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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Administration continues lack of openness

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Opinions

Brandeis is supposedly a bastion of open dialogue, but once again, the university administration has proven that the commitment to dialogue does not extend into the realm of the controversial. For the second time this semester, open discussion has been quashed in favor of a unilateral decision without an explanation.

The Hoot learned this week that Politics Professor Donald Hindley has been accused of making racist remarks in his classes, and the administration has decided that his words were egregious enough to merit monitoring his classroom for the foreseeable future. Hindley is also being forced to attend university sponsored anti-discriminatory training.

The problem is, however, that no one has been informed about what, exactly, Hindley said. As far as we know, students in the class other than the complainant were not questioned about Hindleys remarks. To this end, there has already been considerable student support in favor of Hindley. A Facebook group defending him arose almost immediately after the controversy became public knowledge, and now has more than twenty members. This reveals that not everyone in the class found Hindleys comments offensive.

The administration, though, took none of this into account, and acted on a single complaint and the results of a secret investigation that it undertook without Hindleys knowledge. This is not the way to conduct an inquiry into a professor. We are not prepared or able to comment on whether or nor Hindleys remarks were racist, but we do not understand the hesitation on the part of the administration to allow the student body to contribute to controversial, and potentially productive, dialogue. We should be allowed to decide, as a student body, whether or not we are offended, and not have to rely on the judgment of the administrations investigation.

To the detriment of the student body, the environment of discussion at Brandeis is steadily moving away from transparency and towards closed-door secrecy. The Student Union decided Michael Goldmans fate in an executive session. The administration made its decision on whether to arm the police without seeking adequate student opinion and without justifying the choice in an open forum. This is a disturbing trend, especially on a campus that claims to pride itself on social justice. In an email, Hindley called the administration secretive, authoritarian, and personalist. Unfortunately, in this instance, we are inclined to agree.