Rock the Caucus: This Saturday

Got this in the mail:

The caucuses to elect delegates to the 2008 Democratic State Convention will be held this Saturday at the Northeast Elementary School, 70 Putney Lane, at 10:00 A.M.

Registration CLOSES at 10:00 A.M. so it is very important that you be on time!!!

Hope to see you there.


Robert G. Logan, Chairman
Waltham Democratic City Committee

This sounds really fun. And important. If you are registered to vote in Waltham, want to come down to the Caucus with us? Perhaps a lucky Brandeis student will be able to to the 2008 Democratic State Convention!

Countdown ’till the primary: 7 days

The Massachusetts Presidential Primary will be in 7 days.
You can vote at Gosman gym, if you’re registered.

Today’s news: Edwards drops out. Here’s his classy concession speech:link

Well, that tears it. I was leaning Edwards, but with only 2 candidates in the race, I’m jumping on the Obama train.

Inspiring point:

Never before in the history of the United States of America have the voters and delegates of a major political party had to choose their nominee for President from a field that did not include a white male.

We may or may not win this election, but in the greater social and cultural conflict fought out in this country for the last 50 years, we have won. Democrats liked all our candidates when John Edwards was still running for President, and we still like our candidates now that we no longer have a white male to choose. We are not threatened by having to chose between a woman and a man of color. We not only accept this as our current American reality, we embrace it as our future. WE are the party of tolerance. WE are the party of diversity. WE are the party of solidarity. And WE are the party of change.

Here are two favorable post-mortems on the Edwards campaign. Long story short – he forced Clinton and Obama to veer to the left on issues such as healthcare and the environment.

A trip to meet Gloria Steinem

UPDATE:  Tickets are going fast. We have 1 left.

Gloria Steinem is giving a lecture at Wellesley this February 6th.

You know what would be cool? Going to see her!
You know what you should do? Come see her! is proud to announce a joint venture with DFA-Brandeis: A Trip to Meet Gloria Steinem.

We’re organizing a group of Brandeis students to go to Wellesley. You can sign up on facebook:

Or you can sign up on DFA-link:

Rumor has it that it’ll cost $15 per person.

The official speech starts at 7:30 pm, but we’ll have to leave Brandeis at around 6:30.

Gloria Steinem.
Feb. 6th.

Get excited.

Responsible & transparent investment

A while ago, you all may recall I sent an email to Pres. Reinharz concerning endowment transparency (see previous posts). Well, he responded. Some highlights:

There are good reasons why the University does not disclose the details of its investments. Disclosure of holdings rarely, if ever, improves returns, and in most cases, disclosure hurts returns…There are groups and individuals, who in no way have the best interest of the University at heart, who seek transparency for the advancement of their own interests in ways that could be contrary to the University’s interests…

You should know that the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees reports annually to the full Board regarding investment policy and social responsibility.

You may find the full text of the email here.

We intend to pursue this issue and investigate the validity of Pres. Reinharz vague claims of the sinister intentions and woeful effects of transparency.Other prestigious universities such as Brown, Swarthmore, Vassar, Harvard, and Columbia all have student involvemnt in committees concerned with investment responsibility.

I will leave you with the following from the Sustainable Endowment Institute:

Won’t shareowner engagement hurt our endowment investment returns?
No. Shareowner engagement does not involve any changes in investments, therefore, it does not impact endowment investment returns. The goal of shareowner engagement is to seek substantial improvement in corporate policies through dialogue with corporate management. The university endowment’s position of power with the company comes through its status as a shareholder.

Welcome Back

We apologize for the sparsity of posts after last semester. You will all be happy (or not so happy, take your pick) to know that Innermost Parts will resume its regularly updated schedule as of now.  Expect lots of substantive issues to be addressed, and keep reading!

We will have signs

During the MLK event tomorrow, we will be honored by the presence of Senator Carl Levin.

We love Senator Levin. The work he’s done on the Armed Services Committee has been stellar. Some activists on campus are going to hold up signs telling him that.

At the same time, they’ll be holding up signs telling him that we’d love him even more if he joined Senators Dodd and Feingold in their effort to filibuster a dangerous bill that would give amnesty to telecom corporations who helped the White House disobey the 4th Amendment.

I’ll be there with them: I hope you join us.

Fun with slogans

Campaign slogans are funny things. How important are they? Who knows?

