Don’t like something on campus? Join a Commitee to fix it!

Do you have an issue with the way the University dealt with the Harlan Chapel flasher? Don’t like the way parking tickets are handed out? Think the food sucks? Well, do something about it!

So let’s start off by my admitting that I didn’t apply to be on any committees last year, so I can’t claim to know how effective they are/how worthwhile the experience is.

That being said, however, I highly encourage anyone and everyone who is a student at Brandeis to apply to be on a University Committee this year. The list of committees ranges from Alcohol and Other Drug Coalition to Psychological Counseling Center Advisory Committee, alphabetically speaking. By applying to be on a committee, (and yes you can apply for more than one) you enable yourself to influence matters that matter to you, whether they be the food served on campus, the parking rules and regulations, what they sell in the bookstore, etc.

According to the Student Union page, there are 23 committees you can apply to, and each has a very specific description, so you can decide which issues most affect you. Instead of griping about these problems, you can actually take a constructive approach to solving them for yourself and other people!

If the administration doesn’t know what’s bothering us, how can they fix it? At least letting them know how we feel about something, like the food everyone always complains about, is one step towards brokering a solution/fix!

Now, I am a firm believer in the democratic process, but I know many people are not. (Including my friends who didn’t vote for me in Sunday’s election) So, to THOSE people, I would like to issue a challenge that if they don’t believe in the power of their elected officials to represent them in the Student Union, then it is their OBLIGATION to SOCIETY and to THEMSELVES to change the school in the ways they think it needs to be changed.

Sorry I’m such an idealist, I swear I’m not usually like this.
GO TO: to apply, NOW! (The deadline is this SATURDAY)

Vote Elly For Rosie Senator

Amidst all of the back-to-school stress, new friendships, and F-board marathon disasters, another school-time tradition is coming up: Elections to the Student Union!! In the next few days, I hope to add to that timeless tradition by asking that you endorse and/or vote for a good friend of mine.

Elly Kalfus is running for Senator of Rosenthal Quad this coming Sunday. If you don’t know her yet, you should, because I know I speak for those of us who do know her when I say that she’s one of the nicest, funniest, and most caring people on campus. She’s an engaged activist, a passionate blogger for Innermost Parts, a hilarious comedy writer, and if she adds the title of Senator to that list, she will dutifully serve the position with an adjective of equal distinction and honor.

Even though we’ve worked closely in the last few months while blogging and helping to plan Campus Camp Wellstone, I’ve known her since last year when we met at a Brandeis Democrats club meeting, and if she had any say about what I write in this part of the post, she would probably yell at me about how cliché this opening sentence is. And that’s what always strikes me about her: She tells it like it is, no matter what. When you speak to her, you’re going to get her full and honest opinion. Sometimes I find myself thinking that it’s a quality that our campus lacks; we’re always so afraid of awkwardness and future awkward encounters around here that the students don’t challenge each other as individuals. If elected to the Senate, I know that Elly will stand firm by her views, and challenge anyone who tries to do less.

She’ll do the work that’s asked of her by her fellow residents and her community because she’s not running to build a resume; this is an example of a candidate taking massive amounts of interest and experience and applying those qualities toward her living environment, Rosie and beyond. She wants to work with the Eco Reps to make the quad more sustainable. She wants to make transportation around Brandeis and Waltham an everyday convenience, not just a luxury for people who have time to wait at the bus stop for long stretches of time. She already serves on the board of the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, and as the Waltham Group coordinator for the YMCA Kids Connection program. She’s also the leader of the newest Improvisational Comedy group on campus, and the only one to practice a policy of non-exclusivity, drawing in members from every area on campus. These are just Brandeis related activities she does on campus, but she’s also living in the Alternative Spring Break community service suite. How many of us can say that we care so deeply about the world around us that we’re willing to sacrifice one of our few school-year breaks toward a higher cause?

In short: If you live in a Rosie suite, when you log on to the union website on Sunday to vote (which you should all do anyway because it’s a civic duty Dammit), you should vote for Elly. She’s got all of the passion and the drive, and will work hard to keep the Union honest, transparent, and good humored.

