This Thursday- Go to the Financial Aid Meeting

In an email sent out to the campus on Tuesday, Student Union President Daniel Acheampong announced that a financial aid summit is scheduled for This Thursday from 5:30-7:30 in Feldberg, Upper Sherman. The meeting will be in the style of a Town Hall forum, and will include administrators from Students and Enrollment who will be on hand to answer questions.

I suggest we ask as many questions as possible and that as many people as possible show up. According to the Hoot article, 75% of current Brandeis students are recipients of some form of financial aid. Regardless of whether or not we’re among that majority, we need to stand together on this issue because it will influence the makeup of each incoming class starting with the soon-to-be incoming class of 2015. Rather than be judged on their complete portfolio, these applicants are in danger of being rejected simply because their monetary need, formerly shielded from admissions until after their acceptance, is going to shine red in front of the counselor’s eyes. I know we have a budgeting crisis, but I don’t think that this helps anything. I’m going, among other reasons, to find out if there is another solution which benefits the students directly which I can support.

Bring yourself, and bring as many of your friends as possible, and let the administration know that this is a social justice issue which affects students, and on which students have a right to voice their opinions.

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

Event: Sustainable Endowments Director speaks TOMORROW

Susan Paykin of SEA renown fills us in on a great event. I’m going… hope to see you there!

The College Sustainability Report Card 2010 was released this week, revealing that our overall grade rose from last year’s report from a “B-” to a “B”! The Report Card, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute and available at, grades over 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada on their campus and endowment sustainability activities. The categories evaluated are: AdministrationClimate Change & EnergyFood & RecyclingGreen BuildingStudent InvolvementTransportationEndowment TransparencyInvestment Priorities, and Shareholder Engagement.

Mark Orlowski, Founder and Executive Director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute and creator of the College Sustainability Report Card, will be on campus tomorrow, speaking in Lown Auditorium at 7:30. He will speak on sustainability and environmental awareness in higher education, the Report Card, and specifically Brandeis’ newest grades. I know him personally, and he is an incredible speaker and a brilliant man. Check out the Facebook event for more info.

This year, as in every single year past, the only category that Brandeis flat-out failed was Endowment Transparency. You may be asking, why and how is our endowment relevant to sustainability (and other social issues)? In short, schools across the country have a combined total of over $400 BILLION invested in the market through their endowments. As substantial investors, colleges and universities can be incredibly influential in improving corporate policies (some great examples are Bard CollegeSwarthmore College, and Dartmouth College). Where is Brandeis’ endowment invested? What are we supporting? How can we, as an institution, sustain strong returns while upholding our values of social justice?

Students have taken initiative on improving our endowment practices in terms of not only making our endowment holdings and asset classes more transparent to the school community, but also harnessing our power as a shareholders to engage in dialogue with companies and corporations. However, we need to get this conversation started again. We hope to see you at the event tomorrow.

Faculty ask Reinharz to hold off on Rose decision

Some 70 faculty members have signed and sent a letter to President Reinharz, asking him to “consider suspending any final decision about the fate of the Rose Art Museum, pending a full airing of possible alternatives by the Brandeis community.”

The letter comes as a welcom show of support from the faculty for more community involvement in decisions, and serves as a rebuke to the Administration for acting in such a secretive matter. 

Perhaps one thing that could be considered is the possibility of drawing from the endowment principle, which seems to me to be the best feasible fiscal alternative that would leave the University intact. I plan on talking more about this in a future post.

The full letter is below…


An open letter from the Faculty to Pres. Reinharz

February 4, 2009 

Dear President Reinharz,  

Continue reading “Faculty ask Reinharz to hold off on Rose decision”

The Budget Crisis and how you can help

On the right hand side of Innermost Parts you can see a little box saying “The Budget Crisis – How to Help”. On it are links to all the official forums where committee-members will be reading and interacting.

Man, has this been been a crazy semester so far or what?

I don’t have much time – classes! breakfast! teethbrushing! – but I do want to say a few words about where we are now, and where to go from here.

We, the students of Brandeis, should be proud of ourselves.
Two weeks ago, we knew nothing. We relied on leaks in The Justice and vague emails from Jehuda for our information. (Of course, those in the know used Innermost Parts. 😛 )The faculty were having secret meetings and a Dean called the cops to keep those meetings secret.

“Shut up, sit down, eat your oatmeal. The Grown-Ups are in charge.”

We’ve progressed since then. Due to our organized outrage, our eloquent pieces in the Hoot, Justice (and yes, Innermost Parts), thanks to our demonstrations, our countless meetings with faculty and staff, we’ve been given a say in the academic plans at Brandeis.

A say, a voice, but no power.

Still, thanks to our organizing and Jason Gray’s mediation and leadership, there now exist official channels for our voices to be heard.
But is anyone speaking up?

I know we are. The backroom conversations, the chatter at club meetings, the worried introspection before bedtime – all that is real.
But we’re not channeling our passion and our love for Brandeis correctly.

Right now, there are committees (with student representation) meeting to decide the fate of Brandeis. Do you want a part in all that? Write, discuss, argue and vent in the places they’re listening.

On the right hand side of Innermost Parts you can see a little box saying “The Budget Crisis – How to Help”. On it are links to all the official forums where committee-members will be reading and interacting.

Look, no one is happy. We’re not happy with our representation, with the fact that these committees report to the Faculty, Administration, and Board of Trustees, but not to us. We’re unhappy with the hurried way this is all being done. We’re unhappy that it took concerted student pressure to get told anything, to be put on any committee. These things should have been the status quo already.

Still, for now, let’s start using these hard-fought lines of communication.

Official Lines of Communication:
Official Study Abroad Discussion

Add ideas to the Wiki

Official Recruiting and Admissions Forum

Curricular Innovation and Restructuring Forum

Official Summer Semester Forum

Official Degree Requirements and Advising Forum

Did Too Much Debt Cause Brandeis’ Financial Woes?

The following was sent to the editors of Innermost Parts by a recent alumnus of Brandeis, who has been following the news and decided to do some of his own research on Brandeis’ finances. Most of his conclusions come after examining data from this document, the University’s publicly available FY 2007 990 tax form required of all non-profits. We thought his questions were compelling, and hope this post fosters further investigation and research. These are questions that need to be answered.

~ Loki & Sahar


During public conversations about the current state of Brandeis’ financial crisis, much has been discussed about the state of the University’s endowment and its current financial situation. However, none of the articles I have read in the Brandeis press or national press discuss the University’s substantial debt.

Numbers can tell a story. Hard data is necessary to look more deeply into the fiscal health of an organization. Numbers can also raise questions.

Every year all non-profits – including universities – must file 990 forms detailing their financial activities with the IRS. Brandeis last filed its 990 following FY 2007. At that time we were led to believe, from pronouncements in fundraising appeals and in the twice yearly Presidential letters, that the university was the paragon of financial health. Brandeis was in the midst of a successful capital campaign, which was bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the University.  The financial crisis was not even on the horizon.

Yet that very year, Brandeis was saddled with debt. The University increased its liabilities (by issuing Tax Exempt Bonds and taking on Mortgage Debt) by $67 million, to more than $200 million — a 51% increase in debt in one year.

Continue reading “Did Too Much Debt Cause Brandeis’ Financial Woes?”