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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Univ stretches itself thin with competing events

Published: April 11, 2014
Section: Opinions

This past Sunday, Brandeis had two big events happen simultaneously: the annual Admitted Students Day and ’Deis Day designed to promote school spirit. Both days not only require many volunteer services, but also a lot of mental capacity. As students, we were told by school officials that “Admitted Students Day is the single most important recruitment activity for undergraduate students … it is critical for our community to extend a warm and enthusiastic welcome.” So we must neglect the numerous food service problems, the yearly housing crisis, the rampant focus on a subjective definition-less idea of “social justice” and all the other issues we have with this school. We must suppress our disappointment and disdain for the day, though this doesn’t bother me.

What bothers me is that two of the days where we must participate in the ideal of American boosterism were scheduled for the same day. I understand the reason for mixing the days: showing school spirit to future students while encouraging them to attend is powerful. Both events, however, cannot happen at the same time and they should not, since they both require extensive amounts of preparation and services. If held on the same day, both events do not support school spirit, but instead become an example of astroturfing and the school trying too hard to please the outside world.

For many people, at this school especially, socializing with strangers is outside of our comfort zones and requires us to prepare extensively. Many students here are introverted, preferring to gain personal energy from being alone. Introvertedness is often seen as a weakness, an outward sign of the social awkwardness we collectively have. Brandeis jokes about being socially awkward, but it’s true to an extent. Half of us would not participate in activities such as Admitted Students Day or ’Deis Day. This solitude is a major part of campus life, but is ignored for the entire day. The active part of campus had to be split between two events on the same day, with both events being understaffed. But why were both events understaffed?

Both events needed a high volunteer rate, on a campus of inactivity leading to exhaustion of resources. Club leaders were encouraged to be in the golf cart parade, but also had to be at the Club Fair for prospective students. This leads to three options: split up the leadership between the two events, choose one or don’t go. For small clubs with only a few leaders, this causes a conundrum on which is more important to be represented at. For large clubs, the leadership split and members had to choose what to attend. We want future members and students, but we also want to see our friends perform in the Battle of the Bands. Yet the school scheduled them the same day in order to promote school spirit.

Our school is a wonderful place, but all we see are the flaws. It’s human to focus on the negative, and it is okay to do so. Many conversations here can be ones of lamentations. “Sodexo screwed me over.” “That professor’s curve is ungodly.” “My roof is constantly leaking, and facilities has’’t responded in a week.” Our school has numerous links to history that go unnoticed; the hill beneath your feet was used to survey Boston when it was founded. That’s amazing and something to be proud of. All we focus on is the bad gets more attention and activism, but we must eschew it to make Brandeis seem a utopia where no one complains or feels bad at all. That is simply false.

When both events happen simultaneously, the school does not look optimistic, but looks to be trying too hard to please and present. These events were both heavily advertised, even inspiring merchandise for the sole day. The shirts made for ’Deis Day promoted the religious diversity of the campus, with an owl over a Star of David, a cross and a crescent moon. For a day that promotes unity, we have to focus on diversity to be unified? Can we not be all Brandeis students first for this day and not focus on our differences? Although our differences make us special, solely focusing on the aesthetics of the school allow for one to experience doubt about its sincerity. On Admitted Students Day, I was told “everyone here is friendly and willing to be your friend.” This falseness led me to suffer because everyone on these days were utopian in mindset, and I fell for it. Having both of these events on the same day led to a massively high standard that Brandeis cannot meet next fall. Future students will think the school is the best, but then will have that dream destroyed by the many failings they will see here.

All in all, ’Deis Day and Admitted Students Day inherently neglect Brandeis reality, instead portraying it as a “shining city on a hill.” Having them on the same day portrays a falseness that Brandeis will do no wrong. For an accurate and successful Admitted Students Day, one must be willing to say the truth. It is our duty to inform the future classes of the good and bad of Brandeis, so they may make an informed decision.