For your reference, here are the slogans of the four Democrats (minus Gravel) left in the Campaign:

  • Hillary Clinton:       Turn up the Heat!
  • Barack Obama:        Fire it up, ready to go!
  • John Edwards:         Tomorrow Begins Today.
  • Dennis Kucinich:    Strength Through Peace.

Here’s an exclusive Innermost Parts campaign slogan mashup for the Democratic Presidential Nominating Race, 2008 edition.

“Fire Today, Turn up the Tomorrow! Peace.”

You saw it here, folks

Carl Levin and MLK: Monday

Carl Levin is coming to Brandeis.

Mark your calendars: MLK Day will go down like this:
Freedom Trail tours of activist sites on campus: 5pm
Seating in Shapiro Campus Center: 5:30pm
Senator Carl Levin Speaks: 6:00 pm
Assorted MLK-day presentations onse: 7:pm

That’s pretty cool. According to Progressive Punch, Senator Levin is the 11th-most progressive senator. Delving deeper, it seems that his least progressive stances include the environment, and agricultural corporate subsidies, while his voting record on a variety of issues – social justice, education, and family planning- is stellar. In short, Carl’s a pretty good Senator.

Since he’s a Senator, and the chair of the Armed Services Committee to boot, I am mulling over the idea of asking Senator Levin to support Senator Dodd and Senator Feingold in their filibuster of legislation that would give amnesty to Telecommunication Companies that helped the Bush Administration trample on the Fourth Amendment.

It’ll be an off-topic question at the Panel he’s joining. On the other hand, stopping retroactive immunity is imperative; we have to prove that corporations (and Presidents) can’t break all sorts of laws and then have Congress retroactively forgive them.

Maybe I should carry a banner or sign inside?
If anyone wants to organize or join me in bringing this matter to his attention, please email me at

P.S. Looks like someone else wants to lobby Senator Levin as well.

Voting Good. Apathy Bad.

The Justice has an editorial out that calls for more youth participation in politics, specifically focusing on the February 5th primary. That’s good. From my vane point as a progressive Democrat, youth are the key to the long-term health of the party. A presidential primary is among other things a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. A victorious party nominee traditionally chooses the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, embodies the principles of the party, and hires ideologically aligned people to fill posts in the Cabinet and so forth. Therefore the more we “youth” vote in the primary, the more the national party will share our values and our agenda.

While I don’t disagree with any part of the piece to a large extent, there are a few thoughts I’d like to share:

  • Voting in the February 5th primary is important for a reason the editorial neglected to mention:  party elections. The Democratic Primary on February 5th has you vote for Presidential nominee, but also for Delegates for the Democratic National Convention, as well as local party leaders. I know a few people from Brandeis were trying to get on the ballot to be Delegates for Obama and Edwards.
  • On February 5th, vote for me. Both Alex and I (as well as three other students) are on the ballot to be members of the Waltham City Democratic Committee.
  • Waltham is watching us. There are people who check the participation rate of Brandeis Students. The more we vote (in the General Election but in the Primary as well) the more inclined elected officials, party members, and so on will be to take Brandeis seriously and to spend resources on us.
  • In the Iowa caucus, the ‘youth’ (Ages 17-24) turnout rate tripled:
    Youth vote Iowa
  • In the New Hampshire Primary, the ‘Youth’ (Ages 18-29) Turnout Rate more than doubled:
    Youth vote in New Hampshire
  • The Justice may have said this,

    With just over three weeks to go until Super Duper Tuesday, now is the time to get active, and to do so in person. Join the Brandeis Republicans or the Brandeis Democrats, go to Brandeis Students for Barack Obama meetings, canvass with Brandeis for Jonathan Edwards, or start up Brandeis for Huckabee (if you dare)

    but please, instead of starting a Rudy Guiliani fan club, consider joining Democracy for America instead. In fact, there are many ways to participate in the primary season beyond Brandeis Democrats or candidate-centric clubs. You can join SEA and create a youtube ad applauding Edwards for his early embrace of green issues, or you can team up with BLC to spread the word that Clinton’s longtime pollster and advisor is union-busting Mark Penn. Or you could be part of DFA, the Brandeis hub for progressive activists.

You must register to vote today!

Bumped. In fact, today is your last chance. – Sahar
Want to vote in the Massachusetts Presidential Primary? Today is your last chance. Register to vote any day from the 16th 17th on and you can’t vote in the Primary.

