Sign the Petition! ACT NOW to Open the Conversation: Tell Hillel to Accept Jewish Voice for Peace.

Sign the Petition!

Brandeis University Hillel has voted to exclude the campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace from becoming a member group. JVP advocates for a just resolution between Israelis and Palestinians, and is the only Jewish group on campus denied inclusion. Hillel based their decision on partisan political considerations: namely, JVP’s support for consumer boycott of illegal Israeli settlements goods. Hillel claims to be the pluralistic center of Jewish student life, yet this decision imposes an ideological litmus test for participation in campus Jewish life.

It is critical for the future of Israel that Jewish communal institutions foster the expression of different visions of how to implement peace with the Palestinians. Otherwise, an emerging movement of young Jews will be forced to choose between their values and a narrow, political interpretation of Judaism. If Hillel wishes to remain the true umbrella organization for the whole Jewish community, they must open the conversation about Israel.

Hold Hillel to its mission and tell them to include Jewish Voice for Peace:

Sign our Petition at

Thank you,

Brandeis Jewish Voice for Peace

About JVP:
Jewish Voice for Peace is the only national Jewish organization that provides a voice for Jews and allies who believe that peace in the Middle East will be achieved through justice and full equality for both Palestinians and Israelis. With 27 chapters, a Rabbinical Council, 100,000 online supporters and an advisory board composed of many of the leading Jewish thinkers and artists of our time, Jewish Voice for Peace is the country’s fastest growing grassroots group dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy that respects the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to peace and self-determination.

A Criticism of “Celebrate Brandeis”

I’ve been pretty silent amidst the sea of self-congratulation in the wake of ‘Celebrate Brandeis,’ but there were a lot of things that bothered me about this response to the WBC. But after reading Liz Posner’s op-ed in the Justice today, I had to respond.

Titled, “In legitimizing WBC, Brandeis trumps Harvard,” Posner notes that Harvard responded very differently when WBC came to protest at their Hillel the same day. They held a “Suprise Absurdity Protest,” with John Stewart-esque signs (God Hates Flags, etc.). Posner posits that our protest was better because we legitimized the views of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Oddly enough, this was exactly my problem with the way we responded. If the purpose was to ignore the church, than we failed miserably. Instead we spent an entire day congratulating ourselves by comparing ourselves to the WBC. Well of course we came out looking good! We’re not a bunch of kooky extremists! Its not such a great thing to be proud of. There was no sense of inward self-reflection throughout the day to challenge the idea that ‘Brandeis is so great because we support social justice.’

People were so determined that the ‘Celebrate Brandeis’ be the only response that students (wearing “Celebrate Brandeis Mediators” t-shirts) and police officers were on site in order to prevent Brandeis students from engaging in conversation with members of the WBC. Are these people’s views so serious of a threat that we can’t trust Brandeis students to even talk to them? The whole event seemed to legitimate WBC in a way that they didn’t deserve.

Posner writes, “Harvard’s ‘Absurdity’ protest missed an opportunity to take the WBC seriously. Harvard students decided to scoff at the church’s despicable and archaic values instead of recognizing them as a true threat.”

That’s exactly the problem I had with ‘Celebrate Brandeis’, the Brandeis protest acted like the WBC was a real threat. These guys go around holding signs that say “Your Rabbi is a Whore” and “God Hates Your Feelings.” They write and sing silly parodies of Lady Gaga! If that’s not worth scoffing at, I don’t know what is! If you look at what the WBC actually does, the reality is that they do nothing. They’re mission isn’t to raise political support for anti-gay or anti-Jewish causes, its simply to inform us that we are all sinners and that god hates us and our way of life. They do it because they want to help us change — very altruistic, and also completely harmless. The best way to counter-act something that ridiculous is to show everyone just how ridiculous their message actually is. An action along the line of Harvard’s would have be appropriate.

But instead, Brandeis acted like their message was serious, not ridiculous, and thus legitimized the message. The WBC is small-fry, they are not something worth being scared of. If we want to rally the community in a serious way, there are serious groups that are real threats that more or less espouse the same message. For instance, just up the road are the headquarters of Mass Resistance, a Waltham-based political anti-gay hate group – those guys are a real threat.

Next time, lets take the Harvard route.

JVP and BSJP publish Zine for Occupation Awareness Week

Hey folks,

On the eve of the first ever Israeli Occupation Awareness Week at Brandeis, Jewish Voice for Peace and Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine are proud to present their self-published magazine supplement to the week.

With contributions from Liza Behrendt, Renana Gal, Lev Hirschhorn, Madeleine Stix, Jon Sussman, and Paraska Tolan, this zine brings grassroots activism back to its origins, the printing press!

