Great Promises, Empty Results

Last Thursday, I waited patiently outside a secret, closed-door faculty meeting, holding a sign that said “Students Need to Be Part of the Discussion” and surrounded by like-minded folks holding similar signs.

When the faculty streamed out, they seemed very pleased with themselves. I got thumbs up and calls of “you got everything you asked for”.

Well, cool.

Today the Board of Trustees met in an emergency session. After the meeting I got a call from Jacob Bockelmann, the Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees. I was told that students, graduate and undergraduate, were promised seats on every committee dealing with the crisis. I was told that the Board of Trustees had a meeting that closely paralleled the BBCC meeting a few days earlier, with Board members excited about using this opportunity to strengthen Brandeis and to increase, not merely preserve, our commitment to Social Justice.

Students on the Steering Committee! Board members talking about Social Justice. That all sounds great.
But let’s match words and deeds.

There’s a strong rhetoric of transparency here. But at the end of the day the decisions that are reached – selling off the finest Modern Art collection in New England, reneging on financial aid promises (for study abroad) without so much as an apology – don’t conform to the rhetoric.

How things work
How things work

The data:

Decision Decision # Number of Students Consulted
Merit Aid Portability 1 0
Selling off the Rose Art Collection 2 0-2*

*If the Junior and Senior Student Reps to the Board were consulted, they still weren’t given a vote or any sort of formal way of gaging student sentiment on the subject.

I’m tired of being told how in theory we have a lot of transparency at Brandeis and how students have a say here. Hell, faculty don’t even have a say about selling off the Rose Art Museum. Are we being put on to all these committees for tokenism or are we actually respected?

With these arbitrary/autocratic acts are coupled with rhetoric of inclusiveness, it’s hard not to imagine that the powers that be are simply taunting us.


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