Brandeis: year in review

Brandeis remained a busy and vibrant community in 2018. Amid the busyness that engrosses us throughout holiday and finals seasons, as we near the end of the year, let’s not forget to take a moment to look back at the events that shaped our community in 2018.

The events discussed in this editorial are by no means exhaustive; Brandeis is far too dynamic an institution. The events of 2018 included here are simply those which stood out to us among the many important events happening every day on this campus. The list includes the good, the bad and the ugly. So let’s start with the ugly.

Last spring, Brandeis’ basketball coach Brian Meehan was fired after a Deadspin article made his racist behavior public. After acknowledging the shortcomings of a university investigation into the matter, President Ron Liebowitz appointed independent investigators who produced two reports. The first, published in September, explored the issues surrounding Meehan, and the second, published in November, explored the campus climate.

Another major controversy in the spring surrounded the cancellation of several performances of a campus theater production. Four out of five performances of “And Then There Were None” were cancelled after faculty members emailed a complaint to producers over the play’s racist history. The play was based on an Agatha Christie novel originally titled “Ten Little N*s.”

The ugly aside, 2018 saw changes to campus life which should be applauded. The mailroom increased efficiency and ease when Swiss Post Solutions became the new mailroom partner, one of the most productive improvements this year. Brandeis’ first food pantry opened in Kutz Hall to help address campus food insecurity. The pantry functions alongside a new program at the library which allows students to donate food to the pantry to cover outstanding library fines.

One event students will likely remember was a public safety concern in the Foster Mods residence hall. On Oct. 12, emergency response teams surrounded the Mods residence after uncovering sodium cyanide, a lethal chemical. A hazmat team promptly removed the substance while police officers, BEMCo and DCL staff evacuated students and kept them at a safe distance.

After first breaking ground in spring 2017, Skyline opened its doors to its first round of residents this fall. Neighboring the remaining iconic wing of the castle that contains Chums, the new residence hall will house future generations of Brandeis students.

Sustainability played a major role in campus life this past year. Overall, Brandeis made strides in reducing its carbon footprint and is on track to meet its goal of 15 percent reduction by 2020. Students can now take advantage of LimeBikes on campus and the new lighting in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) that got a much-needed LED upgrade.

2018 also saw Liebowitz—who has now served as university president for two years—lay out his framework for Brandeis’ future. The framework, which aims to bring university programs in line with Brandeis’ mission and the institution’s financial capabilities, will facilitate the appointment of several task forces and creates the prospect of change in 2019 and beyond.

As always, Brandeis students upheld the university’s commitment to social justice with protests across campus that responded to the political climate and social movements in the larger world. In the spring semester, hundreds of students walked out in solidarity with the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, FL. Later that semester, the newly established Brandeis Never Again held a rally to support gun control reform, coinciding with a national walkout day to mark the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

This semester, students in #BrandeisBelieveSurvivors held several demonstrations against sexual assault and to stand in solidarity with survivors. They interrupted various classrooms and held a sit-in in the SCC atrium to raise awareness. Students also rallied in November for trans rights, and this month many librarians were joined by supportive students and faculty in a march to Bernstein-Marcus to fight for a fair contract.

Petitions and open letters to the administration were abundant. In addition to those associated with previously mentioned campus demonstrations, a letter called on the administration to host an open forum on the topic of accessibility and a petition requesting Liebowitz to endorse the idea of a Massachusetts Carbon Tax. An open forum on accessibility is expected to take place in 2019. The carbon tax petition has yet to receive a response.

2018 saw productive engagement between advocates of divestment and the Board of Trustees. Though students continue to call for all investments to be removed from fossil fuels, changes in investment policies announced in November saw some progress on this front.

And lastly, as of this week, two first-year residence halls now house electric keyboards, after a lengthy dispute in the Student Union.

Here’s to a new year!

Menu Title