In Brandeis' mission statement, the University expresses hope that students graduate "deeply concerned about the welfare of others." Unfortunately, the University itself has failed to model that concern. A student-run advocacy group called Addressing Accessibility at Brandeis reached out to University President Ron Liebowitz in an open letter last Thursday, expressing that they are "baffled" at how Brandeis can be "so exclusive of those with disabilities." Addressing Advocacy at Brandeis requests that the University discuss accessibility at Brandeis through an open forum. This board commends these students' efforts, urges the University to hold the requested forum and has additional suggestions for improving accessibility on campus.
After months of buildup, the dust has almost settled in the 2018 elections. Barring any major recounts, Democrats have taken back the House of Representatives, and Republicans have extended their majority in the Senate. Gubernatorial races were split down the middle, with Democrats picking up key victories in Wisconsin and Minnesota and Republicans holding onto Florida and Georgia. How has the national and local political situation changed after the elections, and which election outcome will have the biggest impact moving forward?
In this regard, anonymity is extremely valuable. However, it comes at a cost. It largely removes the consequences of one’s speech, meaning one is as free to lie as to tell the truth. Worse still, it is possible for someone to say hurtful things, whether true or not, with the intention of offending someone and the expectation of not getting caught. I’ve never understood the appeal of offending others for laughs, but clearly some do. The existence of certain less-than-friendly online groups – 4chan comes to mind – is evidence enough of that
Last week’s midterm elections saw a historic level of voter turnout. With an estimated 113 million Americans casting a ballot, it was the highest midterm voter turnout in 50 years, per a CNBC article. 113 million may sound like a lot — but in the scheme of things, the United States still lags far behind other developed nations. In analyzing the 2016 presidential election, in which 138 million people voted, Pew Research Center ranked the U.S. 26th out of 32 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations in terms of voter turnout. When looking at countries like Belgium and Sweden, both with voter turnouts north of 80 percent, the U.S.’s 55 percent seems especially troubling.
After a brutally long primary election cycle and a head-spinning run-up to the general election, the 2018 midterm elections are finally behind us. Sure, the heralded “blue wave” was more of a blue splash, but Democrats took back the House of Representatives and evened the score in governor’s mansions across the country. A new wave of exciting progressive politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) represent the likely future of the Democratic party, marking the first time the Democratic Party has bothered to actually care about people since 1967.
We are living in a politically divided and polarized United States. Conservative-minded students often complain that their views are marginalized at our liberal campus. In conservative regions, I know liberals who are afraid to make their political views known for fear of pushback and retaliation.
In the aftermath of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, safety is at the forefront of the American Jewish psyche. In the name of preventing attacks such as this from happening ever again, a number of proposals have been raised. Many of these proposals are practical and reasonable, others, not so much.
In 2012, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago polled its panel of economics experts, made up of professors from some of the most prestigious universities in the United States, on two questions. The first asked if the productive efficiency and greater choice afforded by free trade outweighed any effects on employment in the long run. The second asked if United States citizens are better off with the North American Free Trade Agreement than they would have been under the prior trade rules with Mexico and Canada. In both cases, the results were undisputed. All but two of the 40 experts agreed that free trade and NAFTA were the better option, and the remaining two answered “unclear.” Not a single one of the experts disagreed.
In an open forum on Monday, Oct. 29, University President, Ron Liebowitz shared his proposal for a “framework for Brandeis’ future.” These goals, reiterated in an email to the community sent out on Friday, Nov. 2, include a plan to revamp the housing system in order to promote a more positive social environment among members of the University community. This board agrees that much can be done to improve residence life on campus and urges the president to consider the following options.
The current healthcare system could see a major shakeup after Nov. 6. Several Democrats running for governor in states that rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, like Stacey Abrams (D-Ga.) and Andrew Gillum (D-Fla.), have made healthcare access a major issue in their campaigns. Additionally, five states have Medicaid expansion as a direct ballot issue. How you feel about expanding Medicaid, and how could proposed expansions affect the upcoming elections?
