The New York Times profiles obnoxious Brandeis grad Martin Peretz

The New York Times has an in-depth feature on Brandeis alumnus Martin Peretz, the former editor-in-chief of The New Republic magazine. It can be found here. The article is entitled “Martin Peretz is Not Sorry About Anything,” which is basically polite code for “Martin Peretz is a Tremendous Asshole,” which he most assuredly is. But it’s a good article, with plenty of Peretzian racism, sexism, and overall pompousness scattered throughout. And Brandeis does, perhaps embarrassingly, receive a brief mention.

Professor Anita Hill receives bizarre voicemail from Justice Thomas’s wife

Heller School Professor Anita Hill is a distinguished scholar of law and social policy, but unfortunately is remembered mostly for her damning testimony at Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings in 1991. Then, Hill spoke of the sexual harassment she received from Thomas during their tenure together Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Now, 20 years later, Prof. Hill’s courageous decision to testify is still following her. We might have thought that the disparaging accusations in Clarence Thomas’s 2007 memoir would mark the end of Prof. Hill’s troubles, but it seems not. According to the New York Times, at 7:30 AM on Sunday, Oct. 9th Justice Thomas’s wife, Virginia Thomas, left a message on Hill’s answering-machine. It went like this:

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband… So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.”

The Times reports that after a week of deliberation, Hill turned the message over to the Brandeis police, believing it to be a prank, due to the timing (7:30 on a Sunday morning) and the overall oddness.

Only Prof. Hill and Justice Thomas know the reality of what transpired at the EEOC, of course, so I can’t possibly judge the merit of Hill’s original accusations. None of us can. But I do have a few thoughts, based on what can be known:

1. It’s nice to see Brandeis in the newspaper again.
2. I think it’s time Anita Hill was finally left alone to get on with her career. The disgusting and relentless pursuit of her that started in 1991 and seemingly never ends, sends a very poor message to other potential victims of sexual harassment who may be debating whether or not to speak out. This holds no matter what the truth of the original incident was.
3. Virginia Thomas can’t possibly have any proof of whether Hill’s allegations were true, other than her husband’s devoted love, so why cause a confrontation?
4. And why do it at 7:30 on a Sunday morning?

This story is very strange indeed. But I think the best way we can react is to NOT THINK OF ANITA HILL AS THE WOMAN CLARENCE THOMAS MAY HAVE SEXUALLY HARASSED, AND START THINKING OF HER AS A RESPECTED SCHOLAR. We must manage the attention we pay to these cases in a way that does everything it can not to ruin the life of the victim, lest every other victim remain silent.

If you can’t tell, the Anita Hill case has been a sore spot of mine for a long time. I don’t like it that her accusations weren’t taken more seriously, and that Thomas wound up on the court. And I don’t like it that she can’t get past the incident and live a normal life.

Brandeis’s Fourth-Most Infamous Grad Goes Hollywood

Brandeis alumnus Jack Abramoff ’81 (the right-wing influence-peddler and felon who, if you’ll remember, bilked Native American tribes out of millions of dollars in fees while secretly lobbying against the tribes in order to extract even more exorbitant fees) is the star of a new film, Casino Jack. He’s played by Kevin Spacey! You can watch the trailer here. I suggest we have a big movie-outing together when the film is released in December, to celebrate the newfound Hollywood stardom of our proud Brandeisian brother. I wrote Abramoff a letter in prison once, asking him about his time at Brandeis and whether as a former head of the College Republicans he had any advice to offer an aspiring conservative with an interest in a lobbying career. He never responded, but I don’t hold it against him, and would still be proud to see a fellow product of our institution up there on the silver screen.

Oh, and for those curious, my personal Top Five list of infamous (at least in the eyes of the Establishment) Brandeis alumni is: Angela Davis, Katherine Ann Power, Susan Saxe, Jack Abramoff, Aafia Siddiqui.

Announcing a Glorious Compendium of Paperback Wisdom

Good evening, Innermost Parts friends. Ordinarily I would regard the act I am about to commit as somewhat morally unsound, but as I do it in my own financial interest I am suppressing my inner objections.

My compatriot and classmate Oren Nimni and I have written a book. It is entitled Blueprints for a Sparkling Tomorrow: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream It can be examined here, at, where it is currently the #117,529th bestselling book.

I post this here because the book is mildly political, though it is “radical” only in the sense that it rejects civilization outright. It is a book of meditations on contemporary human problems, and proposed solutions to those problems. A deeply introspective and professional work, it comes with a glossy cover and a number of well-placed footnotes.

And so, for just $11.99, you get 236 pages of intelligent discourse and witty retorts. As you read, you will slide lithely toward the Future, and while your tomorrows may or may not sparkle, you will certainly emerge from the book having read it.

