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University’s response to racial violence is not good enough

The U.S. has undoubtedly been made more aware of racial issues within the past year. From the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests over the summer to the more recent spa shooting in Atlanta, where several individuals of Asian descent were killed, it’s clear that we are in the middle of a racial crisis.

On the surface, it may seem that the communication from the senior administration standing in solidarity with communities of color against violence and hate demonstrates the university’s support for Brandeis community members that may identify with these groups. When the student leaders of the Black Action Plan (BAP) released their proposal at the beginning of the academic year after a summer of BLM protests, the university welcomed the plan and vowed to address all their concerns. The recent emails in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have provided resources for students that may be affected, as well as events for students to reflect. However, these emails have mostly been informational, and, otherwise, there have been no real measures that the administration has taken in order to reduce these sorts of racial conflicts on campus.

Emails by President Ron Liebowitz and Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas made note of student-led events that would provide a safe space for students to reflect on the event. However, they made no effort to assist in the planning or execution of the event. According to an open letter by the Brandeis Asian American Student Association (BAASA) that planned one of the events marketed by the administration, the club received no assistance in planning their event and had to make last minute changes to accommodate a bigger audience. 

These emails placed the burden of education and community on the BAASA leaders instead of on the administration. The administration failed to offer support, instead choosing to direct students to other places. It is unfair to delegate this responsibility to the students, especially the students most impacted by the events in Atlanta and around the country. 

While Liebowitz’s recent emails in regards to the Atlanta shooting served as a condemnation of these atrocious acts of discrimination, they were just that. They were a reminder that the administration is ready to protect members of the community, without the university putting any policies in place to protect the community or offering any real emotional resources to help students cope with tragedy. While deep-rooted racial issues within a society do require a mindset shift of its inhabitants, as opposed to policy set by the university, we still believe that this is essential to protecting our community and is also merely a stepping stone to a larger goal. The administration’s claims to social justice should not be framed only in terms of recognition of difference, but also in redistributive action: taking initiatives to rectify social inequity.

Editor’s Note: Editor-in-Chief Sabrina Chow and News Editor Victoria Morrongiello did not contribute to this editorial

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