Commencement Speaker

The recipients of honorary degrees at this year’s commencement were announced on Friday. (Was Brandeis trying to make sure this didn’t get noticed? WTF?)

Although I was at first disappointed to hear that the keynote speaker  at my commencement would be the current mayor of Newark, NJ, after reading his bio, his wikipedia page, and watching the trailer for the 2005 documentary Street Fight about his campaign to become mayor of Newark, I became excited to hear what he has to say. Booker is a community organizer who, as a politician and outside of politics, has done some really brave shit to prove his commitment to do what is best for the people of Newark. I hope that he will impart to us during his speech, some of the wisdom that he has gained along the way. Also, he knows President Obama personally and is a vegetarian, so he must be a cool guy.

Oh, and we’re also giving an honorary degree to Rajendra K. Pachauri, the guy who received the Nobel Prize along with Al Gore in 2007, and awesome choreographer Bill T. Jones. Good job Brandeis!

Thank god I don’t have to listen to Thomas Friedman or Bill Schneider!

The Fight for Workers’ Rights and Justice

If you haven’t heard about it yet, you should definitely come to Rapaporte at 7pm tonight to see a speech by Kim Bobo, on her new book, Wage Theft in America. A reception and book signing will follow.

Kim will speak to students and other members of the Brandeis community about her life’s work in organizing and mobilizing people of all backgrounds to work together to effect social change. She firmly believes in the value of cross-cultural and interreligious communication. Kim’s words will be inspiring to all who attend the event, and participants will have time to ask her questions after her remarks.

Kim Bobo is the founder of Interfaith Worker Justice, in Chicago, Illinois. She leads this network of people in educating, organizing, and mobilizing the religious communities in the United States to improve wages, benefits, and conditions for workers, and give voice to workers in low-wage jobs. Her recent book, “Wage Theft in America: How Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid – And What We Can Do About It,” is the first and only book to document the wage theft crisis in the nation and propose practical solutions for addressing it.

Please contact Anne Blackstock-Bernstein at with any questions.

Full disclosure: I have been helping to organize this event for the last couple months so, yes, I have a vested interest in your attendance.

Also, if you don’t come tonight, baby seals will die because of you.

Theatre Arts at Brandeis

And the debate over the future of the arts at Brandeis rages on:

Through a generous gift from the Laurie Foundation, the Brandeis University Hiatt Career Center will administer the Hiatt Theater Arts Fellows Program, a competitive application process to provide $3,000 individual awards to support 7-8 undergraduate students in unpaid theater-related training and internships during summer, 2009. Internships must be undertaken through: a theater-related training program, theater-related organization in the private or public sector, or Brandeis faculty-led theater-related experiential curriculum.

I think the Hiatt WoW scholarships and Justice Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice grants have been a great development over the past few years.  Establishing something similar within the theater department is especially important because paying jobs in theaters, especially for college students, are so rare.

Have there been other subject-specific grants established?

Brandeis Labor Coalition: Can Economics Work for Workers?

A really important event is happening tonight at 7pm and is hosted by Brandeis Labor Coalition:

Can Economics Work for Workers?

Are sweatshops needed to strengthen developing economies? Or is there a “race to the bottom” in workers’ wages? What are the right corporate and government policies?

On March 19th at 7:00pm in Rapaporte Treasure Hall the Brandeis Labor Coalition and the Business Club will be hosting a forum of different perspectives on international labor practices, including professors from the Brandeis Economics department and International Business School. Come hear scholarly opinions on the ethical and economic ramifications of globalization on workers and get your questions answered! Refreshments will be served following the forum.

Speakers will include
Featured UMass-Boston Professor Gerald Friedman.
Brandeis’ economics department chair Rachel McCulloch,
International Business School’s Michael Appell,

The event will be moderated by Professor John Ballantine of IBS.

(Made possible by the SJSP Brenda Meehan Social Justice-in-Action Grant)


This weekend MusicUnitesUS presents this really cool group called Nettle, which is a collaboration between four artists from different backgrounds, who combine their skills to create original and unique music. On campus through the weekend, they will be in classes on a variety of subjects and giving concerts for a variety of audiences.

From 4-5pm this afternoon, they will be performing an Informal Concert: Imagining a Common Place in the Shapiro atrium.