Should facebook allow an event which promotes violence against Jews?

Recently, a facebook event went up called Kill a Jew for getting Mein (Kampf(C wat I did thar!?)) accounts disabled. The page, which seems to be someone’s juvenile idea of a joke, is filled with anti-semitic comments and pictures of Hitler’s face. Although I believe few would take it seriously, and no specific plans are listed on the event wall, the event quite blatantly promotes violence against Jews.

In response another facebook event, ONE MILLION STRONG AGAINST KILL A JEW DAY, was created by facebook users who found the event to be offensive.  The latter page asks users to demand facebook take down the event by clicking on facebook’s “report event” option, under which a “direct call for violence” is one of the choices that can be selected.   

While I agree that the material is offensive, I searched “hate jews” under other facebook pages and found many similar groups and events. One of the most populat ones is called I Hate Israel and Jews, and has 243 members. However, I wasn’t invited to any groups or events against this page, which has been around for at least a month, whereas the Kill Jews event, which has a mere 52 members attending, already has an event demanding its removal.

(In addition, it is worth noting that the event against the Killing of Jews (the anti-anti-Semitic one) has a staggering 10, 374 confirmed guests.)

So, what is the difference between the event urging people to Kill Jews and the I Hate Jews and Israel? From a legal perspective they are both expressing a matter of opinion, people exercising their freedom of speech. However, the second one could be seen as “inciting violence”, encouraging people to take action against Jews…but is it really doing that? It’s all in the event’s title, but the page itself doesn’t contain information about plans to commit violence, so does it even live up to its hype? I personally don’t see it as dangerous, but I definitely understand why it would offend people and why it’s scary to have sites like that exist. I guess my question is whether there really is a difference between the Kill Jews event and the Hate Jews group. As of now, facebook has removed neither of them, but as more and more people report the sites as offensive and dangerous material, will another decision be made?

Justice Archives Online!

Good news folks! Want to learn stuff about Brandeis dating back to 1949, a year after it was established? Want to see what students cared about back in the day?

Now, due to Brandeis’ involvement in the Open Content Alliance’s Digitization project, you can access the Justice archives, microfilm of the Justice newspaper from May 1949 to September 2004. (Yeah transparency!) You can also read web issues of the Justice from April 2002 to the present, which are updated each time an issue is published.

For more information, check out

Anti-Oren Letter Slipped in with Graduation Programs

Commencement for the Class of 2010 occurred today at 10:30 at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.  (Congrats!) We’ve received word that students protesting the choice of Oren as commencement speaker snuck copies of this letter in with the graduation programs, articulating their reasons against Oren speaking. However, a volunteer and Brandeis student says that students helping out with the ceremony were told to go through each program and remove the material.

For more information on the Oren controversy, browse our InnermostParts archives for posts with the tag “Michael Oren,” dating back to this first post. Read the letter, signed “Concerned Student” below:

“The selection of Michael Oren as Brandeis commencement speaker is both inappropriate and offensive. In spite of programming and literature that describes the University as a non-partisan forum, the invitation of Ambassador Oren to a ceremony that celebrates the values of the institution stands as a pointedly partisan act that alienates a minority of students. The Brandeis administration’s invitation for Ambassador Oren to bestow wisdom as a ceremonial figurehead represents a political endorsement contrary to the values of a secular, non-denominational liberal arts university.

Were Ambassador Oren speaking at any other venue on campus, his visit would present the opportunity for a discussion in the spirit of academic integrity that the Brandeis community expects. When in 2007 President Carter spoke regarding his views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Brandeis students invited Professor Alan Dershowitz to rebut his points. Last year, Justice Richard Goldstone was only allowed to speak at Brandeis on the condition that he share the stage with former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold. Unfortunately, in our time at Brandeis, this standard of necessary dialogue regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict is only upheld for speakers critical of the state of Israel.

