Something is rotten in the campus of Brandeis.

Those guiding the course of this University have abandoned the core values that made our namesake great, and here we are, drifting rudderless into the sea of the future.

Louis Brandeis was a champion of the people against the powerful, a guardian of civil rights, an advocate for making Democratic government a reality, a believer in workers’ rights, a proponent of trust busting, a prominent leader in almost every reform movement of his time, and earned a reputation as “the people’s attorney”. Brandeis was, in short, a Progressive.

We have forgotten Louis’ lesson. We have forgotten that the greatness of America isn’t measured by the tax breaks we give to our wealthiest, but by the compassion we show to our neediest.

Brandeis University should be space for intellectual honesty, a place for honest communications, a model of democratic government, a center of freedom of expression.

Instead, those running the University try to humiliate ex-Presidents, shut down offending artwork, and abandon even the veneer of self-determination while autocratically playing games with the lives of students.

Yet our Student Union is no better. Kowtowing to the Administration, it would rather raise a protest about budgetary reshuffling than say a word opposing issues that deal with safety on our campus. Perhaps they are paralyzed with indecision. Perhaps they have been hijacked by a self-serving faction of Senators. Perhaps they are too frightened to assert their power in the face of an increasingly autocratic administration. Any of these excuses are unacceptable.

Universities don’t have a Foreign Policy. Brandeis has one regarding a certain Middle-Eastern Country. That is wrong. Universities strive to foster an environment of academic exploration and vigorous debate. Brandeis imposes edicts from above with little regard to the concerns of we, the students, its lifeblood. Universities welcome discussion, debate, and the rule of Reason. Brandeis throws guns at its problems and refuses to critically examine its security policy, preferring instead to “look tough”.

Louis Brandeis believed in Social Justice, real Democracy, freedom of Expression, and self-determination. So do we. Louis Brandeis was a Progressive. So are we. Is our University?

5 comments on “Why we fight”

  1. Andrew Hogan Says:

    I have a problem with the ideals of your blog. Let me present it to you in rant-form:
    First of all, you are going to one of the most prestigious universities in the world yet from what you say, you sound like you are being oppressed. I would like to point out your most ridiculous paragraph.

    Those guiding the course of this University have abandoned the core values that made our namesake great, and here we are, drifting rudderless into the sea of the future.

    Can you seriously beleive this? Can you seriously believe that there is so much wrong with this institution that we are wildly drifting into the future without guidance. I would like to point out a couple of things: First of all, you are attending an academic university and when you graduate you will have a degree and most likely an entry into a field. You college, which has been quoted by some of my friends as, “figuring out life without full consequences for your actions.” You hang out with your friends and have no responsibilities besides schoolwork and possibly a part-time job. Your life is amazing compared to so many others.
    I next want to point out the benefits of this university so that you realize that you are tearing apart a working apparatus. Besides the benefit of gaining a degree, you spend your day learning, gaining knowledge, and absorbing life’s lessons. Your professors are known nationwide and although the student government has its squabbles you have a student government which provides for the basic necessesities of a student (parties, academic services, etc.). You have the time to hang out, play sports, and still fill your brain with knowledge.
    If you have a problem with this institution then there are plenty of ways to leave. Change is fine but saying that Brandeis doesn’t stand for the principles it was founded upon sounds like you are trying to get attention. I would like you to consider this before going off and fighting the power for the sake of fighting the power. Fighting for change is perfectly fine and promotes progress, but what does not promote progress is fighting for the rush you get while fighting. And please… don’t say that Brandeis is like floating down an abondoned river without a paddle. If you think Brandeis is bad, my friend, try the real world.

  2. Loki Says:

    Thanks for your comment, this is precisely the kind of dialogue we wish to hear.

    I agree that Brandeis is an excellent institute of higher learning. Because we here possess so many of the basic academic freedoms which are deprived the rest of the world, we are able and it is possibly effective to have a forum such as Innermost Parts. But precisely those benefits which you espouse – “you spend your day learning, gaining knowledge, and absorbing life’s lessons” – are what makes the prospect of future change possible. It is true that our life here is generally financially stable. Because of that stability we have the luxury of trying to improve our political situation, without the hindrances of people in worse-off states.

    But precisely the reasons you seem to propose for not asking for change – that our situation is good compared to others – are in fact reasons that we must work for change. Around the world, oppressed people fight and die for the freedoms you and I take for granted. Yet here we are, living with the rights they can only dream of, and we fail to even work an inch to preserve them. It would be shameful to those without our rights if we did not fight tooth and nail and never give an inch to preserve what we are so fortunate to have.