Tomorrow from 9-10:30am in Slosberg, they will be in hosting open class on Colling Traditions: The Nu World (Dis)Order, following which they will be in another class in Slosberg which anybody is free to attend, called Fixing Friction, from 12-1:30pm.

Since I only have time to go to one of these events, I am very excited to go to an Improvisation Workshop with Nettle tomorrow from 4-5:30pm. Contact for more info.

On Saturday, before their big concert Nettle will host a Preconcert Talk: Nettles, Neighbors and Nu World Music at 7pm in the Rose Art Museum.

At 8pm in Slosberg, Nettle will will give the biggest concert of the weekend, Nettle – Music for a Nu World. This will definitely be an awesome and rocking concert.  See for ticket prices.

Brandeis Labor Coalition: Made in L.A.

Tonight, Brandeis Labor Coalition is hosting Radical Film Night with the movie “Made in L.A.” in Pearlman Lounge at 8pm.

It’s a great movie and very relevant today because unions are even more vital during hard economic times like these. Also, the Senate is very close to voting on the Employee Free Choice Act (read about it here) a very important piece of legislation that would make unionizing easier so that workers like the women in this movie don’t have to struggle for three years just to gain their most basic rights.

“Made in L.A.” is an Emmy award-winning feature documentary (70 min) that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from trendy clothing retailer Forever 21. In intimate observational style, “Made in L.A.” reveals the impact of the struggle on each woman’s life as they are gradually transformed by the experience. Compelling, humorous, deeply human, “Made in L.A.” is a story about immigration, the power of unity, and the courage it takes to find your voice.

For more information about the event or the movie, contact Tom Charging Hawk at 781-296-6053.

After the Crossing: US Immigration Policy

Tomorrow at 7pm in Heller School, there will be a very interesting debate about US immigration policy. The event, hosted by Heller’s Immigration Working Group, will include Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies and Rinku Sen, Executive Director of The Applied Research Center.

Fairly innocuos organizations, right? Wrong.

According to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (if you are interested in reading the report, email me), the Center for Immigration Studies was founded by a white supremacist named John Tanton, who also founded NumbersUSA and Federation for American Immigration Reform, in order to crank out reports and statistics that blame immigration and immigrants for America’s problems. Tanton is not just another a right-wing nutcase like Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich.  This guy has been associating himself with Holocaust deniers and members of the KKK for a long time. CIS calls itself independent but it is not. It is a think tank of the nativist lobby in the US.

Should Steven Camarota and others from groups like the CIS be allowed to come speak at Brandeis? Yes. Should they be allowed to leave without being forced to explain their words and writings? No.

Rest assured, Camarota will come here tomorrow night not about to say anything even slightly racist, because he knows his audience. He’s coming in the hope that he will be able to make the extremist, nativist point of view sound knowledgable and intellectual. Luckily, as Brandeis students, we know better than to accept his bullshit.

Come to this debate of US immigration policy, tomorrow, Wednesday night at 7pm in Heller School’s Zinner Forum, but first do your research so you can ask Camarota to explain his xenophobic and racist writings, and make him rethink his anti-immigrant stance.

Immigration, orthodoxy and homosexuality

Full Disclosure: As part of Heller School’s Immigration Working Group, I helped organize one of Wednesday’s events.


As usual, we have the Sex and Sexuality Symposium, Brandeis Labor Coalition, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and Democracy for America weekly meetings, as well as Brandeis Open Mic Series.


One of many events this month in the Disabilities Series of March Events, at 6:30pm Dr. Ticchi of Legal Sea Foods will speak about the social and professional treatment of people with disabilities.

At 7pm in Heller will be, After the Crossing: Implications of Alternative Policy Responses to Illegal Immigration, a debate between Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies and Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center, moderated by Paul Solman of WGBH.

From 9-12, Students Organized Against Racism will hold their Second Annual Racism Arts Project in Chums.

AHORA!, MLK and Friends, Student Global AIDS Campaign, and Students for Environmental Action weekly meetings.


At 3pm, Affecting the Political: An Assessment of the ‘Emotional Turn’ in the Study of Social Movements will happen in Pearlman Lounge.

At 7pm the Democratic State Committee will hold a Platform Committee Hearing in Waltham at 119 School St.

