Jordan Rothman’s latest “Hoot” column protests protesting! I normally wouldn’t critique his columns since he’s already in the minority, but this week’s is worth addressing, given the amount of energy Brandeis students have put into activism in the past few months. I’ve supported many of the recent demonstrations on campus, and writers at Innermost Parts have publicly encouraged, organized, and covered protests.
I like to think Rothman and Innermost Parts happen to reserve public complaining for different things. Innermost Parts typically directs its frustration towards unnecessary wars, lack of financial transparency, and what its writers feel are questionable administrative decisions. Rothman prefers tackling the peace room, drunk environmentalists, and excessive protesting. We’re just different, right?
Rothman is too flippant about the impact of the administration’s decisions on Brandeis’s environment. Students are organizing for meaningful causes, including the preservation of the Rose Art Museum, an influential institution, and access to information concerning where our money is going and how administrative decisions will affect our lives. It’s not like we place “SEITAN NOW!” signs all around Usdan once we’ve realized fake meat options on campus have been reduced.
Rothman also binds protesting to the 1960’s as if activism is some tired anachronism. I’m pretty sure protesting has occurred in pretty much every decade. They serve a particular purpose petitions and meetings can’t imitate. Effective demonstrations help the administration match names on a petition with a mass of frustrated people. The “sexy photos” of protests published in the newspaper generate media attention and spread the word. Protests are publicity, and they’re effective. If they weren’t, Rothman wouldn’t have been bothered enough to write a word about them.
Lastly, Rothman made a factual mistake worth correcting: I know Lev Hirschhorn, Alex Melman, and Nathan Robinson all voted against the Executive Session last month. They were also the senators I remember organizing/attending the staff meeting protest. I doubt hypocrisy can be exposed with this protest and these senators, but something can definitely be said about the discourse between the entire Senate and the administration.