There are articles on the separation wall, the refugee crisis, housing demolitions and more!

Click here to download.

The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere – A Left-Wing Approach to Anti-Semitism

I want to share here with the Brandeis community one of my favorite pieces written on the matter of anti-Semitism within left-wing movements. Unlike most commentaries on this matter, it actually comes from the left.

It’s a pamphlet entitled: The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Antisemitism Part of All of Our Movements by April Rosenblum. The pamphlet is 32 pages long, but it’s an easy and fast read that I really think is worth it. Myself I am a left-wing student of Jewish History and have found this pamphlet highly informative, interesting and useful.

Continue reading “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere – A Left-Wing Approach to Anti-Semitism”

Constitutional Review Committee Releases Final Report

After months of meeting behind closed doors, the Constitutional Review Committee has released its final report.

In a previous post, I discussed how critical it was to change the Union to make it a less self-important body. While the changes recommended the Constitutional Review Committee fall short of where I’d like – they certainly do take some interesting and important steps forward.

Some highlights:

Continue reading “Constitutional Review Committee Releases Final Report”

Fuck the Student Union

No, really, fuck the Student Union. In this post, I will thoroughly bash the Student Union. I’ll offer my insight as a former Union insider and then conclude with some ideas on how to make it better. This will be a long post, but the jist of it can be summarized in the title. For those who don’t know my experience with the Union, I spent a year in the Senate and another semester (last semester in fact) on the Executive Board.

For those who have not yet seen the news, the results are in from the special election. We’re headed for a run-off election for Secretary… and Diana Aronin is by far the favorite to win. That’s right, in a giant “Screw You” to the Student Union – as the Facebook group dedicated to her write-in campaign proclaims – students overwhelming support reinstating the impeached Secretary.

Continue reading “Fuck the Student Union”

“Disproportionate Use of Force” Used Against Protesters at the Goldstone Event

Today, I and a number of other students (the exact number I do not know – I estimate conservatively around twenty) stood briefly during Dore Gold’s speech during the debate (regardless of what the organizers say, this was a debate). Surely many believe that this was inappropriate and rude – and for the most part I agree, but I also think that we had an important message.

Justice Richard Goldstone is one of the most credible sources on the matter of War Crimes. He’s investigated crimes in South Africa, Rwanda, the Balkans and other hot-spots of violence. If anyone knows what a war crime is, it’s Justice Goldstone. To further add to his credibility as a neutral investigator, he is a long-time Zionist. Yet this man was pitted against a “pro-Israel” speaker – putting him in the uncomfortable position of being “anti-Israel,” which he most certainly is not. Just two weeks ago Dan Meridor was allowed to speak uncontested by a speaker from a different narrative – Goldstone should have been afforded the same respect. I am certainly not opposed to discussion and debate, but this event lopsided the discussion. No Palestinians were invited to speak and thus the Palestinian narrative was excluded from this event.

This is what we were protesting. Taped to our shirts we had the names of both Israeli and Palestinian civilian victims of the Gaza War. We stood silently – for just a few moments to let the audience know our discontent.

Though I myself was not harmed or attacked in anyway – many of my fellow protesters were physically violated for their peaceful protest. One protester commented that after she sat back down, the person in front of her repeatedly pushed their chair back against her. Another said that she was repeatedly slapped lightly by her neighbors. Yet another said that while standing she was shoved and her hair was pulled. This is most certainly a disturbing use of force, and in my mind takes away any sort of moral high-ground the right-wing might have gained from us being ‘rude.’

All of this makes me think. We live in a world where culture dictates that when we feel ‘wronged’ it is acceptable to use violence to make things right.

I have a lot of sympathy for the people of Sderot who lived in terror due to the rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza. When Israel invaded Gaza this winter – it did so to put a stop to the rocket fire. It did so under the assumption that it is acceptable to use force to right a wrong. Whether or not the invasion of Gaza did temporarily stop the rocket fire, but it did nothing to bring about a long term peace.

Hamas and other terrorist organizations fall into the same problem. They feel wronged by Israel and then think it is acceptable to use violence to make things right. Sixty years of on-and-off war has proven that this method does nothing – it hardens your enemies hatred of you and leaves behind a trail of dead civilians.

The people of Israel are scared and angry. The people of Palestine are scared and desperate. Both sides must come to realize that a failure to recognize how they have wronged the other and the use of violence will only prolong the conflict. Regardless of whether or not Israel acted ethically in Operation Cast Lead, the invasion angered Palestinians and destroyed their already weak economy, infrastructure, and usable farmland. The people of Gaza have nothing, there is very little work, very little food, very little to do. It does not surprise me that many of them turn to terrorism.

