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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Turning crisis into creativity

Published: February 13, 2009
Section: Opinions

When the news of ‘meta-majors’ hit the community three weeks ago, the student body seemed to have a mild infarction. Students and faculty alike were off-put by the word ‘meta’ and no one wanted his diploma to say BA in General Theory. And even as the university’s budget crisis spawned less than stellar decisions and even less than stellar handling of those decisions, it seems that in the arena of academic restructuring, crisis might do the university a little good.

As Prof. Sarah Lamb (ANTH) explained, altering university requirements, specifically the non-western requirement, may not actually reduce costs and it may not even make Brandeis more attractive to high school seniors. Nonetheless, evaluating our curriculum with a critical eye can only benefit the university.

On Jan. 5, university President Jehuda Reinharz sent an oblique e-mail to the campus community about the financial crisis. In it he wrote, “We can and we must seize the opportunity of this financial reality to take a fresh and strategic look at everything we do, and to measure its importance against our historic mission and our future obligations.”

In the past few weeks, it seemed that the administration forgot these important words. However, now, with the emergence of a new committee dedicated to considering fresh ideas and re-evaluating even the most entrenched components of our curriculum, we see that the university is rising to the challenge we have been presented.

This is a watershed moment in the history of our university. If we insist that everything is too sacred to alter, we essentially bury our heads in the sand.

Instead, we must rise to the occasion and take this time for critical self-reflection. It is our hope that the grave challenges we currently face do not undo us, but make us stronger.