There is not yet a law requiring you buy this book, but I strongly recommend you do so. And all those who write reviews will be given complimentary pastries. (This only applies to intellectually honest reviews. Reviewers who spew accusations and falsehoods will go pastry-less)


In an email sent 10  minutes ago, Board of Trustees chair Malcolm Sherman announced that Frederick M. Lawrence of the George Washington University School of Law will be the next President of Brandeis University effective Jan 1, 2011. Below is Lawrence’s bio from GW, as well as the text of the email:

Frederick Lawrence came to GW Law as dean in August 2005. One of the nation’s leading civil rights experts, he is the author of, Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law, which examines bias-motivated violence and how the United States deals with such crimes. He has written widely in the areas of civil rights crimes and free expression.

Dean Lawrence began his legal career in 1980 as clerk to Judge Amalya L. Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Later, he was named an assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, where he became chief of the office’s civil rights unit. In 1988, he joined the faculty of Boston University School of Law where he taught courses on civil procedure, criminal law, civil rights enforcement, and civil rights crimes. He also served as the school’s associate dean for academic affairs from 1996 to 1999. In 1996 he received Boston University’s Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, the university’s highest teaching honor.

Dean Lawrence has been a senior visiting research fellow with the University College London Faculty of Law and has studied bias crimes law in the United Kingdom through a Ford Foundation grant. He has lectured nationally and internationally about bias crime law and testified before Congress in support of federal hate crimes legislation on several occasions – most recently in 2007 – and concerning Justice Department misconduct in Boston.

In 2004, he was a member of the American delegation to the meeting of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Enactment and Enforcement of Legislation to Combat Hate-Motivated Crimes and in 2009 he delivered the keynote address to the OSCE meeting on hate crime law enforcement. From 2003 to 2006, he served as chair of the National Legal Affairs Committee of the Anti-Defamation League. Dean Lawrence also has performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with the New York Choral Society.

July 8, 2010

Members of the Brandeis Community,

It gives me great pleasure to announce that, at its meeting today, the board of trustees unanimously and enthusiastically elected Frederick M. Lawrence, dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, to succeed Jehuda Reinharz as the eighth president of Brandeis University starting Jan. 1, 2011.

President-elect Lawrence is widely recognized as one of our nation’s top civil rights experts. He has written eloquently about a broad range of important legal and constitutional issues and is the author of “Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law.” Fred also has co-authored a number of Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs, including the brief on behalf of civil rights groups in Virginia v. Black (2003) concerning the constitutionality of Virginia’s cross-burning statutes. He has served as chair of the National Legal Affairs Committee of the Anti-Defamation League and is a trustee of Williams College, his alma mater. From 1988 to 2005, he was a member of the faculty and academic administration at Boston University School of Law, and in 1996 he received Boston University’s Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest of the university’s teaching awards.

Fred impressed the members of the board with his strong record of academic scholarship and administration, as well as personal ideals and professional accomplishments that reflect the values of Justice Louis Brandeis and the university’s commitment to social justice and social action. In his meetings with trustees, faculty, students and senior officers, Fred demonstrated a strong commitment to liberal arts education and a clear understanding of and appreciation for Brandeis’ unique character, its Jewish heritage and its mission, which he aptly characterized as a “research college and a teaching university.” The board also noted his record of effective fundraising, both in this country and abroad.

Fred has a warm and winning personal style and a long record of engaging effectively with faculty, students, alumni and members of the extended communities with which he has worked. He is an outstanding successor to President Jehuda Reinharz, and I know that all members of the Brandeis community join with me in welcoming Fred Lawrence to this very special university.


Malcolm L. Sherman
Chair, Board of Trustees

To read the full announcement and a profile of Fred, watch video interviews, leave a welcome message and more, please visit

Who Shall We Choose as NEXT Year’s Commencement Speaker?

So the class of 2010 has gone forth into the world, and the Michael Oren issue is now moot. But we should immediately begin discussing next year’s commencement. Supposedly the administration considers nominations for commencement speaker from the class. I suggest we take them up on this, and come up with a few speakers we’d like to see.

I’ve put together a list of living people I wouldn’t mind having give the address for my class. I think we should have a little chat about them. Submit your own suggestions!

Germaine Greer
Harold Koh
Barbara Smith
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Robert Coover
Dave Andrews
Uri Gordon
Ed Sanders
Anthony Romero
Gore Vidal
bell hooks
Cornel West
John Barth
Janet Biehl
Duncan Kennedy
Slavoj Žižek
Angela Davis
Nadine Strossen
Pete Seeger
Tariq Ali
Mark Green
George Galloway

Of course, if we think the selection of Michael Oren means that we should be as extremely politically controversial as possible, we could lobby for Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and Noam Chomsky.