As a proud Zionist, I am determined to see the State of Israel survive this conflict. The use of force is simply a short-term strategy for creating an uneasy peace. To end the conflict, Israel must work to improve economic and living conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza. The first step is to lift the crippling economic blockade of Gaza. They must withdraw all settlements from the West Bank and East Jerusalem so that Palestinians can also have the right to self-determination. Though many may claim that these actions are counter-productive to Israel’s short-term security (they are not), in the long-run they are absolutely critical to creating a lasting peace.

Both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian people must cease using force as a means to achieve change. It cannot and will not work.

This is why I stood up today – to protest the use of violence. In using force against us, the right-wingers who opposed us achieved nothing. Yes, we were antagonistic, but we stood up for what we believed in and then peacefully sat back down.

An Opportunity to Give Feedback on Dining

Andy Hogan has sent out his first email to the “Involved Students” listserve, it includes a link to a mybrandeis survey asking for student opinions on dining.

The last question is a space for us to say what we would like to see. Thomas from the Brandeis Labor Coalition suggests:

where it asks “what’s important to you” say: the job security of dining hall workers! Show ’em Brandeis students care about the people who cook and serve our food.

What else do we want? Another dining location? More locally grown food? More vegan options???

Fill it out!

UJ Finds for Student Union!

Win for the Brandeis Community!

Judgment of the Court:

This Court was unable to come to any majority opinion, meaning that no single decision or rationale gained the support of a majority of the Justices. When such a situation occurs, we issue a plurality opinion, which has been explained thus: “When a fragmented Court decides a case… the holding of the Court may be viewed as that position taken by those Members who concurred in the judgments on the narrowest grounds” (Marks v. United States).

In judgment, this Court finds for the Respondent, the Student Union.
Held by Associate Justices Julia Sferlazzo, Judah Marans, and Matt Kriegsman

We direct the Secretary of the Student Union to hold the election for Racial Minority Senator as soon as possible in accordance with the Constitution.
Held by Associate Justices Julia Sferlazzo, Judah Marans, and Matt Kriegsman, and Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan

We further direct the Student Union President to ensure the constitutional review process scheduled for next academic year address the issue of positions that may only be held or voted for by registered racial minority students.
Held by Associate Justices Judah Marans, and Matt Kriegsman, and Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan

Associate Justices Julia Sferlazzo, Judah Marans, and Matt Kriegsman find in favor of the Student Union.

Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan finds in part for the Petitioners, but agrees in the judgment of this Court.

Associate Justice Jordan Rothman finds in favor of the Petitioners, Gideon Klionsky and Ryan McElhaney.

Continue reading “UJ Finds for Student Union!”

Trial Today

For those interested. Klionsky and McElhaney v. The Student Union will take place today at 3:30 in the Art Gallery.

I won’t be there myself, but I’m certain that innermostparts will be there to liveblog it.

Bill Ayers Tickets Go On Sale TONIGHT (4/20)!

To the Brandeis Community:

On Thursday, April 30th, Bill Ayers, Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-founder of the radical anti-war group, The Weather Underground, will speak on social justice movements and lessons from the anti-war movement. The event will be held in the SCC Theater, and doors will open at 8:30.  An open question and answer session will follow.

TICKETS WILL GO ON SALE TONIGHT 4/20 AT THE DFA COFFEEHOUSE (9:30-12 PM in Chums), AND WILL BE AVAILABLE ALL WEEK IN USDAN.  The tickets will cost $5, are open to the Brandeis community ONLY, and require a valid Brandeis ID to purchase.  A total of 230 tickets will be available.  Email MGRUSZKO@BRANDEIS.EDU if you cannot buy them in Usdan, or if you are unable to pay the ticket price.

In the week prior to Ayers’ visit, DFA and SDS will hold two town hall meetings featuring a panel of Brandeis professors, for an open discussion of Ayers’ political and social implications in the U.S. and on this campus: at 7:00 in Lown Auditorium on Monday (4/27) and Wednesday (4/29).

This event is sponsored by Democracy for America, Students for a Democratic Society, the Brenda Meehan Social Justice Grant, and four academic departments: Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies; Education; History; and Social Justice, Social Policy.

Racial Minority Community Submits Amicus Brief

Dear Justices,

We are writing to you to ask that the case regarding the Senator for
Racial Minority Students be dismissed.

