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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Put weight behind your words

Published: April 11, 2008
Section: Opinions

In addition to the hoards of prospective students and their parents, the Great Lawn was also the site of a student demonstration during yesterday’s Open House. The demonstration was organized to “bring justice back to Brandeis,” according to one of the signs a student was holding.

The demonstration deserves respect for its success in drawing a relatively large number of community members to the Great Lawn. However, it is questionable how great of an impact the demonstration will have. The demonstration cited a number of incidents, past and present, including the controversy surrounding the Voices of Palestine art exhibit, Nadia Kim, Gravity Magazine, Jimmy Carter, Donald Hindley, and Mamoon Darwish.

While we appreciate the organizers’ attempt to show that injustice exists at Brandeis, we think that drawing upon so many incidents may weaken the impact of their demonstration. Grouping together so many complicated incidents makes for an unfocused and possibly ineffective demonstration. Rehashing old wounds gives the administration the option of saying that these issues have already been dealt with and there is nothing further they can do to address the issue. Remembering past injustices is important, but throwing around various incidents from the past without explicitly explaining the significance of these events, may confuse passersby who are not entrenched in the planning of the demonstration.

While the demonstration was well planned and organized with the purpose of creating a dialogue with the administration, in the end it appears to be just talk. Talk may be a valuable first step, but organizers should not feel satisfied with yesterday’s demonstration. While the administration seemed to respect the students’ efforts, yesterday’s demonstration may easily be forgotten if further steps are not taken.

Senator for Racial Minority Students Gabe Gaskins ’08, one of the event’s organizers, says the next step is finding a solution. However, the organizers will find that implementing a solution may prove to be more challenging than simply voicing their concerns. Hopefully, complacency will not impede their ability to abolish systemic injustice, rather than just identifying it. Yes, we can only improve by reflecting on the past, but more importantly we must focus on how we will change in the future.