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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

November 2008 Issue

Tech Talk: Apple HDCP, iPhone firmware 2.2, 35mm film vs digital, and more!

With Max Shay, Jordan Warsoff, and Josh Waizer.

The Hoot Report

With Bret Matthew, Adam Hughes, and others.

Despite rumors, Stein to remain open

Despite rumors, there are no plans to close the Stein this year, said Vice President of Campus Operations Mark Collins, whose department oversees Aramark. Approximately 20 student employees would lose their jobs if the Stein were to shut its doors. Rumors that the campus restaurant would close as early as this weekend began circulating among […]

Study abroad numbers remain steady in faltering economy

Study abroad rates for the coming spring semester are predicted to remain at a steady level in spite of a poor global economy, Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Director of Study Abroad Scott Van Der Meid said. Though it’s too early to predict the exact number of students studying abroad till January, Van Der […]

Search and Seizure presentation switches focus to alcohol policy

The highly publicized Search and Seizure Forum, sponsored by the Brandeis Advocates and the Office of Student Rights and Advocacy (OSRA), veered off topic as students expressed more concerns about their rights concerning alcohol and marijuana consumption.

OSRA member and Class of 2011 Senator Lev Hirschorn, who helped coordinate the forum held Wednesday night, said that the forum organizers chose the subject because of students’ ignorance about it.

“When students see people in uniform, they think they should do whatever the officer says,” Hirschorn said. “We just want to ensure that everyone knows their rights.”

Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan said in an interview that he agreed that knowing one’s rights is important, saying that it’s “like anything else involving law enforcement.”

Callahan also said in an interview before the forum that in his 30 years working at the university, there have only been a handful of cases of search and seizure involving Brandies students and no search and seizure related complaints.

“It doesn’t really happen,” he said. “This forum was spawned more out of fear than a specific incident. Students shouldn’t be afraid of Public Safety.”

Callahan was one of six speakers at the forum on Wednesday. Other speakers included Associate Dean of Student Life Maggie Balch, and Seth Shapiro ’09 of the Advocates, along with various members of Waltham law enforcement.

While the conversation about student rights was minimal, Callahan urged students to consult their Rights and Responsibilities handbooks, saying that “it’s the bible of the university.”

While the forum began with short presentations about search and seizure on campus, the question and answer session quickly changed the subject to alcohol consumption.

One student questioned whether or not students who call Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCO) for emergencies involving alcohol abuse would be punished by the university, saying that punishment for alcohol consumption would deter students from calling for the help that they need.

Balch replied that any student transported for reasons related to alcohol sees a dean in the Office of Student Life, adding that the measure is less to punish students than to educate them and ensure that they are acting responsibly.

“We were all in college,” she said. “We know what goes on on-campus. To be perfectly honest I could care less if you’re 18 and you consume alcohol, what I care about is if it’s a good choice for you, your roommate, your suite-mate or the community.”

Students at the forum also wondered if Massachusetts’ decriminalization of marijuana would affect university policy.

While Callahan said that the university would have to reassess its’ policy for the spring semester, when the state’s decriminalization would be implemented, he reminded students that possession of marijuana is still illegal, and that regardless of the legal status of marijuana, Brandeis is a private university and can create and enforce whatever policy it feels is best.Balch reminded students that smoking of any sort is not allowed inside or within 15 feet of any campus buildings.

She also said that she was disappointed with the number of covered smoke detectors that were discovered during Residence Life’s routine fire safety checks.

In Rosenthal Quad alone, Callahan said, 23 covered smoke detectors were discovered.

“There’s a whole lot of people who would have died if there was a fire in that residence hall,” Callahan said.

“Fires are especially common this time of year, we don’t need a tragedy. Students need to be responsible and uncover their smoke detectors.”The university is charged a $1,000 fine per covered smoke detector.

“We’re already in an economic crisis—that’s a big hit to us. I don’t know where that money’s going to come from,” Callahan said. “And that’s only one quad.”

Zinn calls for an attitude shift

“The mindset that accepts war is a dangerous mindset in the world today,” Howard Zinn said Tuesday evening at an event hosted by Back Pages Books on Moody Street. In his third visit to Waltham in the last three years, the historian, social activist, playwright, and history professor spoke about the need to change our outlook on war.

