Peace Vigil Covered in the Daily News Tribune

In light of all the negative coverage of Brandeis that filled the local media last week, it feels particularly good to see something like this in the newspaper:

Standing on the edge of Brandeis University’s Peace Circle, senior Beth Bowman urged the 100-plus students and faculty gathered in support of the campus’ Muslim community to look around and take in the feeling of unity.

In the wake of vandalism and the theft of Imam Talal Eid’s Quran at the Muslim Student Association’s newly renovated suite and prayer space on March 5, students held a peaceful vigil outside of the Usdan Student Center Friday afternoon, some even ditching class to attend.

Some wore white headscarves, some white yarmulkes, and many threw white T-shirts over sweaters, symbolizing peace, in a show of solidarity.

Student Sahar Massachi, the founder and editor of, the unofficial school blog, presented Eid with a petition he called “a love letter,” signed by more than 400 Brandeis students and professors.

Eid smiled as student after student handed him a page of the petition, each full of signatures.

Students of different faiths condemned the vandalism, and expressed support for their Muslim peers.

“Look around. This is so moving to me,” said Bowman, who is also on the Muslim Student Association’s executive board.

“The events that happened on March 5 are not the spirit of Brandeis – it’s the spirit right here,” she said, the group clapping.

I’m sitting in the library right now, reading the article over and over and smiling like a fool.  We couldn’t have asked for a nicer, more positive story on the vigil; we really put Brandeis’s best foot forward on Friday.  More importantly, we showed ourselves, hopefully our Muslim brothers and sisters especially, that this entire community felt the pain and fear of the MSA vandalism and that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us.  We stood together in a way that people recognized.

The vandals must be absolutely furious right now.  They tried to attack a very specific group on campus, but instead they allowed us to prove publicly that we are united on a fundamental level, regardless of religious differences.  However, this can be their gain as well, because in the wise words of Imam Talal Eid, “This person was probably a member of the Brandeis family, and we will not give up a member of the Brandeis family.”  It’s a great feeling to know that you have an entire community willing to stand behind you when you need it the most, and provided you choose to act in accord with this community’s values, you (or anyone) can take comfort in that knowledge as well.


The front page of this week’s Justice has, as its lead article, a story about the Constitutional Review Committee’s final report.  The article is well-written, comprehensive, and informative, and it’s accompanied by a nice, eye-catching picture.  The problem is that I don’t think anyone cares.

The CRC is one of those topics that’s only interesting to the very small minority of students who follow the Union closely.  Its meetings were held behind closed doors, its mission is basically just a reshuffling of the Union government, and even the best changes it proposes will measurably affect only a small percentage of the campus community.  You don’t have to take my word for it; in same issue’s ‘Brandeis Talks Back’ section, all four of the students they interview express complete apathy to the process.  Yes, the report is significant enough to merit coverage, but does it really deserve its front page status?

Meanwhile, you’d have to turn to page 5 of the paper to learn that a potential hate crime occurred on the Brandeis campus this weekend.  The newly-refurbished Muslim Student Association suite was viciously vandalized on Friday.  The wall in Imam Talal Eid’s office was permanently damaged, and his personal copy of the Quran was stolen.  The nature of the theft makes it hard to view this as anything but an attack against campus Muslims, and it absolutely sickens me to think that such a vile invasion could happen at the school I call home.  But apparently, it’s worth only one-sixth of a page buried in the News section, next to a full page of advertisements.

During Diana Aronin’s impeachment and trial, many people complained about the petty disagreements that the Union officers turned into a public spectacle.  I agree with them, but the campus media need to be held culpable as well for turning what should have been an internal Union affair into a weekly front-page spectacle.  If our Union government suffers from self-importance, it is only because they’re used to getting undue attention for every minor issue.  Meanwhile, the papers will continue to alienate their readers if they glorify topics that are ultimately irrelevant for most students.  I suspect that students are far more interested in uncovering hate on our campus than on how big the Union Senate will be next year, and I think the every campus media outlet needs to reassess what its reporting priorities should be.