Applications to join the Steering Committee of the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance (which basically means giving out grants and so forth for deserving clubs, etc) are due at midnight tonight.

Here’s what I wrote for my application:

Q: How would you describe the issues and challenges related to pluralism and unity at Brandeis?

A:
Brandeis, as I’ve said before, has a very fractured social scene. The glut of clubs serves to divide, rather than unite, many students on campus.

For instance, the members of Students for Environmental Action and the members of the Brandeis Democrats may have much in common and benefit from working together, but the clubs meet at around the same time and one can’t be in *all* the activist clubs on campus.

Similarly, the “identity clubs” (mixed-heritage, ahora, etc) have little contact with clubs which are not under the ICC umbrella. This is a problem which should change.

Beyond these structural problems, there are simmering tensions below the surface of calm. Voluntary segregation is still an issue. Anything to do with the Middle East is sure to raise hackles. Affirmative action is like religion and politics – not spoken about in polite company. There are only 7 Black professors on campus, and goodness knows how many Latin@s, etc.

Pluralism, Diversity, Tolerance. These things are stressed during Orientation (and the Mosaic pre-orientation program) and hardly ever spoken of again. As Ben Brandzel put it, this University was created to tear down the walls between members of humankind. We were explicitly created to challenge unjust admittance quotas in other colleges. I don’t believe that we’re institutionally living up to that legacy.

So that’s what I think? What about you?

2 comments on “Pluralism”

  1. Matt Says:

    I’m surprised to find myself agreeing with you. It’s a succinct analysis of what’s wrong. Now I’d like to see you write about what you think should be done, what can be done, and what the university is willing to do. Student groups will most likely be the agent of change here anyway.

  2. Jessica Says:

    You hit the nail on the head, Sahar. Now it’s just a matter of how do we do this? The common response I’ve heard is “We need to cosponsor more with other clubs”, which albeit a good idea won’t necessarily solve the problem if you’re just looking for a variety of names to share space on your posters. There needs to be REAL co-sponsorship, co-planning, and cooperation.

    I feel like a lot of people at Brandeis (especially those active in the club scenes), see this issue but are also fractured in their approaches to solving it.