I am a class of 1991 alum who student-taught at Waltham High, and became engaged in Waltham civic life through the Waltham Group and other university-community partnerships. Through Brandeis, Waltham became my new hometown, and then Brandeis became a second home for my daughter, Marisa Diamond, whose childhood as a Waltham Public School student was enhanced greatly by her regular visits to Brandeis for cultural events.
The board is both excited and engaged for the new school year. Prominent topics for this year’s opening meeting included improving student life, enhancing campus culture and advancing the institution. In his “Framework for Our Future” report, President Liebowitz highlights three main strategic areas that Brandeis’ senior team will be working on this fall. These strategies include creating a more inclusive and vibrant on-campus community, fostering a culture of intellectual rigor and advancing both national and worldly knowledge of community. The trustees have expressed interest in engaging more actively with students on campus. Both Trustees and Senior Administration expressed commitment to the continued efforts to bridge the gap between academic and on-campus life for students.
When I read the takeaways from Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard, I stepped out onto the top of the Rabb Steps the next day and took a good hard look at a 2:00 p.m. rush, a hundred strong. I felt two things. The first was immediate relief. Affirmative action is safe for now, and the diversity I saw only stands to grow from here. The second feeling I had, however, was more malignant. Would this campus be better with less people like me?
We’re living in a time when obtaining a college degree has never been more valuable, and has also never been more expensive. The act of being admitted to the nation’s top universities has turned into a bloodbath between high school students from all across the nation. Millions of students nationwide are asking themselves the same question, “How can I make myself standout from my peers?” Being a recent high school graduate myself, I am fully aware of the competitive nature of my generation. Just a few months ago I was one of those students vying for a spot at one of the many elite institutions.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.