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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

EDITORIAL: Things not well at the Justice

Published: April 8, 2005
Section: Opinions

For the first time in a very long time the Justice will have no seniors graduating off the Justice editorial board. All members from the Class of 2005 have (with the exception of one who will by next week) quit the board in disagreement over the way the Justice has been managed over the past year.

Competent people who offer significant experience have chosen to leave the board rather than put up with what they feel is bad decision after bad decision. Instead of tapping their guidance, know-how and experience those in charge have chosen to marginalize them and drive them off the paper.

Experienced editors like former Editor-in-chief Meredith Glansberg 05, Forum Editor Sam Slater 05 and News Editor David Cutler 06 are among a group of at least six editors who have left the board over the last year due to major philosophical disagreements with those now in charge.

Among the complaints that the outgoing editors had, a major one is the elitist attitude of those in charge of policy at the Justice. Instead of openly encouraging and soliciting students and community members to engage in thoughtful and meaningful debates in their editorial pages, their policy forbids any type of submission addressing anything specific brought up in their pages. In that, they allow letters to be printed on a topic in general but not to address specifics brought up in an article.

Among examples of letters and columns being rejected is one written by Shalwah Evans 05 in response to an article personally attacking her and her friends. Her letter was rejected simply because she used more than 400 words to respond to a 1,500 words attack piece and because she tried to refute specific points brought up in that piece. Of course the difference between her and the author of the attack piece is that she was not in the inner circle of the Justice editorial board he was.

Things arent all bad in regards to this policy. In a rare case of defiance, some internal pressures caused the Justice to reverse their rejection of a letter written in response to an article alleging pot use by several swimmers. For that, we commend their current forum editor. Unfortunately, examples of such acts of defiance are few and far between these days.

In their news department, which is run by two very competent people, leads are constantly rewritten by other editors to be less factual and more attention grabbing. Stories are constantly reworked to find some sort of sensational edge rather than reporting straight news. All these changes are often made over the objection of both news editors by those higher than them in the chain of command.

It is our sincerest hope that those in charge of the Justice realize how they are hurting the Justice by driving away all of those editors who have dedicated years of their life to seeing that paper succeed. We wish they could step back and see how their actions are tarnishing the hard work of hundreds of editors before them and giving the Justice a reputation similar to the National Inquirer rather than that of the New York Times, the paper they strive to emulate.

All of us here on The Hoot like the Justice and some of us even love it (seeing that we spent years of our Brandeis career trying to make it better). The difference between the Justice now and the Justice when we worked for is that when we were there we worked FOR the Justice. Everything we did was to make the Justice a better paper, to make it more open to the students and carry on its fifty year tradition of being a strong voice for the students.

Now, many in charge dont work for the Justice but have the Justice work for them. They act as if they are entitled to the paper and its assets and are using it as a stepping stone for their careers. They act as if they are the all-knowing gods of journalism worthy enough to deny admission to anyone with whom they disagree. They rely on vague and arbitrarily followed policies as means to censor peoples voices and shut them out of the paper.

We urge them and the community to re-evaluate the Justice before its too late, before even more people leave their board prematurely and before there is no one left to carry their tradition of being the unofficial historian of Brandeis. We sincerely hope that those editors who remain will work towards returning the Justice to the paper it used to be.

In the meantime, it is sad to note that of all the students graduating in May as editors of campus publications, none will come from the editorial board of the longest running, formerly highly respected newspaper on campus. At least five, three of them formerly of the Justice, will come from the editorial board of The Hoot.