…And Then We Got 1000 Signatures

Last Tuesday we met our first goal of 500 signatures on the Celebrate Brandeis Petition. As of 5:31 PM today, we doubled that number to 1000. With 3 days out it seems a little risky to officially raise the bar on the website to 1500 signatures. But there’s no reason we can’t try to get as close as we can. We might even beat another goal.

Have you signed yet? . Do it, get all of your friends to do it, and email your club listservs as well.

A lot of people had a hand, or two hands, in writing the petition, but I’m the one writing this post, so on behalf of all of them, I’m really proud that we’ve reached so many people on campus already, and I’m excited to see if the simple act of signing your name can assist in generating an overwhelming turnout for Friday’s events.

In related news, we also got over 1000 people to Commit To Celebrate On Facebook. You Should Sign Up For That Too, It’s Fun.

500 Signatures in 18.5 Hours, Let’s Keep Going!

When we launched the Celebrate Brandeis Petition at 4:30 AM yesterday morning, the initial goal was set for 500 signatures by December 3rd.

We shattered that goal in 18 1/2 hours.

At this time, 615 people have signed. For lack of a better statistic, that’s more than the usual voting turnout for most campus elections. More importantly, it constitutes a significant portion of this campus and provides great foreshadowing for the events to come next week.

Can we do it again, reach another milestone? http://bit.ly/CelebrateBrandeis. If you haven’t already, please click the link, read, and sign the petition, and send it to your friends. Let’s see if, over a holiday weekend, we can double our number to 1000, and unite an even greater portion of campus against hate.

Thanks WBC, I Think I Get Stewart’s Message Now.

It’s been close to a month now since Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert held the Rallies to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, and as a music major, I’ve spent the better part of the last few weeks reveling in the glory of seeing people like Yusuf Islam, Ozzy Osbourne, The OJays, The Roots, John Legend, and Jeff Tweedy share the stage, but I’ve also been trying to grapple with the concepts presented themselves in an attempt to apply them. Stewart repeatedly stressed his belief that as a nation, we work together every day to solve our problems, joining alongside our neighbors regardless of their political affiliations, and, because it’s politics, the news media instantly pounced on him claiming that he was spreading a false equivalency between the way in which both the left and the right present news. Bill Maher, in particular, had this to say about the way in which “political” bipartisanship has failed in this country over the last two years, and why we shouldn’t always try to work with our opponents:

Two opposing sides don’t necessarily have two compelling arguments. Martin Luther King spoke on that Mall in the Capitol, and he didn’t say ‘Remember folks, those Southern Sheriffs with the fire hoses and the German shepherds, they have a point too.’ No, he said ‘I have a dream, they have a nightmare’… if that’s too polarizing for you, and you still want to reach across the aisle, and hold hands, and sing with someone on the Right, try church.

When I heard this originally, I found myself agreeing with the sentiment as a frustrated Democrat. And maybe on a political level I still do. But there are multitudes of other contexts in which division is unproductive and detrimental to a society, and Brandeis has seen many of them firsthand. This year alone, we’ve been divided politically and religiously over the selection of Michael Oren as commencement speaker, the vandalism perpetrated against the MSA lounge, and most recently during “Israel Peace Week” and “Israeli Occupation Awareness Week.” Events like Pachanga have divided us socially and have jammed another wedge in between student-police and student-administration relationships. And so far this semester, two of the few things that had many talking together were that we were all unable to provide a better solution to the problems of the F-Board club allocations, and much more importantly, the Financial Aid crisis.

Now, I find myself loving the irony of Maher’s idea to “try church,” because the Westboro Baptist “Church” has provided a remedy to these problems. Think about it: We have one long list of topics that are divisive, the fragment our community. But then ask yourself “Quick, what’s one thing that everyone on this campus can oppose?” If WBC doesn’t come up in name, then I’m sure that its ideals of hatred and bigotry do. We are a diverse campus, and as the petition circulated by the Student Union, Hillel, and The Justice League states, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” I think they’re handing us an opportunity on a silver platter, a chance to stand together and work, as Stewart might say, “every damn day” from now until they show up, and beyond.

