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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Invest in social justice at home

Published: February 10, 2012
Section: Front Page

As the Brandeis community celebrated ’Deis Impact this week, the university’s first festival of social justice, we were reminded that service in a community must begin at the local level before it extends to the global one.

We applaud students for organizing the festival. And we hope that it will serve as a reminder to our community that a school built on the value of social justice requires activism at home just as much as it requires activism abroad.

Brandeis students are well aware of the socioeconomic injustices in the world. We have a multitude of clubs to promote international development and humanitarian relief for the world’s most vulnerable citizens. Yet, as we evaluate our entire community’s commitment to not only upholding the value of social justice but also seeking to broaden and strengthen it, we must not forget the injustices that demand our attention right here on campus.

Dining workers from Aramark at risk of losing their health insurance in contract renegotiations, homelessness in Waltham, underperforming students at the Stanley Elementary School, immigrant advocacy programs—these are programs that demand passionate advocates of justice to speak up.

They are not the stories that dominate international news headlines. But the role of a campus dedicated to social justice is to work on those issues and protect the most vulnerable people in our community, particularly when others are not listening to them.

The theme of this week’s festival was that different groups on campus can find ways to connect with the community through social justice—whether through the arts, language or sports. ’Deis Impact is the ceremony that launched this campaign to reaffirm our mission and vision as a university.

But how students think about and collectively work both to measure and improve their level of service to this community is not a task that can be accomplished in one month or one year. This week, we exposed the problems facing our Brandeis community, our Waltham community and the world we in which we live. We began to talk about solutions.

Brandeis has much of which to be proud when it comes to serving the community. Waltham Group serves as an example for the ideal use of leadership skills and academic potential. The challenge is now for all students, whether natural leaders or not, to discover new ways to serve their neighbors, friends and fellow citizens.