TUESDAY, April 17, 2018
‘open and honest discussion’
BRIEF Department of Student Activities hires Dennis Hicks to be director Dennis Hicks joined the Brandeis community last Monday as the director of the Department of Student Activities. Hicks has worked in higher education for the last 17 years and also has experience in graphic design and teaching art, according to an email to the Justice. He has worked with students and planned events at a number of universities. Looking toward his new role, he stressed the importance of learning about Brandeis and its community. “I plan to spend much of my first year in my role learning as much as I can,” Hicks wrote in the email to the Justice. He elaborated that this would include learning about the Student Activities staff’s strengths and deciding what kinds of activities and events already define the Brandeis experience. Learning about Brandeis’ campus culture is another goal for his first year, he wrote. Hicks already sees Brandeis as having a “passionate and dedicated community” that he is eager to begin working to
strengthen. To move toward this goal, Hicks expressed his desire to form connections and to collaborate with the University’s students, staff and departments. Hicks hopes that students will find him “accessible and approachable,” and stressed his open-door policy, inviting students to stop by his office or schedule meetings to discuss issues with him. He explained, “Throughout the next year I want to see what we currently do on campus and listen to feedback from students in order to increase opportunities for involvement for all students.” Finally, Hicks plans to go beyond leaving his door open. “It’s important to me to be a visible and active participant in the campus community,” he wrote. Students had an opportunity to meet Hicks at an informal gathering at the Shapiro Campus Center on Friday afternoon. —Jocelyn Gould
andrew baxter/the Justice
The Brandeis community shared its concerns about the firing of Men’s Basketball Coach Brian Meehan for racially biased treatment of players with the administration last Monday.
Panel discusses gender Artist examines roles in government
global refugee crisis in new documentary ■ Ai Weiwei’s documentary
was the focus of a discussion between students and faculty about humanitarian issues. By ECE Esikara Justice CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The Brandeis English Department screened Ai Weiwei’s “Human Flow” Thursday night as part of its History of Ideas program. The documentary depicts the lives of the more than 65 million refugees who have been forced to leave their homes due to war, famine and climate change. Professor Emilie Diouf (ENG), who teaches the English class “Refugee Stories, Refugee Lives,” introduced the film to her students and other attendants before the screening. After the brief introduction, Professor Diouf talked about the widespread epidemic of migration and how people have ignored those who need help. “Human Flow” is directed by Ai Weiwei, a Chinese contemporary artist and activist. His official website for his famous sunflower seeds artwork in Tate Modern in London describes his work concerning Chinese history and contemporary society as “politically frank and aesthetically poignant.” Weiwei’s formal practice “changes in form and the materials deployed according to the diversity of activities his art embraces.” The 60 year-old artist has been openly critical of the human rights violations by the Chinese government. In an interview with the BBC in November 2010, he said, “This is a society that sacrifices people’s rights and happiness to make a profit.” He was detained, arrested and held captive for weeks by the Chinese government. Best known for his sunflower seeds exhibition and Beijing National Stadium, Weiwei currently resides and works in Beijing.
Weiwei described “Human Flow” as “his personal journey to understand the global crises ... and a study for himself” in an interview with online magazine the Upcoming. In an interview with the National, a news and current affairs program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Weiwei explained what compelled him to make “Human Flow.” Weiwei said, “It is very hard not to act. … As an artist you need to find your own way, your own language to respond to this situation. I always have to find a language to build up this kind of communication between the people who are desperate, who have no chance to be heard, and people who are privileged … and turn their faces away.” The official website of the documentary describes it as “a witness to its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter and justice: from teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbedwire borders; from dislocation and disillusionment to courage, endurance and adaptation; from the haunting lure of lives left behind to the unknown potential of the future.” In the documentary, Weiwei studies the astonishing scale of the refugee crises and its effect on the lives of refugees. The documentary was shot over the course of one year in 23 countries including Bangladesh, France, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya and Mexico. Giving a strong visual expression of the biggest human displacement since World War II, the documentary follows human stories in these 23 countries including Afghans escaping from war and migrating to Turkey and Syrians crossing to Greece from Turkey. Emphasizing the urgency of the matter, the documentary poses a crucial question to the audience: Are we ever going to move away from self-interest, fear and isolation to a freer, opener, and more respected direction for humanity?