Yesterday, 100 students came together on short notice in the Castle Commons to plan the next steps, and the work we accomplished has me amped up on excitement. I encourage all Brandeis students to be go-getters on this one, and to find ways to get involved, because there are already several sub-groups planning for safety, fundraising opportunities (check out the Brandeis Hillel Phelps-A-Thon), media attention, a huge day-long festival in Shapiro Campus Center or another large venue, and other topics. I believe that we can mobilize and cross boundaries to work together and create an amazing cap to this semester that works to counter the WBC and strengthen campus bonds. I guess what I’m ultimately saying is “Thank you WBC for helping me learn from the Rally, and thanks in advance for uniting our campus.”

Apply for a Festival of the Arts Grant!!

Do you have a creative visual or performance based art project that you would like to showcase? Then why not get it funded? Applying for a Festival of the Arts Grant requires only a few short essays regarding the goals and intentions for your project, and could additionally help you flesh out a simple idea into a fully fledged proposal via their guiding questions. Last May’s Festival of the Arts Grant Recipients organized a folk stage at Slosberg, produced a theatrical work with students from the Waltham Boys and Girls Club, showcased drawings of feet of various people in various cultures, and much more.

As an incentive for activist minded artists, and those who feel that their project serves to positively impact the community as a whole, the Justice League, in conjunction with the Office of the Arts, will be subsidizing some of the projects which we feel best embody our progressive values.

The application for the grant, due November 30th at 5 p.m., can be found right here. Questions can be directed to Ingrid Schorr, Festival Director, at ingrids@brandeis.edu.

Live-blogging the Fall 2010 SOTU

For those of you who can’t make it tonight, here’s what is being said (refresh for frequent updates).

6:30- Still hasn’t started, food is very good.
6:42- Ryan Fanning is doing the introduction. He thanks Aramark. Nice plug.
6:43- Ryan: Financial Situations, Pachanga, it has not been a quiet semester. But we will succeed through the struggles. We as a community are stronger than we can possibly imagine.
6:45- Ryan thinks Acheampong is a snappy dresser.
6:45- Daniel: Thanks to the Union. General welcomes. The Union means “you”.
6:46- Financial History of the last 2 years: Despite our hardships, we chose to do something unique. We moved together as one, as Brandeis.

Continue reading “Live-blogging the Fall 2010 SOTU”

Trick or Vote!!

Don’t have plans during the day this Halloween? You should join our Waltham Trick or Vote Party! Here’s how it works: On Sunday afternoon from 4-6, Brandeis students are going to travel into Waltham to knock on doors and request the usual amounts of candy, but we’ll also be performing a civic duty by reminding Massachusetts residents to complete their civic duty next Tuesday. Thousands of volunteers will be asking their fellow city and town residents to vote next Tuesday, and we look forward to contributing to the program’s success; consider the fact that face-to-face canvassing, done by either politicians or their supporters, is considered the most effective method to encourage someone to vote, and it has the potential to increase voter turnout by 8-12%.

In addition, the event is also non-partisan: we’re not asking people to vote for Patrick, Cahill, or Baker, or any other candidate, just that they take five minutes out of their day to allow their voice to be heard. There are already several political and issue based co-sponsoring clubs, including the Brandeis Democrats, Brandeis Republicans, The Justice League, and The Brandeis Tea Party, and the Student Peace Alliance, as well as service groups like Halloween for the Hungry. As a result, this may also be an excellent opportunity to get to know those at Brandeis who do not share your political ideology, and start a fight with them. That last part was a joke, please don’t do that.

We’re hoping to have a fun, spirited, and spooky time, and we hope that you’ll join us.

For more information, check out their website. Clubs interested in co-sponsoring, and all other Brandeis-related questions can be directed toward Geneva Boyer at gboyer@brandeis.edu.

Liveblogging the “Need-sensitive” aid Town Hall.

We’re at the Town Hall event in Upper Sherman. Taking quick notes, for your enjoyment.

Mark Spencer is introducing himself.

The reasons for the change – for the last few years, Brandeis has been gapping students. That means that it hasn’t had enough money to fulfill the full need of admitted students.

Andrew Giumette:

We’ve been here for 16 years, we keep changing our polices. We compete with schools where their full financial aid budget comes from the endowment. We can’t do that. So we have to be creative with our finances. Lately we’ve been operating by not meeting the full need of students. 2 years ago we fulfilled 80-something percent of need of students, for example.