You can register to vote through Rock the Vote: Go to, fill out your information, print out the form it gives you, and mail it to:

Secretary of the Commonwealth
Elections Division
Boston, MA 02108

It’s that easy!

Remember, if you want to vote in the Presidential Primary in Massachusetts, you have to register today. And Massachusetts is very much up for grabs come the February 5th primary.

A temporary sparseness

in posts shall be in effect over the break. Meanwhile, enjoy your holidays!

As a sidenote, I recently sent an email to Pres. Reinharz concerning our endowment transparency. Let us see how he responds. 


For the light posting. I’ve had mad late final essay work to do that just ended about 10 minutes ago, and of course we all want to enjoy the break.

Expect sporadic posting until Monday, when IP will revv up to normal posting speed.

Brandeis is Oolong the Rabbit?
I didn’t think so.

Contacting Congress Has Never Been Easier!

Now with Facebook!

I found something marvelous today: The Voices Facebook Application

Fill out your name, address, and zipcode, and a message of your choice (pertaining to the issue page you’re using) and you send an email to your congressman and both Senators.

I’m adding it to our links. There is no excuse not to contact congress when you can do it in 50 seconds, or even less, through facebook.

That’s the same time it takes to refresh your secret crush’s profile and decide that you shouldn’t write on her/his wall just yet.
That’s the same time it takes to update your “Compare people” page, or to invite 10 of your friends with a “hotness request”.

Continue reading “Contacting Congress Has Never Been Easier!”

Brandeis – not feared enough by intolerant reactionaries?

Family Security Matters seems to be some sort of right-wing, “lump all your fear of foreigners and brown people together” organization committed to “keeping American families safe from not just terrorism, but all those different ideas and people they might be forced to encounter. And by “families,” they mean white, Christian, economically privileged families.”

Over at TAPPED, Kate Sheppard reports:

Family Security Matters just released their 2007 list of the 10 most “insipid, scary and yes, downright dangerous” college courses. Big surprise — they’re courses about labor, sexuality, race, and “social justice.” According to FSM, they “express an agenda far beyond any honest or accurate academic cause” and “offer nothing more than to stroke the ego of the professor’s fascination with silly topics.” My alma mater Ithaca College comes in at No. 7 with Chip Gagnon’s “Whiteness and Multiculturalism,” a course exploring the history of racism and the privileges of whiteness in America.

Well, I looked over the list (IP – we read rightwing propaganda so you don’t have to!) and it’s pretty silly. The “most dangerous course in America,” Islam in Global Contexts is chosen because “this course appears to serve as a way to propagandize students into believing Islamofascism just isn’t that bad.” Islamofascism? You mean that a religion has created a state that values corporations more than people? You mean a “term [that] came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t?” (Thank you, Paul Krugman)

Here’s the scandal: Not one Brandeis course is on that list. We have a “right-wing hatred” (of us) gap with colleges such as Williams or Columbia. It’s an honor to be accepting enough of gay rights, labor rights, multiculturalism, minorities, and sexuality to be the object of right-wing hatred. Next year, let’s try and make it to the top 10.

What do you think Brandeis should invest in?

This is a follow-up to the previous post. Read that first =).As students, we can apply pressure to the University to invest in socially responsible areas. We have pursued divestment from companies direclty or indirectly violating human rights (there was a divestment campaign out of Sudan a few years ago; I don’t know what happened to it) and such campaigns have proven successful in universities across the nation. But what kind of things should we invest in? Any ideas which prove socially responsible and fiscally rewarding? Is this something we should research and pursue? What are your ideas? Where do you want your money to go?

What does our money support?

I recently came upon the College Sustainability Report Card for Brandeis, which can be found here. Our overall grade is a C, which means that despite some commitment to environmental sustainability, we’re still doing a fairly lackluster job. Especially troubling is the apalling lack of transparency in our endowment’s investment, as well as its lack of commitment to Brandeis’ principles. From the report:

Endowment Transparency – F
The university makes neither its proxy voting record nor its list of endowment holdings public.

Investment Priorities – C
The university aims to optimize investment return and has not made any public statements about investigating or investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds.

Shareholder Engagement – F
The university asks that its investment managers handle the details of proxy voting.

From what I can gather here, we are investing purely to maximize profit and without the input of shareholders or students. Is this what we want our university to be doing, when we could be using our money to invest in socially responsible ways such as renewable energy or microcredit loans, just off the top of my head?

