Brandeis is hurting

I’ve been hurt many times this year at Brandeis.

And I’ve thought by now, I’d be somewhat numb to all its happenings. Yet, everything I continue to come across shocks me, gives me another reason to feel no longer a part of a university I’ve come to see as a second home. And coming to this acknowledgement has hurt most of all.

If you don’t know me—or you’ve likely seen me around campus (one would say, I’m a little obvious here), during the past three years, I’ve worked on many projects with various student leaders and clubs, faculty, served on the student judiciary, performed many of my Spoken Word pieces at various coffeehouses and events, but most of all—I’ve formed beautiful and rare friendships that I will forever be in debt to Brandeis for. In this way, I will always know Brandeis, especially when we part ways this time next year.

I’ve been really strong, trying so very hard to stay strong, be a part of and have faith in the leadership this place has and truly needs. I’m unsure if what I see now has always been there, but either way, there was too much love around to let it affect my perception of Brandeis.

I’m disappointed, quite simply. I’ve seen more hate, more people trying to silence one another, more disrespect, more miscommunication, more polarizing decisions, this year than any other. To the point where I made the impulsive decision to study abroad next semester; the accumulation of Brandeis and student politics has suffocated me so much that I cannot feel anything but unhappiness here.

I am waiting, waiting to see Brandeis be the place I’ve always loved but lately the hate hurts, takes so much more as the days go by.

As a Muslim student at Brandeis, it isn’t easy, but it also isn’t much different from what I deal with outside of it. My personal, religious choices have been the only thing to give me a deep piece of mind during a disturbing, conflicting time in our world.

I come from a 12-year public school background, and I came to Brandeis anticipating an acceptance of alternative lifestyles and opinions because of its Jewish, secular status. Who would understand more about social and political underrepresentation than a strong minority group in America? I came here knowing my religious observance would be of no surprise because every Jewish sect is known and accommodated. At the same time, half of the student body is not Jewish, culturally or religiously—and they encompass different races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. This is reality; and the statistics shouldn’t be ignored.

I’ve heard more and more students and alumni express their anger about how Brandeis has been “un-Jewified.” These statements are hateful, they create second-class citizenship on our campus, and devalue the vast contributions non-Jewish students have done to improve Brandeis’ social life and class dynamics.

So, yes, this is a place for Jewish identity. But Brandeis represents more than that– it’s an institution originally created to give minority people a safe-haven, a shelter from outside hate, a time to solidify and progress through scholarship. Brandeis symbolizes endurance of difference and embraces strength through productive, respectful means.

I’m here. I’ve been here. But I didn’t feel this when the Muslims’ Student Association’s suite was vandalized and continue to not when I see all these Michael Oren Facebook groups, campus flyers, petitions, the Hoot and Justice articles, and Innermost Parts posts and comments.

If I am hurting, Brandeis is hurting; and I need, want so badly, for there to be more love than hate here. Remembering as the semester concludes, that with every difficult moment, there comes an easeful one to help heal it…