Students Scrounging on the Streets

March seems to be “kick Brandeis students off campus” month.

Hopefully, you already know about the case of my dorm-mate Mamoon Darwish. His room-mate has started a “Where is the Justice at Brandeis????” group on facebook. It already has 208 members. It asserts:

Mamoon has suffered from lack of due process and an unfair trial as administered by the Brandeis Judicial System. We are writing to draw your attention to his situation.

Rights violated (in chronological order):
1. Prevention from receiving medical consultation before making his police statement
2. Failure to receive proper legal council from the Student Development and Conduct SDC according to the Brandeis Rights and Responsibility booklet
3. Failure to receive written charges of accusation from the Student Development and Conduct
4. Mistrial:
a. Photographic evidence withheld
b. Witness statements withheld
5. Use of unnecessary force by Brandeis police officers.

I don’t know enough to tell whether all that is true or not. Maybe Mamoon has been given a fair hearing by the Brandeis Judicial System pursuant to University Policy. At this moment, I can’t judge. What I do know is that Mamoon, an international student, is barred from campus. This has a number of ramifications, including:

1. Health: Deprived of access to food. Since Mamoon was banned from campus he has been unable to access his campus meal plan. This meal plan represents the only provision of food within his Brandeis scholarship, which is Mamoon’s sole current source income.
2. Housing: Banned from campus since 16th of February to present. As an international student with limited funds and no family in the United States, the revocation of housing has left Mamoon homeless

4. Education: Suspended from all academic activities. Suspension at this time is critical, because the admission of TYP student as Brandeis freshmen for the 2008-09 is currently under consideration and hinges upon successful completion of all courses. Thus Mamoon’s suspension is equivalent to expulsion.

(emphasis mine)

So, if these reports are true, and I see no reason to believe otherwise, right now Mamoon has no income, few funds, and has been denied his only secured access to Food and Shelter, and, as a TYP student, has effectively been expelled, starting next semester. That isn’t right.

As a Brandeis student, I am very concerned. I expect my teachers to respect me and help guide my human development. How can I trust that they are acting in my interests when the University, the institution that represents them, treats a fellow student so badly? This shows a profound lack of humanity and decency on behalf of the people acting in loco parentis. I understand that they consider Mamoon too threatening to be on campus. Yet, could they not arrange housing for him? Surely they could feed the poor boy.

I just can’t believe that a place that is supposed to nurture me and be my parent-surrogate can act in such a harsh, reactionary, manner. What a desperate situation: a near-broke international student facing legal action in an unfamiliar country.

My point here is simple. Even assuming that the University is in the right to kick Mamoon off campus, even assuming that he is guilty and so forth, I feel that the University, seeing as it serves as a parent-surrogate; seeing as how it is in the unique position of being our metaphorical “teacher”; seeing as how it has a mission to help guide and nurture our development, should act in a more supportive manner.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that the “powers that be” have a thought-out, clear reason they are acting as they are. I’m sure there are more arguments to be made on both sides. I know that there are many well-meaning, caring individuals on staff here. However, speaking as a student, I’m getting the message that the University cares very little about me. I’m of the impression that Brandeis would waste no time leaving me to the wolves if it thought doing so would be good for its reputation. I do not feel supported. I do not feel comforted and safe. Frankly, I find this a signal that I am seen more as a source of tuition/future bragging rights than as a vulnerable human being.

That’s a terrible shame.