Looking back on the past decade and forward into 2020

The past decade has been a time of great change on the Brandeis campus and in the world at large. We, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot, would like to take a moment to focus on our university—both the achievements our community has made in the past ten years and the areas Brandeis needs to work on in the ten years to come.

Brandeis has made its mark this decade with major architectural improvements including the construction of the Mandel Center of the Humanities in 2010 and Skyline Residence Hall in the 2018-2019 school year. While the Usen Castle was a quintessential landmark on our campus, the partial demolition allowed for a bigger, accessible, more eco-friendly building, and we, as students, appreciate the change and the increase in on-campus housing options. In the future, we look forward to increased maintenance and construction as our student body continues to grow and flourish, especially in first-year and sophomore residence halls.

Additionally, faculty have been awarded various prizes and recognitions in the past ten years. To name just a few, in 2017 Professors Michael Rosbach (NBIO) and Jeffrey Hall (BIOL) won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in 2016 Professor Eve Marder (NEURO) was awarded the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience and Brandeis alumni Jack Davis Ph.D. ’94, David Kertzer Ph.D. ’74 and Alan Taylor Ph.D. ’86 won Pulitzer Prizes in 2017, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Our university also gained a new president in 2016, when Ronald D. Liebowitz became Brandeis University’s ninth president

The student body has also made many positive strides in the past decade. Many student groups and departments celebrated important anniversaries, such as the Waltham Group celebrating 50 year anniversary in 2016, Culture X’s 20th anniversary and the 50 year anniversary of the African and African American Studies (AAAS) department in 2019. The university as a whole also created a new logo in the process of rebranding in 2019, prompting design changes all over campus to start the decade fresh, and created new graduation requirements with the Brandeis Core.

Today on campus, we are starting to see the results from actions taken by our peers and alumni before us. Brandeis students have represented the university’s focus on social justice by protesting—often against the actions of the Brandeis administration. During Ford Hall 2015—a protest which alluded to Ford Hall 1969, which established AAAS—students took part in a sit-in outside of then-interim university President Lisa Lynch’s office in the Bernstein-Marcus administration building. Students stood in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault after the now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh hearings during #BrandeisBelievesSurvivors. And finally, student activists demanded and established a department of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Studies. Brandeis students have been involved in many more protests—including against U.S Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and climate change—and will continue to engage in many forms of activism in the fight for social justice. 

Due to the efforts of our fellow students, the university has been made aware of our concerns, and we have seen the ways in which it seeks to make changes to improve campus life. We commend President Liebowitz for his work on the Framework for Our Future and the task forces put into place to make Brandeis a better place for all members of the community, and commend Brandeis as a whole for being the first American university to prohibit discrimination on the basis of caste.

Going into the new decade, The Hoot will continue to bring the Brandeis community accurate, relevant news and we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve the Brandeis campus and the support we receive, particularly after our paper was at risk of being de-chartered in April 2019. 

In the beginning of the decade, The Hoot covered various important topics taking place on campus, such as Brandeis changing its policies on sexual assault in response to new Title IX guidance in 2011, the implementation of a rape crisis center in 2014 and one professor’s response to being underpaid in 2016. These stories, and more, contributed to The Hoot receiving the “New England College Newspaper of the Year, First Runner-Up” in 2012 and the “New England College Newspaper of the Year, Honorable Mention” in 2014.

In 2017, The Hoot covered the lack of transparency surrounding “Buyer Beware,” a controversial play set on the Brandeis campus, which was eventually cancelled. Local and national outlets used some of The Hoot’s coverage to report on the story. In 2018 and 2019, The Hoot reported on the many changes in Brandeis staff as results of investigations and lawsuits; the most notable ones include the termination of men’s basketball coach Brian Meehan and Human Resources employee Robin Nelson-Bailey’s lawsuit against the university for over $2 million on three claims of discrimination based on her race, color, age, sex and decision to retaliate against mistreatment. This year and beyond, we remain committed to being a newspaper written about, for and by the Brandeis community, sharing the most accurate, current and relevant information possible in a timely manner. 

The many occurances of the past decade can be seen as either positive and negative, but it is important to note that there are always opportunities to learn new things and grow from these experiences. Looking into 2020 and the next decade, we, the editorial board of The Hoot, hope that the university will continue to strive to be the Brandeis that we, as students, hoped for when we first arrived, and a university that lives up to its ideals. 

While there have been myriad improvements at Brandeis over this last decade, there are also aspects of campus that still require advancements and rebuilding. In the coming years, we hope to see continued improvements to campus. In particular, while we can see the beginnings of conversations and actions being taken to improve the accessibility of campus for all students, we hope to see more change in this area, both in physical ways and otherwise. We also hope for increased university resources in the Brandeis Counseling Center and the Health Center so that more students can receive the care they need, when they need it. 
We hope that in the coming decade, Brandeis can continue to push for better professor and worker retention, making this campus a great place not only for its students but for faculty and staff, as well. We look forward to these improvements and those made by the Student Union, which is always striving for more efficient ways to help the student body and its organizations. We hope students can continue treating each other with respect and listen with open minds, to push for knowledge and truth, even unto its innermost parts. 2020, here’s to you. We eagerly look forward to the opportunities ahead.

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