There will be a special Radical Film Night this week, at 8pm, when Brandeis Labor Coalition will present Made in L.A., a film about worker’s fighting for their rights in the garment sweatshops of Los Angeles.

Also, Student Peace Action, Triskelion and Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance meetings.


At noon, Peace Vigil, outside of Usdan.

At 8:30, the first of four events this weekend called, A Unique Perspective on Judaism and Homosexuality: A weekend with Rabbi Steven Greenberg. At this one, Rabbi Greenberg will share his personal life story of being the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi.


Rabbi Greenberg’s second event, at 1:30, will be a colloquium on homosexuality in religious tradition with Rabbi Greenberg, Father Walter Cuenin (Catholic chaplain) and Professor James Mandrell (of WGS).

Later in the afternoon at 4:30pm, you will have the opportunity to study with Rabbi Greenberg to see his perspective on what Jewish texts have to say about homosexuality.

Finally, at 8:30pm, Rabbi Greenberg will screen the movie Trembling Before G-d, a film about Judaism and homosexuality, which features Rabbi Greenberg. The film screening will be followed by an open discussion.


Vaginas, Maple Magic and Climate Wars

One stop shopping for Brandeis activist related events  for the rest of the week:


“Climate Wars,” a lecture presented by Prof. Harald Welzer – from 12-2pm in the Faculty Lounge

Lunchtime Immigration Seminar – 12:15-1:45, Heller Rm. 163

International Women’s Day Celebration at Brandeis – 5:30-6:30pm in Rapaporte

Monsters, Messiahs, or Something Else? Representations of Mixed-Race in Science Fiction Movies – 7-8pm in Schwartz

Moolade, a movie showing on Female Genital Mutilation – 7-9pm in Shiffman 219

He Said, She Said: A Discussion of Gender Relations between Men and Women of Color – 8-9pm in ICC

Weekly meetings of Student Peace Alliance, Students for a Democratic Society, Trisk, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and Radical Film Night.


Vigil for Peace – Noon

Ethical Eating Night – 8-9pm in Lurias

Vagina Monologues – 8pm in Shapiro Theater


Maple Magic Day!!! – Learn to make maple syrup 8:30am-3pm in Natick

Vagina Monologues – 2pm and 8pm in Shapiro Theater

For more information about all events see the Brandeis Activist Calendar to your right. To have your event posted, email

From Peace-combatants in Israel to Activism in Thailand

A summary of events happening on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week:


Israeli and Palestinian Combatants For Peace at Brandeis – 5:30pm in Shapiro Art Gallery

Weekly meeting of Students Organized Against Racism at 8pm in the ICC and FRESH Water Coalition at 9:30 in the library.


A new event in the tradition of Tuesdays with Morrie, Tuesdays with Father Walter Cuenin, from 4-5pm in Shapiro Art Gallery.

The first in the Disabilities Series of March Events – a lecture by Valerie Leiter, Brandeis ’01 PhD, author of Youth with Disabilities Entering Adulthood, in Pollack Auditorium at 6:30pm

Weekly meetings of Sex and Sexualities Symposium, Brandeis Labor Coalition, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, Democracy for America, STAND.


Celebrate first generation college students at I am the First, from 3:30-6pm in the International Lounge.

Community Activism in Thailand: Working with “Scavenger” Communities and the Urban Poor, in Rapaporte Treasure Hall from 4:30-6pm.

Activism and Community Organizing in the U.S. and in Thailand: An Open Exchange with Mr. Kovit Boonjear, in ICC at 8pm. There will be ice cream.

Positive Foundations Coffeehouse from 9-11pm in Chums.

Weekly meetings of AHORA!, Student Global AIDS Campaign, MLK and Friends, Students for Environmental Action and Students for a Democratic Society.

For more information about all events, refer to the Activist Calendar to your right. To have your social justice related event posted, email

Quick and Easy

A really simple way to offer your advice to the committee considering the Business major.

My name is Murat Kemahlioglu, I am a junior at Brandeis, and am 
representing the student body in the academic restructuring 
sub-committee for the Business Major. 

I would like to remind you all that nothing is off the table and any 
creative comment you may give will make a difference. Therefore, 
please participate by completing this survey; 

Thank you, and have a good week.
Murat Kemahlioglu

Town Halls

There will be two Town Halls and a Forum this coming week for you to learn what is going on, ask any questions you may have about academic restructuring, and to provide suggestions, input, or commentary.

