One of the wonderful things about going to a university like Brandeis is being able to hear intellectual leaders, change-makers and industry powerhouses speak about their work. Clubs, organizations, institutes and departments all work to bring important individuals to campus so that members of the Brandeis community can learn directly from their personal experiences and scholarship. Recently, the University has hosted a wide range of influential speakers.
The 2019 Student Union presidential election has several well-qualified candidates, each of whom has a vision for creating a better Brandeis. Candidates Lizy Dabanka ’20, Oliver Price ’20 and Simran Tatuskar ’21 have similar ideas on how to improve campus life, such as working to improve the relationships between students and the University and ensuring that student needs are met. However, the candidate with the most concrete vision of how to improve the Union is Tatuskar. As such, this board endorses Simran Tatuskar for 2019-2020 Student Union president.
Recently, Brandeis launched Duo Security's two-factor authentication system as a means of protecting students and their personally identifiable information, according to a Nov. 6, 2018 article in the Justice. This new security measure is a required part of the transition to Workday, the new human resources software that the University is currently adopting, per a Nov. 20, 2018, Justice article. Student employees are the first students required to enroll in Duo, with many students being required to enroll by March 7. After logging into a Brandeis website, students must confirm that log-in through a push notification, text or phone call, a step added by Duo. T. While this is a commendable first step to improve cybersecurity, the decision to implement such software has several oversights, and this two-factor system might not be accessible to all students.
One of Brandeis’ enduring infrastructural problems is the atrocious laundry system. In a Jan. 28 email to the Brandeis community, University President Ron Liebowitz announced the creation of a third task force to address campus infrastructure. This board urges the task force to consider improving laundry on campus.
Although the BCC has hired more counselors in the past few years — and this board acknowledges that this is difficult — some students go off campus or to group therapy sessions for their specific needs. Von Steiger said that in order to accommodate the many students who seek therapy sessions, the BCC cannot offer students more than one appointment per week. To accommodate students that need to see a therapist more than once a week, the BCC offers the option of going off campus. This board appreciates that the BCC helps students find these opportunities, but recommends that with the approval of the administration, the BCC should help to make sure students who go off campus have the means to do so. Providing additional transportation to the location the individual is referred to can help students financially and make the experience even more positive. Off campus therapists can be in Newton, Cambridge or Boston, according to Von Steiger, so subsidizing commuter rail expenses — which the Student Union already plans to offer for students pursuing internships in Boston, according to Union President Hannah Brown ’19 — is a possibility.
This year’s ’DEIS Impact, Brandeis University’s annual social justice festival, featured 52 events. Unfortunately, this is the most impressive thing one can say about ’DEIS Impact. Though the festival’s name suggests that attendees should walk away with some sense of how Brandeis students can make an impact — either on the University itself or on society as a whole — the majority of its events provide little guidance to that end. This shortcoming, however, is only one of the reasons the festival as a whole is so poorly attended.
Any club that spends an entire semester bickering, obsessing over minute projects and abandoning mature communication in favor of publicly shaming and defenestrating its leadership could be expected to try operating humbly and productively the following semester. But the Student Union is no club — a point it’s attempting to impress upon the Judiciary, which is poised to decide whether the Senate and Executive Board will be rewarded for last semester’s shenanigans with more funding and no oversight.
Last Thursday, Boston experienced nearly record-breaking freezing temperatures, according to CBS Boston. On such a cold day, the BranVan really had a chance to shine: extra vans could have been chartered to handle the mass of students who did not want to walk outdoors in a 14 degrees Fahrenheit windchill, the reservations system could have been streamlined to enable impromptu rides, and space heaters or designated indoor waiting areas could have been utilized. Unfortunately, in typical BranVan fashion, no emergency plan was put in place and the vans ran as inefficiently as usual.
In response to an open letter addressed to President Ron Liebowitz concerning how Brandeis accommodates its students with disabilities, the University held a public forum with the intent of acknowledging, learning from and finding solutions to many of the struggles and inconveniences these community members face. Tuesday’s forum began with Provost Lisa Lynch and Senior Vice President Stewart Uretsky addressing an audience seated at round tables whereupon smaller and more intimate discussions were held. This board commends the University for its willingness to respond to widespread criticism of the quality of life for students with disabilities. However, while planned with good intentions, this meeting did little to directly address many of the concerns of students with disabilities, which extend far beyond wheelchair access to certain buildings and will likely do little in the long term to address the well-being of students with disabilities.
After 14 years of cutting-edge journalism, the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism closed last month, according to a Dec. 20 email from University Provost Lisa M. Lynch. Lynch explained that the funds necessary to support the Institute were “not forthcoming.” She expressed hope, however, that the University could “integrate… practical experience with journalism in our academic programs.” This board understands the financial reasons for closing the Institute, but calls on the University to revitalize its Journalism program, create new opportunities for undergraduate field experience and develop a curriculum relevant to the digital age.