Is Brandeis a Haven for ‘Leftist Abuse’?

One of the most common targets for right-wing demagogues is the stereotypical ‘radical leftist university’, a purely fictional construct used to gin up anti-intellectualism and support for slashing education budgets. (For a shocking expose of the corporatization of the university system, check out excerpts from Marc Bousquet’s new book.) According to ThinkProgress the latest innovation on this front is CampusReform, a social-networking site for collegiate conservatives who want to counter percieved liberal bias on campus and “smash left-wing scum”.  Besides offering a space for mutual commiseration and to report percieved discrimination, the site is also offering $100 every day in October as part of a “Report Leftist Abuse” contest.

So, naturally, I sauntered over to the page for Brandeis University and – what do you know! – the only thing on there so far is a complaint submitted by recent graduate Jordan Rothman. His complaint is below the fold.

Jordan Rothman, Brandeis University
Last fall, Jordan placed a number of John McCain for President stickers on his door to show his support. One night before the election, he saw a student and a friend vandalize his door and write offensive slurs. Jordan confronted them, upset that his property had been destroyed. He also took up the issue with the head of Department of Residence Life, who issued a verbal warning to the student.

According to Jordan:

The kid who vandalized my stickers happened to be gay. I knew this fact and confronted him about how he, who is from a community that has experienced such bigotry, be intolerant of my opinions. I asked him if I really needed to teach him a lesson in tolerance, and warned that I would be bringing this incident to the authorities.

Jordan also noted that Brandeis had dealt with a similar incident in 2006 much differently:

This is ridiculous to me, because my situation was no different than a time in 2006 when someone vandalized a Jesus Fish on campus and wrote the word “Science” on it. In this earlier incident there was a campus-wide town-hall meeting, emails were sent out, and university officials truly wanted to prosecute the individuals responsible.

So: is Brandeis a haven for “leftist abuse”? What is “leftist abuse”, anyway? (And no masturbation jokes, please.) And how should we as a community deal with perceived discrimination against conservative points of view? At the very least, I think this site is one to keep track of!


6 thoughts on “Is Brandeis a Haven for ‘Leftist Abuse’?”

  1. It seems to me that the problem is not in fact specific issues like Jordan R’s experience. The leftist abuse happens where it is most harmful: the classroom. The student body at a private university is often left-leaning and often immature, two factors which added together lead to stupid acts like vandalizing Jordan Rothman’s door. However, where students are truly stifled is in classes with professors who not only express their opinions often, but do so passionately. No one can pretend that a professor is unbiased, but these profs should either try their hardest to project an image of non-bias, or express their bias in a way that doesn’t make non-agreeing students feel like they can’t express their opinions. It is unacceptable for a professor to yell in a lecture hall of 180 people that “Republicans want to do X, which is SO STUPID!” Any student at Brandeis should be made to feel welcome to express their opinions and not worried that they will be attacked by an already intimidating authority figure or even lose points in their overall grade.

  2. “I did, however, experience genuine fear on election night 08, when DFA stormed SCC, with more noise than probably the Chicago crowds gave Obama upon his speech that night.”

    That was what my previous comment was referring to.

  3. Greeting from Lexington, VA!

    Yea, I submitted the report. The incident made me really upset, and I am happy people are talking about it. Plus, I won $100 for submitting it, which is always great! Hope all is going awesome at the ‘deis!

    Jordan R. ‘09 M.A. ‘09
    PS, Total bump to what Art said!

  4. The Jesus fish incident is decidedly less vitriolic, because its unlikely the offender had any malice towards people of faith. Jordan’s issue simply signals immaturity, something not rare, unfortunately, amongst college kids of all persuasions. That said his problem is not systematic, and unlikely to be the form of abuse the website speaks of.
    As a Republican at Brandeis, I can say, for the most part, I have met tolerance. This of course depends on your definition of tolerance-I knew walking going into Brandeis jokes and playful [hopefully] insults would follow. I’m not going to be a complete hardass, and I go with them. I did, however, experience genuine fear on election night 08, when DFA stormed SCC, with more noise than probably the Chicago crowds gave Obama upon his speech that night. I was wearing a Brandeis Republicans shirt.

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