The first Town Hall is today at 430PM. The second Town Hall is Thursday, February 12th at 430PM. Both of these are in Upper Sherman (in Hassenfeld Conference Center). The discussion will focus on Degree
Requirements and Advising, Curricular Innovation, and the Third Semester (a summer semester or an experiential semester to that would be incorporated into the curriculum for incoming classes). For the sake of everyone who can’t go and to let the administration know that we will be a valuable part of this process, get involved, and make your voice heard.

A Forum will be held at 7:30 pm on Tuesday February 10th in Geller Auditorium (back of Sherman) to discuss the possibility of a Business major. Come with questions, concerns, ideas for the curriculum, etc.

Questions to consider might include: How does this affect the liberal arts environment at Brandeis University? What classes will be offered? How will this affect the financial situation in general? Will they hire new professors to teach this major? Is this going to affect the current IBS program?

The forum will be moderated by the Brandeis Business Club. All questions will be fielded by the Undergraduate representative to the Business Major Drafting Committee, who will take your concerns and suggestions directly to the committee itself.

We’ll let you know about more events like these as we hear about them.

Liberal + Arts = Brandeis?

Ever since the announcement of the closing of the Rose, there has been a lot of speculation (and anger) about how much Brandeis values the arts on campus (or doesn’t). I have never really had any evidence one way or the other, although I surely hope Brandeis doesn’t cut back on their arts programs since I am a Theater major, and we have one of the best Acting MFA programs around.

However, Jehuda and Shula have recently led me to believe that Brandeis will not rush to make cuts to the arts program. At a party after Saturday night’s performance, Andrew Neiman (not a Brandeis student), the lead actor in Brandeis Theatre Company’s Siddhartha, told me that Jehuda and Shula, who were in the audience that night, approached him after the show ended to congratulate him on his performance. (If the couple needs to be convinced to support the arts we may be in luck because Jehuda was apparently very endeared when Andy broke out his Hebrew skills.) In addition, the Women’s Studies Research Center of which Shula is the Director, frequently features art exhibits, like their show which will begin this April, Cairns.

The President and his wife’s personal support of the arts are an encouraging sign to me that during the current economic crisis, the arts will not be cut without hesitation as they often are during hard times. But we’ll have to wait and see in order to find out for sure.

This Week at Brandeis (UPDATED)

It’s the last week before winter break but don’t give up yet! There are a few really interesting events this week to distract you from studying for your first round of midterms, if you are like me and lucky enough to have any.

First, you should stop by Polaris Lounge in North Quad tomorrow night at 6:15 to learn how to make hummus at the Home-made Hummus Party, hosted by NaturaLiving Club. You’ll be able to learn how to make your own hummus, and then eat it!! There will be HUMMUS (of course) and chips and veggies for dipping too. Feel free to bring your dinner with you, too, and eat it with the hummus.

Later, at 7:30 SEA and BOO are co-hosting TO BE GREEN: An Environmental and Tu B’shvat Celebration, an event which will voice student perspectives from each club about how we can protect and preserve our environment, decorate canvass tote bags to use instead of plastic ones, and plant seeds in homemade planters to keep in your dorm rooms! Delicious foods will be provided and bring your own mug/cup/used plastic bottle to use as a planter***

Also tomorrow, the Sociology Department will be showing Babel at 8pm in Golding Auditorium. Snacks will be served and immediately after the film there will be a brief discussion of the film to delve into its sociological implications.

If you’re not interested in seeing Babel, you could also go to the ICC at 8:30 to watch Rice and Potatoes, a documentary co-sponsored by Brandeis Asian-American Student Alliance and Trisk, that explores gay Asian/Caucasian relationships. Following the movie, there will be a discussion.

At 9pm on Monday, Mixed Heritage Club is hosting a Valentine’s Day Interracial Dating Event. There will be a discussion of interracial, inter-ethnic and multicultural dating and relationships and pink lemonade and Valentine’s Day treats will be served!

You may have never heard of the club FRESH at Brandeis, but you should go to their meeting this week on Monday at 9:30 because they are dedicated to helping areas affected by issues of unclean water, an issue that could use a lot more attention than it gets.

