More thoughts on Prez Fred

So – new president. Here’s what I think, from what I’ve read so far.

F-Lawrence knows what is truly important and interesting about Brandeis: Social Justice, Louis Brandeis being awesome, and us being a liberal arts school that happens to also be a research university.

He has the right resume and says the right things: He’s a civil rights lawyer, won a teaching award, is a blogger. He’s talking about outreach to students and good stuff like that.

It’s also interesting that he ties his story to Brandeis’ story

I’m most excited about an opportunity to sit down as a community and really discuss and decide what sort of place Brandeis should be in the future and what Social Justicde means to us as a school. We have a chance to really unite at Brandeis, and bring students, teachers, staff, and workers together for real.

Lawrence represents hope and change. So far, everything looks great. I hope that he takes this great opportunity to rally the Brandeis community together, not just the faculty and staff but the whole community. We have a stellar opportunity to visualize the Brandeis we want to be, and take the steps needed to get there, together.

I’ve downloaded all the papers of his I’ve seen on Jstor, and I haven’t read them yet. He’s still an unknown quantity. But he’s a civil rights lawyer and an admirer of Louis Brandeis! He talks about Brandeis’ commitment to Social Justice. That’s really cool; I just hope that he increases the trend of administration respecting students and their ideas, and that he fosters a new climate at Brandeis, a climate where both students and staff have the opportunity to learn about Social Justice and Social Action – not just what they mean but how to make it happen.

My main worry is the way he was chosen – in a secretive process where we had to fight hard just to have one non-voting student member on the search committee. Hopefully he can reverse this culture of Board of Trustees unapproachability and unaccountability to students.

Three  things Brandeis lacks. Hopefully Flawrence will bring them to Brandeis:
– Real community across students, staff, faculty, workers, grad students, etc.
– Administration respect for students
– Talking about how to *make* social justice happen not just what’s wrong with the world.

The Higher Education Bubble

In a recent publication of The Chronicle of Higher Education, they ask Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst?

Reading the Chronicle is interesting because you know that the administration is reading it, too, and you sometimes find ideas discussed on it that are later implemented. For example, this article talks about the Justice Brandeis Semester:

Two former college presidents, Charles Karelis of Colgate University and Stephen J. Trachtenberg of George Washington University, recently argued for the year-round university, noting that the two-semester format now in vogue places students in classrooms barely 60 percent of the year, or 30 weeks out of 52. They propose a 15-percent increase in productivity without adding buildings if students agree to study one summer and spend one semester abroad or in another site, like Washington or New York. Such a model may command attention if more education is offered without more tuition.

Furthermore, it talks about the rising costs of education, and how Universities are hurting themselves by raising tuition even more these days.

With tuitions, fees, and room and board at dozens of colleges now reaching $50,000 a year, the ability to sustain private higher education for all but the very well-heeled is questionable. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent — more than four times the rate of inflation and almost twice the rate of medical care. Patrick M. Callan, the center’s president, has warned that low-income students will find college unaffordable.

Meanwhile, the middle class, which has paid for higher education in the past mainly by taking out loans, may now be precluded from doing so as the private student-loan market has all but dried up. In addition, endowment cushions that allowed colleges to engage in steep tuition discounting are gone. Declines in housing valuations are making it difficult for families to rely on home-equity loans for college financing. Even when the equity is there, parents are reluctant to further leverage themselves into a future where job security is uncertain.

Anyways, just an interesting link between our financial troubles and the wider world.

P.S. You may have noticed that Innermost Parts has stopped posting so much during the summer. That should be expected: It’s summer vacation, and we’re not even on campus. That said, you should check our RSS feed to keep up with us during the summer. Had an interesting summer experience? Going to a progressive conference? Let us know! Write about it.

Want to learn community organizing this summer?

An exciting opportunity to learn/practice community organizing, and get paid!

SOUL Summer School
June 15th to August 6th 2009
San Francisco Bay Area

SOUL Summer School is an intensive 8-week introduction to community organizing and social change, designed for young activists who have been involved with social justice organizing for at least one year. SOUL is dedicated to building the skills of young women, young people of color, working class, and queer people as the next generation of leaders in the social justice movement.

SOUL Summer School provides a structured time to work full-time to develop your grassroots organizing skills and your political analysis. SOUL Summer School has three components:

ORGANIZING INTERNSHIPS with local organizations that work within working class communities and communities of color, fighting alongside people for their rights. Through these internships, you’ll get on-the-ground experience with the work it takes to build community power.

ORGANIZING SKILLS TRAINING so you can learn the concrete tools you’ll need to organize for power in our communities. The trainings provide space to build the skills you will use in your internships. SOUL’s trainings will develop skills like outreach & recruitment, action planning, and facilitation.

POLITICAL EDUCATION to think more deeply about the current political and economic context, especially the issues impacting working-class communities of color.  We’ll also look at local and global fights to win justice for our people, to help develop a strategic vision for building our movement today.

The summer program is eight weeks long, starting on June 15th and ending with a closing celebration on August 6th. SOUL Summer School is a full-time commitment for the whole eight weeks. You will not have time for another job or for summer classes. You’ll spend at least 30 hours a week in your organizing internship and 10 hours in our political education & skills training sessions. SOUL provides need-based stipends— up to $2000— for your living costs during the summer. Applications for SOUL Summer School 2009 are due by April 17th. If you have any questions about SOUL Summer School, please email us at or call 510. 451. 5466 x 300.

SOUL School Of Unity & Liberation
287 17th Street, Suite 225
Oakland, CA 94612