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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Union tables resolution over TYP senator email

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: News

A resolution to reprimand TYP Senator Kamarin Lee for sending an allegedly offensive email about Ways and Means Committee Chair Asher Tanenbaum 08 was defeated during the Nov. 11 Senate meeting. Lees email came after Tanenbaum discussed a potential duality of purpose in the constitutions of the Brandeis Black Student Organization and the African Culture Club.

I am sorry to say that I find Ashers email both offensive and inappropriate, wrote Lee in his Nov. 3 email. Ashers idea of the African Club is full of ignorance by believing racial stereotypes and sounds like something that would come from a White, Jewish Middle-Class Conservative.

Lee added its so stupid and upsetting that [Tanenbaum] would say the African Club has a direct relation with BBSO, being that BBSO mainly incorporates Black Culture on campus, meaning that any African culture would be incorporated as well. Asher is wrong. African American culture in America is very much different from that of any African culture.

Lees email was sent only to Union President Shreeya Sinha 09, Director of Campus Life Christina Khemraj 09, Senator for Racial Minority Students Gabe Gaskin 08, Class of 2008 Senator Darren Gallant, and Class of 2009 Senator Yuki Hasegawa.

At the Nov. 11 Union meeting, Lee apologized to Tanenbaum, stating it was just my human instinct to tackle this like I did what I said was not necessarily how I feel.

Lees email came after Tanenbaums Nov. 1 email, which suggested that there might be overlap in BBSO and the African Culture Clubs constitutions. The African Culture Club was later chartered by a 15-4 vote.

Hasegawa, offended by Lees comments, alluded to the email during the Senate meeting on Oct. 28. After realizing Lees email was sent only to specific Union members, he submitted a resolution demanding that the Senate reprimands TYP Senator Kamarin Lees inappropriate conduct and calls for a public apology to his fellow Senators.

Despite protests from some senators, the resolution was tabled indefinitely by an 11-6 vote. The remainder of the meeting was then spent discussing the case.

The reason I think Kamarin should be held accountable is because he is a representative, Hasegawa said. The reason I am pursuing this is because nobody has come up to me and convinced me he didnt do anything wrong.

The two Union members involved both felt maligned. I felt offended [by Tanenbaums email] because it sounded like a racial stereotype, responded Lee. I sent that email to people I thought I trusted. Lee denied sending the email to people based on minority status.

I did find [Lees email] offensive, said Tanenbaum. I dont like how this issue has been turned around on me. Taking away the titles of both clubs, I dont think you would be able to tell which ones whichI dont know how you can construe it as being racist. It was attacking me for copying and pasting and saying we need to discuss this. As chair of the Ways and Means Committee, it is Tanenbaums job to examine the constitutions of clubs attempting to be chartered.

Union Treasurer Choon Woo Ha 08 agreed with Tanenbaums initial email, saying if the F-board was looking at the two constitutions, wed say what is the difference?

Before the resolution was introduced at the meeting, some Union members voiced concerns.

I think this is an inappropriate way to deal with this problem, said Vice President Alex Braver 09, who urged Hasegawa to withdraw the resolution, calling for individual meetings. Hasegawa, however, noted that both he and Lee had met before the meeting, with Braver as moderator.

Senator-at-Large Andrew Brooks 09 said bringing your race, religion, or socioeconomic status is completely inappropriate. Imagine if Asher said, sounds like some black kid. People would be up in arms. He added, we condemned Gravity because they made an ad that was meant as a joke. We made a resolution, we made them apologize, we took away their fundingthe fact that I dont see the same level of offense here is disappointing.

Citing recent news coverage of race-based issues, Gaskin introduced a representative from Students Organized Against Racism. Gaskin commented, there are histories behind the word [racism]minorities talk about this. I want to commend Kamarin for bringing it up…without his comment this discussion wouldnt have happened.

I think it is important to look at elements of what happenedI thought it was interesting that Kamarin was asked to apologize. To me, thats upsetting, said Blake Hyatt 08. Privilege really informs what happened here…I think thats why Kamarin is the only one in this [resolution].

President Shreeya Sinha 09 stated, I think this a real teachable moment. Weve all offended each other in some shape or formthat is the equal ground herewe shouldnt be attacking each other. At the end of the day, were not just professionals, but were students as well.