We feel that the position of Senator for Racial Minority Students
plays an important role in the minority community at Brandeis. This
position allows for the voices of minority students to be heard
through a person with which the community feels comfortable. People of
color on this campus are a small community with some unique needs, and
without a position in place to serve them, those needs would probably
not be met. Through representation, the racial minority community at
Brandeis can better be active participants in the larger Brandeis

We think that a discussion of these important issues in the student
body should take place, but we do not believe that a UJ case is the
proper venue in which to do so. This case in no way represents the
voices of the racial minority community. By suing the elections
commission, this case does not provide an outlet through which the
community of people of color can make their voices heard. It is
important that the minority community, as those most affected by a
decision about this position, be active participants in such
discussions. This position should not be disbanded without
consultation of the racial minority community.

Thank you for taking into consideration the voices of the racial
minority community of Brandeis University.

Kaamila Mohamed
Class of ‘11
Co-President, Brandeis Black Student Organization
Founder and Former President, Mixed Heritage Club

JV Souffrant
TYP ‘09

Jason Gray
Class of ‘10
Student Body President

Taisha Sturdivant
Class of ‘11
Black History Month Co-Coordinator, Black Student Organization

Virginia Ramos
Class of ’12

Marie Zazueta
Class of ‘11
Former E-Board Member, Mixed Heritage Club

Tanya Kostochka
Class of ’11
Co-President, Japanese Students Association

Jung Oh Ham
Class of ‘11
Former webmaster, Korean Student Association
ICC Staff

Shaina Gilbert
Class of ‘10
TYP Senator of 2006-2007
Executive Director of Women of Color Alliance (WOCA)
Co-President of Brandeis Black Student Organization

Ariella Silverstein-Tapp
Class of ‘09
Co-President, Adagio Dance Company
Co-President, HIPnosis Dance Team

Christina Luo
Class of ’11
Former Treasurer, Mixed Heritage Club

Liane Hypolite
Class of ‘10
E-Board Member, MLK and Friends

Beckie Choi
Class of ’11
Former Vice President, Korean Student Association

Lisa Hanania
Class of ’11
President, Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine
President, Arab Culture Club

Jillian Rexford
TYP Class of ‘09
Operating Director, Women of Color Alliance

Kayla Sotomil
Class of ‘10
Culture X Coordinator

Kenta Yamamoto
Class of ‘10
Co-president, Japanese Student Association

Stephanie A. Karol
Class of ‘12
President, Mixed Heritage Club

Alex Luo
Class of ‘11
Former Secretary of the Mixed Heritage Club

Jordan Rothman Must Recuse

On August 29, 2008, in a column entitled “Celebrating Racial Diversity is Pointless” Jordan Rothman, Justice of the Union Judiciary wrote in the Hoot:

Celebrating racial diversity does not accomplish its stated mission of bringing greater perspectives and experiences to intellectual discourse. One way in which it fails is that not all members of racial minority groups have different backgrounds simply due to their race. Blacks as well as Whites can come from the inner city, just as members of all races can hail from differing walks of life. It is therefore unfair and inaccurate to believe that minorities have a different perspective simply due to ethnicity. Furthermore, even if an increased perspective was present, I have no idea how it would benefit the community. It is not like open debate on monumental issues occurs regularly in the classroom or around campus. Nor is it as if cultural values and perspectives make an impression upon our intellects through osmosis. I fail to recognize any benefits from interacting with people of different racial backgrounds, as I have little to gain and do not see how this benefit can be conveyed.

I think he’s wrong, but that’s beside the point. As a Justice, Jordan will have the power to cast a deciding vote on the issue of whether or not the positions of Racial Minority Senator and F-Board representative can exist. Though I cannot find any public comment from Jordan on the positions themselves, his Hoot columns clearly show that he believes ‘racial diversity is pointless.’ He has already made his beliefs obvious and public and thus should recuse himself from the case.

Injustice to Racial Minorities

For those who saw the announcement, Ryan McElhaney and Gideon Klionsky are suing the Elections Commission for prohibiting white students from participating in the election of the Racial Minority Senator and Racial Minority member of F-Board. Astonishingly, the Union Judiciary has agreed to hear the case against the Elections Commission.

This is problematic on so many levels. Whatever you feel about the position of the Racial Minority Senator the fact that the UJ, a body comprised of five white individuals, can dismantle the position without any input from the student body is outrageous. To make it worse, the parties most affected by the potential ruling, racial minority students, have absolutely no say in the process. The named respondent in the case is the Elections Commission, which probably doesn’t give a damn about the position to begin with. This case is subverting the Democratic process and allowing five white justices to decide the fate of representation of racial minority students.
Continue reading “Injustice to Racial Minorities”

A Challenge to the Racial Minorty Senator and F-Boarder

bumped -Sahar

Woah. I don’t have time to comment on this just yet.