Regardless of Brandeis’ traditional relationship with the Jewish community, our university remains a non-sectarian institution built on academic excellence, inquiry, and dialogue. As a sitting ambassador, Michael Oren holds the political role of spokesperson and supporter of the Israeli government. Inviting Ambassador Oren to a venue which allows no formal discussion implicitly binds the Brandeis community in unqualified support of Oren’s political position and the government he represents. Brandeis’ traditional association with the Jewish community does not require a wholesale endorsement of either the current Israeli government or its policies.”

The Bronx Knows: HIV testing

We can always use more STI-testing, no?

As part of an initiative to increase HIV and AIDS awareness, the Bronx has started The Bronx Knows, a program to provide Bronx residents with safe, accessible, confidential HIV and AIDS testing in an effort to counter the HIV epidemic that has hit all of NYC but especially the Bronx. The program targets people aged 18 to 64, but provides people of all ages with the opportunity to get tested, stressing the importance of knowing your health in order to decrease the risk of transmitting the disease.

The group hopes to test 200,000 people, and is currently in the 150,000 range. Find out more about this program, which hopes to create an example other towns can model themselves after in terms of making testing accessible and increasing awareness and sexual education. The project sounds wonderful, and I’m surprised I am just now hearing about it, though it has been going on since June 2008.

Notably, people under the age of 18 do not need parental permission to receive testing, a measure which I fully support. It also sounds like the program doesn’t shove information down your throat, or try to tell you what you should be doing with your body, but rather is more concerned with getting people tested at over 60 community sites, and then offering opportunities for advice-seeking, etc. if people choose to take them up on it.

Brandeis research institute says government must merge racial wealth gap

The Institute of Assets and Social Policy, a research institute at Brandeis’ Heller School, conducted a study which found that the wealth gap between African-American and white families has been increasing since the 1980’s, and recommended ways to deal with this disparity.

The wealth gap between white and African-American families increased more than four times between 1984-2007, and middle-income white households now own far more wealth than high-income African Americans, according to an analysis released by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University….

Notably, IASP’s analysis found that by 2007, the average middle-income white household had accumulated $74,000 in wealth, an increase of $55,000 over the 23-year period, while the average high-income African-American family owned $18,000, a drop of $7,000. That resulted in a wealth gap of $56,000 for an African-American family that earned more than $50,000 in 1984 compared to a white family earning about $30,000 that same year.

These results are both shocking and disturbing in today’s day and age, when we have an African-American president and laws on the books supposedly protecting against racism in the workforce, and something has to be done to correct the flaws in the system which are allowing this gap to increase.

Those figures, IASP said, make it clear that higher income alone will not lead to increased wealth, security and economic mobility for African Americans. Consumers of color face a gauntlet of barriers — in credit, housing and taxes — that dramatically reduce the chances of economic mobility, it said.

The institute came to the conclusion that the government has to take action to correct this problem through large-scale efforts to reform the obstacles facing African-Americans in economic mobility, especially reforming the credit and loaning systems. 

“The data suggests we need renewed attention to public policies that provide real opportunities for advancement by reducing barriers to mobility inherent in our tax system and increasing transparency, regulation and access in our housing and credit markets,” said Laura Sullivan, another co-author.

How do you think our government can solve these problems?

Save the Libraries

Got this e-mail from The New York Public Library, think it’s worth a read. Libraries are important!

Don’t Close the Book on Libraries – Act Now

The New York Public Library is facing a potential $37 million cut in City funding. This is the harshest cut in our history and comes at a time when more New Yorkers than ever are using the Library, many with no alternative for the services we offer. We are preparing for the possibility of closing 10 library branches, a reduction of staff by 36% percent, 25,300 fewer programs and classes for kids and adults, and a cut of 6-day service to 4 days across the NYPL system.

Here is how you can help right now:

We appreciate your support and will keep you informed about the status of Library funding in the next few weeks.

Sea-Food anyone?

Several minutes after the SEA Banquet ended, this exhange took place amongst some of my friends who had attended it with me.  The following conversation has been paraphrased, and names have been changed to protect the innocent:

Fiat: I have something to say but I don’t want to offend you.