■ Female politicians spoke
to their experiences with the gender gap in politics during a panel with ENACT. By Emily Blumenthal Justice production assistant
Women have historically been under-represented in all levels of the U.S. government, and even with decades of advances for women in the workplace, this still holds true. According to a March 8, 2017 Vox article, the U.S. is ranked 104th worldwide in female representation in government. Recent events have spurred a new wave of female candidates for office, but, according to panelists invited by the Education Network for Active Civic Transformation (ENACT), a national expansion of the University’s International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life’s program Advocacy for Policy Change, many women are still hesitant to run. The panelists, former New Hampshire Speaker of the House and former President of the National Conference of State Legislators Terie Norelli and first-term Massachusetts state senator Cindy Friedman, discussed the current state of women’s political engagement during a panel on April 9. The panel was moderated by Prof. Melissa Stimell (LGLS), the ENACT academic coordinator, as Norelli and Friedman took questions about women in politics from audience members. The panelists opened the event by discussing their backgrounds and first forays into politics. Norelli explained that she had been a high school math teacher before she was recruited to run for the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Many women are recruited by political operatives to run for office, and Norelli’s volunteer work for NARAL Pro-Choice America and rape crisis centers interested recruiters, who saw her as a lifelong advocate for women’s rights. Norelli used her own story to touch on the frequent reluctance of women to enter politics. She had rebuffed the recruiters’ initial approaches, but after their persistent efforts decided to give politics a try. Norelli stressed that anyone “can become an advocate about any issue at any time, with any kind of background,” countering the fear many women have about being too inexperienced to become politically involved. For Friedman, a feeling that she
needed to “get out and do something” to solve problems in her community pushed her to enter the political realm. Friedman worked on political campaigns and in the technology sector before becoming chief of staff to former Massachusetts State Senator Kenneth Donnelly, according to a July 26, 2017 Boston Globe article. Now a State Senator, Friedman emphasized the importance of smaller, local elections. She explained, “What happens in your communities is more important … than what’s happening at the federal levels,” because local politicians “have so much more influence over your life than the federal government.” Norelli discussed the challenges women face getting their voices heard and being perceived as capable of solving the issues at hand, as she believes women often have trouble being the center of attention or having their voices heard. “It is a little more challenging,” Norelli expressed, “to be the one that’s out there, with the voice, trying to convince people that what you’re trying to do is the right way to solve a problem.” Continuing the discussion of specific challenges female politicians face, Norelli discussed press attacks and criticism from the opposition. She stated that in her experience, women “tend to take that a little more personally than men do, most of the time.” Friedman said that she copes with the stress of negative comments by remembering that she does not need to consider every critical remark directed at her. She explained, “If there’s something I can do about it, tell me about it,” but added, “If there’s nothing I can about it, and people are just being nasty … I don’t want to know about it, because there’s nothing I can do.” If she is nervous about any aspect of her job, Norelli said, it is important to know that she has a group of colleagues who believe in her, but emphasized the fact that it is ultimately her own work that keeps her going. Friedman echoed Norelli’s sentiment, stating, “I think the work is really important, that you care more about the work than you do about how you’re feeling.” Friedman added that she has also become used to the voice in her head that discourages her, and looks forward to her work to stay focused. Pivoting to discuss partisanship, Norelli reminded the audience that politics is all about relationships, and that reaching out to those with opposing views, while difficult at times, is extremely important. She explained
that when working on a piece of legislation, she would reach across the aisle and often find that a politician from a different side of the political spectrum supported her issue for another reason. But while Democrats and Republicans used to work together toward compromise, today, legislators on both sides of the political spectrum “come in with their attitudes,” and, Norelli stated, foster division instead. Norelli also offered advice for advocates seeking to approach politicians about important issues, listing certain tactics they should employ to convince legislators to lobby in their favor. She spoke of the importance of identifying the problem, describing the proposal and explaining why it would be the most effective solution. One audience member asked the panelists for advice on making the transition from doing advocacy work to becoming a legislator. Friedman said having experience in volunteering or advocacy work is important, and recommended becoming a staffer to learn about legislature. Norelli added that in the beginning stages of political careers, men are more likely to feel qualified for a job, while women feel they need to know “150 percent before [they] think [they] are able to move forward.” Another audience member asked about gender dynamics in politics. Friedman stated that the political system is male-oriented and centered around power, saying, “It is not by nature a team sport.” She mentioned that when serving on committees, she often felt that the men were talking over her, an experience she said was shared by her fellow female legislators. Friedman added that people expect men to have the power; when she is talking to advocates, for example, they often look at her male chief of staff for answers. Answering a question about women in advocacy work, Norelli stated that women are caregivers and fill most advocacy positions. She added said that women are advocates as part of their everyday lives for their children and communities. That advocacy, however, does not translate to legislative positions in government, which are still mostly filled by men. To solve this disparity between unrecognized female advocacy and male-dominated politics, she stated that the onus is also on men to encourage women to run for office. Addressing the men, she said, “Be out there and advocate as well. … Support and encourage the women that you know who would make great leaders to step up and be those leaders.”
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