In the last few weeks, life for the Brandeis community has abruptly and significantly changed as the University responds to the developing COVID-19 pandemic. This board hopes that students, faculty, staff, administrators and their families are staying safe and healthy amid the chaos, and we commend the efforts that the entire community has devoted to protecting and supporting each other during this time.
Brandeis University hosted a series of four Request for Proposal forums between Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5 in search of a new dining vendor. The University invited Sodexo, Harvest Table, Chartwells and Bon Appetit to present at these forums.
As news headlines breed panic about the real but still somewhat distant threat of coronavirus (COVID-19), this board would like to examine how all of this new and constantly-changing information affects the Brandeis community.
On March 4, the Student Union and the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center will launch their new SipChip initiative. SipChips are drink-testing devices which, upon contact with a cold drink, will indicate whether it has been tainted with any common “date-rape” drugs. SipChips will be available in numerous locations around campus, and this test run will help determine future supplies. This board applauds the SipChip initiative and sees it as a positive step forward in sexual violence prevention.
Recently, Sodexo has begun supplying students with nutritional information through a series of “Mindful by Sodexo” pamphlets available near Sherman Dining Hall. On the surface, the initiative seems like a great idea, and this board appreciates the dining company’s attempt to connect with our community. However, many of these pamphlets promote unhealthy attitudes towards food and body image. This board calls on Sodexo to reevaluate the messaging they use to connect with students, as well as for other campus organizations to closely scrutinize the ideas they promote.
According to the Office of Study Abroad website, Brandeis University offers over 200 different programs in about 60 countries, allowing students to customize their experience. However, there are often logistical issues associated with gaining course credit from classes taken abroad, which may dissuade students from taking advantage of these opportunities. This board urges the OSA to address these issues.
It is 2020, which means elections, Olympics and last, but not least, that Brandeis University is now back in session! Hearing student tales of a less than optimal start to the semester, the Justice opted to highlight some of the issues that plague students. Some problems students face — faulty WiFi, for instance — may be unavoidable, while others could easily be mitigated by improved communication between students, faculty and administration.
On Tuesday Dec. 17, University President Ron Liebowitz announced that Brandeis would be adding caste to its non-discrimination and harassment policy, becoming the first private university to do so. The term “caste” refers to one’s designation within a rigid social stratification system. This statement from the president may have come as somewhat of a surprise, with many Brandeis students unaware that such discrimination happens in the United States where there is no explicit caste system. Banning caste discrimination is an important step toward protecting Brandeis community members from discrimination.
As the spring semester kicks off, many students have noticed Sodexo has raised the quality of options available for students in the dining halls and other retail locations. Previously, students complained on a daily basis about the food Sodexo has served. As Sodexo’s current contract comes to an end, this Board has seen improvement and hopes that the University’s future food vendor will continue with this upward trend. This board acknowledges the positive changes made by the University and Sodexo in order to satisfy the needs of students on campus.
Winter is coming, and with it, increased danger to the safety of the Brandeis community. In the past several weeks, Brandeis and its surrounding area have seen the signs of the season approaching, from the dropping temperatures to the snowy weather right after Thanksgiving break. This board appreciates the work the University — and especially the facilities department — does to keep the community safe, but sees clear areas of improvement regarding snow day procedures and shuttle tracking services.