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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Tuesday, the American Studies department, along with several other departments, aided by a donation from Kent Lawrence ’66, brought conservative legal scholar Robert George and democratic socialist political activist Cornel West together for an event titled “Liberal Learning: Open Minds and Open Debate.”
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.
In the wake of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and the resulting protests across the nation, University President Ron Liebowitz emailed the Brandeis community last Tuesday. The email focused on the importance of creating a “supportive environment” while stressing that the University would remain “non-partisan.” While this board recognizes Liebowitz’s attempt to acknowledge the impact of recent events and commit to keeping the University officially non-partisan, we believe that Liebowitz should have used this opportunity to send a stronger message of support to sexual violence survivors on campus.
The University is evidently proud of Skyline, the new, environmentally-friendly replacement for Usen Castle. The Castle was no longer suitable for student living, and this Board supports the construction of additional on-campus housing. Unfortunately, the layout and cost of Skyline raise concerns about the University’s decision-making during the construction process, and this board cannot fully support the final product.
When students arrived on campus at the start of the fall 2018 semester and began flocking to the mail room, they found that a new system had been put in place for package distribution. This board applauds the University for crafting a more efficient system for distributing mail, one that saves students — and those who work in the mailroom — both time and energy.
Community members gathered on the Great Lawn on Wednesday night for the annual Break Fast — known as “Break the Fast” in the pastprevious years — where the University provided free food and drinks. As in previous years, people who had not fasted for Yom Kippur were invited as well, but this year, the event started earlier, around the time that the fast ended. This led to long lines and limited seating, as fasting students arrived around the same time as non-fasting students. This board urges the University to assess this year’s event and take steps to ensure that, in the future, the entire Brandeis community can participate in Break Fast without inconveniencing students who have been fasting for 25 hours.