Just a few days ago, President Ron Liebowitz spoke for 40 minutes on the future of our second home, Brandeis University. When looking at our university, I see a thriving youthful glow radiating around desires to achieve social justice and success. Brandeis has grown to a level of excellence, but even the most well-centered forces lose their footing. Through Liebowitz’s speech, it was the first time I ever felt like Brandeis was weaker than the strong, prosperous institution I have come to know.
It felt as though Brandeis is on stilts, trying to keep its balance while lumberjacks are hacking at our legs. As Liebowitz spoke about the strengths and improvements ingrained in Brandeis’ current state, I realized we will not be able to sustain ourselves. Brandeis’ students have to do their part and be the catalysts of change our campus needs to not merely survive but thrive in years to come.
Firstly, it is imperative to touch upon the strengths that have been propelling Brandeis forward. Brandeis’ faculty is of immense caliber with an immeasurable amount of intellect and passion. Researching groundbreaking data, publishing numerous writings and winning accolades such as the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes, our faculty is undeniably well established. Yet, that is not the most unique aspect of Brandeis’ faculty—it is impressive within the very fact that these people are so esteemed that they make such an effort to connect with the undergraduate population.
It is practically unheard of for undergraduates to receive as much love and attention as we do. The faculty makes themselves accessible to us at all times and invites us to talk with them for as long as our hearts desire. This semester, two of my professors are the heads of their departments.
No matter how busy either of them are, they welcome us, students, to stop by their offices and say hi. Not only have I gone to one professor before every essay to better my writing one-on-one, but I have also stayed for multiple hour-and-a-half chatting sessions with my other professor. I have friends who are bonding with their professors over multiple opportunities, including once-in-a-lifetime research, composing and philanthropic opportunities. But you already know all this. Undoubtedly, you have experienced a fantastic professor, and I am sure you can reflect on just how amazing an educator and person they are and how they have positively affected your Brandeisian experience.
The principles of inclusivity and acceptance that Brandeis was founded upon are a true testament to who we are and what we claim to be. In 1948, when the university was founded, religious tensions were heightened after World War II, and many colleges were not accepting Jewish applicants solely because of their religion.
As Liebowitz identified, Brandeis, at the time of its establishment, was the only secular university founded by the American Jewish community. Being raised on the Jewish value of acceptance, the Brandeis community fosters a safe haven from bigotry and hate, very similar to what I saw back home. It encourages us to be our true selves and develop into the people we want to be. Perhaps, some may find this to be an idealized interpretation of our core quality—however, I do believe that after attending Brandeis you will be a better person for it.
As some may take this for granted, how many people can truly believe this about themselves when they leave university? Yes, they may become a better academic and have all the necessities to find a job or move onto higher education upon completion, but the real question is whether or not they have grown as better people for it.
That leads to the last undeniable strength of Brandeis—us! Brandeisians are some of the most intellectual, quirky, warm-hearted, inspiring and passionate people I have ever known. It is as though I am at square one of a massive project in creating the next generation of revolutionaries. I feel it in the bathroom where I hear people discussing how they would lay out a better United States infrastructure plan, in the gym where I hear musicians discussing how they would alter jazz and modern rap to create a new style of music, in my law class where I hear people devising methods on how to mutate preexisting medicine to combat new illnesses.
This campus is filled with people who are seeking a better tomorrow and within my first two months on campus, I can affirmatively say that I have never been more motivated and determined to feed off my peers and strive for greatness.
Brandeisians have not only been recently outstanding, we have highly successful alumni who created the shoes we have been triumphantly filling. Unfortunately, we as students are not doing our part to maintain this university we have all come to love. Brandeis is in need of a sturdy financial stream!
It is impossible to invest in infrastructure, technological equipment and giving faculty more of what they need to excel, without money! The way to keep Brandeis competitive with other institutions is to maintain and increase the financial aid, equipment and accessories available to students.
Alumni, Brandeis has given you some of the best years of your life. It has influenced your career, it has been your home, it has been your family. Please do not forget about where you came from. I encourage you to donate to your alma mater—it needs you now more than ever. As we continue to grow and advance, it is only through your support that the next generation of students will see just how amazing Brandeis is and will continue to be.