Adom:  Just say it!

Fiat: You know you’re eating…. (gasp) chicken!

It’s times like these when I question whether I truly support the environmental and animal rights movements. Of course if you ask anyone, s/he will say that if given the choice between torturing and killing animals or not, s/he would prefer not to (HOPEFULLY), but if the question is framed as a choice between eating meat and saving animals, it becomes a much more contraversial issue. Many people don’t want to give up their meat-eating, fast-food loving ways, and I am one of them. I don’t feel bad for eating chicken, although I myself have experimented with vegetarianism and understand the argument for it. Even suggesting that a friend turn vegan can develop into a heated and accusatory debate.

However, despite my lack of motivation to address these problems, I attended the semesterly SEA banquet with my friends this afternoon, mostly for the free food, and got the benefit of listening to senior Max Fischlowitz-Roberts, Prof. Brian Donahue and Brown-student/Real Food coordinator David Schwartz present their cases for environmental justice, arguing in favor of sustainability and animal rights.

After a meal of tasty, “Real” (local, organic, vegan or fair) food prepared by SEA-ers, each of the 3 members of the panel spoke for 5-10 minutes, and then took questions from the diners.

Fischlowitz-Roberts focused on animal rights, characterizing the way many meat-producers treat their animals as animal cruelty, and opining the lack of laws to protect against such behavior, as well as the high incidence of worker injuries in these factories.  Donahue spoke on the importance of students going out and experiencing farming firsthand, and the ability for students to make a difference in the food industry. Lastly, Schwartz discussed the Real Food Challenge, and the way the fast food industries have corrupted our perception of what a healthy diet is.

While I still find it hard to relate to issues of environmentalism and animal rights when there are people suffering whose lives I feel I can have an impact on more directly, when I hear about the small ways people can help, such as reducing the amount of industrial food they consume and replacing it with organically-grown or local food, it is hard to come up with a reason why I shouldn’t do my part to help, other than pure laziness. In fact, Brandeis has made somewhat of an environmentalist out of me, as evidenced by the fact that I now know what compostable means, and actually hold onto my recyclable garbage until I can find the appropriate bin for it. I found the panel intriguing and enlightening, though not necessarily inspiring, and learned more about what “Real” food is defined as.

I suggest you all come to the Eat Out this Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the garden in Massell Quad (behind Renfield) to eat veggies grown by Brandeis students on that very patch of land, and enjoy the company of your friends! It’s a cool site to see, I swear.

Anti-Obama Ad Merits a Response

We Will Remember from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

If you have not seen this video yet, watch it. The other day, when Rick Pearlstein met with a bunch of us “activists” in Sahar’s suite, he talked a bunch about the strategies the Republican Party has been employing, quite effectively, to attack the Democratic Party. This is a time when the Democratic Party should be at the height of its career, but somehow it is falling prey to many of the Republican’s attacks, and not doing a good job of fighting back.

Perhaps it is because of ads like the one above, in which the Republican Governors Association call Obama a fraud, accuse him of ruining the nation and fooling the people, and uses Obama’s “Yes we can…” catchphrase against him, filling in the blank after the ellipse with a series of negative phrases, culminating in “Yes we can…end the American Dream.”

I believe the Obama Administration should respond to these negative messages because if they simply ignore them, they are giving credence to the conservative, right-wing campaign against them. Similar to Howard Dean’s 50 State Campaign (he gave a highly inspiring speech here on campus 2 weeks ago), if the Democrats do not reach out to people and defend themselves, they will not hold onto their political power for long. I am not a fan of mud-slinging but I do think more efforts should be taken to address these radical ads.

(Thanks famous political theorists for coming to Brandeis and inspiring me!)

Some things that have been bothering me…

This is a conglomeration of a few worries I have about Brandeis right now:

1. The certificate of inspection in the Shapiro Campus Center’s elevator went up as of 4/10/10, last Saturday. As far as I know, a new cerificate saying it is safe to use it has not yet been posted. The elevator in Ziv 127 should’ve been re-checked on april 8th, same story. Do you know of any other elevators on campus that aren’t supposed to be “in use” right now– until they’re checked for safety? Lawsuits, anyone?