But breaking news, the UJ has agreed to hear a case on whether or not the positions of Senator for Racial Minority Students and F-Board Representative for Racial Minority Students are inherently discriminatory.

A fascinating case. I’ll offer my full commentary when I’m not writing a paper. The full text of the order granting cert is below.

Continue reading “A Challenge to the Racial Minorty Senator and F-Boarder”

Iowa Court Legalizes Same Sex Marriage!

I know we don’t like posting non-Brandeis related news on innermostparts usually, but I felt compelled to post this article.

The jist: At the end of this month, gay and lesbian couples in Iowa will be able to legally marry. A sure victory for the gay rights movement. Iowa joins the likes of Massachusetts and Connecticut in allowing same-sex marriage. Iowa is also an important victory as it is the first non-coastal state to legalize it. Iowa may be a blue state, but it is still middle-America.

Here at Brandeis we fought Proposition 8, and will fight next year to repeal it, in the name of civil rights for all. This is a victory for the movement, with work we can bring the entire nation to legalize same sex marriage by 2020.

Elections Today: Pigasus for Dictator!

In case you didn’t get the Email from Tia, or the facebook messages from every candidate on the planet, or otherwise live under a rock….

Elections are today!

DFA endorsed the following slate of candidates:

Andy Hogan – President
Nathan Robinson – Vice President
Diana Aronin – Secretary
Daniel Acheampong – Treasurer
Sahar Massachi – Representative to the Board of Trustees
Jourdan Cohen – Representative to the Alumni Association
Maia Gallagher-Siudzinski [WRITE-IN] – Representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee

I, on the other hand, wrote in Pigasus for President.

Vote wisely. These people are going to have a lot of power and will determine the fate of the University. Just kidding, April Fools.

Brandeis Students Could Serve a Semester to Society

The latest idea to emerge from the CARS committees is a proposal for a required semester of Service to Society (STS). The proposal originates from the problem that Brandeis will face over the next five years as it increases enrollment from 3,200 to 3,700. Brandeis will have to figure where these students will live and where they will eat, on a campus that already has overcrowded dorms and long lines at dining halls.

This proposed solution would require every Brandeis student to spend one of his or her eight semesters off-campus engaging in some sort of public service. For many students this will mean an internship at a non-profit somewhere, for others it could mean intensive scientific research. During this semester students would earn the course credit equivalent to taking two or three courses, and pay tuition at a reduced rate (perhaps to the tune of 60%). The STS semester could be completed during summer vacation, enabling students to graduate in three and a half years. Or it could be taken during the regular academic school year, ensuring a normal four-year graduation time.

Continue reading “Brandeis Students Could Serve a Semester to Society”

Faculty Votes Overwhelmingly to Discuss Rose Decision With Stakeholders!

Unlike last week’s closed door faculty meeting, the authorties have agreed to let campus media in to report on the meeting. was granted a seat to report on the proceedings. I will give a full report on the meeting later, but I’d like to give a brief update while the Deans of IBS and Heller report.

The Faculty voted, by a margin of 104-11-12 to accept a resolution proposed by John Plotz and Elizabeth Ferry that would create a committee that includes all the relevent stakeholders to discuss the status of the Rose Art musem. This was a protest by the faculty against the shutting out of the community in the decision making process regarding the closing of the Rose Art. Some of the faculty who spoke in favor of the resolution were just as angry as we were and they made it clear that they wanted to have a say in the process.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the faculty are some of our greatest allies in the fight to have our voices heard.

Full wording of the resolution after the jump.

Continue reading “Faculty Votes Overwhelmingly to Discuss Rose Decision With Stakeholders!”

A Summary of Today’s Forum

For those who didn’t get the memo, today President Jehuda Reinharz, Chief Financial Officer Peter French, and Provost Marty Krauss held an open forum with students in Sherman Function Hall. It wasn’t an ideal situation, the forum was only announced the evening before and it was held during a time when most students have classes. Furthermore, it was held in middle of an ugly storm (at least from the perspective of this California native). Yet despite the challenges in organizing the event, over two hundred students (according to the Student Union) turned out to ask the President some questions. I can say with confidence that this forum was the direct result of student activism, both on the part of the Student Union as well as the Brandeis Budget Cut Committee.

A full audio version of the forum is available on the website of the Brandeis Hoot.

Right away President Reinharz opened the meeting by announcing that this will not be the last forum, that more forums will be held for those unable to attend. He then passed the podium off to Peter French who presented a detailed slideshow (the same one presented to the Faculty and Board of Trustees in December) outlining Brandeis’s budget problems for the next five fiscal years.

