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

Abigail Cumberbatch


Rest and resistance: sleeping as a revolutionary act

“Exhaustion is not okay,” my mentor said to me as I described another brutal week of struggling to balance all of my academic, social and work-related commitments. As midterm season descended upon Brandeis, I accepted that the level of exhaustion and stress I was experiencing prior was child’s play compared to the marathon of essays, exams, emails and books I would have to finish within two weeks. I was prepared to endure the late nights, long days and short break times until I met with my mentor a couple of weeks ago, where she told me, “exhaustion is not okay.” This was not the most remarkable piece of advice I ever received, but it was enough to snap me awake to the realization that the same metric I was using to measure my value—my productivity—only lowered me deeper into a stress-laden, sleep-deprived hole.  

Reviving small talk and casual friendships post-pandemic

I used to hate small talk — the awkward silences as my eyes connected with someone else’s and we both struggled to fill the space with fragmented sentences about the weather, our weekends and the workload we endured the past week. I would try not to be rude as my mind drifted off elsewhere, anywhere really to help me escape the repetitive monotony of the small talk I experienced during my first year at Brandeis. The constant mini-biographical questions of, “What is your name?” “What year are you?” “What is your major?” and, “What are your plans for the future?” bored me to death. At one point I considered wearing a name tag with answers to all of these questions, so I wouldn’t have to sound like a broken record repeating words that appeared so separate from me for what seemed like the 100th time. 

Returning to Brandeis: our lives resume but our traumas persist

I thought I would be happy to return to Brandeis this fall. But as I drove to Theater Lot to check in and collect my dorm keys, the sinking feeling I had been experiencing all summer intensified. As the Department of Community Living student workers ushered cars through Theater Lot, many of them excited to see friends after a year and a half of virtual learning, I was caught in a state of disbelief. I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, this is happening. Everything is in person again, with limited to no restrictions.” The reality of living on campus during a pandemic hit me as one of the DCL staff members handed me my room key and informed me that if I did not get tested by 4 pm, I would have to quarantine myself for two days, whether or not I tested positive for COVID-19. 

Appreciating the right to vote as an African American

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, Trump was acquitted of all the impeachment charges leveled against him. While this does not come as a shock, it certainly reflects the current value system the American government strives to uphold. Trump’s first term as president has challenged concepts of justice and equality in American society, and his impeachment acquittal is no exception. If the Republican-controlled Senate refuses to punish a man who has continuously abused his power as president, how can the American people rest knowing that the rights currently enjoyed are not at risk of being taken away? This fear is especially true for African American voters who celebrated the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment on Monday, Feb 3. This anniversary is made even more significant not only by the current state of American democracy, but also by the fast-approaching general election 

The opioid crisis: more nuanced than you might think

 If you were asked to describe a drug addict, what would you say? Would adjectives such as pale, skinny, desperate, uncontrollable, volatile and unpredictable cross your mind? Would you dare to expand your imagination and envision a drug addict who also has a family, a marriage, an education and a job? The single image of drug addicts that society has perpetuated does not always mirror the reality of addiction. Drug addiction affects individuals of every race, gender and socioeconomic status. Once it is clearly understood that drug addicts range in appearance, gender and wealth, available treatments and methods should also illustrate that point.   

Universities need to clarify their role in social movements

 A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a lecture when a professor suddenly asked us,“Why are you here?” The first answer that crossed my mind was the very generic “to get an education so that I can find a job” type of response. However, it wasn’t until intensely thinking about this question that I began to realize that going to college is much more than a means to an end. In the chaos of confirming whether or not one has all the necessary credits in order to graduate, I believe college students (myself included) sometimes forget that the world is bigger than the campus they walk on, and the issues that seem to only affect the outside world continue to leak into campus life. Although a university symbolizes higher education, it is not immune to the many issues American society faces.  

Institutional diversity needs to exist for the right reasons

 What does it mean to be diverse in 2019? The word has slowly integrated itself into conversations regarding the workplace and university populace. However, are the people involved in these conversations genuinely concerned with the homogeneous environment workplaces and universities have created, or rather how they will be perceived in this tumultuous time in American society?  

Heal the rift between STEM and the humanities

 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.  

Loughlin admissions scandal reveals double standard

 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.  

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