Brandeis students rallied around the university in an online campaign this winter break, using the hashtag “Brandeis Is Our House” to title positive stories about their experiences at the school. Kelsey Segaloff ’15 started the campaign following social media reaction to an article written by Daniel Mael ’15, on Truth Revolt, a conservative news and commentary website. Mael’s article published multiple tweets by Khadijah Lynch ’16, in which Lynch expressed “no sympathy” for NYPD officers murdered on Dec. 20. The article caused an uproar online, both in reaction to Lynch’s statements, and what some students saw as incitement to bullying by Mael, resulting in threats of violence to both parties. Brandeis met harsh criticism at the hands of off-campus outlets, such as the conservative publication The Daily Caller. Criticisms ranged from Lynch’s rhetoric to calling Brandeis a hotbed of “leftist indoctrination.”
Thus, the #BrandeisIsOurHouse campaign was conceived. “A little before winter break, I met with [Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment] Andrew Flagel about social media, so social media campaigns were buzzing in my head,” Segaloff told The Hoot in an email. “I decided that to combat the anger online, people could just post [their] good memories of Brandeis.” Segaloff also reached out to her friends and Brandeis student leaders for advice on how to refine the idea. The specific hashtag came after seeing a Facebook status by Ariel Chasen ’16 that quoted a speech given by Dean of Students Jamele Adams to students about Brandeis being “our house.”
Brandeis Is Our House was met with much support from the Brandeis administration, according to Segaloff. The event itself was shared by faculty members including Andrew Flagel, Director of Academic Integrity Erika Lamarre and Associate Dean Stephanie Grimes. This was encouraging, as it promoted the event inside the boundaries of Brandeis’ campus. This was of particular meaning to Segaloff, who has been a community advisor for three years. “I want to emphasize that Brandeis is a family,” Segaloff said. “To see outside people talking about my family in a way that was so insulting was really emotionally harmful to myself as well as others.” Making the title of the event a hashtag made it easier to track posts.
Response to the campaign was overwhelmingly positive, with hundreds of posts detailing positive experiences that students credited to their attendance at Brandeis. “I was reading them with tears in my eyes,” Segaloff said. “I was beyond honored by reading people’s’ stories, what they overcame and how the Brandeis community helped them. It was beautiful.”
Now that spring semester has started, Segaloff is planning on continuing the event on campus. “It’s time to get away from the slacktivism and into campus!” she said. This Thursday, Segaloff posted in the #BrandeisIsOurHouse Facebook event that the SCC will soon be home to print-outs of stories from the online event, as well as an opportunity for students to write new ones and have them posted on campus. A specific date has not yet been announced.