I suddenly feel like I’m being followed, and not just online. I just read that Google bought Fitbit, the company that pioneered the wearables industry and makes devices that monitor fitness and health. My first thought was to ditch my Fitbit and buy an Apple Watch. But I have limited financial resources and even more limited space available on my left arm for a smartwatch to sit next to my analog watch. I am concerned about two main things: First, how will Google use my data and second, how does this latest acquisition affect the consolidation of companies, especially under the FANG (Facebook Apple Netflix Google) umbrella?
Chances are that you have heard talk of impeaching President Trump. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted in favor of an impeachment inquiry, the fourth time that our nation has voted in favor of an impeachment inquiry for a sitting president. This impeachment case is primarily based on the accusation that Trump demanded information from the president of Ukraine about his political opponent Joe Biden in exchange for military aid. Whether or not Trump did in fact make these demands, I am most concerned with what will happen after he is out of office, whether that be through impeachment or the end of his term. I think that what would be most beneficial to the country as a whole would be to remove the President from office.
President Obama recently gave remarks about the phenomena of cancel culture and callout culture during an interview about youth activism with the Obama Foundation. “People who do really good stuff have flaws,” said the former president, who went on to express his discontent for the watered down and lazy activism that “wokeness” is creating. An angry tweet calling someone out about something they have done wrong is “not bringing about change,” according to Obama. President Obama’s comments get to the heart of a major problem causing division and rancor in America. Social activism and social change have been replaced by anger, expressed in unconstructive ways.
My hometown has been referred to as the ‘Gaza Strip of Kashmir.’ On the fateful night of Aug. 4, 2019, I was shaken from my sleep by the sound of an explosion. When I ran to check if my mother was alright, I found that she had already locked the main doors to our house. She asked me to hide in the attic. “The police have cordoned the area off,” she said.
This past week, several Brandeis Greek life organizations participated in an event aimed at raising awareness of sexual assault on campus, titled These Letters Believe Survivors. Each day of the week, two organizations — a fraternity and a sorority — set up a table in Upper Usdan with petitions to support legislation that would ensure that resources, like the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center at Brandeis, are present in all Massachusetts universities. There was also an option for passersby to write a direct letter to Massachusetts representatives stating their support for this bill. Sexual assault is an epidemic, especially on college campuses, and it would be absolutely nescient to think that Brandeis is excluded from this conversation. This effort, which was organized entirely by members of Greek life themselves, was an effective way to raise awareness and to get people directly involved in the fight for prevention. However, efforts by members of Greek life to actively prevent sexual assault leave much to be desired.
Despite the existence of precise policies on paper, many University residents are still unclear about the Department of Community Living’s room inspections process in practice. This board calls on DCL to clearly convey their policies and to ensure that every DCL staff member understands and follows them. Without a uniform process, students are left in the dark about the current room check process and about any future changes.
On Oct. 24, University President Ron Liebowitz announced the formal implementation of his Springboard funding proposal, designed to achieve numerous goals of the President’s Framework for Our Future. The entire funding package itself is valued at $84.7 million, and is intended, according a University-wide email sent by the President, to “address gaps in University operations that must be filled before pursuing a major capital campaign.” This board commends this aspirational funding plan and the many aspects of University life it addresses.
For the past month, strong winds, dry weather patterns and, according to many scientists, a warming climate have prompted red flag warnings across California. Since Oct. 23, the Kincade Fire has burned over 76,000 acres of land, destroying over 200 homes. In an effort to prevent the spread of current wildfires and prevent new ones from starting, Pacific Gas and Electric cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes, surprising many residents who felt they had not received sufficient warning. Should PG&E's power shut-offs be seen as an appropriate method of preventing future wildfires, or should the company take other steps to ensure their equipment does not pose a danger to the state? What other measures can California, or the federal government, take to prevent and contain wildfires in the future?
Recently, I, along with a classmate, formed a club at the International Business School called the Retail and Fashion Club. For this initiative to exist, I had to collect a number of signatures from IBS classmates. I thought to myself: what better an opportunity to see how the perceptions of retail and fashion have changed over the years? Unfortunately people still think that retail and fashion are superficial. The looks on some of the students’ faces told me how disdainful they were toward my idea.
There’s a tweet I’ve been thinking about far too much. On Oct. 21, writer and columnist for The Intercept Kate Aronoff sent out a rather strange looking picture of Facebook CEO and possible lizard-man Mark Zuckerberg and presidential candidate Pete Buttegieg doing their best at mimicking human emotions while driving a car, captioned with the statement, “when you see a peasant being naughty.” It’s a combination of a singularly strange image and a perfect caption for the moment, and I really can’t get it out of my head.
On October 23, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress on Libra, or Facebook’s version of a global cryptocurrency. Zuckerberg states that Libra will help millions of people who don’t have access to banks complete financial transactions worldwide, and a coalition of companies called the Libra Association — consisting of 21 members including Spotify, Uber and Lyft — have signed on to use the currency. Zuckerberg’s critics, however, state that Facebook should not be the face of the currency, and call in to question Facebook’s ability to securely handle transactions of cryptocurrency, given its mishandling of private information in the past. What do you make of the potential risks and benefits of Libra currency in comparison to other cryptocurrencies? Should Facebook be the organization to represent it?
