Two Important Forums Tomorrow

At last week’s open forum, President Reinharz promised that the dialogue between the administration and the students was just beginning, and tomorrow at 5 in the Levin Ballroom, he will keep his word.  The main complaint that most students had with the first forum was the inconvenient timing; 11 o’clock on a Wednesday is impossible for many students to make.  Thankfully, it looks like that was just a necessity of the schedule rather than an attempt to minimize turnout.  In fact, by holding a similar forum shortly afterwards, President Reinharz is proving that he wants to engage as many of us as possible.

The forum will be structured the same way as the last one, with the same presentation being shown for those who haven’t had a chance to see it yet.  However, the forum should still be productive for those who have, since this will be the first opportunity to ask the administration about the sustained bad press from the Rose Art Museum and about the reexamining of the study abroad decisions.  Provost Marty Krauss will probably have a lot to say about the new Committee on Academic Restructuring (CARS).

The follow-up forum, to be held at 6:30 in the Shaprio Campus Center, should prove to be just as interesting.  Jason Gray has put it together explicitly for the students, and it should help pull in students beyond those currently involved in BBCC, whose core is still weighted towards the established campus activists.  The entire student body faces the threat of deep cuts, and now is a great time to involve underrepresented members of the campus community.  In the e-mail announcing these forums, Jason made it clear that he hopes to encourage activism on the community level, saying “Our greatness lies in a Student Body that speaks up to be heard in the process of determining the future of our University… As Union President, it gives me great joy to speak for you, but even greater joy to speak with you.”  I expect many new ideas for action moving forward to come out of this meeting,

One other interesting statement from the e-mail promises that the forum “will be the predecessor to a series of academic forums that will be held for the entire Brandeis community to discuss proposed curriculum changes.”  From what I hear, these forums will actually be held by the subcommittees of CARS.  That means they will be far more than just Q&A sessions.  Instead, they represent a real opportunity to influence the decision-making bodies that will determine Brandeis’s academic future.  We have moved beyond merely asking for transparency.  Instead of just listening, we will be listened to.

Jason’s e-mail from Monday is below the fold.

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More Ways to Join the Brandeis Discussion

BrandeisPlans was a great step forward in the process of empowering students in changing Brandeis.  The idea of a forum open equally to every member of the Brandeis community was simple but brilliant, and it really hadn’t existed in any shape before.  However, the wiki format makes it more suited to collecting and sharing broad ideas than for detailed discussion, so the ability for collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and administration was still far from complete.

Thankfully, BrandeisPlans was only the first step.  The Committee on Academic Restructuring has proven to be just as open as we could have hoped, and they have introduced a new series of online forums hosted by My Brandeis and covering the most discussed ideas for curricular improvement.  Four of the forums correlate to the current subcommittees of CARS: Third Semester Plan, Degree Requirements and Advising, Business Major, and Recruiting and Admissions.  The fifth correlates to the steering committee itself and can presumably be used to discuss issues other than the aforementioned.

The third semester and degree requirement boards have gotten by far the most activity, but I hope that all five will soon see robust debate.  The forums are incredibly important.  Now, every single member of the Brandeis community is part of the academic discussion.  Cutting significant costs while maintaining or even improving our world-class academics is an enormous challenge, but with the intellect of the entire Brandeis community working in tandem, I am confident that it can be done.