeis students tested positive for COVID-19. Two weeks ago, we saw our first faculty/staff positive case. Four students are currently in isolation, and 15 of their close contacts are in quarantine (as of press time). Massachusetts health officials announced that Waltham is now a red zone on Wednesday, meaning that we have more than eight cases per 100,000 population per day.