The Brandeis Hoot September 3, 2021

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Volume 19 Issue 2

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe” www.brandeishoot.com

September 9, 2021

Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper · Waltham, Mass.

Univ. gives update on Anti-Racism Plan By Roshni Ray and Victoira Morrongiello editors

President Ron Liebowitz updated the Brandeis community on the progress concerning the University’s Anti-Racism Plan, in an email sent on Aug. 25. With the help of David Fryson, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the university plans to form a more “equitable and inclusive” environment. The update comes a little over a year after the plan was released; the Anti-Racism initiative was first introduced to the community in an email update sent by Liebowitz in June 2020. The official first draft of the plan was released to the public in November 2020, in order to receive feedback from the community, according to Liebowitz. The plan was drafted through a compilation of action plans

written by concerned community members targeting three parts of campus life: public safety and human resources, community living and residential life and athletics and the academic schools, according to a previous Hoot article. In his email update, Liebowitz encouraged students, faculty and staff to read the draft of the Anti-Racism Plan and submit feedback via the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page on the University’s website. Liebowitz described the motive for creating the Anti-Racism Plan in his most recent email, writing, “In June 2020, a much-needed conversation on race and systemic racism was initiated around the country.” The Anti-Racism Plan was originally spearheaded by Mark Brimhall-Vargas, former Chief Diversity Officer and Vice PresiSee RACISM, page 4 PHOTO FROM HOOT ARCHIVES

Univ. announced Dean of Students By Victoria Morrongiello editor

Monique Pillow Gnanaratnam has been announced as the new Dean of Students, according to an email update sent on Aug. 24 by Raymond Ou, Vice President of Student Affairs. Pillow Gnanaratnam has worked at the university

for over 15 years and has experience in various positions on campus, according to the email. Pillow Gnanaratnam has served as an Associate Dean of Students for the university since 2016. In this position, she was involved in the Department of Student Rights and Community Standards, overseeing its operation, according to The Dean of Students Office’s page.

Pillow Gnanaratnam was also a co-chair to the Care Team—a resource for students that promotes the safety and health of students, according to the Care Team’s page. Prior to 2016 when Pillow Gnanaratnam became an associate dean, she worked as Assistant Dean of Students as well as the Director of the Intercultural Center and Gender

and Sexuality Center, wrote Ou in his email announcement. “In accepting this new role, Monique [Pillow Gnanaratnam] has expressed appreciation for her family’s enduring support throughout her career. Moreover, she looks forward to building on the good work with faculty, staff and alumni over the years,” wrote Ou.

Before working at Brandeis, according to the email, Pillow Gnanaratnam was involved in student affairs in other capacities, including residential life, leadership development, community service, multicultural affairs, international student affairs, new student orientation and off campus student See NAMES, page 2

Univ. Suggest Language List removed as a violation of free speech By Emma Lichtenstein editor

PHOTO FROM HOOT ARCHIVES

Inside This Issue:

News: Reform Sought for Gateway Scholars Ops: Campus infrastructure is failing us. Features: Class hihglihgs Indigenous experience Sports: Brandeis Volleyball wins against Rams Editorial: Why Workday?

Soccer Ties

Page 3 Men’s and Women’s Page 11 Brandeis teams tie in first matches. Page 8 SPORTS: PAGE 6 Page 7 Page 9

The Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC)—a campus resource that provides education and support to students on topics relating to violence—released a “Suggested Language List” in August as a revision to their “Oppressive Language List” released back in June 2021, which has since been removed from the university’s website. “PARC made immediate edits to the list after seeing the requests for changes in the petition circulating on social media. True to the spirit of the list itself, sharing

knowledge about the impact of language is a community effort; feedback from other Brandeis students has helped and continues to help the list improve,” wrote Julie Jette, Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations, on behalf of PARC in an email to the Brandeis Hoot. The list was intended to encourage students to avoid certain words and phrases that have a negative connotation or history. The Suggested Language List has since been removed due to the university’s principles on free speech and free expression, according to their webpage.

