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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A Memoir of a Goy at Brandeis

Published: December 2, 2005
Section: Opinions

I transferred to Brandeis for a variety of reasons, but it was primarily for tolerance. My former college, Bentley, was a stereotypical school full of guys running around calling people fags in that irritating frat-voice and it did not take long for people to victimize me. Despite the fact I am not gay, people would vandalize my door with words like queer, cock-sucker, and fag written with a Sharpee and hallmates would make comments to me as I walked to class. Even after reporting incidents to various campus officials, nothing changed. Finally, one Saturday evening, 12 to 13 people thought it would be funny to urinate in a 13-gallon trash can, fill the rest up with shower water, and pour it on me. While the story does not conclude there, at this point it was obvious that this was not an environment that I wanted to be a part of.

I had a few friends at Brandeis at this time, all of whom were completely disgusted by this event. When I told them I was going to transfer, they quickly stepped up to the plate: Come to Brandeis, bullshit like that doesnt happen here. And for the the most part, they were completely right. Words like faggot, nigger, chink, and hymie have almost seemed to disappear from my life. But there was one little detail about Brandeiss tolerance that was left out: Treatment of goys.

While it did not take me long to figure out there was a Jew-Gentile divide on campus, I never thought it would be downright racist. While sitting on the Brandeis Shuttle coming back from Boston early in my Brandeis career, I overheard a Jewish male talking on the phone about his girlfriend: “I dont know about her anymore, shes been talking to a lot of Christians lately.”  I was frozen with emotion. I knew that I should have confronted the individual, but I was too immobilized with shock and anger to do so.

I wish what I saw was an isolated event, but it was not. Brandeis once fired a President, Evelyn Handler, in the 1980s because she wanted to create a character balance at Brandeis. Even more troubling, in the fall of 2002, anti-Muslim posters were hung around campus stating, “The Arabs: doing in 1929 what they would do today if they could.”  One social group created on The Facebook for non-Jews states that We would like to make it blatantly clear that we have nothing against Jewish people or the Jewish religion as a whole! Why should gentiles have to put forth a disclaimer saying they are not anti-Semitic when it should be obvious? Why are there Jews dumping girlfriends because they are talking to Christians? And why are we firing presidents because they want to make people like me feel more welcomed at Brandeis?

I decided I was going to transfer again. It had become too much of a mental burden to know that people at Brandeis did not look at me as a person, but as a goy. I asked one of my professors for a recommendation but what he gave me was advice: People like us rarely get to experience what it is like to be a minority in this world. I think you should stick it out a little bit longer before you decide to leave. And somehow it worked, as I watched my friends transfer out of Brandeis for similar reasons, I stayed to learn what it is like to be a minority.

What I learned was more than shocking. Instead of finding ways to bridge the cultural differences between myself and my Jewish cohorts, I found myself beginning to discriminate against the people who had been discriminating against me. I would not initiate conversation with people who looked committed to the religion because I assumed they wanted to have nothing to do with me. After hearing countless times from girls in casual conversation that they would never date a goy, I stopped approaching girls at Brandeis altogether just to avoid any more disappointments because my religion instantly makes me ineligible for love.

I tried to remove myself from being confronted as a goy, but it kept getting thrown back in my face. The more I was identified as a goy, the less I wanted to a part of Brandeis and associate with the Jewish community. A few weeks ago, I saw on someones Facebook profile a typical chain message posted on their comment wall which stated, If you break the chain, youll be cursed and become a GOY for the next 10 years… Being a goy is now a curse? Needless to say, I was furious. I forwarded it on to my friends: Look how racist these Jews are! And I asked my Jewish friends, What is wrong with Brandeis?

After reading that comment, I decided it was time for me to write an op-ed about how racism is out of control at Brandeis. I was going to say that the Mosque that Brandeiss founder wished for should be built. I was going to demand that if the Jewish students get all their holidays off in October, then Christians ought to get off Ash Wednesday. However, after thinking about the situation, I am no longer convinced any policy would end the racism.

Jews discriminate against gentiles for the same reason that I began to discriminate against them. I have heard countless stories about Brandeis Jews who were picked on in elementary school and high school for their religion. Recently, a Jewish friend of mine told me that kids would not play with her as a child simply because she was Jewish and would collectively tease her in the process. Much like the Brandeis students that do not want to talk to Christians, I stopped wanting to be around Brandeis Jews simply because of the way I had been treated. Having Christian holidays at Brandeis is not going to stop gentiles in elementary schools from making fun of Jews and the holidays are not going to erase the years of hurt that these kids cause.

I am glad I transferred to Brandeis and I love the academics at the school. But feeling like a second-class citizen is not healthy. I originally wanted to make this more than a personal memoir. Naively, I envisioned numerous personal narratives about their struggles at Brandeis and how we could overcome these problems. However, I could not find people, neither professors nor students, willing to be associated with this topic, even though they were privately willing to admit that there is a problem. I personally do not know how to solve this problem, but I do know that we, as a community, will not solve it by being afraid to talk about it. I learned my lesson on what it is like to be a minority in this world; I just hope that future generations of Brandeis gentiles do not have to as well.