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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis community needs to support all discussions

Published: March 7, 2014
Section: Editorials

Campus events that are easy to support, such as ’DEIS Impact, have received great promotion from the administration and the student body. Covering straightforward, positive ideals, these events are advertised as an integral part of the Brandeis community. That is undeniably true, and it should be commended that these events receive so much support. Yet there are other important events that the university would rather look past when presenting the school to the greater community.

Over this past week, the controversial topics discussed during the Israeli Apartheid Week have failed to be supported in the same capacity as the more popular functions such as ’DEIS Impact. President Fred Lawrence was at a conference in Washington, D.C., while Max Blumenthal spoke about the problems with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. No other administrators attended this event, which student groups put a lot of effort into organizing, and that presents a blatant bias. When prominent speakers come to campus, Brandeis administration should make an effort to be present, to show investment in student passions and to foster respectful discussion.

The administration seems to choose certain student-organized programs over others. All students at Brandeis have the right to propose their ideas in a free and open dialogue, but this favoritism shown for events does not promote the ideals the university claims to represent. Whether or not the university wants to admit to it, some students feel very strongly that the problems in Israel are associated with social justice and want action to be taken and their views to be heard.

Even if the official university response is not there to moderate, the student body needs to be respectful of others’ views. Before the capstone event on Monday, the Facebook event for Israeli Apartheid Week was taken over by negative and even threatening comments. Many of these students were Brandeis students, and some people even went so far as to use fake profiles online. Using the semi-anonymity of the internet to impose power over others is wrong. The students who were so eager to put down opposing views online, yet were not brave enough to then offer their voices to be heard at the events, need to realize that whatever they post online is a representation of the university. A person is still a Brandeis student who represents the university when posting online, no matter what avatar he or she may use. We cannot be so quick to lash out on others when we all compose the same body.

While Israeli Apartheid Week may have been about a controversial topic, this was actually a call for the campus to come together, administration members and students alike. To be a campus that is a claimed leader in social justice, everyone needs to act respectfully and fairly, whether the event be ’DEIS Impact or something on a smaller scale.