But my personal absolute favorites from the list are Germaine Greer and Cornel West. I definitely want someone colorful and fiery. Anyway, we really need to get on this, or else the administration will give us someone insipid like George Stephanopoulos or Wolf Blitzer. Or maybe they’ll stick their finger in our eye again and bring Alan Dershowitz.

Voting is now open

Here’s the link to the voting on the Brandeis Sustainability Fund amendment:

There is also an unopposed election for UCC rep on there.

I encourage everyone to vote on this very important decision. I’ve said my piece against the amendment, so I will not spew my views further. But you really ought to vote on this, no matter which way you lean.

Why You Ought to Vote AGAINST the “Brandeis Sustainability Fund”

So the SEA kids are trying to get us to subsidize their cause by giving $50,000 a year to a new “sustainability” board. Here is a summary of what the proposed $7.50 per semester fee would do. The Facebook event lists such worthy proposals as a “Green themed Pachanga,” “shower minders,” and “energy efficient exercise equipment,” whatever that means (It also lists improving DeisBikes twice, as if the writers were running out of ideas). Of course, these are only suggestions. The actual project has no specifics whatsoever, and depends on whatever students come up with after the fee has been passed. We don’t actually know whether this enormous pile of money we’re giving would have any real benefit, because there are no actual concrete plans.

I don’t like this at all. Firstly, I think it’s morally reprehensible to prioritize the sort of small improvements suggested on the Facebook over the livelihoods of Brandeis workers. Our university is in the midst of a particularly precarious financial time, and the administration has gotten rid of staff in addition to announcing a reduction of faculty by 10%. This money could save a job. I think it would be utterly despicable to spend more money on bicycles and Pachanga (which are already very well funded), when we could rally to save the livelihood of a Brandeis worker. Shame on SEA for prioritizing politics over people.

I also think this is an unfair way of pushing an agenda. All clubs have the same pool of resources to draw from, yet SEA is greedily attempting to squeeze more money out of students. Yes, I know, I know, Mr. Waizer, they’re not the ones on the board, and it’s independent. But it’s their proposal. In fact, the official summary linked to above bears ONLY the names of SEA members. And we all know what club’s members will have the best qualifications for a seat on the new board. It’s independent on paper, sure, but the entire proposal is being created and lobbied for by SEA, and serves their club’s purposes.

$7.50 may not seem like a vast amount, but it’s hardly negligible, and if other factions pick up on this method (as they should, if it works!), we might see a deluge of new fee plans. And why should the Environmentalists get money and the Labor people not? Why shouldn’t we have a special fund for the anti-genocide people or the AIDS groups or the Zionists? We can’t allow proponents of various causes to start levying their own fees on students, else we will erode the entire purpose of a communal fund. We really must get everyone out in force to vote NO on Monday. The fee should be optional or should not exist at all.

Former Brandeis Student Arrested for Bank Robbery

Somehow Sahar missed the most interesting story in this week’s Hoot, so here it is:

William Murphy, a 23 year old former Brandeis student (who did not graduate) apparently robbed a bank in Longmeadow, stealing $300,000 and storing the money at the Russell Street house of several current Brandeis students who are on the baseball team. The robbery occurred March 25th, and was allegedly carried out by Murphy and his younger brother. Also, the two were reportedly dropped off near Brandeis by a friend directly after the robbery.

More information in this week’s Hoot and at As a reminder, this is not the first time a Brandeis student has robbed a bank.

Left to right: Thomas and William Murphy Continue reading “Former Brandeis Student Arrested for Bank Robbery”

Another Petty, Stupid Union Lawsuit

If you’re interested, another round of self-important bloviating is set to begin in the Student Union. Once again, someone apparently violated some extraordinarily important bylaw, thereby throwing the entire University into chaos, and it’s up to those heroic souls at the Union Judiciary to restore order and sanity to a world gone mad.
Here is the text of the complaint filed with the UJ:
Petitioner Name: Marla Merchut & Nipun Marwaha
Party against whom the case is being brought: Supreetha Gubbala, Elections Commission
According to the ideals governing the ideas of a fair election all prospective candidates are required to sign-up prior to the meeting and then come to the mandatory candidate meeting and sign the campaign agreement.  And have a clear and present intention to run prior to the meeting.
Continue reading “Another Petty, Stupid Union Lawsuit”

Labor Laws and Unpaid Internships

There was a good article in yesterday’s New York Times about an issue I’m surprised has taken this long to be investigated: the possible illegality of unpaid internships. Apparently some people are finally getting concerned that unpaid internships at for-profit companies constitute free labor, and are therefore a violation of minimum-wage laws.