2. There are no astronomy classes being offered next semester. This scares me as well. As a student who does not do well in the “hard sciences” like chem and bio, astronomy is the one science class I would actually be interested in taking, and have a shot at doing okay in. Why is this? What’s happening to our physical science department?

3. What’s with the digging up of slightly yellowed grass all around the Shapiro Campus Center and replacing it with fresh new green grass? That green grass is coming from somewhere, as Amy pointed out to me, and wherever that is, they are being left simply with soil. Meanwhile, instead of investing in the growth and maintenance of our plants, we dig them up and replace them with new ones every spring. As a wise man named Alex once said, “landscaping is the work of seasons, not days.”

When Going Green Becomes a Bad Thing

Is there such a thing as going too green? Can the benefit to the environment come at too high a cost to freedom and justice at times? I think so.

Several companies including T-Mobile and Lane Bryant enacted policies in their credit card bills warning customers that they would be charged an extra $1 per bill if they wanted to continue to receive bills by snail mail, rather than switching over to online bills and payment.  

Many customers were upset with the decision and law suits were filed. Some customers even tried to get out of their contracts with phone companies since they argued that the change qualified as a change in their plan. Upon a friend calling the Better Business Bureau and reporting back to me, I discovered that it is in fact being contested right now in court whether they have a right to do it or not, but that they are definitely required to notify customers in advance, in written form. I was also advised that people who qualify as exceptions because of disabilities or other extenuating circumstances (such as not having a computer or internet access!?) should call the companies and explain the situation.

The companies say they are doing it to cut costs and help the environment, but is that enough of a justification? Although I admit one day all transactions will take place online, I do not think that day has arrived yet, and certainly not for my grandmother (who lacks both a computer and the knowledge of how to use one).

Read more at:

Why Sahar?

Why Sahar?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately, ever since Sahar first announced a run for President.  I remember when I first met Sahar on that fateful day in Upper Usdan when a mutual friend introduced us over lunch. My first impression of him was that he was idealistic; as soon as I sat down, he started talking about the activist blog Innermost Parts, which he co-created his freshman year. As is his wont, Sahar discussed his ideas about encouraging social justice, connecting and empowering students, and bridging the gap between the student body and the administration. He believed in students’ rights to an accessible student government, and even more importantly, their ability to bring about this change.
Although I was not immediately wrapped up in Sahar’s activist messages and feared that he overestimated students’ yearning to get involved, I was impressed by Sahar’s dedication and ability to inspire. His self-confident ranting and even his radical ideas convinced me to sign up to write for Innermost Parts, and my fate was sealed. I would soon become an activist, drawn in by the belief in my ability to change the world, or at least Brandeis. Sure, Sahar is the only candidate who approached me for support on his campaign, but in this aspect he succeeds as well. Sahar makes an effort to reach out to, make connections with, motivate, and help anyone who needs it. He doesn’t want to force his convictions on people, but believes that everyone is as interested in making a change as he is, so looks to lend a helping hand whenever possible.

Besides his charisma and charm, he cares, which is the most important quality in a president. He has dreams, but he also takes action. He’s not simply the idealist I first saw in him–that is just one aspect of his character, one he balances with his need to take action and make something of his life. He has tangible, solid ideas. Sahar wants to simplify the student government to make it more accessible, giving students more power by allowing them to vote on where leftover money goes at the end of the school year, writing a blog of his schedule so that people can see what he is doing. He has ideas and he is willing to take action to implement them. QED, I believe in Sahar. So if you do too, go ahead and vote.

BREAKING: Pres. Reinharz not to resign!

According to multiple unsubstantiated ethereal sources, Pres. Reinharz, after a long and storied tenure at Brandeis University, will be announcing his decision to remain at Brandeis, at midnight. The announcement will be made by the Justice and the Hoot at midnight. Innermost Parts, which (like you) was not given access by the administration to this information, is telling you now.