“I’ve seen too many families and students in stress, taking out more loans than they have to”

Now they are taking questions.
Continue reading “Liveblogging the “Need-sensitive” aid Town Hall.”

This Thursday- Go to the Financial Aid Meeting

In an email sent out to the campus on Tuesday, Student Union President Daniel Acheampong announced that a financial aid summit is scheduled for This Thursday from 5:30-7:30 in Feldberg, Upper Sherman. The meeting will be in the style of a Town Hall forum, and will include administrators from Students and Enrollment who will be on hand to answer questions.

I suggest we ask as many questions as possible and that as many people as possible show up. According to the Hoot article, 75% of current Brandeis students are recipients of some form of financial aid. Regardless of whether or not we’re among that majority, we need to stand together on this issue because it will influence the makeup of each incoming class starting with the soon-to-be incoming class of 2015. Rather than be judged on their complete portfolio, these applicants are in danger of being rejected simply because their monetary need, formerly shielded from admissions until after their acceptance, is going to shine red in front of the counselor’s eyes. I know we have a budgeting crisis, but I don’t think that this helps anything. I’m going, among other reasons, to find out if there is another solution which benefits the students directly which I can support.

Bring yourself, and bring as many of your friends as possible, and let the administration know that this is a social justice issue which affects students, and on which students have a right to voice their opinions.

Adam Won!!

Well, it’s official: The next Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees is our very own Adam Hughes!! We’re all thrilled to know that for the next two years, one of the most powerful positions to which a student can be elected will be upheld with distinction by an experienced candidate whose compassion and dedication to Brandeis will serve him well.

If you didn’t vote for him, I recommend you check him out and get to know him, or email him directly at athughes@brandeis.edu. With the problematic Endowment and Financial Aid proposals in the works, as well as the student-propelled Cage Free Eggs campaign underway, he’ll be an excellent champion and voice for our Brandeis Values, and a person behind whom we as students can rally. We’ve filled the seat, so the fighting amongst ourselves is over; now it’s time to get active, and to take our concerns, whatever they may be, directly to the Board of Trustees. That’s where Adam comes in, and we at Innnermost Parts couldn’t be happier about that.

Stay tuned for the release of the full results, appearing shortly.

My F-Board Story

Two weeks ago the F-Board handed down some pretty upsetting decisions after marathon. We at Innermost Parts have been examining some these numbers on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not there were any trends in the allocation of funds, and whether or not a new system needs to be considered. For now, however, I hope to use this post as a forum for club leaders and members to air their grievances.

I’ll start with one of my stories: I’m the treasurer of the Brandeis Democrats, and we asked for $3289.12, divided up as follows:

• Bringing Keith McHenry (Food Not Bombs creator) to campus- Speaking Fee: $500, Subsidized Hotel/Lodging Fee: $50.
• 15 Tickets to See “Waiting For Superman,” a new movie about the DC public school system: $150.
• Bringing Comedy Central’s Jeff Kriesler to Campus: $2500
• Gas Money To Go Campaign for Paul Hodes in New Hampshire, 2 Cars: $89.12.

At first, we only got $150 dollars for the semester. Not even a general grant of $150, but $150 to be specifically allocated for the movie tickets. This was bothersome to me for a number of reasons. First, as they mention in a comment on our request, F-Board claims that “We don’t fund campaigns for politicians, only issues,” meaning that they were not inclined to grant us money to campaign for a Democrat. That’s fine assuming that the same standards are shown to other clubs, but that still leaves us with $3200.
Next, Jeff Kriesler was one of our most successful events of the last year, in the sense that we not only filled a large classroom with members of the Dems, but we also drew in people from all over campus. It seems that as he hasn’t gotten any less funny, the event would promise to be as successful this year, but we weren’t given the chance to bring him back to prove this. Without this, we’re down to $700.

Keith McHenry created Food Not Bombs, a wonderful organization which shuns war and promotes giving free vegetarian meals to the homeless. Since when has poverty been a partisan issue that isn’t worth funding? Is Keith McHenry too radical? SEA, SDS, DFA, and the Waltham Group didn’t seem to think so when they each expressed interest in the event.