Last Tuesday, Scott Berozi and the Kindness Day team sent out an email to the University community asking students on campus with meal plans to donate a meal swipe in order to host a lunch to “thank our Facilities and Custodial staff for all that they do in our residence halls.” This board commends the efforts of the Kindness Day team to honor the commitment of our facilities and custodial staff, and we encourage students to participate in this event — without them, our college experiences would not be the same. It is important to appreciate them, whether it is by donating a meal swipe or thanking them in person. This event has been hosted annually since 2015, with approximately 100 facilities members in attendance at the lunch in Ridgewood Commons, and with food left over afterward, according to Berozi in an email to the Justice. This event has taken place with the same meal-swipe donation logistics for the past few years.
On Oct. 22, Student Union President Simran Tatuskar sent an email to the Brandeis student community announcing a potential partnership between the Student Union and the ridesharing application Lyft. For the two weeks around Halloween, from Oct. 22 to Nov. 5, students will be able to use a one-time use code to get up to $5 off of a ride to or from campus between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This board commends Tatuskar for taking action to make this high-risk time of year safer for the Brandeis community.
I have been at Brandeis for over a year now, and I’ve taken my fair share of good and bad classes. I’ve sat in lecture halls that felt electrified by passionate professors and students, with subject matters more interesting and entertaining than some of my favorite movies. The opposite has also been true, and I’ve found myself thinking that going to certain classes wasn’t even necessary. I have thought to myself, “maybe I should have consulted other students’ opinions and thoughts on said classes and professors before enrolling, or at least shop it before spending hundreds of dollars on used, rented textbooks.” I became wary of which classes I signed up for, almost to the point of paranoia; what if a class is required for my major or University requirement, and I’m unable to pass it due to either a teaching style that I can’t follow, or some incomprehensible, poorly-explained material?
The more you learn about most of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, the more objectionable things you find. With Andrew Yang, however, the more I learned, the more fascinating his bid for the presidency became.
In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, I wanted to address one major issue facing a segment of the community at Brandeis. I would like to preface this by making a distinction between mental health and mental illness. Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological, social and emotional well-being. Mental illness is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health “as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder.” At one point or another we all experience a time in our life when our mental health is challenged. From my experience as a Brandeis student, I can say that the stress from academics has at times put a strain on my mental well-being. Mental illness is a health condition and should be treated as seriously as any other disease. As the Canadian Mental Health Association says, “Just as it’s possible to have poor mental health but no mental illness, it’s entirely possible to have good mental health even with a diagnosis of a mental illness.” It is important to clearly define these two terms because they are too often used interchangeably.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Really? Let’s start with where the whole recycling thing came from. Recycling began in the 1960s as an effort to be less wasteful and protect the environment. Plenty of us know how to rinse our aluminum cans and separate them from paper. However, after that, it gets incredibly complicated. Sometimes, the consumer is asked to separate paper waste from “everything else.” Other times, all recycling is done in a single stream, where paper, glass, aluminum and plastic are all tossed into the same receptacle and sorted off-site.
This past week, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the 2019 winners for all seven scientific Nobel Prizes for 2019, with the awards ceremony set to take place on Dec. 10. Of the 12 winners announced, 11 are men and one is a woman, despite the Academy attempting to diversify the Nobel Prize award process. Historically, women have been awarded only 3% of all Nobel Prizes. One physicist at the University of Copenhagen claims that a systematic bias against women accounts for this discrepancy in Nobel Prize awards, with the odds of women being nominated for any prize significantly lower than those for men. How do you view this selection process and lack of women Nobel Prize recipients? How do you see this lack of recognition for women’s achievements in the context of the greater academic community?
On Oct. 7, Student Union Vice President Guillermo Caballero ’20 and Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees Zosia Busé ’20 filed a joint complaint against Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21, alleging her interference with communication between the Executive Board and the Senate. The complaint centers on a Sept. 8 E-Board meeting that Caballero was unable to attend. Under the Student Union Constitution, the vice president serves as a liaison between the two branches and according to Article II Section 4.3, “the Executive Senator shall assume the duties of the Union Vice President in the Vice President’s absence.” When Caballero attempted to send Executive Senator Jake Rong ‘21 to the meeting in his stead, Tatuskar prohibited him from attending. When asked to explain this decision, Tatuskar cited a statement she made at the start of the year. Namely, “the Executive Senator did not need to be on E-Board this semester,” ignoring the particularity of the situation created by Caballero’s absence.
It’s been nearly two months since I started school at Brandeis. In my conversations with numerous people on campus, I began to discover a pattern among students’ majors. I cannot count how many times I have asked an individual about their interests and am greeted with the same series of responses: “Biology,” “pre-med,” “HSSP” or some other STEM-related field. I understand that Brandeis is a research institution geared towards producing the best results within each of its research labs, but I thought that in a big university such as Brandeis there would be more diversity among what students are studying. It seems as if the more people are geared towards the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math majors and that those interested in humanities fields are dwindling.