“Truth, unto its innermost parts.” The motto of Brandeis, emblazoned in brilliant white on 20-foot projection screens behind induction ceremonies before you’ve even unpacked your toothbrush. But like most lofty ideals, it hasn’t traveled much farther than its position as decorative collegiate background. There has been a lot to be upset about lately, too many situations where everyone from the Student Union to the University Administration to the American government to the entire goddamn world have needed more people to look for that inner truth and call out its jailers.
Something is rotten in the campus of Brandeis.
Those guiding the course of this University have abandoned the core values that made our namesake great, and here we are, drifting rudderless into the sea of the future.
Louis Brandeis was a champion of the people against the powerful, a guardian of civil rights, an advocate for making Democratic government a reality, a believer in workers’ rights, a proponent of trust busting, a prominent leader in almost every reform movement of his time, and earned a reputation as “the people’s attorney”. Brandeis was, in short, a Progressive.
We have forgotten Louis’ lesson. We have forgotten that the greatness of America isn’t measured by the tax breaks we give to our wealthiest, but by the compassion we show to our neediest.
Brandeis University should be space for intellectual honesty, a place for honest communications, a model of democratic government, a center of freedom of expression.
Instead, those running the University try to humiliate ex-Presidents, shut down offending artwork, and abandon even the veneer of self-determination while autocratically playing games with the lives of students.
Yet our Student Union is no better. Kowtowing to the Administration, it would rather raise a protest about budgetary reshuffling than say a word opposing issues that deal with safety on our campus. Perhaps they are paralyzed with indecision. Perhaps they have been hijacked by a self-serving faction of Senators. Perhaps they are too frightened to assert their power in the face of an increasingly autocratic administration. Any of these excuses are unacceptable.
Universities don’t have a Foreign Policy. Brandeis has one regarding a certain Middle-Eastern Country. That is wrong. Universities strive to foster an environment of academic exploration and vigorous debate. Brandeis imposes edicts from above with little regard to the concerns of we, the students, its lifeblood. Universities welcome discussion, debate, and the rule of Reason. Brandeis throws guns at its problems and refuses to critically examine its security policy, preferring instead to “look tough”.
Louis Brandeis believed in Social Justice, real Democracy, freedom of Expression, and self-determination. So do we. Louis Brandeis was a Progressive. So are we. Is our University?