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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

One Tall Voice: I love Brandeis University but I hate Brandeisians

Published: April 24, 2009
Section: Opinions

I cannot believe the time has come for me to write my last column for The Hoot. It has been quite an adventure since I first started writing in the fall of 2006, and I am proud to be the longest-running column still operating on the Brandeis campus. Throughout my writings for The Hoot, I have addressed many different topics, from issues relevant to the Brandeis community to a variety of other subjects. Some of these articles may have been controversial, while others were light-hearted in nature. Still, I hope that you, my dear reader, have been enriched by these pieces and have been exposed to a unique viewpoint from reading “One Tall Voice.”

In this last column, I will convey my sentiments about Brandeis University, and the community that calls it home. I’d also like to officially retire my column with some concluding remarks, as I end one important chapter of my Brandeis career.

I absolutely love Brandeis University; that is to say, I truly care for the institution itself. This college has afforded me unparalleled opportunities, the likes of which I could not have possibly imagined when I stepped foot on campus almost four years ago. Coming from limited financial means, I might have had a hard time paying for a state university, let alone a private research institution. Yet, I have been able to complete both my B.A. and M.A. at this institution for quite a small sum of money, and I am eternally grateful to the university for its assistance. Here, I have explored myself through extra-curricular activities, and have participated in around 25 clubs, sports, and other organizations around campus. Additionally, Brandeis’ fine faculty has expanded my mind and given me a first-rate education. I have tried in my small way to repay this wonderful university. I give tours as often as I can and enthusiastically relate my passion for Brandeis. I write targeted letters to donors, and try to convince anyone I know to apply. This institution has been so good to me, and I will never be able to thank Brandeis for how it has enriched my life.

I do sadly have to report that I hate the Brandeis community. Although this university has afforded me much, the community of students here has made much of my time at Brandeis a miserable experience.

I blame much of this on my desire to express my oftentimes controversial opinions. During my freshman year I was a smiling happy automaton, trying more to be liked than to be true to my own beliefs. And I benefited from this outward appearance. People genuinely liked me, I was easily elected to public office, and no one had harsh words or negative sentiments about me.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I resolved that I must relate my political and ideological sentiments. I had read John Stuart Mills’ “On Liberty,” and genuinely believed that a diversity of opinions would only benefit the community of which I was a part.

I wish with all my might that I had never made this decision, that I stayed quiet thought my college career. I can only wonder how much better my Brandeis experience would then have been had I refrained from sharing my ideological beliefs.

Although this community pronounces itself as liberal and progressive, it is neither. Although the students at this university supposedly support a diversity of opinions, they actually do not. I can spend hours talking about the intolerance and bigotry launched at me simply because of my difference, simply because I had contrasting views from the people here at Brandeis. My John McCain stickers, private property, were vandalized with obscene comments this year, and the administration did little to assist me.

I have been stopped on the street and called obscenities like “cocksucker” or “asshole” completely unprovoked, simply because of these columns. In class, professors who have no write to speak on political matters, bashed my ideological positions while no one seemed to take note of the injustices being perpetrated against me. I am furthermore convinced that had I shut up and never expressed my opinions, I would have won more student government elections, generated more positive sentiments towards me, and been more embraced by the Brandeis community.

What is crazy is that my views have only enriched the campus. The Office of Development has had me write letters to rich Republican donors, and used me as an example of a conservative student in order to convince skeptics that people like me exist on the campus. They have even sent some of my articles to these people to show donors my involvement on campus.

In addition, the Admissions Office has asked me to help convince prospective students of the diversity of views on campus, which I have done on a number of occasions. Furthermore, I have involved myself in WBRS, BTV, and The Hoot in capacities that have allowed me to voice my political beliefs. Anyone with a brain has told me that this activity has enriched the community by increasing dialogue and diversity on campus.

I feel completely marginalized by a community that is supposed to be open and accepting of difference. I see the wretched hypocrisy of close-minded progressives who seem to only value opinion so long as it is in line with their own beliefs. I even had a Brandeis student write in my honesty box on Facebook, “I hate all conservatives and you’re one of them.” People here are so bigoted. People here are not following the values of true liberalism or Louis D. Brandeis himself. Up in Olin-Sang there is a plaque that encourages students “to question without fear.” It doesn’t seem that the students here have nurtured such an environment. For this reason, I hate the community at Brandeis, can’t wait to leave, and am glad I will never to see most of you ever again.

Now comes the time where I must close out my column for good. I remember the first article I wrote, “Memoirs of a Conservative at Brandeis Part One,” and the fallout I encountered. After, I resolved never to write a column again, but was talked out of this by the Impressions editor at the time. In a way, I wish I would have quit then and never subjected myself to the torment my writings would yield. And in fact, other controversial columnists at Brandeis have retired early, though their reasons extended beyond ire from readers. My colleague and friend Kevin Montgomery ’07 retired during his senior year, while Matt Brown ’08 of the Justice similarly gave up his column during his last year at Brandeis. I take some pride in knowing I continued all the way through, but all the negative feedback has taken its toll. I am bitter because of the bigotry, saddened by how this institution’s values have not been practiced, and angry over the intolerances I have been forced to face. In a way I am happy to be retiring, to never again experience the assaults launched at me for my political beliefs.

I love this publication and it has been my sincere honor to have been a columnist and editor of the Hoot. I also love this institution for all that Brandeis has done for me. But I absolutely hate the hypocritical and intolerant Brandeis community, which does injustice to progressive values and launches vicious attacks at people who hold different opinions.

Some may be sad that I will never write again, others will be jubilant. In the end, I hope that with my articles I have added something to this institution. Additionally, I am extremely proud that I stuck true to my principles and added my beliefs to the marketplace of ideas, despite the bigotry and prejudice launched at me by the Brandeis community.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article incorrectly implied that Matt Brown was pressured to retire by the Justice.