As it turns out, the Department of Labor has laid out six criteria for determining whether an internship can be legally be unpaid. The internship must:

1. Give training similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic
educational instruction, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the
2. Be for the benefit of the intern.
3. Not replace regular employees with interns.
4. Give the employer no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees/interns (and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded)
5. Not guarantee the interns a job at the end
6. Feature a mutual understanding by employer/intern that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

Continue reading “Labor Laws and Unpaid Internships”

Show the Brandeis turkeys more affection

You may have noticed that a small squadron of Turkeys has been wandering around Brandeis over the last few months, gobbling at people and generally adding a bit of joy to our lives. I haven’t a clue when or from where the turkeys originated, but they please me endlessly. I have, however, recently heard some of my fellow student suggest that the turkeys be killed and eaten. I find this a barbaric idea. Those who consider it should themselves be eaten. Personally, I find the turkeys adorable, and think they need names. What have your experiences with these gentle beasts been? Do you have any opinion on their continued survival? Do you have any suggestions for names?

Brandeis Students React to Obama Afghanistan Escalation

A BrandeisNOW reporter interviewed students (including Mr. Sahar Massachi and Mr. Nathan J. Robinson) about their opinions on President Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy. You can see the responses here, on the BrandeisNOW website. Even though I’m completely unqualified to make foreign policy pronouncements (as is everyone else on the video), I stand by what I said. WHAT ARE WE DOING IN AFGHANISTAN?!?!

A Better Waltham Hotel

I’d like to tell you briefly about the Crescent Suites Hotel. I know Innermost Parts is not typically an outlet for hotel reviews, but it’s nice to give locally-owned businesses a bit of publicity when they start up, especially when you have a positive experience with them. And boy, I sure do love the Crescent Suites Hotel. Please note: they are not paying me to say this. Nor am I friends with the owner. I’ve just noticed that everyone who visits Brandeis students tends to use the DoubleTree or one of the other corporate hotels up on Totten Pond Road. And they shouldn’t. My parents decided to experiment with the Crescent Suites, a brand new independent hotel started by a Waltham builder. And MAN, it’s great! Cheaper than the chain hotels, with more luxurious accommodations (a full-size kitchen and double plasma TVs in nearly every room), AND a Brandeis discount. Plus the owner is incredibly helpful and loves making people free cappuccinos. I swear, it’s fantastic. And cute. Just check out the collected reviews on Google Maps. If your parents visit, send ’em to the Crescent Suites.


Reinharz Response to Harper’s Article

Below is the text of Jehuda Reinharz’s response to the Brandeis article in the November issue of Harper’s magazine.

Dear Colleagues,

In their November 2009 issue, Harper’s Magazine published a story entitled Voodoo Academics: Brandeis University’s hard lesson in the real economy. In addition to being factually inaccurate, the article is insulting to all members of the Brandeis community as its assumptions about Brandeis and the higher education sector involve gross mischaracterizations.  There is a story behind their story and I want to share that with you firsthand.

Continue reading “Reinharz Response to Harper’s Article”

Infamous Harper’s Article About Brandeis Finances

The latest issue of Harper’s magazine (November 2009) has a two-page article on Brandeis’s finances written by Christopher Beha, which is highly critical of the University. It’s sparked a great deal of controversy among the faculty and administrators, and Pres. Reinharz has personally responded to it. Below is the article in its entirety. I’m not that impressed with it, not because I don’t agree that the University mishandled its finances, but because it is poorly-written and views Brandeis as unique among private universities when it is not. He seems to think it is unusual for a non-Ivy League school to charge a fortune for tuition, when this is the norm nationwide. But I’ll let you form your own reactions to it.

“Voodoo Academics: Brandeis University’s hard lesson in the real economy”

by Christopher R. Beha
Harper’s Magazine
November 2009

In January, Brandeis University, in Waltham,
Massachusetts, announced plans to close its on-campus
Rose Art Museum and sell much of the $350 million
permanent collection. Brandeis’s financial situation
was grim: its $85 million reserve fund could be spent
by 2011; there were $80 million in projected operating
deficits over the next five years; and the sixty-one-
year-old institution was $250 million in debt. How
could a school with an endowment that had in June 2008
been worth $712 million be forced to liquidate such a
prized resource? Over the past decade, Brandeis, like
many of its peer institutions, adopted the American
corporate principles of fiscal shortsightedness and
growth for- growth’s sake that provoked the current
economic fiasco. This map of Brandeis’s campus-
expansion projects since 1999 demonstrates what happens
when unbridled capitalism turns the marketplace of
ideas into a higher-educational superstore.

Continue reading “Infamous Harper’s Article About Brandeis Finances”

Reasons to be Cheerful, Pt. IV

Here’s a great reason for you to be cheerful: A Brandeis professor has discovered the world’s first vegetarian spider!

I just can’t think of anything that isn’t wonderful about this. The spider (bagheera kiplingi) is cute, too. I suggest we all send Prof. Eric J. Olson messages of congratulation.