That leaves us with the $150 we got for the movie tickets. First of all, this was the one item we did not expect them to cover, as it is expected that college students will be able to afford to go to the movies because they already do so on a weekly basis. We put this in there as a sort of “M&M” clause to make sure that the F-Board actually spent the time to read through our five requests. But clearly they gave it enough thought, and originally decided that it was the only thing worth funding for this semester. We’re a respected political organization on campus which hosts events year round to engage the entire community. In my time alone, we’ve brought Howard Dean to campus, worked a Deval Patrick campaign event which President Obama attended, phonebanked for Martha Coakley and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal, and ran a Haiti Benefit Concert, but all we were enabled to do was see a movie?

So what did we do? We appealed and waited. We asked for more money, and for the $150 already allocated to be converted into a general grant so that we could use it for more than only movie tickets. We got $400 more, most of which I’m betting will go to pay for a portion of Keith McHenry’s asking price. Yet the original request money to be converted to a general grant? Denied. So we take the good and the bad, as we attempt to maximize the potential of a club which this semester has more than doubled in size due to an influx of freshmen and other engaged students. But there are other clubs which didn’t appeal, and still find themselves in financial turmoil, unable to carry out events new and traditional. So I yield the floor to those people. Let’s talk together through our problems and see what comes of it?

A guiding question: Does anyone else feel slighted by fellow students whom we elected to aid our clubs, not restrict them?

Found Recording – Bob Dylan Live At Brandeis in 1963

In yet another display of why Brandeis in the 1960’s was so amazing, Amazon.com has announced that they will be releasing a live bootleg recording of Bob Dylan playing here on May 10, 1963 for the first ever Brandeis Folk Festival. Here is the track listing (note, all tracks previously unreleased):

“Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance” (Incomplete)
“Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”
“The Ballad of Hollis Brown”
“Masters of War”
“Talkin’ World War Three Blues”
“Bob Dylan’s Dream”
“Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues”

Unfortunately, as of now, the disc is only being offered if you pre-order a copy of either The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 9) on CD or vinyl, or The Original Mono Recordings also available in the same forms, but hopefully it will be re-released as a solo disc so that no one will have to spend extra money if they don’t want the other albums.

Interestingly enough, according to a post on The Examiner’s Website, “The “ticket” price for the “left risers” ( Row E Seat 61) was $4.40. Ticket good for day of the show only. No refunds or exchanges. ” $4.40? Another example of why the ’60’s were better!

Vote Elly For Rosie Senator

Amidst all of the back-to-school stress, new friendships, and F-board marathon disasters, another school-time tradition is coming up: Elections to the Student Union!! In the next few days, I hope to add to that timeless tradition by asking that you endorse and/or vote for a good friend of mine.

Elly Kalfus is running for Senator of Rosenthal Quad this coming Sunday. If you don’t know her yet, you should, because I know I speak for those of us who do know her when I say that she’s one of the nicest, funniest, and most caring people on campus. She’s an engaged activist, a passionate blogger for Innermost Parts, a hilarious comedy writer, and if she adds the title of Senator to that list, she will dutifully serve the position with an adjective of equal distinction and honor.

Even though we’ve worked closely in the last few months while blogging and helping to plan Campus Camp Wellstone, I’ve known her since last year when we met at a Brandeis Democrats club meeting, and if she had any say about what I write in this part of the post, she would probably yell at me about how cliché this opening sentence is. And that’s what always strikes me about her: She tells it like it is, no matter what. When you speak to her, you’re going to get her full and honest opinion. Sometimes I find myself thinking that it’s a quality that our campus lacks; we’re always so afraid of awkwardness and future awkward encounters around here that the students don’t challenge each other as individuals. If elected to the Senate, I know that Elly will stand firm by her views, and challenge anyone who tries to do less.

She’ll do the work that’s asked of her by her fellow residents and her community because she’s not running to build a resume; this is an example of a candidate taking massive amounts of interest and experience and applying those qualities toward her living environment, Rosie and beyond. She wants to work with the Eco Reps to make the quad more sustainable. She wants to make transportation around Brandeis and Waltham an everyday convenience, not just a luxury for people who have time to wait at the bus stop for long stretches of time. She already serves on the board of the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, and as the Waltham Group coordinator for the YMCA Kids Connection program. She’s also the leader of the newest Improvisational Comedy group on campus, and the only one to practice a policy of non-exclusivity, drawing in members from every area on campus. These are just Brandeis related activities she does on campus, but she’s also living in the Alternative Spring Break community service suite. How many of us can say that we care so deeply about the world around us that we’re willing to sacrifice one of our few school-year breaks toward a higher cause?

