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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Why the Rose still matters

Published: February 11, 2011
Section: Editorials

This week The Hoot ran a retrospective about the financial state of the university and The Rose Art Museum in honor of the two-year anniversary of then-president Jehuda Reinharz’s announcement that the museum would be closing and that the art would be sold. Two years later, The Rose is open, and no art has been monetized.

Some in this community have been prone to question the merit of caring about The Rose if nothing has changed. But the reason Reinharz’s Rose announcement on Jan 26, 2009 made so many waves was not so much because of the threat of an art sale (although that certainly was part of it). The Rose announcement is a pinnacle moment in Brandeis’ recent history because it was a unilateral decision made in the cloak of darkness about the university’s finances and mission.

No one at this school knew the museum was at risk until it appeared on the pages of the Boston Globe. Indeed, The Rose staff only learned of the matter one hour before the story broke. Not only that, no student or faculty member of this university was aware that Brandeis’ financial situation was so dire until it was plastered on the pages of the national press.

The decision to close The Rose and sell the art was not only devoid of transparency, but it was also devoid of thought. In the weeks after the decision, Reinharz was quoted in numerous news outlets giving the incorrect number of works of art at the museum.

Prior to the announcement, no one had visited the museum’s registrar to ascertain how much art could legally be sold. And no one anticipated that the announcement to close the museum would cause such a media firestorm or elicit a law suit in which the university is still entangled.

The museum’s story is emblematic of the university’s struggle as a whole to find its footing amid national financial strife and has informed every single financial decision the university has made since Jan 26, 2009.

Today, The Rose remains open not only because of the lawsuit but also because the community united and mobilized to fight for one of our greatest assets.

The Rose became a rallying cry.

This is why The Rose matters. The Rose matters because it was so highly publicized that now every time arts at Brandeis are mentioned, so will The Rose debacle. Because every time the administration is thinking about making a crucial decision, it is forced to create a committee that includes faculty and students, lest another Rose happens. It matters because the next time a major decision is made, the Brandeis community, and not the national media, will be the first to know.