The first problem he addressed was the problem of a structural deficit. That is to say,

the needs and aspirations [of the university] exceed assets and annual revenues.

As a result, for the last few decades Brandeis has been relying on large gifts to pay for its operations and it has been dipping into its endowment to pay its bills. This is only a serious problem if the University is pulling more than 5% out of its endowment annually – which for many years they were – because after this point, the endowment would cease to grow. President Reinharz built a reserve fund ( a sort of ‘savings account’ which could be dipped into and potentially fully exhausted in times of financial trouble) worth about $100 million during his tenure at Brandeis, and without it we’d be in even more trouble than we are right now. Despite this, French estimates the reserve fund will be depleted by FY 2010-2011, in order to pay for the deficits of the next two years.

In short, Brandeis has been in a fragile financial situation for quite some time, and the combination of the economy crash and the Madoff scandal put Brandeis into a state of financial crisis. (though Brandeis was not invested in Madoff’s funds directly, as was Tufts, many of our wealthy Jewish donors like Carl Shapiro were scammed out of hundreds of millions).

Continue reading “A Summary of Today’s Forum”

Boston Globe Reports on Struggle for Input

The flurry of attention Brandeis has recieved in the last few days has allowed major newspapers to report on the main issue, the lack of student input in the decision making process here at the University.

The Boston Globe today has an article today entitled “Crisis Raises Questions on Brandeis Campus.”

The article quotes Professor Andreas Teuber, who says, “There was a ripple throughout the entire faculty of feeling hoodwinked.”

The article also quotes Carrie Mills and Alex Melman, editor & writer for and both leaders in the Brandeis Budget Cuts Coalition. Carrie says, “We were left in the dark. We certainly feel marginalized as a whole. It feels like there’s a brick wall between us and the administration, and nothing is getting through.”

Alex says, “To close the Rose is a terrible loss to the university, and to auction off its collection as a cost-saving measure is tragic.”

Now that major media is covering the issue, now is the time for students to make a stand and demand input on all major financial decisions. We are clearly making progress, but we must continue to fight for our voice.

Three Cool Events (Not Budget Related)

As the Budget Cut Crisis continues, it is important to remember that life at the University still goes on, and there are other activists causes and events going on that should get our attention.

First up, DFA is hosting a Student Health Organizing Coalition (SHOC) Training on Wednesday evening (January 28) at 9 PM in Pearlman Lounge. SHOC is a Tufts based coalition that is working to reform Student Health insurance plans in the State of Massachusetts. This is a great opportunity to network with activists from other schools and learn how we can change the health care system in this state. For more information: see Facebook.

Next up, the Social Justice Committee of the Student Union is having its first meeting of the semester on Thursday at 10 PM in the Union office. The Committee can work on any number of social justice projects as it pleases. So come to the meeting armed with ideas and a sense of passion.

Finally, on January 31st, this Saturday night, the Student Union is hosting the Combating Hate Fundraising Dinner from 8 to 10 PM. The event is an all you can eat buffet, with entertainment provided by VoiceMale, Starving Artists, Mochila and the Step Team. Food provided by local restaurants. The price? $10. All of the money raised will be donated to the effort to help rebuild a black church in Springfield, MA burned down the night Barack Obama won the election.

Buy your ticket early in Usdan from 12-2 or 6-8 anytime this week!

Jason Gray’s Letter to the Faculty

Now made available to the public:

To the Faculty and Academic Administrators,

As the Student Government President, I have been given a unique vantage point on the realities of the University’s financial situation.  The budget gap that Brandeis faces is large, and its current and continuing impact on the Student Body and the future of our institution is very real.

I am not writing to advocate for a specific position on any of the proposed changes.  I am instead writing about the deliberative process that is being created to develop these changes.  It is of utmost importance that students are substantively involved as we determine what is structurally necessary to reduce costs and attract more students to Brandeis.

Real, constructive student input in generating ideas, obtaining feedback, and making decisions will lead to better choices for all those who hold a stake in Brandeis’ future.  We know how these changes will impact our academic lives, our social lives, and our college experience.  We know how it would impact Brandeis’ ability to recruit future students. We also know what makes the Brandeis student unique – and what we all need to do to protect what makes this place special.

The students who gathered outside the faculty meeting today spoke what many others believe: Community-involvement in the decision-making process is not only beneficial, it is just.

I would like to propose that students be included in all academic committees that are established to evaluate different proposals, create solutions, and deliberate various ideas.  The appropriate mechanisms already exist to quickly provide qualified student representatives for these different committees. I further hope that we can determine the best way to provide accessible, comprehensive information about all of this to the Student Body at large.