In short: If you live in a Rosie suite, when you log on to the union website on Sunday to vote (which you should all do anyway because it’s a civic duty Dammit), you should vote for Elly. She’s got all of the passion and the drive, and will work hard to keep the Union honest, transparent, and good humored.

And The Candidates Are…

Presenting the candidates for Student Union offices, Fall 2010:

(Note, candidates with Asterisks next to their name have not officially declared a candidacy, but have expressed interest.)

Senator for TYP

Alyssa Green

Terrell Gilkey

*Alexis Munoz

Senator for North Quad

Alexander Bernstein

Jesse Hart

Sam Liang

Sarah Park

Brianda Penafort

Shekeyla Caldwell

Senator for Massell Quad

David Clements

Josh Kelley

Rosby Kome-Mensah II

Sidharth Rijhwani

Sharan Shah

Michael Sklaroff

Senator for 2014

Maria Alkhasova

Dillon Harvey

Jesse Koklas

Marsha Patel

Isaac Rabbani

Tiequin Roquerre

Mitchell Schwartz

Senator for Rosenthal

Elizabeth Fields

Elly Kalfus

Haemee Kang

Fuan Li (Franklin)

Senator for East

Sydney Appelbaum

Albert Feldman

Senator for Castle

Miriam Halimi

Senator for Ziv

Mark Levi

Scott Oglesby

Senator for Charles River

Tae Wan Kim

Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board Rep

*James Bartolacci

Yahav Itzkovich

Susan Paykin

Nicholas Polano

Senior Representative to the UCC

Jenna Rubin

Senator for Off-Campus

Evyn Rabinowitz

*Marcos Sandler

Senator for Village

Jake Weiner

Senator for Ridgewood

– * (Author’s Note: Although someone has expressed interest in this position, they were given more time to consider privately before announcing their position officially.)

Senator for Mods

Choose wisely.

Religion and the Presidency

In The Hoot’s recent article about the selection of Frederick Lawrence as the new University President, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Malcolm Sherman was asked about the impact of Lawrence’s religion on his confirmation:

Malcolm Sherman, Chairman of the Brandeis Board of Trustees said Lawrence’s Judaism was “a consideration” at a school that self-identifies as a sectarian university with Jewish roots but “it was not an absolute necessity.

“Certainly [Lawrence’s religion] made him attractive to the Committee and we are happy that he is Jewish, but that was not the only factor,” Sherman said.

These statements make me a bit skeptical.  Regardless of the fact that we’re a completely non-sectarian school, we are also one in which the majority population is Jewish, as were the first seven Presidents.  It makes sense that the eighth should be as well.  I understand some of the political reasons for why the board felt the need to make this statement – political correctness, desire to diversify/not scare non-Jews away from Brandeis, keep donors who might pull their money if a non-Jew became the President – but at the same time, the idea that religion is “not a necessity” could seem synonymous with “not necessary” or “irrelevant.”  It comes off like a non-denial denial, a sub-conscious shielding of the truth.  Lawrence is extremely qualified to take this position, and his religion certainly could not have been the only factor, but it was most likely a contributing factor nonetheless.

I’ve been wondering why there seems to be a need to shove this fact under the table, because I see it less in terms of religion and more in terms of the school’s culture.  Brandeis is both a secular school and a school with a large Jewish population, and both are usually primary reasons why students come to school here.  As someone who straddles the line between agnosticism and Reform Judaism, I don’t see these two facts as conflicting with one another, but as complementary aspects of our identity.  I don’t care about how the President’s faith, or how he worships, as much as how the cultural lessons and values derived from his religious beliefs, likely similar to those of a University started by Jews, might factor positively into his decisions.  I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that we can’t have any President except a Jewish one, but it doesn’t hurt to have someone who holds similar values gained from an upbringing in a cultural community, and in this case, a religious community.

As a parallel example, my parents encourage me to marry someone who is Jewish, and I’m sure that I’m not the only person within or outside of the Jewish community whose family wants them to marry someone similar to them.  For my parents, it has very little to do with religion, however, and has much more to do with having a few more things in common with your spouse, such as a cultural history and a similar set of values, life experiences, and ideals.

