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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Putting race on trial

Published: April 24, 2009
Section: Opinions

Wednesday, the Union Judiciary heard a case in which the petitioners claimed that the Senator for Racial Minority Students and Finance Board Representative for Racial Minority Students positions violated the Union Constitution because only a student registered as a minority with the Registrar may run or vote for the offices.

That this case was filed is no surprise. This year and two years ago, white students attempted to run for Senator for Racial Minority Students. And last year, The Hoot reported that the position’s legality vis a vis Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was in question.

After these concerns were brought to light, the Union created a committee to discuss equal representation. However, no particular pronouncements on the RMS position were ever shared. The Union and the administration dropped the ball on the issue last year. And now, it has reared its head again.

Certainly, issues of representation and diversity are on students’ minds. And while the UJ is an important venue for resolving issues related to the Union, it is not always the best venue for hashing out contentious issues.

As was seen Wednesday, the trial created a tense atmosphere in which racial minority students were put on the defensive by challenges from white counsel before a white judiciary. This is not to indicate that the counsel or the judiciary behaved prejudicially; yet it demonstrates the alienating effects this trial may have had for members of the minority communities on campus.

It is in all of our interests, white, black, Jewish, and other, to address issues of discrimination and inclusion on campus in ways that do not marginalize certain groups of people. If we as a campus community are going to move forward, we cannot put race on trial.