These are just cursory ideas, and I think we should do more research into the situation. As responsible Brandeis citizens, we should ensure our university puts its money where its values are. At the very least, it could make its list of holdings public, which many other universities do.
What are we investing in which we have to hide?

He’s actually speaking from the grave…

If you are progressive and interested in Brandeis politics or world politics as they apply to us students, we’re looking to broaden our writing base.Whether you simply want to write a post now and then or be a regular contributor, we’d love if you’d drop us a line. Send an email to and if you want to talk more. Act soon, cause interest is growing already. And yes, that is Louis Brandeis.

Democracy at Brandeis?

In the comment thread of Loki’s “On Campus Protests” Adam Hughes, a commenter, said this:

I think it is important to note that a university is not and should not be a representative democracy. For better or worse, the power hierarchy puts the students below the administration.

This is an important issue that I think we really should address.

No one is proposing that we set up a full-fledged constitutional representative democracy here at Brandeis. However, the spirit of liberal democracy contains much more than the right to vote. Democracy, frankly, is a short-hand for a whole host of values, such as freedom of expression, privacy rights, a civic society, egalitarianism, rule of law, and, most importantly to this discussion, self-determination.

If the administration decided to restructure the Student Activities funding mechanism in a vacuum, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But when the F-Board constitution specifically says that Student Activities receives its funds from F-Board, and the University runs roughshod over that document, I get worried. Most importantly, when the Student Body (as expressed by the Student Union) unequivocally rejects this proposal, and the University doesn’t back down, it unveils many problems.

Simply put, the University has a history of ignoring student wishes and imposing its own agenda. I wouldn’t even necessarily call this a malicious move: it seems to me, at this time, that the University considers students’ opinions as an afterthought, or not at all.
Continue reading “Democracy at Brandeis?”

On Climate Crises and Lasers

Well, the global climate change summit in Bali has drawn to a close.

Approaching the end, it seemed like delegates would leave the summit with nothing but a tan and a bunch of free pina coladas. The United States continually roadblocked efforts to set tangible emissions standards, citing concerns that China, India, and other developing countries are not making the commitments demanded of the US. But in the final hour, after being hissed at and booed by fellow delegates, we finally capitulated a wee tad. After talking it out, everybody decided it would be a grand old time if… they all talked some more! Two years of talks, to be precise. This from a wonderful round-up of the conference by the NY Times (found here),

The resulting “Bali Action Plan” contains no binding commitments, which European countries had sought and the United States fended off. The plan concludes that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” and provides a timetable for two years of talks to shape the first formal addendum to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty since the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago. 

At first glance, this seems to be dissapointing, non-binding politico-speak leaving us right where we are now. But considering that the Bush Administration has until now entirely denied the need for new climate policy from fifteen years ago, it represents a pretty big shift. And, as Al Gore pointed out when he accepted his Nobel Prize, the next administration is more apt to realize we’re plunging the world to its doom. (Get that story here.) In two years, we’ll have that new government. US negotiators certainly wheeled and dealed and pushed off the issue with another series of non-binding commitments. But maybe – just maybe – a new Administraton will make something real out of these post-Bali talks.

At least one of our presidents sees the urgent need for a stricter energy policy – Brandeis’ President Jehuda Reinharz. We have signed onto the Presidents Climate Commitment, a commitment to form a plan for universities to go climate-neutral. I encourage you to check it out here. Other area schools Harvard, Yale, Tufts, BU, Brown, and M.I.T have all not signed.

An interesting side-note – we spend more developing laser weaponry to fry the world than we do on researching renewable energy sources to keep it from frying. Take the recent mounting of a 12,000-lb laser on a 747 as an example of our twisted priorities.

More on what we as Brandeis students can do on climate change to come.  

On-Campus Activism Report

This is the beginning of something I hope will be a regular feature on Innermost Parts: A roundup of what the various activist clubs are up to, and how you can get involved.

Welcome to the first ever Innermost Parts On-Campus Activism Report: Inaugural Edition.

Drive Out: Poverty, hosted by Positive Foundations(?)
Your used book donations can fight poverty at home and abroad!

Donate your old textbooks in the specially marked boxes in Shapiro Atrium. Next semester, you can buy the textbooks others donated on the cheap. All money goes to the amazing and equally amazing

The collection drive started yesterday, and you can donate textbooks until the end of finals week. More information under the fold.