    This is why it is imperative that a person never cease to fight for the rights which are being taken from them. There is no such thing as a too fair and equitable political system, and Brandeis’ is far from perfect. To simply give up the fight because, well, we are better off than some people, is a pessimistic and inadequate world-view. We must work to preserve our liberties at the same time as we work to get them theirs; we must be greatful and appreciative of those liberties or else we shall slowly lose them.

    In response to your decision – that our statement “Brandeis has forgotten the ideals on which it was founded” is ridiculous –
    Brandeis has certainly not committed itself to the “ways of evil” if you will, but yes, it has lost track of some of those values. Recent events have shown that we have lost and are continuing to lose the essential student voice imperative to our democratic community. We will address this further in future posts.

    And no, we do not think Brandeis is bad. We love Brandeis, and that is why we care so much about improving it and helping it find its progressive roots. You seem to think Brandeis is better than the real world. If we want to improve that world, we must start by ensuring we have ourselves on the right course. And that means critiquing Brandeis to ensure it stays the place it deserves to be.

  3. Alex Says:

    I feel like when you say

    But precisely the reasons you seem to propose for not asking for change – that our situation is good compared to others – are in fact reasons that we must work for change. Around the world, oppressed people fight and die for the freedoms you and I take for granted. Yet here we are, living with the rights they can only dream of, and we fail to even work an inch to preserve them. It would be shameful to those without our rights if we did not fight tooth and nail and never give an inch to preserve what we are so fortunate to have.

    you misunderstand Andy’s point. You aren’t going after change, you are complaining. There is a fundamental difference. Not only are you complaining, you are complaining vaguely, expecting your readers to understand exactly what you are talking about, which left me confused.

    Por ejemplo, what do you mean by

    We have forgotten Louis’ lesson. We have forgotten that the greatness of America isn’t measured by the tax breaks we give to our wealthiest, but by the compassion we show to our neediest.

    ? I realize that I’m not up to date on campus politics, but is Brandeis giving out tax cuts to the rich? What is the connection to the rest of the article?

    Also, what artwork has the Administration gotten rid of? I don’t remember hearing about it. I’m not attacking you here, I’m sure it’s happened, but when you don’t make specific reference, those of us who don’t know a lot about campus events (Read: Almost Everyone) have to ask for confirmation.

    Then there is your attack on the Student Union:

    Yet our Student Union is no better. Kowtowing to the Administration, it would rather raise a protest about budgetary reshuffling than say a word opposing issues that deal with safety on our campus. Perhaps they are paralyzed with indecision. Perhaps they have been hijacked by a self-serving faction of Senators. Perhaps they are too frightened to assert their power in the face of an increasingly autocratic administration. Any of these excuses are unacceptable.

    Do you believe any of these theories to be true or are you irresponsibly throwing out hypotheticals off the top of your head? That’s a loaded question, but really, if you have a theory, expound upon it, and if you don’t, don’t. There is no need to just make things up.

    So, in conclusion, general assertions about the state of affairs at Brandeis are not the same as specific proposals on how to make Brandeis more progressive. Don’t do one and then claim to be doing the other.

  4. Sahar Says:

    Alex, I feel your whole point is “You have touched upon a lot of things vaguely. That is bad.”

    Well, yeah, of course we are vague. The details come in as we continue writing. Or do you want an annotated, notarized list of grievances right away? In any case, you’re characterizing it as a list of grievances. I’ve also heard the words “complaining” bandied about.

    That’s wrong. Do you think we’d go to all this trouble of buying hosting, bandwidth, a domain name, and spent so much time making wordpress look pretty if we wanted to complain?

    This is a statement of who we are, and what our values are.

    If you share our values, think we’re onto something, or just plain are interested, I invite you to stick around. It’ll be fun.

    Also, what artwork has the Administration gotten rid of? I don’t remember hearing about it. I’m not attacking you here, I’m sure it’s happened, but when you don’t make specific reference, those of us who don’t know a lot about campus events (Read: Almost Everyone) have to ask for confirmation.

    That’s why we have more posts and future things to write about. You can read a summary of it here. We will cover it in more detail later.

    So, in conclusion, general assertions about the state of affairs at Brandeis are not the same as specific proposals on how to make Brandeis more progressive. Don’t do one and then claim to be doing the other.

    With all due respect, I’m not submitting a mission statement for your approval. The purpose of this post is to write a statement of principles. You have to know your ideals and goals before you can start working to realize them.

    Speaking of realizing progressive goals:
    I think it’s a worthy goal to highlight the failures of what’s going on, to bring the progressive point of view into the light.

    We envisioned this site to be, among other things, an online community for activists, reformists, and those of a similar bent.

    In any case, we’re still young yet. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

  5. teddy roosevelt Says:

    well now young men, it seems like you have a good grasp on this thing we call the politics. why, back in my day, if a young man even spoke up at all, why that would be just bully. you whippersnappers keep up the good work!