This site is archived

Hi there.

This site hosted a particularly strong student/activist blog that ran from late 2007 – 2011 at Brandeis University.

It was founded by Sahar Massachi and Alex Melman, and then run for most of its life by Sahar Massachi, with assists by Adam Hughes, Elly Kalfus, Nathan Robinson, and a large cast of contributors.

Please feel free to peruse the archives.

You can reach Sahar here.

Charlie Radin + Gershom Gorenberg => J Street

I read Gershom Gorenberg every day. Well, every day I check my RSS reader, and if Gershom has written something, then I make sure to take the time to read it.  (His blog is called South Jerusalem. It's on our blogroll, I think).



He's an interesting guy – an Orthodox Jew and member of the Israeli left, and a thoughtful and kind man. 

He's teaming up with J-Street (the American Jewish Pro-Israel Pro-Peace group) and giving a talk about his great new book, The Unmaking of Israel.

  • Where: 384 Harvard Street, in Brookline.
  • When: Tomorrow (Wednesday)
  • Time: 7:30pm

I like Charlie Radin. He works at the Office of Communications at Brandeis (I think he's in charge of Brandeis NOW) and was an award-winning foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe.

Charlie is moderating the event! Our Charlie! How cool is that?

Want to go?

Seriously. Want to take a bus with me or something? Let me know.


The Brandeis of Cairo

So Egypt. You gotta give this to them – they know how to pull off revolutions.

Egyptian students are demanding – and receiving – huge concessions from their administrations. Stuff that we wish we had here.

At this point, you might say “ok, but they’re, like, you know. Egpytian. Foreign. Far off. Different context. Their administrations are clearly corrupt and they are coming from a lower baseline.”

Well, let’s take a look at what’s really going on.

In Egypt there are a few different education-related revolts happening. First off, the teachers are united in demanding a sane education system. They’re dealing with 60+ student classrooms, meager pay, and “In many cases to make ends meet, teachers essentially force undereducated students to pay for private lessons to pass their grade, creating a shadow education system that places a financial burden on parents.”. About 70% of Egyptian teachers went on strike to demand a reform of the education system. Go teachers unions!

Next up, we have the case of most Egyptian Universities. The administrative bureaucracy, deans, Presidents, etc, were all appointed by the Mubarak government. Amazingly, Professors are the ones taking the lead and protesting to basically replace them with democratically-elected administration. Students are backing them. They have been partially successful so far. Imagine this – a University where the faculty (and students) get to pick the Administration that serves them best.

Those two cases, however, have no real analogue to here and now. We don’t have corrupt propagandistic heads of public universities (there will always be exceptions) and our primary education system is bad, but nowhere near as broken as Egypt’s.

I want to talk about the American University of Cairo.

Located on the western desert fringes of Cairo in a newly developed area called the Fifth Settlement, AUC’s gleaming, multimillion-dollar campus is a world away from its historical home in the heart of Tahrir Square, and it boasts a level of corporate sponsorship that would tickle the imagination of most neoliberal economists, complete with a Pepsi gate, CIB fountain, and Mobinil tower. AUC students pay $17,000 a year in tuition — more than eight times the annual income of the average Egyptian.

Their President, Lisa Anderson, is a former dean of faculty at Columbia University. She’s not some far-off foreigner with strange ways. She would fit right in at Brandeis. Hell, she’s the co-chair of Human Rights Watch/Middle East. They speak English at AUC. It really is an American-style University.

You know what they were demanding?

The students’ demands include the reversal of a 9 percent tuition hike, permanent student representation on the university’s budget committee, and transparency in school finances. But among their chief concerns was an end to what they viewed as the university’s exploitive practices regarding its workers, including security guards, janitors, and groundskeepers.

Less tuition. Representation on the budget committee. Better treatment of labor.

In my time at Brandeis we haven’t achieved any of these goals. Tuition rises a lockstep 1% above inflation every year. Our endowment stays shadowed in mystery. Aramark continues to run roughshod over workers.

Well, these students who are much like us faced their President who is much like every other American University President. And they demanded the sort of things we would like to see here. And they won.

the university administration announced it had reached a compromise on many of the protesters’ demands, including greater budget transparency, the creation of an ad hoc committee with student, alumni, and faculty representatives taking part in tuition and budget decisions, a guaranteed five-day work week for custodial and landscape staff, greater worker protections, and a review of employee salary levels. Anderson also stressed that no university employees would be punished for taking part in the strike.

Look, of course there are differences. Waltham is not Cairo. Fred Lawrence is by all accounts pretty great. Our tuition hikes aren’t as high (in percentage, but maybe not in absolute terms). Brandeis workers are unionized (thanks in part to amazing Brandeis Labor Coalition work in the early 2000’s).

Still. These kids are like us. Their problems are like our problems. They succeeded in pulling off a solution. Let’s cheer them on, and learn from them.

Hey guys I’m back! Right now I’m going to blog mostly at my new place ( but sometimes I’ll write here on Innermost Parts as well.

This post was originally written here:

Saved: The Rose?

Check your email:

Dear members of the Brandeis community,
I am very pleased to inform you that Brandeis and the four plaintiffs involved in the Rose Art Museum litigation have reached an agreement to settle the case. As a result, their claims have been dismissed. In addition, the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has officially terminated its review of Brandeis.
The agreement emphasizes that the Rose is and will remain a university art museum open to the public and that Brandeis has no plan to sell artwork. This position reflects the Board of Trustees’ adoption of the two key recommendations of The Future of The Rose Committee Report in March, 2010.

More on Brandeis Now.

This obviously seems like good news. If I remember correctly, the Massachusetts Attorney General was of the opinion that Brandeis doesn’t have the legal authority to sell off Rose Artwork in the first place, and the decision still stands.

Ariel Wittenberg understands these issues the best – she’s one of (if not the) best reporter Brandeis has seen in years. I’ll do some more research and report back.