Controversy on Campus–Part VII
[Note: very long post]
Well, there’s a lot more to this story….I got some emails overnight (try around 2AM)…and things keep changing. And holy shit, this has exploded
First off, the Student Senate apparently passed the following resolution at its last meeting.
Second, I open my email this morning (about 8AM-ish); and I’ve gotten a letter sent at 2:10AM, which read:
Right now…i mean this second, there are students protesting the Justice’s response BBSO’s demands. they are ignoring us, they are going to print with their paper!
We need everyone to come out and show their support, voice their opinion, tell the Justice what they believe should be done. We are not invisible and they are acting as if we are not even there.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!!! BBSO [Brandeis Black Student Org] is not alone! Students of Color are not alone! Come now–yes it’s 2:09am but we are here, protesting, chanting, singing, marching!!! Please come out of your beds, put down the books, and fight for real justice!
That was all the message said, and I (as well as others I assume) have no clue what’s going on. For starters, it was 2AM; and I was just heading to bed before my 9AM course. I had no clue what this was all about. But this morning details started to trickle in.
There was this letter sent to one list (some minor editing has been done by me–the content is the same):
It is now 3:30 in the morning and many of us Brandeis studentss of color have not slept. After several meetings between the BBSO exec board and the Justice’s editors, the Justice still does not want to meet all of our demand. First, they refused to print out an apology on the newspaper’s front page. On sunday they finally agreed to print the apology on the front page. On monday afternoon the Justice told the administration the paper would be out on friday in order to give BBSO members the opportunity to write a statement to be print out in the justice. However, on MOnday at 12:00am, I received a phone call from my friend informing me that the Justice had secretly decided to print out the paper tonight and to have it out by Tuesday. Professor, THEY LIED TO US, they took advantage of our situation and LIED TO US. At around 12:30 a large group of Brandeis students, mostly minorities, started to protest in front of the Justice in order for our voices to be heard. We are still protesting, and they are not responding. At about 1:30am the Justice sent someone out to tell us that if we wanted a statement written on the front page, we had nine
hours to write one and submit it. We, of course, did not agree to this because they were they one who failed on us, not us on them. Soe of the Justice members say they feel threated by us standing outside the windon in protest, and this concerns me. I dont want out image to be damaged but at the same time I want our voices heard. [Administrator] has now told us that by the state [should be Commonwealth] of Massachussetts [laws(?)] some of us could get arrested. This worries and upsets me.
Many of us are losing hours of sleep, many of us have tests, papers, and reading to do, instead we are here protesting at this time in the morning. They have left us with very little choice. They want us to be great students, to fill their quotas, and to “diversify” and to “teach” others about our cultures. Honestly: WE ARE TIRED. I am writing this email to you because I know you are a true supporter of the minorities of Brandeis and I truly appreciate your concern in this matter. Hope this gives you an idea of what’s going on.
I do not know how true the accusations within this letter are. I repeat, I’m honestly not sure, and I’m reserving judgement. On the Justice’s side, they did extend the letter submission deadline until 5PM on Sunday (from the usual 5pm on Friday–so a statement could’ve been written in that time)–and I’m not sure if in this letter any facts were distorted due to strong emotions.
On a seperate list, after the first email on a different list, the following reply came through, apparently from a member of student gov’t [letter has been edited to remove names and simplify content].
As all of you know, this past week has been a very trying week for the whole Brandeis community. Last night may have been a culmination of that frustration on my part, as, after an 11 hour senate meeting (from 7 PM until 6 AM), the Senate passed a resolution on this issue Part of this resolution indirectly calls for the resignation of the editor-in-chief.
Because of that part of the resolution, myself and couple of other senators could not sign this resolution even though we agreed with the rest of it.
And then I walked into The Justice office today. For those of you not really familiar with what’s going on, The Justice is on the verge of disappearing from our campus. Many editors are very frustrated with what’s going on and they felt like their last chance to help them out, the Student Senate, let them down. Now it feels to them that not only is administration against them (which they are), but also that the students don’t support their newspaper anymore either. (I do not want anyone to be confused: I am totally for the
eradication of racism on this campus, but I do not feel like more bloodshed and the loss of our student newspaper is the way to go about it)
That’s why I’m writing this e-mail. I’m not asking that you agree with what happened in The Justice. I, myself, was horrified to read what was written and was very pleased with the columnist, and did not
have much moral dilemma in my mind with the sports editor, resigning. But I’m sick and tired (as I know some of you are from speaking to you) of this witch-hunt and really want all this drama to end. And I’m
asking you to be the student voice that agrees with me on this issue.
R. W. [pseudonym] and myself started a trend that I would extend to you to continue. We have both expressed to The Justice that we appreciate all their hard work. That’s all I’m asking of you guys; I’m not asking you to agree with what they did, I’m just asking that you are willing to e-mail me a letter that I
can bring to The Justice as moral support.
They look like an army troop that has lost most of its soldiers and its generals. There are many people on this list who are either writers now or have written at some point for The Justice, and if you haven’t, you have read The Justice. And if you claim that you don’t, I hope you appreciate the ordeal these people have been through (though I do not dismiss and cannot even begin to fathom the ordeal that BBSO has been through.)