New Mural Ashley Young ‘21 paints mural for first year class. ARTS: PAGE 15

See SPEECH, page 4


NEWS

2 The Brandeis Hoot

September 3, 2021

Univ. announced Monique Pillow Gnanaratnam Dean of Students DEAN, from page 1

student services. Pillow Gnanaratnam has worked in higher education at Northeastern University, Bellarmine University and the University of Dayton, according to The Dean of Students Office’s page. Pillow Gnanaratnam takes on the Dean of Students position after the departure of Jamele Adams back in April 2021, according to an email sent to the Brandeis community by Ou in April 2021. Adams served as Dean of Students from 2013 to 2021, according to the email; Adams left to pursue a new professional opportunity. As Dean of Students, Adams was responsible for overseeing the university’s departments of community service, student activities and student rights and community standards, according to the email. This responsibility is

now passed to Pillow Gnanaratnam as she assumes the position. The Dean of Students Office is responsible for advocating for all Brandeis students and promoting opportunities for students to allow for social and emotional growth, according to their page. The Office is also responsible for hosting events throughout the year promoting social, cultural and intellectual opportunities for students. Pillow Gnanaratnam received her bachelor’s degree at Wilmington College and holds a master’s degree which she received from Bowling Green State University. Ou announced Pillow Gnanaratnam’s appointment as one of two positions filled in the Division of Student Affairs.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEIS.EDU

Alumna launches petition to reform Gateway Scholar Program

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

Panny Tao ’21 spearheaded a petition to reform the Gateway Scholar Program at Brandeis and remove the current Director, Vinodini Murugesan, due to the discrimination and humiliation of Chinese students within the program by its director, according to the petition. According to the student accounts in the petition, Murugesan verbally abused students in the Gateway Scholar Program. In the petition, it outlines the experiences of nineteen students, all of whom were Gateway Scholars who had negative experiences in the program. Many of the accounts include incidents where the students were verbally abused by Murugesan. Some students received emails where they were told they would not succeed at Brandeis. Others shared that they felt Murugesan used an “aggressive, condescending and unprofessional” tone in her emails to students, according to the petition. The Gateway Scholar Program is run at the university to prepare students who are non-native English speakers for “the rigors of coursework at Brandeis University,” according to the Gateway Scholar Program’s page. Tao notes 10 major problems of the program which she suggests be reformed in the petition. The problems include: the “mysterious” admission process; confusing and vague wording; student population and lack of diversity; negative stereotypes and the “Americanization” of Chinese students; impossible expectations; mentors and liaisons; after program tracks and classification of students; failing students and afterward assistance; the cost of the program with no financial aid or scholarship available and Director Murugesan and other upper administrators of the program.

Tao proposed solutions to the main problems she identified. For the admission process, she suggests making a clear standard for how students are selected for the program. Currently, students who are enrolled in the program come from varying backgrounds with their English proficiency and exposure to the language, making the standard for needing the program unclear, according to the petition. Tao also mentions tricky wording in their acceptance letters into the program. There is no direct wording stating that the program is mandatory, though there is also no opt-out option clearly stated, according to the petition. Tao suggests changing the wording in the acceptance letters to make it more clear for students. Another problem identified by Tao is the student population and lack of diversity in the program. Tao noted that the program is advertised as a diverse group of students, however, students upon arriving at the program in recent years have noted a nearly entire Chinese background for students, according to Tao. Tao suggests the program be properly advertised to students to fix this problem. Tao attached an image of a contract Gateway Scholars were obligated to sign. Students had to agree to speak only English between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays and they must not ask for translation in class, according to the screenshot. Tao also notes that there is some wording used on the Gateway Scholar website which negatively enforces Chinese stereotypes. “The program is designed specifically for students to improve their English proficiency and students should be encouraged to speak English in the program. However, the ways that are designed to force students to speak English are unacceptable, extremely inappropriate and are harmful to students’ confidence,” wrote Tao.

There are also expectations for students which Tao deemed impossible to achieve. Students are expected to maintain the full course load as well as participate in the Gateway Scholar program where they have mandatory activities. For the peer mentors in the program, Tao suggests not paying students but rather have it be a volunteer activity. This is because it creates a complex in the relationship between mentor and mentee that makes the mentee feel inferior, according to Tao. The program commences its first part in the summer going into the scholar’s freshman year. Over the course of the summer, students participate in a six-week English language program that consists of three courses: Critical Reading in the Humanities and Social Science, Analytical Writing and Academic Oral Communication, according to the program’s details page. Students are evaluated at the end of the six-week course to determine their proficiency. If the program deems them to have advanced a sufficient amount in these categories, they can then enroll in a full course load for the fall semester, according to the page. The second part of the program takes place in the fall, this part is only for students who were found to not have advanced enough in their critical thinking, analytical writing and language skills over the summer, according to the page. Students will take additional courses to improve these skills on top of maintaining a full-time Brandeis undergraduate course load. New methods are implemented during the fall semester to teach students these language skills which are “essential for achieving academic success at Brandeis university,” according to the page. As a part of the program, gateway scholars are paired with upperclassmen who act as peer