This is possibly in response to a recent, renewed faculty push for Pres. Reinharz’ reclamation of his post after his superb handling of the Muslim Student Lounge vandalization incident. We’ll publish more details as they come in. Analysis to come shortly.

Long live President Reinharz!

Freedom of Speech Injustice in Texas

A university in Texas is being prevented from performing a show that has been deemed too racy by both the lieutenant governor and the school’s president. What century are we living in again?

In Monday’s NYT Arts section, it was reported that a Tartleton State University class production of “Corpus Christi,” a play written by Terrence McNally in 1988, which portrays Jesus as gay, which was set to be performed this past weekend, was canceled due to the controversy it stirred up.  Initially, the school’s president defended the students’ right to put on the show, despite it being “offensive, crude and irreverent,” but the Austin Star-Ledger reported that the administration changed its mind after the school received multiple threatening messages. The school’s official reasons for its decision was because of  “safety and security concerns for the students as well as the need to maintain an orderly academic encironment”, according to the Austin Chronicle. 

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst did not believe the production should be allowed to go up, saying “no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans,” speaking towards the play’s so-called sacreligious portrayal of Jesus as a homosexual.

The state government dictating what is morally acceptable for a directing class to perform at a university? School administration caving in because of adverse reactions to the staging of a controversial play? And who says that the majority of Americans find homosexuality “morally reprehensible”? This is a scary day for our nation indeed.

Read more:

CARS2020 report

Just in case you guys ignore most of the e-mails you get from the Student Union and Provost, here’s a link to the short, 8-page report made by the Brandeis 2020 Curricular and Academic Restructuring Steering (CARS) Committee:

Oh, and the even more succinct summary:

To oversimplify, the report was designed to suggest feasible changes Brandeis could implement over the next decade in order to save money. Many of the 18 suggestions proposed involve immediately, or within the next year, terminating masters and PhD programs. Also, a large portion of money would come from limiting arts programs, particularly the MFA program in theater design, and greatly reducing the Brandeis Theater Company’s budget.

Another point of interest is the proposal that the Hebrew Language and Literature major should no longer be offered, nor the undergraduate minor in Yiddish and East European Jewish Culture. Might this speak to the new direction the University is taking, in terms of our Jewish scholarship?

Budget cuts have to be made, but of course any of us who came to this school hoping to pursure a specific degree are going to be upset to see our department, major, or even passion cut down. I’m not sure yet what I think of the report, what do you all think?

what YOU guys want to hear about

An Anecdote:
On February 5, 1946, Albert Einstein agreed to the establishment of the Albert Einstein Foundation for Higher Learning, Inc., but on June 22, 1947, he ended his association with the institute, and refused the board’s offer to name it after him. Instead, the university was named after Justice Louis D. Brandeis.
In 1953 Brandeis University offered Einstein an honorary degree, but he declined.

….Does anyone know what made Einstein decide to cut his ties with what would later become our near and dear Brandeis University?

Hi readers,
Going to today’s Activist (Dis)Orientation hosted by ARC made me think about why I participate in activist groups, and what I hope to get out of them. There were so many tables, each for a club with a noble cause, that it was hard to choose where to commit, and which ones need your help the most. Beyond that, I realized that the purpose behind activism is to engage people in activities, ideas, fights they feel passionate about, with the goal in mind of making a change. I’m still struggling with the question myself, that’s why I want to know, what causes are important to YOU? If YOU could change one thing at Brandeis, what would it be?
Forget that, if you could change ANYTHING and EVERYTHING about Brandeis, where would you start? I want to write about problems YOU have, tidbits YOU want to hear about, solutions YOU would suggest. So please, let me know what it is you care about.

Obama’s White House “Open Government Initiative”

Okay, I know that Obama gets complimented a lot, some way say too much, but I just want to stand up and applaud him right now. What am I referring to?  The new “Open Government Iniative” which he promised to come out with from Day 1 of his inauguration.  Sure, sure, it took him a bit longer than we all would’ve liked, but how wonderful is it that we have a president who is committed to transparency and collaborative governance?