Darfur Refugee Collection Drive Hosted by Impact Aliyah, STAND
Donate supplies or money to Darfur Refugees in Israel

There have been many Sudanese refugees/immigrants seeking asylum in Israel over the last few years, due to the whole Darfur tragedy. Impact Aliyah and STAND are starting a donation drive for “school supplies, food, packable blankets, and anything you think might be useful for the refugees as they enter the colder months in Israel,” but also, of course, money. During winter break, Impact Aliyah participants will distribute everything they collected personally to the refugees as they visit Israel.

This is a really cool partnership between two different groups on campus. Good! You can donate items “in the main entrance to the village, the main entrance to Hass in East, the Bet Midrash, and the library.” If you’d rather straight-up donate money, they will be tabling in Sherman “Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights collecting money.”

With the semester winding down, I think that’s it for active progressive campaigns on campus. Be sure to email me or leave a message in the comments if you think I missed anything.

Continue reading “On-Campus Activism Report”

My thoughts on the F-Board Protest

There’s been a lot of discussion about the merits and purpose of the protest, both on and off-line. Here’s how I feel:

Regarding what Loki said here:

First of all, the event was only organized with the consent and oversight of the Administration itself, the very institution whose policies we were supposedly acting out against. What does this say about the commitment to student independence we were supposedly trying to defend?

It’s perfectly legitimate to work within the establishment to effect change. In fact, many times, it’s necessary. And if the school gave us the tools to fulfill our goals (a student union, money, etc) then of course we should take advane of them.

Let’s put it this way. The administration is in a bind. What are they going to do, revoke these deep-rooted privileges (and the ability to buy donuts is a privilege) and rights of student protest, assembly, etc? That would make them look even worse. So the only way to let them off the hook would be to not use those rights and privileges.

I’ve written much more “below the fold” (click on the “read the rest…” link).
Continue reading “My thoughts on the F-Board Protest”

On Protests

A few weeks ago, you’ll remember the Administration decided it would be a wonderful idea to remove $210,000 from student control under the F-Board and instead allocate it to the Department of Student Activities. Quite a few people, myself included, were a bit upset. A university is built upon the students – we are the sole most important force, its future representatives in the world. It is we who should be the primary deciders of our institution’s philosophy and policy. We therefore have a right to be outraged when a hefty chunk of the already meager financial resources under our control is suddenly snatched by a hand in the clouds. The principle of the thing – that we are neither fiscally responsible nor wise enough to manage money concerning our extracurricular involvement – is grounds enough for protest.

And so we did. On December 6, a substantial group of students (my eye for figures is notoriously bad, but I would say the number was… 70? 100?) gathered outside the Bernstein-Marcus Administration building and marched through its halls, chanted a few times, and ate a good deal of donuts and hot chocolate. Now, I certainly don’t have anything against hot chocolate – that stuff’s delicious. But I think the whole vibe of the thing – the snacks, the protest almost solely for the sake of the experience – was fundamentally flawed.

A protest is a deeply symbolic act. Its symbolism – that masses of people are willing to get up and spend their time marching in defense of a cause they care about – is the entire point. And I think that idea was missed here, for several reasons. First of all, the event was only organized with the consent and oversight of the Administration itself, the very institution whose policies we were supposedly acting out against. What does this say about the commitment to student independence we were supposedly trying to defend? We apparently only care enough about our rights to organize one event for which we must seek official approval? We are only able to do so by enticing attendees with donuts and hot drinks from Dunkin Donuts? After saying a few words and disbanding, we pat ourselves on the back and don’t plan any follow-up action or demonstration. This is a tepid response at best.

What we need to be doing is continuing to protest until we are actually listened to, not patronizingly tolerated. We should have been showing up on the lawn of Bernstein-Marcus every day until we received some serious response. Instead, the message we sent was that we do not care enough about our rights to actively demonstrate for them, and will only show up to one officially approved march if we are bribed with luxuries, no matter how tasty they may be.

Martin Luther King said that “he who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” While a transfer of funds is not the worst of evils, it is certainly something harmful to our student independence. To combat it, we must continue to protest. Once was not enough. It is regrettable that we have let so much time pass, regrettable that we will not really be able to continue action until after winter break. But, if we wish to be taken seriously, we must continue organizing protests, even without administrative consent. We must not stop until our voices are heard.


“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.

Continue reading “We. are. INNERMOST PARTS!”

Why we fight

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?