I respect and appreciate the unique expertise of the faculty in dealing with the problems ahead, and I understand the immense impact that any changes may have on your lives and careers.  Also, I know how engaged the faculty has been in ensuring that the best interests of the University and its students are kept in mind during this difficult time.  On behalf of the Student Body, I deeply thank you.

I, and the students of Brandeis, look forward to working with you to make the best of this situation. I hope to discuss soon the best ways to substantively integrate students into the coming process.

Thank you for everything you do.

Yours in Service,

Jason Gray ‘10
Student Union President

The President’s Principles

This document was given to Innermost Parts by President Reinhartz shortly following the faculty meeting and the student demonstration outside. They were given to the faculty to show Brandeis’ commitment to preserve the elements that make this a great institution.


I have my own thoughts about these which I will post tomorrow. What do you guys think?

Zionists for Peace

As a Jewish American I find myself struggling to find a place in the anti-war movement against Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip. Last evening I went with a small contingent of Brandeis Students to attend a demonstration in front of the Israeli Consulate which then marched over to the Massachusetts State House. I wanted to go to voice my opposition to attacks. Personally I believe that the strike on Gaza has killed far too many innocent civilians and is ultimately bad for Israel’s long-term security (though it undoubtedly has a short-term benefit).

Even though I knew what I would find when I got there, I still found the protest very disturbing. I was bothered when the marchers freely chanted about ‘genocide’ and ‘holocaust’ in the Gaza Strip, but I was willing to stay in the march because I still agreed with the goal of ending the war. I became really uncomfortable when the chanters with the megaphone began to yell, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!” I support the State of Israel, proudly. I’m a Zionist, I believe that it is important for the Jews to have a homeland; and even if I weren’t, I would still recognize that six million Jews live in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and they aren’t going to go anywhere. The lesson learned from the creation of the State of Israel should be that no one people can control that entire land; which is why I, like most other Jews, support the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories.

I left the march finally after a new chant began “Free Palestine! Long Live Palestine! Long Live the Intifada! Intifada Intifada!” I oppose the Intifada for the same reason why I oppose the attacks in Gaza; we have to create peace by peaceful means and not by war. The anti-war movement needs to welcome Jews and supporters of the State of Israel into the fold. There are countless Jewish organizations (Rabbis for Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, to name a few) that support peace and oppose the occupation.

I don’t know exactly how to conclude this, so I’ll put in a plug for an event. Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine are holding a vigil for the victims in Gaza, this Tuesday (Inauguration Day!) at 6 PM in Upper Usdan. I’d urge everyone who supports peace to attend.

What Has Been Cut?

This post is written by the members of SDS and people who attended Radical Film Night (every wednesday at 9 PM in Pearlman 202)!

What has been cut? As we sit in this room, we’ve found ourselves upset with the the large number of programs that have been cut in response to the budget crisis. We understand that programs do need to be cut, but we are upset with the lackof communication and consultation with students.

Here are the programs that we either know have been cut, think have been cut, or have heard that they are talking about cutting:

The Pool

The Stein (maybe, student workers have been told they will be cut)

Language 30 levels (this is being discussed)

USEM classes

Funding for  Programming at Prospect Hill Terrece

Future Leonard Bernstein Quartet scholarships

Community Engaged Learning Programming

Midyear Dorms (they won’t be renovating a dorm for midyears)

This list isn’t neccesarily accurate, much of it is based on rumor and speculation. It is not an all-inclusive list. What programs of yours have been cut? What should be cut?

Protect Marriage Equality in California!

If you guys haven’t heard about Proposition 8 yet, here is the deal: Currently California is one of three states that has legalized gay marriage. For the last few months gay couples have been able to go to city hall and get married to someone they love, just like any other couple. Proposition 8 would annul those marriages and ban marriage entirely for same-sex couples.

It must be defeated.

Want to do something about it? Great. Come to the phonebank tonight after the Presidential Debate (10:30 PM) in the Shapiro Campus Center (2nd floor, outside of the multi-purpose room). Help us call undecided voters in California to protect marriage equality.

Waterbottles and Newspapers: Reporting From the Senate

I just wanted to share with the communinty a few items of interest that were brought up in tonight’s senate meeting.

Firstly, a few weeks ago Nathan Robinson wrote angrily about the lack of free newspapers on campus. He said:

WTF? Where did the papers go? Why can’t I grab a Times in the morning? How are we supposed to keep ourselves informed on The Issues Of The Day? By reading The Hoot? Surely not! Perhaps Innermost Parts can equip us with our basic knowledge, but surely the New York Times is a good way to supplement the wisdom of Sahar and the gang.

