Social Justice != internships

I’m reading an article in the Hoot about the proposed Justice Brandeis Semesters.

I really wish we knew more about them.

I’m also really confused by this quote:

Despite its monetary origins, Jaffe said that the JBS is not motivated solely by the university’s financial crisis.

“What this is doing is giving us the opportunity to make Brandeis stand out and expand upon things we are already doing, like experiential learning,” he said. “The JBS resonates with the basic themes of the university like social justice.”

What exactly does Brandeis forcing me to give up a semester of academics for a semester interning for some liberal group have to do with Social Justice? Now, I’ve been in talks with some of the ideas originators, and they do have some good ideas on how to make this work. However, I’m very worried by the proposal as currently proposed. It’s vague, it could turn out really horribly (why should I pay 20,000$ for a semester’s unpaid labor at the SEIU, however glorified?).

The Justice Brandeis Semester has other facets than internships, of course, but that’s how its been most strongly described to me, and how the Social Justice angle is going to be done.

I don’t think the faculty senate should vote on the JBS proposal right now. As currently formulated, they have a lot of potential, but currently don’t sound so hot to me. This definitely needs more discussion.

The Budget Crisis and how you can help

On the right hand side of Innermost Parts you can see a little box saying “The Budget Crisis – How to Help”. On it are links to all the official forums where committee-members will be reading and interacting.

Man, has this been been a crazy semester so far or what?

I don’t have much time – classes! breakfast! teethbrushing! – but I do want to say a few words about where we are now, and where to go from here.

We, the students of Brandeis, should be proud of ourselves.
Two weeks ago, we knew nothing. We relied on leaks in The Justice and vague emails from Jehuda for our information. (Of course, those in the know used Innermost Parts. 😛 )The faculty were having secret meetings and a Dean called the cops to keep those meetings secret.

“Shut up, sit down, eat your oatmeal. The Grown-Ups are in charge.”

We’ve progressed since then. Due to our organized outrage, our eloquent pieces in the Hoot, Justice (and yes, Innermost Parts), thanks to our demonstrations, our countless meetings with faculty and staff, we’ve been given a say in the academic plans at Brandeis.

A say, a voice, but no power.

Still, thanks to our organizing and Jason Gray’s mediation and leadership, there now exist official channels for our voices to be heard.
But is anyone speaking up?

I know we are. The backroom conversations, the chatter at club meetings, the worried introspection before bedtime – all that is real.
But we’re not channeling our passion and our love for Brandeis correctly.

Right now, there are committees (with student representation) meeting to decide the fate of Brandeis. Do you want a part in all that? Write, discuss, argue and vent in the places they’re listening.

On the right hand side of Innermost Parts you can see a little box saying “The Budget Crisis – How to Help”. On it are links to all the official forums where committee-members will be reading and interacting.

Look, no one is happy. We’re not happy with our representation, with the fact that these committees report to the Faculty, Administration, and Board of Trustees, but not to us. We’re unhappy with the hurried way this is all being done. We’re unhappy that it took concerted student pressure to get told anything, to be put on any committee. These things should have been the status quo already.

Still, for now, let’s start using these hard-fought lines of communication.

Official Lines of Communication:
Official Study Abroad Discussion

Add ideas to the Wiki

Official Recruiting and Admissions Forum

Curricular Innovation and Restructuring Forum

Official Summer Semester Forum

Official Degree Requirements and Advising Forum

Did Too Much Debt Cause Brandeis’ Financial Woes?

The following was sent to the editors of Innermost Parts by a recent alumnus of Brandeis, who has been following the news and decided to do some of his own research on Brandeis’ finances. Most of his conclusions come after examining data from this document, the University’s publicly available FY 2007 990 tax form required of all non-profits. We thought his questions were compelling, and hope this post fosters further investigation and research. These are questions that need to be answered.

~ Loki & Sahar


During public conversations about the current state of Brandeis’ financial crisis, much has been discussed about the state of the University’s endowment and its current financial situation. However, none of the articles I have read in the Brandeis press or national press discuss the University’s substantial debt.

Numbers can tell a story. Hard data is necessary to look more deeply into the fiscal health of an organization. Numbers can also raise questions.

Every year all non-profits – including universities – must file 990 forms detailing their financial activities with the IRS. Brandeis last filed its 990 following FY 2007. At that time we were led to believe, from pronouncements in fundraising appeals and in the twice yearly Presidential letters, that the university was the paragon of financial health. Brandeis was in the midst of a successful capital campaign, which was bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the University.  The financial crisis was not even on the horizon.

Yet that very year, Brandeis was saddled with debt. The University increased its liabilities (by issuing Tax Exempt Bonds and taking on Mortgage Debt) by $67 million, to more than $200 million — a 51% increase in debt in one year.

Continue reading “Did Too Much Debt Cause Brandeis’ Financial Woes?”