The front page of this week’s Justice has, as its lead article, a story about the Constitutional Review Committee’s final report. The article is well-written, comprehensive, and informative, and it’s accompanied by a nice, eye-catching picture. The problem is that I don’t think anyone cares.
The CRC is one of those topics that’s only interesting to the very small minority of students who follow the Union closely. Its meetings were held behind closed doors, its mission is basically just a reshuffling of the Union government, and even the best changes it proposes will measurably affect only a small percentage of the campus community. You don’t have to take my word for it; in same issue’s ‘Brandeis Talks Back’ section, all four of the students they interview express complete apathy to the process. Yes, the report is significant enough to merit coverage, but does it really deserve its front page status?
Meanwhile, you’d have to turn to page 5 of the paper to learn that a potential hate crime occurred on the Brandeis campus this weekend. The newly-refurbished Muslim Student Association suite was viciously vandalized on Friday. The wall in Imam Talal Eid’s office was permanently damaged, and his personal copy of the Quran was stolen. The nature of the theft makes it hard to view this as anything but an attack against campus Muslims, and it absolutely sickens me to think that such a vile invasion could happen at the school I call home. But apparently, it’s worth only one-sixth of a page buried in the News section, next to a full page of advertisements.
During Diana Aronin’s impeachment and trial, many people complained about the petty disagreements that the Union officers turned into a public spectacle. I agree with them, but the campus media need to be held culpable as well for turning what should have been an internal Union affair into a weekly front-page spectacle. If our Union government suffers from self-importance, it is only because they’re used to getting undue attention for every minor issue. Meanwhile, the papers will continue to alienate their readers if they glorify topics that are ultimately irrelevant for most students. I suspect that students are far more interested in uncovering hate on our campus than on how big the Union Senate will be next year, and I think the every campus media outlet needs to reassess what its reporting priorities should be.
6 responses to “Priorities”
[…] night I was feeling pretty frustrated. Weren’t you? I felt powerless to do anything about the Muslim Student Association vandalism, and I felt angry at newspapers irresponsibly playing up the whole “Brandeis is a university […]
Is the stolen Koran the metric of seriousness? While obviously not helping the case of the assailants, I do not know if it is the proverbial nail in the coffin, so to speak-that is to say it is not precipitously worse than the undeniably mild [again, not in any way condonable] incident.
This is less pressing in that it is somewhat harder to curb-if caught, the assailants should be punished, but you can’t remedy hate. People will continue to hold the views they hold, and some will be stupid enough to act on them. All that needed to be done has been-the space is getting a card swipe terminal. The restructuring report is far more high impact, and more input-centric; discussion of it will yield diverse, meaningful conversation. This is a one side issue, so to speak. Not to de-value it, simply to say it may not merit quite the response it has. Again, my opinions would be ENTIRELY different had more concentrated, identifiable hate been left, either in graffiti, or in more intense desecration.
“To quote Hyder’s article, this is more immaturity than Matthew Shepherd-esque hate.”
Thankfully its not Matthew Shepard-esque hate, but there is a lot of area between immaturity and brutal murder.
I would be ok with the immaturity argument if the MSA was broken into and some lamps were unplugged. A tasteless prank, no big deal.
A lot bigger deal when the Koran is stolen – it shows that the motive isn’t just to pull a prank (unless the people who did this are so outrageously stupid that they don’t know what the Koran is). But in stealing the Koran, its clear that the motives were different.
Because of that, this is a big deal. No, no one was murdered, but this is important and I’m glad people are talking about it. Maybe someone will learn something.
Art — One of the real challenges in creating news content is balancing importance with interest. A story’s worth is measured in both “How much will this affect my readers?” and “How much do people want to read about this?”. While you may be right in saying this isn’t the most crucial and time-sensitive campus story for the average Brandeisian, it is probably the story that the student body takes the most interest in. Just look at the Justice’s website and see how many more comments this short, poorly placed story is getting than anything else in the issue.
In this way, the MSA vandalism is far more relevant than the CRC, or maybe anything else in the issue. I think we’d be in a sad state if it were true that the relevance of an attack on a small minority extended only to those who suffered from it. I think my overriding point is that the Justice treated it as if this were so, and the campus community is poorly served by that.
To kinda spar words, Adam, is this THE most important thing?
What happened to the lounge is horrible, and is a setback for the entire campus. It is not, however, a dynamic event in which the experience of ~3200 undergrads is in some way effected. To call this impact low impact is an insult-this is nothing short of horrible. But it simply isn’t the most crucial and perhaps time sensitive thing happening in the lives of the majority of Brandesians.
Ofcourse, I would be saying none of this if racial/religious epithets were written, or individuals harmed. To quote Hyder’s article, this is more immaturity than Matthew Shepherd-esque hate.
I feel bad that whenever Diana’s name gets googled by an employer debate regarding anti-Muslim hate crimes will be ensue.
Enjoy the activity on the site today, keep it up Sahar.