Great author event today at 4:30

At 4:30 PM today, Hank Klibanoff, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, will be speaking about his book The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation. From the Facebook event:

Hank Klibanoff will discuss the subject of his book The Race Beat — namely, how, when, and why it is that the nation’s press, after decades of ignoring the civil rights violations that characterized the first half of the twentieth century in the United States, finally started to recognize the importance of the civil rights struggle…turning it, ultimately, into the most a significant domestic news “event” of the century.

I’m very excited for this, and hope to see you there. It’s in the Pollack Auditorium, which is right next to the Rose Art Museum (as you approach the Rose, it’s on the left).

Oh, and also today:

“Chasing your Dream: Pursuit to Higher Education”
– A panel discussion on challenges faced by racial minorities in the pursuit of higher education featuring Brandeis Faculty and a Harvard Law Student. 5:30pm, Pearlman Lounge.

The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation

New Yorker article reveals the history of Louis Brandeis and consulting

Harvard historian Jill Lepore (whose most recent book was co-authored with Brandeis history chair Jane Kamensky) has a great piece in this week’s New Yorker about Louis Brandeis and “scientific management.” As Lepore tells it, scientific management was a peculiar brand of charlatanism peddled by the first generation of business consultants. Supposedly a new way of increasing efficiency, and thereby profit, scientific management placed unreasonable demands on workers and disregarded their humanity and autonomy. Louis Brandeis became a strong supporter of the practice, because he naively felt that increased efficiency would leave workers more time for political activity. The unions, however, felt differently, and Brandeis briefly found himself at odds with workers, for perhaps the only time during his time as The People’s Attorney. From the article:

Modern-day management consulting may be precisely nine-tenths shtick and one-tenth Excel, but that doesn’t explain the appeal of scientific management for Louis Brandeis, who wasn’t easily duped…The man who wrote “The Curse of Bigness” earnestly believed—and plainly, to some degree, he was right—that scientific management would improve the lot of the little guy by raising wages, reducing the cost of goods, and elevating the standard of living. “Of all the social and economic movements with which I have been connected,” Brandeis wrote, “none seems to me to be equal to this in its importance and hopefulness.” Scientific management would bring justice to an unjust world. “Efficiency is the hope of democracy,” he avowed.

It’s rare around here to read a mildly less-than-glowing account of Brandeis’s worker advocacy, so Lepore’s article is worth a read not just because it’s funny and fascinating, but also because it slightly counters the spotless hagiography we tend to receive. Of course, Brandeis’s embrace of this particular questionable scheme hardly diminishes his vast body of accomplishment, but it’s nice to see his human side, and to know that the man with the highest GPA in the history of Harvard Law School was capable of errors in judgment.

Not So Fast: Scientific Management started as a way to work. How did it become a way of life?

Scientific management started as a way to work. How did it become a way of life?

New Waltham Bank Employs Clever Self-Referential Ad

The other day I happened across the construction site for Danvers Bank, which is currently being erected on Waltham’s Main St. And my first reaction was to sigh and mutter “Great, another bank. Just what we need.” BUT THEN, I saw the ad they had erected on the side of the fence:


It reads as follows:

Hooray. Another bank. You were probably hoping for a coffee shop or an exotic pet store. You can never get enough coffee. Or tree frogs. But let’s explore what another bank means for you. Pure and simple, it’s healthy competition. Each bank has to earn the right to be better. Through better rates, through better service. One of them will prove that they’re willing to work the hardest for your business and your money. So while some people will walk on by and think “Oh, great, another bank.” You, dear reader of long copy bank posters, will realize there’s something here you stand to benefit from. And deep down you’ll smile to yourself and say “Hooray. Another bank.”

I’ve trashed businesses a lot here recently, and it’s true that I’d like to see all corporations crumble. But I can’t help liking this kind of ad, which anticipates my scoffing and responds with humor. This is one of the most perfect attempts at persuasion I’ve seen in an advertisement.

Our Corporate Campus

Two bits of news, both related. First, the police blotter in The Justice contains an interesting follow-up to the Wiggio story:

Sept. 14-University Police observed suspicious persons defacing the roadway outside of the Rabb steps on Loop Road. The parties were identified as Brandeis students using spray paint to advertise for, the company employing them. University Police advised the students that they were not permitted to spray paint on Brandeis property without permission and dispersed them without further incident.

So the Wiggio vandals were caught, and released. A damn shame, I would’ve liked to see a bit of punishment. Cleaning up their mess, perhaps? At least we now know that Brandeis students were definitely on the Wiggio payroll.

