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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Room to grow in student life offerings

Published: October 7, 2011
Section: Editorials

As Brandeis begins a new strategic planning process, it should prioritize student life improvements just as it does strengthening academic programs and departments. That’s because the difference between Brandeis University and schools ranked 10 to 15 spots higher is not restricted to academics.

It is well-known that Brandeis is home to some of the nation’s most distinguished faculty. But the difference between schools such as Washington University in St. Louis or Emory University in Atlanta and Brandeis lies in the vibrancy of student life—and the buildings and services that enhance it. At other universities, we can see it in the athletic facilities with state of the art gyms, new dining halls that feel drastically different from high school cafeterias and residence halls that have been renovated and rebuilt since the 1970s.

To be fair, Brandeis has made significant improvements in each of these areas during the past decade. Much of that success is due to former President Jehuda Reinharz, who revived Brandeis from an identity crisis and raised funds for the state of the art buildings that fill campus today.

But we can’t compete with these other schools if we don’t improve all of our residence halls and expand the size of our gym and dining areas. These agenda items may seem trivial to some administrators but they matter to prospective students and their parents choosing where to apply to college. And they should. We pay more than $50,000 per year to attend and live at Brandeis.

The reality is that only a strategic planning process, incorporating a variety of student feedback, can most accurately represent what Brandeis needs in order to reach its full potential as a university and a community. This editorial board hopes that administrators will realize how students can help in that process.

It is undoubtedly an exciting time for Brandeis. We have emerged from a global economic recession to stand on strong financial ground, settled The Rose Art Museum lawsuit that created a national media frenzy and chosen a new president with the experience, passion and spirit to lead Brandeis into a new era. We just hope our strategic plan and all its designers choose the right vision for the future.