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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

No smoke and mirrors, just come clean

Published: February 5, 2010
Section: Editorials

Can’t a chicken live for a while with its head cut off?

On March 4 the Brandeis administration will face the board of trustees to propose which academic programs should be phased out. At that time, the administration will also be faced with the decision of how to make the inevitable announcement of cuts to the world outside of Brandeis.

At a faculty meeting Thursday, Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe said the university would “not make any smoke and mirrors when we announce [the cuts],” and would instead opt to “cast it as an exciting turning point for the university to refocus.”

“This is painful but will make us stronger,” he said, “that’s the story I will be trying to spin.”

With all due respect to Jaffe, we wish it weren’t. The fact is that Brandeis does not have the best track record when it comes to public relations and dealing with the press–see the decision to close (or not) the Rose Art Museum. As a part of that press, The Hoot has decided to let the administration in on a trade secret.

When delivering unfortunate news, just lay it on us straight. Brandeis is not the only university struggling under the pressure of budget gaps and a failing economy, and as with other universities, academic cuts are at this point almost expected.

Trying to parade these budget cuts as something they are not–like an exciting new change and opportunity for the university–will not bode well, and frankly, any reporter worth the $1.50 you pay for his newspaper will see right through it.

As the university should well know by now, journalists are fickle creatures, and while another headline about university budget cuts might not interest outside publication, any indication that Brandeis is again fudging the facts will.

The university thus far has done a commendable job with relating the news about the budget cuts to the faculty and students and of ensuring the parties affected by the cuts are involved in the decision. We hope this trend lasts.

As experts in the field, we hold that bad news is best announced quickly and without beating around the bush. And, if you can manage it, on a Saturday.