So, after a painfully-too-short winter break, the fall semester is now behind us and the spring is here. The new year has come, leaving a snowy white sheen over our campus and Gosman’s weight room all too full. With this transition typically comes the hope that we can close the door on the hardships of the past and step into a better environment.
The fall 2023 semester on Brandeis’ campus was, to put it lightly, a sour time. The university celebrated its 75th anniversary, complete with a chocolate fountain, while shuttering its acclaimed music PhD program. This move, especially when paired with the planning and expansion of an engineering department, led faculty and students in the humanities to be concerned that the Brandeis administration had been placing a greater emphasis on STEM fields at the cost of other academic realms.
Campus also saw mismanagement in its dining system. The Usdan Kitchen dining hall used disposable plates, cups and silverware for a period of about a month in September and October, with dining provider Harvest Table citing a dishwasher malfunction as the cause for this temporary change. Harvest Table faced some additional backlash in the face of allegations of wage theft from dining employees, which resulted in on-campus protests.
Last semester, however, was marked most strongly by the events involving the administration’s derecognition of Brandeis’ chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The Hoot has extensively covered these events, but the abridged version is that shortly prior to a vigil event to be held by SJP in honor of the civilian victims of conflict in Gaza, the club’s members were notified that Brandeis no longer recognized the club, citing the national SJP organization’s alleged support of Hamas. The vigil was held regardless on Nov. 6, with a subsequent protest regarding SJP’s derecognition held on Nov. 10. The Hoot reported that protesters were subject to police brutality, with seven protesters (including three Brandeis students) being arrested. Following the protest, The Hoot spoke to two of the arrested students, as well as a student who was involved in the organization of the protest. Then, on Nov. 13, students held a peaceful walkout in protest of police brutality, which saw attention from off-campus news organizations.
With the above and other tragedies occurring on campus, the fall 2023 semester left little time for students to rest. Between full-time academic challenges and a highly tense environment, it was easy to see campus life as a continuous onslaught of pressure and hardship. While it would be naïve of us to pretend that tragedy and injustice has stopped or will stop happening, or that no new controversy will transpire, it is important to look to the future with some hope that things will be better. The days will get longer and sunnier rather than shorter and darker, buds and leaves will bloom on the trees, and we’ll have a lot more vacation days.
Returning to campus is sure to be difficult for many students, and we at The Hoot extend our sympathy as we hope the spring brings brightness anew. Let’s all do what we can to begin again, and make this semester better than the last.