I am asking you that you send me a letter I can bring to The Justice editorial board that extends your support for them continuing as a newspaper either saying how much you enjoy reading the paper, or how much you appreciate the hard work they do, or that you really enjoy writing for them, or that you’re behind them at this troubling time (if that is the case.)
I’ll be in charge of compiling the list and presenting it to them (please get it into me ASAP…cause it would really help out.) And if we get enough responses, I want to bring it to the Senate also (so foward it to anyone who may be interested.)
I’m not asking you to support the incident that occurred, but I am pleading with you to support YOUR student newspaper, which may be going straight into the shitter if you don’t.
I’ll put my comments about this letter in the next post.
Then a few more letters came across, first replying to the above:
Thank for bringing up this point, since it is becoming aparent that there is no true search for justice with regard to the Justice article and that any prevalent feelings among members of the Brandeis community are not tilted towards the dampening of racist feelings on our campus, but rather towards a ruthless self-serving desire not to be left behind in the ongoing condemnation race.
While the comments in the article in question are clearly racist and not in compliance with Brandeis principles, this has gone on for longer than necessary and has attracted much more debate and controversy than the case renders. While I rarely read the Justice, I did take the time to review that
article and it is my professional opinion that a quote hardly calls for so much attention. Such a quote is unacceptable, true. It is outrageous, further. It is most definitely a mistake to have included this
particular paragraph in the publication, I agree. However, what is even more problematic and heart-wrenching that there has been so much ado made by people who did not even bother to read the article, but simply transferred ongoing national and state debates on racism to the Brandeis campus.
Well, I am sorry to disappoint you, but as long as society goes on, you can expect a good measure of all vices not only to exist, but also to prosper. All major clubs initiated “debates” on this topic. Members of the Brandeis community received numerous emails, until the event was completely blown out of proportion.
Since I am receiving virtually all Brandeis club correspondence, I can assure you that the number of emails on the topic passed the 50 email mark by the end of Sunday. Everyone was making proclamations and looking for scapegoats. Yet, you cannot redress the broken balance through further tears in the Brandeis community. I am appalled at the prospect of a full featured wolf hunt here at Brandeis. Take heed lest we forget the principles that guide us.
I too am on only a few lists, but I’ve gotten a lot of letters as well. If not too many.
Then came this letter:
I fully support the Justice Editorial Board in this extremely difficult time. Starting with the forum Thursday night and continuing up to this very minute, they have shown the dedication to the community that led
them to accept nearly full time unpaid jobs in the first place. They have handled this terrible situation with grace and dignity, and deserve recognition for that.
Last night I observed the protest outside the Justice office. Students from many different groups on campus, but primarily BBSO and ICC groups, attended the protest, making a lot of noise and chanting “Down with the Justice,” along with other slogans. I can only imagine the pressure–from students and administrators alike–that they have been under for a mistake that the responsible parties have already resigned over. The current Justice editorial board, including Editor-in-Chief, deserves our praise and thanks for all their hard work and dedication.
The Justice will grow from this experience; I am a firm believer that out of every bad comes some good. I put my faith in the Justice Editors to lead us and the Justice to easier and better times.
An aside, I believe that the Editor-in-chief is very, very, new, and has only been in his position for 2-3 weeks(?)
There was another letter along those lines:
The witch hunt has gone on long enough. The Justice has listened with patience to the campus’ reaction to the horrifying comments made by [the author], and it’s time to allow them to get to work. The Justice can only grow and improve in response to this. It’s time for the Brandeis student body to say most firmly that we are indeed anti-racist, pro-diversity (which are of course, not synonyms), but we will not allow discontent to rage irrationally and bring down the Justice. With our support and action the Justice can indeed become tool for combatting racism and fostering diversity. But that can only happen if we put down our swords and pick up our brooms.
I don’t know if any of the abover were from members of the Justice BTW.
Then of course, not everyone agreed:
We (2 people) are very disturbed to see some of the views expressed on this listserve because we feel that they have not been written with all the information of the events that have transpired. If you were aware of BBSO and the ICC attempts to work in conjunction with the Justice, you might feel differently about their stance. BBSO has made reasonable demands and certain members of the Justice have at times demonstrated unapologetic, belligerent, and disrespectful behavior. As a group of students who fight for justice we should be supporting those who have been treated unjustly, not those who were responsible for doing it.
We are dedicated to fighting all types of injustices on this campus, therefore it our duty to seek information out about the issue and to be informed members on this campus about this issue. We feel that the opinions of a lot of people on this listserve are not as well informed as they should be, which is unacceptable as one of the few true social justice organizations on this campus. We urge you to attend BBSO meetings, ICC meetings, public forums, and Senate Meetings and then make an educated and informed decision about the events which have unfolded over the last week and a half. Our aim is not necessarily for everyone to support the marginalized group, but even a cursory understanding of what has really been taking place instead of hearsay might change some of your opinions and actions…
And finally, here’s probably the letter that echos the sentiments of many
What is going on, why would you protest the paper from printing? Its their job. There are dozens of writers who put their blood, sweat, and many tears into it every week. What should it shut down? What were BBSO’s demands?
I’ve added commentary above