In the grand scheme of the vast American media landscape, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, while an undeniably vicious hate crime that claimed the lives of 11 congregants and injured several others, has already become old news. Naturally, nearly every individual of some prominence in the United States has spoken about not only the genuinely evil violence associated with this crime, but also the underlying bigotry and anti-Semitism expressed by the perpetrator.
In an op-ed last week, editor Judah Weinerman excoriated the YouTube series Prager University, abbreviated as PragerU, which features conservative and libertarian speakers providing alternative viewpoints on controversial topics such as immigration, race relations and the proper role of the government within society.
On Wednesday and Thursday, at least nine crudely made pipe bombs were sent to prominent individuals and organizations across the U.S., according to an Oct. 25 New York Times article. The targets span from politicians — former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among them — to actor Robert de Niro, investor George Soros, former CIA director John Brennan and CNN’s New York offices. The connecting factor between these targets was quickly evident: they are all critics of President Donald Trump, and have been repeatedly verbally attacked by him.
For those of you lucky enough not to know, the term incel is a contracted version of the phrase “involuntary celibate” and describes a person who defines themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one. In its current use, self-described incels are overwhelmingly white and male, and their behavior centers around a seething resentment towards women, girls and conventionally successful men.
Even after recent changes to the Branvan reservation system, significant issues remain with both the campus and Waltham Branvan service. This board has highlighted several problems with the program in the past, but few of these suggestions were implemented. Given how many students are reliant on the Waltham and campus BranVans on a daily basis, the continual issues with the BranVan services are hard to ignore.
Brandeis students can now be spotted riding bright green bikes around campus thanks to DeisBikesLimeBike, a bike-sharing program newly launched on campus by the Student Union and Director of Sustainability Programs Mary Fischer. According to an Oct. 27 email to the Justice from Senate Chief Strategist Aaron Finkel, bringing a bike-sharing program to campus has been a priority for “well over a year.” This board applauds the Union and sustainability groups on campus for their initiative and encourages students who are interested to utilize the new service.
On Oct. 21, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration is considering defining gender as a biological condition determined by genitalia at birth. This would essentially make “transgender” a legally nonexistent category and make all Title IX cases involving transgender people impossible to bring forward. If the Justice Department approves this change, it will take effect at the end of this year. What changes could this new gender definition bring, and how should institutions such as Brandeis react to it?
It is too late to slow climate change with just windmills, solar panels and Teslas. On Oct. 24, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report asserting that “negative emission technologies” that scrub carbon dioxide from the air will be essential if we plan to contain climate change. This news comes on the heels of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that the nations of the world have a decade to shrink emissions drastically enough to restrain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. If we fail to meet this goal, “tens of millions more people could be exposed to life-threatening heat waves and water shortages, and the world’s coral reefs could disappear almost entirely,” according to an Oct. 24 New York Times article. The methods scientists have proposed of chemically scrubbing carbon from the air are unproven and still in their infancy. As we sink resources into them, we must adapt to what will inevitably become our reality: using less of everything.
As the University’s librarians and their union continue to renegotiate their contract with the administration, this board would like to highlight the many essential services that the library offers students. According to the LTS website, the Brandeis Library “houses more than 2 million volumes, both electronic and physical, 45,000 journals and 4,000 films, with a growing collection in the sciences, creative arts, humanities, government documents, Judaica and social sciences — including rare and unique collections.” In addition to these resources, the library provides invaluable personal services to the Brandeis student body. All of those services exist because the librarians are present and available for research assistance, tech help and more.
Over the course of the past year or so, we’ve seen the meteoric ascent of the political and cultural phenomenon known as #MeToo, where survivors of sexual assault have come forward with details concerning their experiences with said crime. The allegations put forth have gone far and wide, involving celebrities like Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey, political figures like Roy Moore and Al Franken, and, most recently, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. While most believe and support the survivors of such a heinous crime, there is a mostly male group of individuals claiming to be vulnerable to false accusations of sexual assault, which in turn is impeding their ability to pursue and remain in committed relationships.