In other Advertising news, I wonder how many of you received an email today from CampusLIVE, a company whose principal service seems to be posting menus on its website. They have created a slightly fancy-lookin’ homepage for our school, featuring a few menus and links to pages on the Brandeis website. (I will not link to it here, but you can find it in the email). The company was founded by UMass-Amherst grads, and has launched an aggressive marketing campaign targeted at local colleges. The email says they were on campus today meeting people and handing out propaganda. Did anyone see them? And how did they get our emails? Are they working with administrators?

I for one, am sick of being advertised to here. I don’t want to be spammed and I don’t want corporate logos sprayed on buildings. I recommend that CampusLIVE receives overwhelming cold indifference from the Brandeis student body. Do not reward spammers. Text of the email is beyond the gap.

Continue reading “Our Corporate Campus”

Corporate Graffiti

Today, you probably noticed the bright green chalk-graffiti all over Usdan and the Rabb steps. “,” it announces. Here are pictures:



Wiggio is a private, for-profit company, who produce a social networking website dedicated to the formation of groups. I think we should all be a little curious about why a company is painting its website all over our campus (hideously and obtrusively, I might add). Is Wiggio paying students to graffiti its logo? Are they paying Brandeis to let them use the campus as a billboard? Or are they just sneaking here in the night themselves with chalk and stencils (and, if so, why didn’t the Brandeis maintanence staff instantly remove these eyesores?)

I emailed Wiggio with these questions, but have received no response as of yet. Tomorrow, assuming the ads are still there, I’m going to press the administration for answers. I sure do hope the University isn’t selling advertising space on the Rabb steps, but who knows what desperate measures a financially-strapped college will resort to? Whatever the story, I think it’s despicable of Wiggio to market itself in this way. Social networks generally catch on through word of mouth (or through social networks), not by forcing themselves upon us on our way to class.

By the way, please don’t visit Wiggio to see what it’s like. It’s not very interesting, and you’d be rewarding predatory marketing tactics. I realize that I am playing into these tactics through writing about the site (making even more people think “I wonder what all this hubbub about is,” playing right into their hands). Which is why I have deliberately avoided linking to the site, and appended this warning to PLEASE NEVER GO THERE.

Did You Know These Were Here?


In X-Lot, by the Ziv Quadrangle, sit these two big blue boxes. I hadn’t seen them until I started parking down here, but they’re pretty massive and difficult to miss. They’re apparently clothing donation boxes for Child Quest International. I find it a little odd that one says “Clothing Donations” and one says “Clothing & Shoes.” Surely we could just have the latter? As I say, these things are dumpster-sized, so they’re sort of a surprise.

I suppose we should take advantage of these when we can. Pop old clothes in them if you’ve got ’em. Child Quest seems a reputable enough organization, though I can’t find that much information on it outside of its website. I have no idea whether they actually empty these bins, though. They’re in a very odd place, and they’d take forever to fill.

I don’t know whether these conflict with the goals of the growing free exchange movement at Brandeis, though. Recently I’ve been very impressed by efforts such as the Free Free Market to promote a culture in which unneeded goods are given freely to those who have use for them. I also liked the cheap re-selling of the dormitory dump items. It seems healthy for students to reuse as much as possible. Perhaps a free culture spells the end for the two mammoth lurking clothes dumpsters.

The Gaping Bare Void of Brandeis University

You probably don’t think about the Village Space much. Hardly anybody does anymore. It’s that big empty room beneath the Village Skybridge, with paper over the windows. It looks like this:

IMG_0120 - Copy

It used to be in the news a bit, as the original planned location for Ollie’s Eatery (before safety code restrictions killed that particular dream, and caused me to have to walk up the damn hill when I want 2am pancakes). Then it resurfaced as the prospective Activist Resource Center space (before the cost of allowing activists to use the room was estimated at $200,000-$300,000). Today it lies dormant, another monument to poor campus planning on the part of administration officials.

I find it astounding that Brandeis didn’t actually figure out how to finish the space before completing the Village. As I understand it, the plan was to leave the space until a use could be figured out for it, but money for such indulgences soon ran out. It’s a damn shame, though, because it’s a great site in one of the nicest buildings on campus. ARC could make excellent use of the space, or it could be turned into a Coffee & Pie shop (our campus lacks a good pie shop, as you have surely noticed). Either way, it’s currently a waste and an embarrassment.

$200,000 seems an awful lot to turn an already-existent room into an empty space for activists. What could it need? Paint? Lights? And, anyway, this really too intolerable a blight not to spend a little cash on. Surely there is a benevolent alumnus out there who would like a pie shop named after them?

Brandeis prof’s book bowdlerized by publisher


Brandeis politics professor Jytte Klausen’s new book on the 2005 Danish Muhammed cartoon controversy has been selectively censored by its publisher, the Yale University Press. The New York Times reports today that Yale ordered the images of the actual cartoons to be removed from the book.  Entitled The Cartoons That Shook The World, the book was intended to be the definitive account of the incident which caused riots and 200 deaths, as well as a worldwide debate over journalistic ethics. The Yale Press stated that the publishing of the actual cartoons in the context of a book about them “could be interpreted easily as gratuitous.” But even more controversially, Yale removed images of Muhammed other than the cartoons from the book, and furthermore told Prof. Klausen that it would only allow her to read the reasons for the decision if she agreed not to disclose them to anyone.

