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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Vegan vote flawed, nothing but publicity stunt

Published: October 14, 2011
Section: Editorials

This editorial board approves of any outside positive publicity for Brandeis. Really—if they have an award ceremony somewhere for Most Peppy Admissions Counselors or if there can be a national headline celebrating Brandeis as the single best of all the schools in the nation with liberal, inaugural Jewish Supreme Court justices as namesakes—that would be welcomed.

So Brandeis’ competing once again in the Most Vegan-Friendly campus contest is just fine by us. Conducted by PETA2, the college arm of the nation’s preeminent animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the poll named Brandeis the third-place winner in last year’s contest. We lost to the winners, those hippies at Brown.

Yet while this serves our general interest in accruing accolades and raising our national profile, it does very little to advance the cause of the pro-vegan, animal-saving Utopia to which PETA aspires. Now this may be a very good thing, depending on one’s viewpoint. But in case one did happen to be suddenly struck by the strange desire to enact this agenda, an “American Idol”-style, mass media, Facebook “Like” poll is not the way to do it.

On PETA2’s website, any Web surfer may click any school and any number of schools to increase it’s chance of advancing to the next round to claim the title.

The contest does not determine which school has the largest or most varied selection of vegan foods. The poll does not take into account any rigorous comparison of animal rights activism. On a basic level, students at one university cannot judge how their school’s veganism compares to that of another school. The poll also lacks any statistical basis—the school with the most votes wins, regardless both of school size within the category (there are two, one each for big and small schools) or even of the passion of students (anyone can vote).

PETA’s contest, then, sounds a lot like the board’s happiness for Brandeis: It is meant merely for positive publicity. But don’t we all know that PETA has had more effective and much more alluring publicity stunts than a push-poll?