On Tuesday, there aren’t many events happening, but you can be a part of a lot of planning of future activism by going to Sex and Sexualities Symposium from 2-3pm, Brandeis Labor Coalition 8-9pm, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy 8-9pm, Brandeis Open Mic Series 9-10pm, and Democracy for America 9-10:30.

There is no lack of meetings on Wednesday with an informational meeting about hiking Israel’s National Trail at 6pm in Shapiro 315, and AHORA! General Meeting and MLK and Friends meetings from 8-9pm and SEA and Students for a Democratic Society from 9-10pm.

On Thursday morning at 10:30am, Women’s and Gender Studies presents Gender at the End of Life: Dying, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia with keynote speaker Susan M. Wolf. Later in the day at 3:30pm in Usdan International Lounge, Dr. Brian Williams an Epidemiologist working for the World Health Organization, will give the keynote address of Fighting AIDS in Africa: Public Health vs. Human Rights. In his address, Dr. Williams will attempt to reconcile the disparate views of public-health experts and human-rights advocates to explore how policymakers, donors, scientists, and service providers can work together more effectively. Also on Thursday will be Student Peace Alliance Meeting 8-9pm, FMLA 8:30-9:30pm and Radical Film Night 9-10pm. Brandeis Theater Company’s production of Siddhartha which opened on Friday night, will continue for the second and final weekend starting on Thursday  at 8pm, and continuing on Friday and Saturday at 8pm, as well as Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.

If your club is doing an event that is not on this calendar or you have heard about one, please email us at

Events: Budget Presentation, Black Identity, Arts Festival, and Benefit Dinner

Tomorrow afternoon from 5-6:30 in Levin Ballroom there will be another Budget Presentation and Q&A held by senior administrators including Jehuda, COO Peter French and Provost Marty Krauss. A presentation on the University’s budget and fiscal situation will be given, after which the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions. Afterward, from 6:30-8pm in Levin, there will be an Open Student Forum led by Jason Gray. This open forum is a chance for students to have their voices heard and their questions answered.

Tomorrow night at 7pm in Swig Lounge, ICC there will be an interesting informal roundtable discussion on Black Identity (pre and post Civil Rights) with various professors and staff members such as Prof. Wayne Marshall, Jamele Adams, and Ashley Rondini. It sounds like a very interesting dialogue to be a part of, no matter your race/racial identity.

On Sunday from 5-10pm the second Expressions Arts Festival will happen at Biagio Ristorante and Bar (on Moody St. in Waltham). The festival will include live performances and paintings, crafts and jewelry, and it provides a great opportunity to network with other artists. The event will be MC’ed by Jason Henry Simon-Bierenbaum, and will include performances and art by Molly Haas-Hooven (’09) and Allison Vanouse (’09), Josh Mervis (’08) and Samson Kohanski (’08), Brandeis Saxophone Quartet, Northeastern’s Kathryn Hansis, Emerson’s The Gringo Choir, FRIT and Brandeis’ VoiceMale. After 10pm, there will an after party with DJ and Dancing. The Arts Festival will benefit Expressions, a new not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing grants for programs globally that empower and develop individuals and the societies in which they live through the arts. Check out for more details!

At 7pm on Sunday there will be a Benefit Dinner brought to you by local restaurants (including Milk Street Cafe) in the Multipurpose Room in SCC, to benefit, Baet Cham Le’Naara, a home for at-risk girls in Nahariyah, Israel. The participants of Hillel’s trip to Israel this winter break are sponsoring this fundraiser. The cost will be $10 for the dinner, plus there will be a silent auction and entertainment!

Human Rights, Climate Change, Microfinancing, Siddhartha… and more!

This week is LOADED with events.  The highlights are a series of events about the memorialization of Guantanamo on Monday and Tuesday, a Microfinance Symposium and building tours showcasing what Brandeis has done to increase sustainability on campus, both on Wednesday, and the Brandeis Theater Company’s production of Siddhartha beginning on Thursday.  See the Innermost Parts Activist Calendar for more information on all events. Some events require an RSVP.