Personally,  I find the Yale Press’s action utterly unreasonable. Admittedly, I do not know the full reasoning behind the decision, since the Press will not disclose it. But seeing the cartoons is an important part of understanding the controversy about them, and the book will lose much of its value without being able to show its subject. I hope this decision is reversed or Prof. Klausen finds a new publisher.

Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammed in New Book by Jytte Klausen. The New York Times. August 12, 2009.

Highlights from the Ayers article comment sections!

As some have mentioned, the comment sections to the Globe and Herald pieces about the Bill Ayers visit are an absolute comedy goldmine. There are a lot of them, though, and sifting through them takes time. So here are some of the more amusing ones. Post your personal favorites below!

“When will Brandeis invite Charles Manson or Jeffery Dahmer? Is Dahmer even still alive? Does anyone think Brandeis would invite Miss California. Fat chance. This not a free speech issue. It does show the charactor of Brandeis.”

“My sister was an intelligent, thoughtful, logical, caring person. Then she went to Brandeis, earned a degree and is no longer intelligent, thoughtful, logical, or a caring person. She lost her family over it…but she was ready fo UC Berkely.”

“I think that it’s disgusting that Brandeis is willing to bring this person into our community. There is an elementary school right next to Brandeis every time the university brings in someone with a colorful background they not only put their students in potential danger but an entire school that has nothing to do with their university. Shame on you for not looking out for the community or asking for their unput!” Continue reading “Highlights from the Ayers article comment sections!”

Statement from Dr. Ronald Walters, 1st Chair of the Brandeis African-American Studies Department

After finding out about the CARS proposal to transform the AAAS department into an interdisciplinary program, I emailed Dr. Ronald Walters, who was hired as the first chair of the department after the Ford Hall protests in 1969.  He sent me a lengthy response, which appears below. It’s a powerful statement, and everyone should read it. He carefully responds to the CARS argument that an interdisciplinary program will be more effective than a department, and gives a bit of historical perspective on the study of AAAS at Brandeis.

Mr. Robinson: I am exceedingly sorry to hear of the new recommendation of a faculty committee to turn the existing Department of African and Afro-American Studies into an interdisciplinary program. As the founding chair of that Department, it strikes me as somewhat incongruous that the University want to enhance the marketing of its academic program as one related to Social Justice, while dismantling its Department related directly to that pursuit. Moreover, the argument is headlined with the thought that “whatever the historical situation, it is clear today that an interdepartmental program is not an inferior status.” The “historical situation” that brought me to Brandeis from Syracuse University in 1969 is relevant to the modern culture of the Department because it is a foundational case where African American students overcame institutional racism to force an unwilling University to create the space for the development of an entity that could voice and teach their history and culture. Thus, the dismantlement of the Department will also dismantle much of the significance of Ford Hall as that historical beginning to students in that setting today.

Of course, institutional reorganization, on its face, is often an opportunity for administrators and their supporters to do something they have wanted to do for some time and new circumstances present them with an unique economic rationale for doing it. So, I would be wary of the view that because other interdepartmental programs have flourished, African and Afro-American Studies will also do well. In short, while I understand the economic urgencies that all of our institutions face at this moment in history, I do not believe that the elimination of a few small academic units will save the University real financial resources.

Continue reading “Statement from Dr. Ronald Walters, 1st Chair of the Brandeis African-American Studies Department”

CARS Commitee Proposes Eliminating African-American Studies Department


Black students at the occupation of Ford Hall in 1969 lobbying for, among other things, the creation of an African-American Studies Department

As if black students didn’t have enough to be pissed off about at the moment (what with an all-white Union Judiciary deciding the fate of the racial minority senator position), the Cirruculum and Academic Restructuring Steering (CARS) Commitee recommended today that the African and Afro-American Studies department be eliminated and transformed into an “interdisciplinary program” instead. Current AAAS professors would be reassigned to other departments, although they could still focus in AAAS.

CARS cites the small number of AAAS majors (“just 7 in AY 2007-2008”), and the small size of the faculty (five) as justification for its recommendation. They point out that “This year… when three AAAS faculty members had the opportunity to go on research leave, there were only two department faculty members remaining at Brandeis.” Of course, neither of these reasons actually make a case for shutting down the department. CARS concedes that “although AAAS graduates relatively few majors… average enrollment in its courses is strong.” So the lack of faculty speaks more to a lack of commitment by the university to the department than to any weakness of the department itself. I’ve mentioned this problem before, the most obvious example being the University’s letting go of Prof. Wayne Marshall (you can still sign the petition at!).