I took a class in political sociology this semester, so maybe that’s why when I looked at the above video I was so happy to say that I understood what they were talking about.  The people in charge even took questions from “regular” people who posted them on Twitter- how can you GET more open and interactive? Our federal government now has blogs too!

I want Brandeis to do something like this.  A lot of schools have students blogs, online open forums et al, so why not us? Transparency, openness and engaging students in decision-making all seem like they feed into our great pillar of social-justice, don’t they?  Let’s see some more student-involvement, without having to go through the bureaucratic system of Student Union rep’s. If the fed. gov. can find a way to engage the whole nation, surely we can find an effective way to engage our mere student body of 5000 people.

Presidential Selection Committee

With S.U. President Andy Hogan’s State of the Union Address having been delivered a mere few hours ago (ok…8), one question is on the minds of all connected to the Brandeis community: how will Hogan lead the university in our search for a new president?  More importantly, will he follow through on his promises to involve students in this search?

Well, he already has– to an extent.  Hogan announced today that after much negotiation, the Presidential Selection Committee has agreed to accept a student on the board, that student being Hogan himself.  This announcement came amidst uproar by students in reaction to the news that there would be no students on the Presidential Search Committee.  But isn’t Andy Hogan, the SU president, too bogged down in in-school politics and the administration to advocate for us effectively in such a role?  In addition, Hogan has been assigned the role of a “substantive representative”– he has no vote, only a limited say.   I personally think this is a good start, but is not near enough. I hope that the SU will still make room for students to make an impact. Can’t we have a say in determining its future? After all, we’re greatly affected by this selection.

To start the process, we should figure out what qualities are most important to us in the selection of our next president.

Qualities almost everyone can agree on:

Accessibility:whether or not you consider Reinharz a good president, he did have regularly scheduled open office hours during which students could contact him; I’d like to see an expansion of this policy. A president who is a good communicator, and understands the needs of students. Perhaps someone who has served as a head of communication at another institution.

Ability to handle financial crisis: there has already been great outcry over the cutting of scholarships, and let’s not even mention the Rose Art Museum…our next president has to be able to deal with the ever-looming financial crisis Brandeis is in, and hopefully bring the Rose controversy to an end.  Some ideas: hire a rich, self-made president who will wave his/her salary, say, like, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, who receives only $1 a year from the government.  Someone who has already helped other universities recuperate from similar dire financial straits.  Someone who values the arts here at Brandeis, and so will not take rash, cost-cutting actions such as closing down POSSE and other scholarship programs/groups.

-Maintain the balance between secularism and Jewish sponsorship: I don’t think anything about the relationship Brandeis has with its Jewish sponsors, and its principles of secularism and non-sectarianism has to change. it would be enough for our future president to be someone who understands the importance of this shaky relationship. The next president must stand up to those who believe that Brandeis must reflect the views of its Jewish sponsors, at the expense of maintaining its objectivity.  The next president must find new and better ways to focus Brandeis on social justice and action, based upon the principles of secular Judaism.

Keep the Pillars:When Reinharz became president of Brandeis, he brought with him the Four Pillars, focusing Brandeis’ attention on social action, and identifying the university’s principles and goals. Just because he is leaving doesn’t mean Brandeis should abandon or lose track of these principles.  The next Reinharz must be able to expand the university’s ability to achieve its goals of social justice, and find a way to make his/her personal visions for the university mesh with the path we have already been going down for some time now.

We need a new University president who will lift Brandeis up from the crises it has fallen into in recent years. One who will address the problems Hogan brought up, such as overcrowding, and who has a clear vision for the school.   And the only way we can find one who shares our outlook is by having students give their input.  Although Andy Hogan is certainly a student, because of his position in the SU he automatically comes into the selection process with a certain bias.  And with no vote, to top it off. Please, Brandeis, remedy the situation, live up to the democratic principles you stand for, and allow a student who is unaffiliated with the SU to represent the opinions of other like students, to the committee.