mentors; these individuals are referred to as “Gateway Buddies,” according to the page. Gateway Buddies, according to the page, are meant to provide an outlet for students to practice and develop their language skills in a non-academic setting. Gateway scholars are also meant to play a role in helping Gateway Scholar students to acclimate to social life on campus including introducing these students to new friends, clubs and other activities on campus. The overall objective of having peer mentors is to “provide gateway scholars with authentic opportunities to speak English in relatively informal settings and to promote the formation of mutually beneficial social bonds between Gateway scholars and American undergraduates at Brandeis,” according to the Buddy Program page. In an interview with the Brandeis Hoot, Tao explained that

the mentor program students are paid to be the mentors. The mentors get paid $15 an hour, according to Tao, which is higher than most on-campus jobs. “There is definitely a sense of superiority that the buddy system is creating. It’s creating a superiority for the American students but for the Chinese students they feel less and less confident and more inferior to their American friends,” said Tao. The petition has received 38 signatures from Gateway Scholars, 257 signatures from students and alumni, 12 signatures of concerned parents and 31 signatures of concerned individuals from other higher education institutions, according to the petition. The Brandeis Hoot reached out to Murugesan for comment but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.

PHOTO FROM

BRANDEIS.EDU


September 3, 2021

Univ. releases plans for the 2021-2022 academic year By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The university announced its plans for the 2021-2022 academic year in an email update sent to the community on Aug. 26 by President Ron Liebowitz. The university plans to tackle issues including looking into the construction of new buildings and addressing different initiatives on campus, according to the email. “Looking to the year ahead, the agenda is filled with a number of important and exciting initiatives,” wrote Liebowitz. One of the top initiatives named by Liebowitz in his email regarded creating a more “equitable and inclusive” community for all individuals. It is a top priority of the university to continue and progress in its Anti-Racism Plan with the help of David Fryson, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The university plans to devote time and resources towards recommendations made in the Framework for the Future—a document synthesizing the recommendations from community members on how to better the university in the coming decades—in addition to formalizing the anti-racism plans to implement on campus, according to the email update. During this academic year, Liebowitz wrote that the university plans to look into the building project of Science Phase 2A—a project whose construction was stopped during the 2008-09 recession. The Science Phase 1 project was completed in 2009, this project consisted of the Shapiro Science Center (SSC), according to a Building Design and Construction article.

NEWS 3

The Brandeis Hoot

The university also plans to create a center for civic and community engagement, a new facility to integrate the arts into the community and a “unifying structure” that can combine the university’s academic and research programs connected to Jewish studies. Other plans set to be reviewed are for a potential additional dining hall and residence hall, according to Liebowitz, the university intends to hold a study to see the feasibility of undergoing such construction projects. Liebowitz included other initiatives set to be reviewed, which he deemed to be “critical” to the university’s future. The university will initiate a plan for greater faculty and staff support as well as renewal. Liebowitz wrote the university would also pursue external support for a data science program that could be accessed

university-wide. In addition, the university will be following up on the recently approved program in engineering science. “The prospect of a new year spent together living and learning is exciting, all the more so following the relative isolation of the past 17 months. In addition to all else, the past year teaches us we cannot take anything for granted, least of all, the value of this community,” wrote Liebowitz in his update. Liebowitz welcomed the class of 2025 to campus in his email update and encouraged the community to get involved in on-campus life after having to adapt to online learning for the past year and a half, though the university will be maintaining certain health and safety measures as a precaution to not spread COVID-19 in the community.

SENATE Updates: •

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• PHOTO FROM BRANDEIS.EDU

The Student Union will be holding its Fall Elections on Sep. 9, elections will be held all day with polls closing at midnight, according to an email announcement sent to the Brandeis community by James Feng ’22, Student Union Secretary on Aug. 29. A Fall Elections interest meeting was held on Aug. 29 for students to learn about what positions are available and how to run in the election. The “Meet the Candidates” event for individuals running in the Fall elections will be held in person on Sep. 8 at 9:30 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) atrium. The Student Union will be enacting a Paperless Campaign Policy in an attempt to be more environmentally sustainable, according to the Student Union Fall 2021 Special Elections document shared with the community by Krupa Sourirajan, Student Union President. According to the document, students may only vote for candidates of their respective demographics, for example, a student may vote for a Charles River Apartments Senator if they are currently living in a Charles River Apartment. The senate positions open for this election are: Senator for the class of 2025 ( 2 seats, open to Class of 2025); Senator for the class of 2023 ( 1 seat, open to Class of 2023); Senator for the class of 2022 ( 1 seat, open to Class of 2022); Off-Campus Senator ( 1 seat, open to off-campus residents; North Quad Senator (1 seat); Massell Quad Senator (1 seat); Ziv and Ridgewood Senator ( 1 seat ); Charles River Senator ( 1 seat); Rosenthal and Skyline Senator (1 seat ); Foster Mods Senator ( 1 seat ); East Quad Senator ( 1 seat ); 567 and Village Senator ( 1 seat ); Myra Kraft Transitional Year (MKTY) Program Senator (1 seat, open to all MKTY students) and Racial Minority Senator (2 seats, open to racial minority identifying students). The Representative positions open for this election are: Junior Representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (1 seat, open to Class of 2023) and Representative to Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board (1 seat, open to the entire student body). The Allocations Board positions open for this election are: Allocations Board Member for Racial Minority Students to a one-year seat ( 1 seat, open to racial minority identifying students); Allocations Board Member for a three-semester seat (3 seats, open to the entire student body) and Allocations Board Member for a one-year seat (2 seats, open to the entire student body). A reminder was included in the document that only students who are members of a racial minority can run as a candidate and vote for the Racial Minority Representative position. The Judiciary positions open in this election are for the Associate Justices of the Judiciary (5 seats). The first senate meeting will be held on Sep. 12. -Victoria Morrongiello