On Monday you can start out by going to Jehuda’s office hours from 3-4:30 to let him know what you think about the closing of the Rose.  But, make sure you don’t stay too long because from 4-5pm you won’t want to miss the panel discussion Memorializing Guantanamo: Part I (in Feldberg Lounge, Hassenfeld Conference Center), moderated by Anthropology professor Mark Auslander. A couple hours later at 7pm, you’ll be able to continue the discussion by attending Michael Ratner’s (’66) speech Beyond the Shadows of Guantanamo: Restoring the Rule of Law in the Post-Bush Era (in the Zinner Forum, Heller School). Ratner was part of the small group of lawyers that first took on representation of the Guantánamo detainees.


The series of events about Guantanamo continues on Tuesday beginning with Memorializing Guantanamo: Part II from 12:10-1, followed by various exhibitions and discussions until 4:30 in the afternoon (all events in the International Lounge, Usdan). If you can’t get enough of Ratner, who spoke on Monday, go to the Old State House in Boston at 8pm for the Brandeis University Spotlight on Our Constitutional Rights moderated by Director of the Ethics Center Dan Terris.  Student group and club meetings on Monday include Sexualities Discussion Group (2-3, ICC Lounge), Brandeis Labor Coalition (8-9:30pm, Shapiro 313), Democracy for  America (9-10:30, Pearlman Lounge) and Brandeis Open Mike Series (9-10pm)


On Wednesday morning, check out Democracy and Peacebuilding: Rethinking the Conventional Wisdom,” with Dr. Howard Wolpe (in the Alumni Lounge in Usdan from 11-2:30). Also, go to Shapiro Atrium between 12-3 to learn methods to save money and cut carbon at the Sustainability Solutions Showcase. To get a tour of the newest buildings on campus and learn what Brandeis did to make them sustainable, go to Ridgewood at 11, and Shapiro Science Building at 4pm, and take part in the National Climate Change Solutions Day Building Tour of each location. From 6:30-8pm in the SCC Art Gallery you can hear speakers from faculty at IBS and leading microfinance organizations talk about microfinancing solutions at the Microfinance Symposium. Also on Wednesday are the AHORA! General Meeting (8-9pm in Swig Lounge, ICC) and the SEA meeting (9-10pm in the SEA office in SCC).


Pardon the shameless plug but on Thursday you won’t want to miss the preview performance of Brandeis Theater Company’s production of Siddhartha, based on the book by Hermann Hesse, at 8pm in the Laurie Theater in Spingold. Student Peace Alliance (8-9 in Pearlman Lounge),  Trisk (8-9, Trisk Lounge, 3rd floor SCC), and FMLA (8:30-9:30 in the Women’s Resource Center in SCC) also have meetings on Thursday.


Siddhartha opening night!


Celebrate the Lunar New Year with a performance exhibiting various aspects of Chinese culture and the Chinese New Year traditions followed by dinner and a night market. Also, two more performances of Siddhartha at 2pm and 8pm!

Activist Calendar

You’ve probably noticed that here at Innermost Parts we have created the Activist Calendar on the sidebar for your convenience. The newest addition to the site is that you can now email your events to and they will be added to the calendar for you. We will also try out a weekly Activist Events post.

This week’s events include all the weekly/bi-weekly meetings of FMLA, BLC, DFA, SPA, Trisk, and the Sexualities Discussion Group. In addition, check out B’deis Democrats’ Free Rice Competition on Thursday from 8-9pm in Shapiro Multipurpose room.

Don’t forget to email your events to:

UPDATE: Sexualities Discussion Group is now Sex and Sexuality Symposium and is on Tuesdays from 2-3.

Ford Hall Here We Come!

Ever wondered what it was like to be a Brandeis student taking over Ford Hall in 1969?

Forty Years Later:

The Ford Hall Takeover

An LTS Show & Tell Event


Come learn about the 1969 event that had Students for a Democratic
Society (SDS) at Brandeis saying, “Black people never win by asking

Archives & Special Collections (Level 2 of Goldfarb Library)
Thursday, January 22
Between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

All are welcome!

This is going to be awesome.

Brandeis Freedom Trail

Either I’ve been living in a hole unaware of everything going on around campus for the past three years, or some creative people have recently come up with a new way to let everyone know about Brandeis’ activist history. (Probably both.)

Freedom Trail Tours
Saturday, January 17th
1:30-3:00p, departing from Shapiro Campus Center
The Freedom Trail tour highlights sites on campus where prominent activist events have occurred.