Continue reading “CARS Commitee Proposes Eliminating African-American Studies Department”

Save Wayne Campaign in the Boston Phoenix

The Boston Phoenix has a short piece on the Save Wayne campaign. Perhaps administrators will start to listen now!

Check it out:

“Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz unleashed a torrent of negative publicity for his university when, with zero transparency, he announced that the school would shut down its vaunted campus-based Rose Art Museum… Condemnation from all corners of the art world was swift. Now, ethnomusicologically invigorated Brandeis students and alumni are hoping for a similar outburst of criticism for the probable downsizing of Wayne Marshall, who, since 2007, has taught urban music and African-American studies as the school’s Florence Levy Kay fellow.”

I’d like to quickly mention one important point about Wayne Marshall’s leaving which I do not believe has been stressed enough: how much of a loss his departure will be to the African and Afro-American Studies department. With Professor Mapps away in the fall, and Professors Smith, Joseph, and Sundiata away currently, an already small department will have to continue offering limited class selections. Although the faculty and classes we do have are excellent, AAAS majors like myself have few choices in which classes to take to satisfy our major requirements. Wayne Marshall’s loss is therefore extremely frustrating, because he added a greater diversity of subjects for AAAS students to pursue.

So, yes, Marshall’s departure is terrible in so many ways. Remember to sign the petition at, and to join the Facebook group!

The Save Wayne campaign has an awesome website

Check this out:

Leor just sent me the link to the AMAZING website for the Save Wayne campaign. We’re really going to step up the efforts to save Wayne Marshall, the best reggae professor at Brandeis.

Remember, if Wayne Marshall departs, we lose 20% of our already-small African-American Studies faculty.

Sign the petition now! And send it to your friends! Student support is the only way we’ll save Prof. Marshall. Remember, alumni, faculty, staff, and parents are welcome to sign the petition as well! Let’s get as many people as possible!

UJ finds for Alterman

In a landmark ruling severely curtailing the Senate’s authority over its discretionary budget, the Union Judiciary has unanimously ruled in favor of Eric Alterman in the case of Alterman v. Senate.

Ruling that “[t]he presentation of past SMR-assisted events merely solidified this court’s belief that the Senate has not always adhered to the bylaw in question,” the Court essentially ensured that in the future, the Senate will no longer be allowed to co-sponsor pre-planned events. The implications of today’s decision are wide-ranging. In the past, money has been distributed to events such as:

-The Brandeis Open Mic Series presentation of activist poet Jason Paul

-The Prospect Hill barbecue

-The Advocates student rights workshop

-The Winter Gala in support of HopeFound

From the precedent set by the Court today, none of these events would have been possible. In the future, events struggling for money will have to seek out other sources of sponsorship.

On the plus side, however, we now have plenty of money left for Midnight Buffet!

Full text of the decision follows (with concurrences!):

Continue reading “UJ finds for Alterman”

The Trial Of The Century

The frivolous lawsuit that Eric Alterman has launched against Alex Melman, Lev Hirschhorn, and the Union Senate is set to take place Saturday at 5pm. Location is TBD, witness lists and evidence are due by Friday at 5pm.

Below is the text of Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan’s email:

Having received a case for review from petitioner Eric Alterman against the Student Union Senate and specifically Class of 2011 Senators Lev Hirschhorn and Alex Melman, the Union Judiciary has unanimously decided to grant certiorari, and thus has agreed to hear the case.

Continue reading “The Trial Of The Century”

Today is your last day to nominate Wayne Marshall for a teaching award!

Per the campus-wide Student Union email:

“Today is your last chance to nominate a member of the Brandeis faculty for a Teaching Award! If you have a professor who you think deserves recognition for outstanding teaching, please send an e-mail with a paragraph describing why a professor deserves an award to

Nominations are due by the end of the day, Monday, March 2, 2009.”

Of course, you can nominate whoever you like, but may I suggest a particular Music and AAAS professor whose job might hang in the balance? I speak of course, of Wayne Marshall, who absolutely deserves a teaching award. A flood of nominations for him could also serve as an important reminder to Brandeis that he matters to our school. Please, take five minutes of your time and send an email to

Also, don’t forget to email to sign the Save Wayne petition.

Rose Protest in Globe


The Boston Globe has a decent, if short, article covering today’s protest. You can read it here. It’s not too enlightening on any Rose issues, but it’s nice to see that the student efforts are being properly documented in national media.

Remember, you can visit the Innermost Parts article archive to see all of the major articles about the Rose closure. Let us know if there’s anything we’re missing, or any investigation or coverage of the issue you’d like to see.

If anyone has photos or video of the event that we should post, let us know.