Anti-Oren Letter Slipped in with Graduation Programs

Commencement for the Class of 2010 occurred today at 10:30 at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.  (Congrats!) We’ve received word that students protesting the choice of Oren as commencement speaker snuck copies of this letter in with the graduation programs, articulating their reasons against Oren speaking. However, a volunteer and Brandeis student says that students helping out with the ceremony were told to go through each program and remove the material.

For more information on the Oren controversy, browse our InnermostParts archives for posts with the tag “Michael Oren,” dating back to this first post. Read the letter, signed “Concerned Student” below:

“The selection of Michael Oren as Brandeis commencement speaker is both inappropriate and offensive. In spite of programming and literature that describes the University as a non-partisan forum, the invitation of Ambassador Oren to a ceremony that celebrates the values of the institution stands as a pointedly partisan act that alienates a minority of students. The Brandeis administration’s invitation for Ambassador Oren to bestow wisdom as a ceremonial figurehead represents a political endorsement contrary to the values of a secular, non-denominational liberal arts university.

Were Ambassador Oren speaking at any other venue on campus, his visit would present the opportunity for a discussion in the spirit of academic integrity that the Brandeis community expects. When in 2007 President Carter spoke regarding his views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Brandeis students invited Professor Alan Dershowitz to rebut his points. Last year, Justice Richard Goldstone was only allowed to speak at Brandeis on the condition that he share the stage with former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold. Unfortunately, in our time at Brandeis, this standard of necessary dialogue regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict is only upheld for speakers critical of the state of Israel.

Regardless of Brandeis’ traditional relationship with the Jewish community, our university remains a non-sectarian institution built on academic excellence, inquiry, and dialogue. As a sitting ambassador, Michael Oren holds the political role of spokesperson and supporter of the Israeli government. Inviting Ambassador Oren to a venue which allows no formal discussion implicitly binds the Brandeis community in unqualified support of Oren’s political position and the government he represents. Brandeis’ traditional association with the Jewish community does not require a wholesale endorsement of either the current Israeli government or its policies.”





5 responses to “Anti-Oren Letter Slipped in with Graduation Programs”

  1. Jay

    Well, if you overlook the sophomoric nature of the protest, and the failure to understand that any speaker will “alienate a minority of students”, then this was actually alright. At the very least, nobody did anything stupid, which was definitely more than I could ask for.

  2. Doug

    Beyond this, congrats to the class of 2010. Best of luck to all your future endeavors :).

  3. Doug

    Rut, roh, Call the whambulance… I find that protest plan to be a little silly. With so many trustees and donors there, they were never going to let that letter get into public hands.

    In all seriousness though, I was here for commencement and I did find the speech Ambassador Oren gave to be poor at best. I was hoping for inspiring and unifying address by the controversial leader to prove everyone wrong. What really happened was he spent most of his time on Israel and its founding, and didn’t tie it in much of a meaningful way to any sort of commencement abstraction. His speech wasn’t very good for a secular university, and I know this was a point the against oren people had brought up beforehand. I trusted the people who had seen him speak beforehand and had nothing but positive things to say and his credentials as both an academic and leader, but his speech really missed the mark. He said that he wanted this to be about the graduates of 2010, but really it was just about Israel. Beyond this, he made a comment comparing Zionism to Irish Nationalism (the struggle over the 20th century to have a united and Britain-Free Ireland) which I feel was quite off. I won’t get into that much now as I have to start packing and what not.

    Anyways that’s just my 2 cents on the whole thing. It’s important to note that this was not my commencement, so I’ll have my chance to be motivated and inspired next year. I will definitely be submitting an idea for the 2011 speaker. Insane Clown Posse should perform Miracles at our commencement because there’s Magic everywhere in this Bitch at Brandeis (Link in case you’ve been living under a rock-

    Beyond this, Paul Simon was amazing. The Boxer (What he performed) is one of the best songs ever and if you disagree with me on this point, I will never speak to you ever again.

  4. Audrey Stout

    Hey all,

    I ushered for Commencement today and yep all the Ushers went through every single program to check for protest inserts. Three people slashed the bottom of program boxes that were under the bleachers in Gosman (last night)

    I thought I would recap Oren’s speech in a nutshell. Imma be honest, it was nothing spectacular… I wasn’t even super opposed to him coming to speak, but the speech was mehhh, kinda all over the place


    Pretty much it was him saying “this is my fab life story about how I met the ambassador to Israel, with my youth groupies!—then wanted to be the ambassador someday. I’m bad ass, because know I am him,

    “I’d like to give a brief 2 min shout out to the class of 2010

    and remember what 5 dead guys have said…

    and then Moses did this
    and then Joshua did that
    and they named this cool place in Israel after Louis Brandeis

    I jumped out of planes

    but not really

    because they pushed me

    10 minutes of Israel history time! Then, he was like, “I am totally doing a fab job, Palestine is gonna be a country soooon! We’re working towards peace, I swear

    and remember kids, “responsibility” is key, it’s good shit, legit. Y’all are sooo responsible. Nice work, very nice.

  5. Art

    Interesting way to go about this. No conflict and no disruption. I didn’t have a huge issue with oren, but this is a fine way to voice dissent