The beginning of a new Presidential term at Brandeis is like a marriage as well, and the Board of Trustees spent close to a year trying to find the perfect “suitor” to take the University forward.  If faced with a pool of equally matched candidates, wouldn’t a similar set of values, experiences, and beliefs be a selling point even if they come from within a religious community? It’s just one more reason that the pairing should work, and one more way in which Lawrence is uniquely suited for the task at hand.  It should not be the foundation of the hiring, the “absolute necessity,” but it’s an extra bonus to have someone whose background will help in making decisions which are in line with the Brandeis community’s ideals.  It might stem from a taboo subject like Religion, but that doesn’t mean that the reality of the situation should be shielded in order for the University to save face.

Pets on College Campuses

When new freshmen leave home to attend college for the first time, they tend to pack up anything and everything meaningful in their home. I know this from personal experience; when I came to Brandeis, I loaded my car with instruments, movies, clothing, books, posters, anything and everything that I thought I would need at any given time. In reality, however, I was actually packing anything which I thought would help ease the impending homesickness in an attempt to mold my new dorm room into a carbon copy of my house. Most, if not all, feel some feelings of separation when they are away from home, and a recent New York Times article discusses some of these emotions in the context of a new solution: It profiles Stephens College, in Columbia, Missouri, which is joining the ranks of colleges around the country who permit pets in their dorm rooms.

As the owner of three dogs, my first instinct is to say something like: This is the best thing ever!!!! At least a dozen colleges around the country, including locally at MIT (although they only allow cats), are changing their residential living policies to have explicit rules allowing pets. Some schools even take this to an extreme, including Eckerd College in South Florida which allows snakes as long as they are “less than six feet long and nonvenomous.” As extreme as this might seem to some, it still outlines the fact that having pets of any species in a dorm room is one more way to help a student adjust to their time away from home.

At the same time, however, there are obvious drawbacks. From a psychological perspective, having a pet around gives a new student an excuse to stay in their room and be antisocial, and as child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz notes, it could serve as a “Band-Aid” to cover up more serious emotional issues in students who are coping with more than nerves and the adjustment to a new location.

Then there are a long list of issues concerning cleanliness in the dorm, and personal responsibility on the part of the owner. It is difficult enough for a student to take between 4 and 5.5 classes per semester while maintaining a grade point average, holding down a job, and making time for a social life and involvement in a few clubs and extracurricular activities. The presence of another life for which to care in addition to your own may prove too challenging for some, causing a decrease in the aforementioned activities, or possibly worse, negligence of any kind toward a pet.

In the end, I would love to see Brandeis reexamine its community living policy and consider adopting pet rules in the hopes of allowing students to feel a closer connection to home. Personally, I think that there is an additional benefit to the community; animals can often inspire positive moods in most situations simply by being around, and seeing a larger pet presence on the walk to classes every day would hopefully maintain high spirits all over campus. Yet even though I support it, I’m realistic enough to know that were such a policy enacted, I would have to opt out due to a lack of time to properly care for a pet.


Remember when you could use plain text on Facebook in order to express yourself? Now, in yet another update to their loosening privacy settings, all of the text on your profile will be linked to a respective page devoted to your interests/current city/activities/etc.

Cool, right? Well, not really. An article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation looks at this problem in greater depth. In their article about the change, Facebook argues that this will usher in a new age of networking, and uses cooking as a main example. Before, friends could just read your profile to see that you liked cooking. Now, your information is posted on the cooking page, along with the tens of thousands of other users who list cooking as an interest. As the EFF article notes, however, while cooking is a relatively harmless example, your listed interests in causes such as abortion, gay rights, legalization of marijuana, or any other hotbed issues are prone to be linked to their respective pages, putting you in a virtual database for anyone who wishes to view this information. If you start receiving unwanted friend requests, it is likely that they have come as a result of the ability to see you through such a database.

There are a few options to combat this: You can delete your account, and reregister as a minor, as Facebook’s policy regarding users under 18 halts these profile links. You could also quit Facebook entirely.  Yet it seems that the best move is not to shy away from these changes, but to combat them head on.  There are likely going to be several protest groups and pages which intend to lobby against these changes, and here is a link to one of them, via campusprogress.org.  With a strong following, it is likely that Facebook would take such groups seriously.  As Brandeis students, we should do our part to make sure that our ideals are upheld, especially when Facebook is jeopardizing our our ability and choice to keep those ideals private and personal.