While a large percentage of Americans may be concerned with the need to end the war in Iraq, Zinn addressed the American mindset that “got us into Iraq in the first place.” According to Zinn, instead of focusing on short-term solutions, Americans must first change their perception of the government as an entity with interests similar to those of the people. Next, the notion that war is necessary to solve problems must be eradicated. Finally, Zinn advocated a reform of the average history class syllabus as a means to better educate Americans about historical trends and different possibilities available for solving national and international conflict.

“Since when is patriotism equal to obedience to the government?” he asked. Zinn explained how the notion of patriotism has been distorted over time, and now represents more than one’s love for his or her country. People assume that the government represents the interests of the people, “but this has not been a country of common interests from the very beginning,” he said. Currently, the need to appear patriotic and support one’s government has been turned into a requirement to endorse American wars. Even President-elect Barack Obama has been subject to this dangerous paradigm, according to Zinn, based on his views on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Is Obama worried about being unpatriotic? I think so,” Zinn said.

[caption id="attachment_4453" align="alignright" width="262" caption="PHOTO BY Delenia E. Matta/The Hoot"]<i>PHOTO BY Delenia E. Matta/The Hoot</i>[/caption]He said that our perception of war is also problematic, even for those generally against it. Though we tend to believe that war may be necessary to solve problems, it is nothing but a quick fix, according to Zinn. “That is what makes it so appealing,” he added. Zinn also criticized the prevailing notion that “if you don’t use militarism, you’re weak. If you don’t counter terrorism with war, it shows a lack of spine.” Moreover, he finds it difficult to understand the rationale behind distinguishing good wars from bad wars. “Has Obama repudiated these elements from his own mindset? No, and it worries me,” he concluded.

Despite his avid objection to all wars, Zinn himself was “an enthusiastic bombardier” in World War II. He explained that he had time to re-think his view of war after that experience, but conceded that it is difficult to address certain issues such as the need to combat fascism, without force. Similarly, Zinn had no clear response for a question raised by an audience member concerning how Americans can help women denied education by their governments without the use of forceful intervention. Zinn claimed, subsequently, that he is not a total pacifist despite his avid support of anti-war movements. “The idea of being an absolutist in anything doesn’t strike a chord with me,” he said.

Brandeis students who attended the event were generally pleased with the discussion that took place. “It was fantastic,” said Nathan Robinson ’11. Unlike many other analysts, Robinson said that by reading Zinn’s books or listening to him, “we can figure out where we are, where we’ve been, and how we got here.”

Recalling Zinn’s address at Levin Ballroom two years ago, attended by 500 people, many were pleasantly surprised by the intimacy of the small room in the back of Back Pages, owned by Alex Green ’04.

Though most audience members seemed to enjoy the event, some may have left disappointed. “I think a lot of people wanted [Zinn to provide us with] solutions to problems and might have been disappointed,” Katie Gray-Schofield ’09 said. She added that though it is useful to look at history for guidance, it is not possible to obtain three-step solutions to war and foreign policy-related issues, as some questions raised in the discussion session seemed to expect.

Ironically, Zinn criticized the American tradition of looking for saviors instead of taking action. He attributed the root of this problem to history syllabi across the country. “If kids were taught the history of social movement instead of the history of presidents we’d be more prepared,” he said. As a suggestion for shifting history curriculum, Zinn offered a partial joke: “you could start by using my books,” he said, addressing teachers in the audience.In an interview, Zinn said that he regrettably felt that social and political issues have not advanced drastically since he published his best-selling book, A People’s History of the United States. “I’d like to say the world has changed drastically but it hasn’t,” he said, referencing the progressively larger social and economic gaps in the country and the unnecessary wars. “So I can’t really give any credit to my book,” he joked. Even so, he conceded that a large shift has taken place in terms of Americans’ consciousness of significant issues such as race, and especially war.

“In a sense, we’re all experienced drug-addicts in that we’ve all been subject to the addiction of war,” he said, but concluded that people have finally recognized that they were fooled by the government to believe that it was a good solution.

Editorial: ‘The Brandeis burden’

In his first State of the Union address Tuesday, Student Union President Jason Gray ’10 urged student clubs and organizations to incorporate a community service component into their activities. As students, we can sometimes forget to step outside the “Brandeis bubble” and engage with the larger community. Asking student leaders to encourage their clubs to […]

Letters to the Editor:

To the Editor: Matt Kipnis, like most media hooting at the masses, picks on a few bad ballot initiatives [in the Nov. 14 article “Considering ballot intiatives.” Ballot initiatives are the origin of most reforms, such as women’s suffrage (passed in 13 states before Congress went along), direct election of Senators (4 states), publicly financed […]