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Editorial: A propped door is not enough

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: Opinions


Last Wednesday, President Jehuda Reinharz, via a campus-wide email, informed the Brandeis community that he has decided to allow Public Safety Officers to carry firearms. The decision was made following the completion of a report by The Firearms Advisory Committee, which was composed of various administrators, faculty, staff, two Brandeis undergraduate students (both members of the Student Union Executive Office) and one graduate student.

We are not writing to comment on the legitimacy of Reinharzs decision;

there are many valid arguments for arming the officers and equally valid arguments against it. However, we are disappointed with the lack of justification given for the decision, and the lack of an open dialogue with the campus at large regarding this important issue.

Including the five-page report of the Advisory Committee in the notification email was nowhere near good enough. The Committees recommendations, while clearly thought-out, can not constitute the entirety of Reinharzs decision. If they were the sole resource for Reinharz, the decision needs to be revisited, as the Committee did not address every concern of the campus. This has become especially important in light of the incident Tuesday involving University of Florida police tasering what they thought to be an unruly student. Also, three students speaking for the entirety of the undergraduate and graduate community is woefully inadequate.

This issue of dialogue is especially relevant coming only a year after the controversial visits of former President Carter and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, as well as the uproar over alleged racial insensitivity in Gravity Magazine. Public dialogue is a core value of this University;

as Justice Brandeis said, In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom. However, Brandeis current leadership, when asked by The Hoot to explain its rationale, declined to answer, deigning instead to send a press release, which was already available on the Brandeis website.

Reinharz has an obligation to address the student body and the rest of the Brandeis community to explain his decision. It would have been better if he had held a forum where community members could voice their concerns, but we deserve, at least, an address regarding why this decision was made and its implications for the campus.

The Advisory Committee wrote in its report that we recognize that we have learned much through this process of these deliberations and wish that other members of the university community would also have an opportunity to gain this knowledge and participate in some dialogue. We have the same wish.