Arizona Students

In a new letter released by the President of the University of Arizona, he states that a number of out-of-state honors students are planning on transferring as a result of SB 1070, the new Arizona Immigration Enforcement Law:

We have already begun to feel an impact from SB1070. The families of a number of out-of-state students (to date all of them honors students) have told us that they are changing their plans and will be sending their children to universities in other states. This should sadden anyone who cares about attracting the best and brightest students to Arizona.

You can find the link to President’s letter in full here.

I for one would love to see these students attend Brandeis. We could always use more students who are willing to alter their future to bring their education in line with their social justice values.  In addition, it speaks volumes to the ability of college students to voice their opinion to unjust laws. While making a drastic change such as transferring may not be for everyone, it’s certainly inspires a need for everyone to protest this law in his or her own way, even if that just means writing a letter to Governor Brewer to protest.  On that note, you can find her contact information here.

A Few Thoughts About the Aquapocalypse

On Saturday night, I was killing time and decided to buy a soda at Hannaford’s.  While I was waiting in line, I took notice of the crowds which were mobbing the various check-out aisles.  What every single person had in common was a harried look in their eyes, and what separated the crowd into two chunks was water; there were those who had amassed a shopping-cart’s worth of bottles and crates of water, and those who hadn’t arrived in time.  In the twenty minutes which it took me to get to the front of the line, a time which was frequently punctuated by the shouts for the manager demanding more water, I began to realize that were I not on campus, I would be in the same position, unsure whether or not I would have any access to clean water for an indeterminate amount of time.

As the weekend wore on, I started feeling thirsty at all hours of the day.  This may have been due in part to the heat, as well as the amount of time I spent at Springfest, but I began to wonder if other people felt the same way.  Was my desire for water influenced by my recognition that I could not have a constant flow in my water bottle at any time of the day? This is to say nothing of the fact that 1/8th of the world’s population has no access to clean drinking water, but this made me realize that as a student at Brandeis, I was given access to essential resources when they were sorely needed by the community.

Yesterday morning, the entire campus woke up to great news when we were told that the crisis was over.  I admit that that this was a relief for me, but I considered some of the people who were “suffering” more than I was.  For example, I don’t drink coffee, but I overheard a student at Einstein’s complaining about how they had to drive thirty minutes into Cambridge in order to find an open coffee shop.  When I actually considered the troubles that plague people around the world, however, it made me realize how trivial this is.


Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to Jake, our newest contributor.

When I took a look at the elections results from the past week, I was struck by some of the write-ins.  Students, Brandeis professors, religious figures and totalitarian dictators were tabulated along with the declared candidates for each race. I am the first to admit that some of the ballots cast are amusing; the idea that Hitler, Big Bird, and former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka all tied for Associate Justice of the Student Judiciary shows a certain degree of creativity on the part of three individual voters. However, not all of the votes were as innocent or childish. In one race, while a student – let’s call him Joe Bloggs – was elected to another term on the Union, three voters wrote in “Not Joe A. Bloggs,” “Not Joe ever,” and “Too Much Joe,” respectively.

In addition to the fact that this sort of joke would be hurtful to anyone, this brings about questions of purpose and overall value to the campus’ political dialogue: why take the time to come up with a write-in which you might find funny? First, voter turnout is incredibly low.  With the exception of the Senator for the Class of 2013 election, which yielded a 47.8 percent turnout of freshmen, all of the elections from the most recent cycle ranked in between 21 and 34 percent. This means that roughly one fourth of the students eligible to vote in each election care enough to log onto the union website and take three minutes out of their day.

Because of this, and because the official voting data is not widely released, the portion of the student body who takes the time to notice the outrageous write-ins is even smaller.  Combined with the fact that all votes are anonymous, it seems pointless to make a joke which very few people will read, find amusing, and credit you with a good joke. If nothing else, why not abstain in any election where there is no standout candidate or candidates?  In some cases, the Abstain category can win an election over an unopposed candidate. This makes an actual statement about disapproval of the Brandeis candidates and the overall electoral process without the sarcasm of a fake write-in.