I have good news for you Nathan! According to the Student Union Treasurer, Max Wallach, the Newspapers will be back tomorrow! If they aren’t, feel free to pepper Max with emails complaining about why they are not there.

Secondly, the results of the water bottle survey are out. 1284 students responded to the survey with the overwhelming majority, 80.3% voting in favor of reducing the sale and distribution of waterbottles on campus. More news to follow when a new waterbottle policy is crafted and released by the University.

Brandeis Activism in the Boston Globe

Yesterday I and twelve other Brandeis Students traveled to Boston to join thousands of others in a protest against the War in Iraq. It was actually quite exciting; we relaxed on the Boston Commons for awhile talking to strangers at various booths, listening to music and rousing speeches. In the afternoon, during the march, we joined up with students from various colleges in the Boston area as well as a large number of High School students and took to the streets.

Though it isn’t a great article, the Boston Globe, covered the event and quoted’s’ very own Liza Behrendt:

Liza Behrendt, a sophomore at Brandeis University, weaved through the crowds of antiwar paraphernalia and protesters dressed in a white Haz-Mat jumpsuit with a bright pink peace sign painted on the front and a Sharpie marker taped to the back. Behrendt said her “walking petition” outfit – she collected signatures on her back – was her effort to meet like-minded people outside her student group.
“Even if [the rally] doesn’t make concrete change, it energizes people,” said Behrendt, 19, who was disappointed only 13 students from her school attended. “How can people not be angry?”

I’m pretty angry; and I’m tired of this war. I hope to see more people at the next major demonstration.

Gay Rights March On

I used to be able to say that I lived in the only two states where Gay Marriage is allowed, Massachusetts and California. As of today this is no longer true; the Supreme Court of Connecticut has ruled that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional because it discriminates!

Three states now grant full rights to gay couples to marry, it is only a matter of time before they are joined by forty-seven others. This is an absolutely critical victory as it clearly marks that that allowing gay marriage is no longer something that just a small handful of states are doing, this is now a nationwide movement that is winning.

Next up on the agenda? Defeating Proposition 8 in California. Should gay marriage be overturned in California, it could set the movement back five to ten years.

The Hoot Got it Wrong: There is no Debate, There is no Party.

As an active member of the Student Union and a writer for the article in “The Hoot,” by Ariel Wittenberg, about the blog disturbed me. The premise of the article was based on one post by Phil Lacombe ’10, who tried to claim that a Brandeis Progressive Party had been formed and was gaining power in the Student Union. This claim is simply false; to my knowledge there is no Progressive Party, and if it exists it has no members in the Brandeis Student Union. Unfortunately, Wittenberg chose to portray the ‘party’ as though it were a debate. She writes, “The issue of whether or not Innermost Parts constitutes a Political Party is one that neither the writers of the blog nor other Student Union members agree upon.” Having spoken with the other alleged members of this ‘party,’ I know that there is no debate; there simply is no party, no question about it.

So why then are writers and members of the community running for positions in the Student Union? I would think it is rather obvious; we are people who are concerned with issues on Brandeis and want to be able to do something about them. That’s why we write for and that’s why we work in the Student Union. We have no unified agenda other than the same agenda that all members of the Student Union share; we want to make Brandeis better. By portraying us as a political party, Wittenberg simply creates more divides than necessary in the Student Union; we need to be able to work with our colleagues without them thinking we have a hidden agenda. I was simply amazed that Wittenberg failed to interview any of the members of the Senate she and Lacombe accused of being a part of this ‘party,’ perhaps then she would have understood that there is no debate; there simply is no party.

Social Justice Committee Meeting a Success!

Ben Brandzel ’03 created the Social Justice Committee with the purpose of allowing the Brandeis Student Union to take on social justice projects; to make Brandeis and the community around us better. This semester we started off great with a meeting this last Thursday. Though we have not yet decided on a project to take on this semester, we came up with a rough list of ideas for where to begin:

–    Something with the Ethics Center
–    The Prospect Hill Community Center
–    Gender Neutral Housing
–    Social Justice Event with the College of Arts and Sciences
–    Know Your Rights trainings
–    Admissions/Financial Aid/TYP
–    Sweatshop-Free
–    Endowment Transparency

At our next meeting, on October 16 at 9 PM, we’ll narrow this list down, decide on a mission statement, and decide on the non-Senate chair of the committee. I was elected Senator because people wanted me to take on social justice projects, and this is the best outlet for us to take advantage of the resources provided by the Student Union to create change.