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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

One Tall Voice: Ridiculous protests on campus

Published: February 27, 2009
Section: Opinions

Funeral At The Rose: Students protest Reinharz’s and the Board of Trustees’ decision to close the Rose Art Museum.<br /><i>PHOTOS BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

Funeral At The Rose: Students protest Reinharz’s and the Board of Trustees’ decision to close the Rose Art Museum.
PHOTOS BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Everybody on campus must know how the global economic crisis is affecting the Brandeis community. And just about every student must be aware of the immense changes that are currently under consideration by the administration. Whether it is fewer options in Sherman, or reduced hours at certain facilities, we are experiencing the effects of our society’s economic duress. Most notably, people have been talking a lot about the fate of the Rose Art Museum and other academic programs. Perhaps only a few people, however, know that there were student protests to demonstrate against the actions of the administration on these issues. This activity was pathetic indeed and did no more than show the rabble-rousing incompetence of campus organizers. These “activists” seem to think we’re back in the 1960s (and although there are plenty of pot smokers on campus- god damn them- there is certainly no free love!). I’d like this article to make fun of some recent campus protests and promote my own view on the most efficient paths to changing university policy.

Last month there was a closed faculty meeting in order to discuss some of the proposed changes to the academics at Brandeis. The faculty have every right to have a closed meeting in order to afford them the greatest avenue to talk freely and without the pressures that may be generated by outside observers. Yet some students believed themselves entitled to a presence at the meeting, and they decided to protest the closed nature of the gathering. These students knew beforehand that they would not be granted admission, but still acted abrasively in order to draw attention to their lack of politeness. Then, they called their friends to come to the “protest” in order to demonstrate against the closed meeting. I am willing to bet that many of these individuals did not give a damn what was being protested or what the issues were. They probably just (metaphorically-speaking) dusted off some old posters and headed up to Rabb in order to meet with their friends and take part in an interesting gathering. The meeting was legitimate, the protest, unnecessary. It got some pretty sexy photos, but other than that, it made the individuals involved look like dolts. What’s funny is that the organizers of the protest are in the Student Union, an organization that regularly has its own closed “Executive” sessions. How hypocritical can you be when you allow yourself to operate behind the veil of secrecy and yet protest a group of individuals who are doing the same?

Another really ridiculous series of protests involved the Rose Art Museum. Following the e-mail university President Jehuda Reinharz sent saying that the Board of Trustees voted to close the museum, supporters of the Rose organized a “sit-in” in order to try to keep the place open. This protest was amazingly ridiculous. First of all, does anyone understand where the term “sit-in” comes from? It originates from the civil rights movement when people would sit at lunch counters illegally to protest unjust laws. They would oftentimes be brutally beaten at the protests, but this was effective at garnering media attention for the cause. What the “protesters” did at the Rose was not even close to a “sit in”; they were not acting illegally and there was no threat of bodily harm. In fact, most people were standing at the demonstration!

Next time you want to ally your cause with a noted phenomenon of the civil rights movement, please do your research and risk more than a wasted afternoon and sore legs.

In addition, some people decided to have a “funeral” for the Rose. This also seems like a pathetic gesture, as no one is certain of the fate of that facility and it may not die off. People really have to stop being so melodramatic. They have to stop believing they are saving democracy and trying to bring Brandeis back to its glory days with their pathetic attempts at protest. Stop rabble-rousing and stop your irritating demonstrations. Our administration is just. They are trying the best they can, and your inefficient and petty attempts at protest accomplish nothing.

I do want to say that I am extremely happy that the administration seems willing to return to their previous policy of allowing merit aid to carry over to study abroad programs. It is certain that there was student input in the process, and that this activity helped move the administration to act on the subject. But this was the right type of protest. From what I have heard, people signed petitions, and took established avenues in order to petition the administration. There were no foolish demonstrations, no protests loaded with imbecilic rhetoric. There was civility and discourse, which worked better than the other unnecessary demonstrations.

Look, I know some people wish it was 1960 and may be a bit frustrated in their search for any reasons to pick up signs and protest. Still, we have a great administration that cares about the concerns of students and more civil, less-public activity is the best avenue to petition our university. Stop embarrassing yourselves. Don’t be a rebel without a cause who is only latching onto these protests in order to hang out with friends or do something cool. Please stop the grandstanding and focus on activity that works, like civilly and politely talking to university officials.