Apparently this event is going to be part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service this coming weekend. Along with the other events, Freedom Trail Tours is being funded by Brandeis Pluralism Alliance. I don’t know who came up with this idea but I think it’s great because it will help to make us more knowledgable about Brandeis’ history and legacy. We shouldn’t hesitate to embrace the actions of the activists who have come before us and set the stage for our current and future struggles.

Empty Crown?

The Crown Center’s response to Sahar’s recent post.

The Tragedy in Gaza: Competing Narratives

January 14, 2009
12:15 – 1:45pm
Rappaport Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library

Dr. Amaney Jamal, Assistant professor of politics at Princeton University
Prof. Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director at the Crown Center
Moderator: Prof. Robert Art, Christian A. Herter Professor of International Relations at Brandeis University

Dr. Amaney Jamal and Prof. Shai Feldman will present the Palestinian and Israeli narratives respectively and lead a discussion analyzing possible implications of the crisis for the parties involved and the Middle East at large.

Looks like an interesting event. From The Crown Center events I’ve seen in the past, I think they usually do events based on political analysis of the situation rather than historical narratives, so this seems like a unique presentation coming from them.

My guess is that the main reason they haven’t written much or said anything before this is just because we’re on break.

Brandeis Saves the Big 3

I was greeted this morning by a delightful email sent out to Sociology majors.  Noted website and blog Huffington Post has begun publishing the work of Brandeis professor (drumroll please)…

Gordie Fellman!

Surprisingly, rather than writing about the latest phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on which he teaches a class, Gordie hypothesizes about how to save the auto industry. He concludes that rather than continuing to hire executives who demand huge salaries, private jets, and golden parachutes, the Big 3 would be smarter to:

Turn to the one resource that probably has the strength, imagination, daring, and commitment to pull off a complete turnaround of the auto companies. I am talking about the lower level staff and workers who can bring their ideas, their ignored wisdom, and their neglected talents to the executive suite and figure out how to solve transportation problems in ways that will benefit everyone.

It’s a short article and a quick read so I suggest you take a look at the whole thing.

It’s nice to know that there is a professor at Brandeis who we can trust to take the side of the working class every time.

Don’t forget to…Shut up already!

Okay, the reminder emails about filling out course evaluations are getting old. REALLY old. Like mold on toast old. Seriously.

The latest one says that they are postponing the deadline because they want more people to fill them out, which is great. I have no problem with postponing the deadline. In fact I support postponing the deadline. And so I got to thinking, why can’t the deadline be postponed until right before grades are due? Why not just make it so that you can’t see your grades until your evaluations are filled out? What’s wrong with that?

What do people think? Has this been thought of already? Why hasn’t it been done?


If you eat in Usdan you’ve probably  seen this sign:

It’s funny that Aramark thinks they can appeal to students by framing their food as the hippie, liberal alternative.  The sign makes it clear that Aramark exec’s like Director of Dining Operations, Michael Newmark, don’t understand our perspective. If they did, they would have signs and matereials that would market healthy food in a respectful way.

If you look at it from Aramark’s point of view, offering cage-free eggs is a great idea because it is a low cost gimmick that will make students slightly more likely to think that they are socially conscious. After all, they have done close to nothing to improve the dining halls in the past couple years.  Of course, making significant investments in dining services at Brandeis more often than they need to in order to keep Brandeis students from complaining about them, would be a waste, because they don’t really care how happy we are, as long as they don’t lose money.

But, you say, that’s not true, they really do care about our concerns because they brought Quiznos and it’s a lot better than everything else in Usdan.

Hm, why would Aramark do such a nice thing for us?

Perhaps because their contract is ending after May 2009.

Oh, okay, so this means that we can get another dining service starting in the fall if we want right?

Not so fast. In order for us to get a new dining services contractor, Brandeis would need to put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to companies that would be interested in making our food. Companies would then write up estimates of how much they would charge to provide us with dining services and Brandeis would be able to choose to hire a new contractor or make another contract with Aramark. Up to this point nobody has heard anything about Brandeis sending out an RFP. Why not? My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that Joseph Neubauer is the CEO of Aramark, and his wife, Jeanette Lerman is on the Board of Trustees of Brandeis.

What a coincidence.

Community + Theater = ??? (Or, Not Brooks or Hughes)

Recently I have seen Brandeis take two very positive and encouraging, although separate, steps in the right direction. Now I wonder whether Brandeis students and faculty will have the vision and open minds necessary to look around them and recognize how they might be able to make an influential change within their community. Continue reading “Community + Theater = ??? (Or, Not Brooks or Hughes)”

The Legacy of Our Generation

As you probably know by now if you read your email and received your free water bottle, Jehuda has decided to ask Aramark to “discontinue the use of bottled water at catered events on campus”. In addition there is going to be a committee to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of having bottled water on campus. I think Jehuda’s decision is a good one, and it represents the strength of SEA, who has been lobbying the administration for a ban of bottled water on campus since at least last semester. Although SEA hasn’t yet achieved its full goal, I think this is a good start and probably the best they could hope for as a first step from the administration.

Hopefully the committee will do a good job, unlike the committee to investigate whether or not BranPo officers should have guns. That committee made a terrible recommendation to the administration and they unfortunately, but predictably, took it. Personally, I am very suspicious of the quality of the research that committee did, although I have hope for this committee because the question they are confronting doesn’t seem as complicated. At least to me.
Continue reading “The Legacy of Our Generation”

American Actvists Abroad

Hi, my name is Tim and I am the newest addition to Innermost Parts. I plan on writing about issues related to Brandeis, Latin America, and how the arts can be a tool used to achieve social justice. I appreciate any and all feedback on posts. Enjoy!

While in San Jose, Costa Rica this summer doing an internship, I volunteered to run the sound board for a community theater group in San Jose. We’ll call them American Theater Group (ATG), in order to protect the guilty. My more important duty quickly became translating between the lighting technician who spoke only Spanish and the director who had attempted to learn only a few words of Spanish while living in Costa Rica for years. The experience made me aware of the large variety of Americans who come to Costa Rica and why they are here. It also made me wonder how Americans can affect Costa Rica in distinct ways without even realizing it.

Not only did the director of the ATG show not speak Spanish, neither did most of the cast, the majority of whom live in one of two wealthy suburbs outside of San Jose (Santa Ana and Escazu). This fact surprised me because it is the opposite of what Americans expect of immigrants to the U.S., and because I can’t imagine why someone would willfully immigrate to a country without attempting to absorb and educate themselves about the culture and traditions of the country. The thing that really confuses me about the Americans in ATG is that the reason the left the U.S. can be summed up in one word: Bush. So, really it’s not so much that they decided that they wanted to live in Costa Rica as much as it is that they gave up on the U.S. because of a stolen election. Not exactly model Americans if you ask me.

However, not all gringos here are fair-weather Americans. For example, the guy I’m doing an internship with, we’ll call him James just in case he doesn’t want to become famous, came here about 5 years ago with his wife and two kids, and they now live on a farm outside of San Jose (not in a wealthy suburb). Although they chose to start a homeschooling program rather than send their kids to public school, the entire family speaks fluent Spanish and they are dedicated to helping the local community. James has three part time jobs teaching sociology in universities here, but when he’s not tending to his farm he spends his free time helping poor, indigenous and imprisoned communities find ways to resolve their conflicts peacefully and through theater (which is why I’m here). His kids are involved in activities (dance, gymnastics) that Costa Ricans participate in, not just Americans. Although I’m sure that James is happy to no longer be under the rule of Bush II, his family is a good example of how Americans can contribute to the social capital of communities they move to in foreign countries. (Another good example are the Quakers who moved to Monteverde, Costa Rica in the 1950’s.)

As an activist and citizen of the richest and most powerful country in the world, I would be embarrassed if I didn’t do my best to improve any country that I decide to live in. (I’m not talking about studying abroad. Living somewhere for a semester barely allows you the opportunity to find your way around.) Okay, so maybe the people in ATG aren’t activists and don’t feel that kind of an obligation to Costa Rica. What about respecting the language and culture of the people? You have to go out of your way to not learn Spanish here. And that’s exactly what these people are doing. They’re basically thumbing their nose at the native Costa Ricans who have lived here all their lives: “Your language and culture don’t deserve my time and effort.”

As progressive activists, we have to do more than just avoid mimicking the behavior of ATG members. Alternatively, when living in a foreign country we have no choice but to maintain our progressive principles by committing ourselves to helping poor communities break the vicious cycle of poverty caused by American companies overseas.