Jon Schlesinger named new director of Hiatt Career Center By Sasha Skrboviychuk editor

Jon Schlesinger was appointed as the new Director of the Hiatt Career Center, according to an email sent out to the Brandeis community by Raymond Lu Ming Ou, the Vice President of Student Affairs. Schlesinger served as the Interim Director of Hiatt Career Center before being appointed as director of the center. According to the email, Schlesinger will “lead Hiatt’s teams whose scope includes career development, employer relations, alumni engagement and marketing.” He also provides a “personalized approach working with students and alumni to discover and explore their major and career interests,” according to the Hiatt website. The Hiatt Career Center is a resource offered to current students and alumni to help develop their skills and to create professional futures and relationships, according to the Hiatt Career Center’s page. Students are able to seek professional help from the Hiatt Career Center through discovery

tools, internship and job opportunities, mentorships, networking help and other professional events. According to the email, Schlesinger is a “nationally recognized leader in career services and is a sought-after speaker and facilitator.” Some of his focuses include data analytics and career development theory. His job includes “day-to-day operations, career development, employer relations, alumni engagement and marketing,” according to the website. In addition to his other roles on campus, Schlesinger teaches the internship class (INT 89a/b), an undergraduate 2-credit course offered to all majors in the fall and spring. Schlesinger is a StrengthsQuest educator, MBTI facilitator, as well as a certified career counselor, according to his LinkedIn page. He has published multiple papers on the topic of career development, including “Undergraduate Student Career Development and Career Center Services: Faculty Perspectives,” “How to score an internship during the COVID-19 pandemic,” “Chaos

Theory of Careers & Designing Your Life,” “Applying the Chaos Theory of Careers as a Framework for College Career Centers,” “Career Development Models For the 21st Century” and “Implementing a New Career Development Theory: A Case Study.” Schlesinger has won several awards, including the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Career Services Excellence Award in 2020, National Career Development Association (NCDA) Exemplary Career Center in 2019 and NCDA Career Developments Article of the Year in 2019, according to his LinkedIn. The NACE Career Services Excellence Award is awarded for excellence in career services, according to the NACE website. The NCDA recognizes individuals with these awards for their influence on career development, according to their website. Schlesinger joined the Hiatt Career Center in 2015 as a member of the Career Development Team. In 2020 he was named interim director. According to the email, “during his time at Brandeis, Jon [Schlesinger] has led the Hiatt Career Center to win two nation-

al awards.” Schlesinger has an M.Ed. in counseling from DePaul University, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Kansas. Throughout his career, Schlesinger has worked in career centers in other higher

education institutions including at the University of Colorado as Assistant Director for Strategic Planning and Communication, at Northwestern University as a Career Counselor and at the University of Florida as an Assistant Director of Career Development.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEIS.EDU


4 NEWS

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September 3, 2021

Univ. gives update on plans for the Anti-Racism Plan PLAN, from page 1

dent of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; the role has since been filled by Fryson. Liebowitz wrote that the University will move forward with the plans with a collaborative spirit that originally guided it. The University’s entire community “undertook the serious challenge of developing an intensive university-wide anti-racism strategy,” wrote Liebowitz. According to Liebowitz, the anti-racism plan aligns with the spirit of Brandeis’ tradition of social justice. The Anti-Racism Plan will serve as a “strategy to identify and address any vestiges of racism

at Brandeis,” Liebowitz wrote. In November 2020, the first drafts of the Anti-Racism Plan were shared with the campus community for feedback. By Sep. 30, Liebowitz wrote that he plans to have gathered public feedback for a “final comment period” before an “ultimate compilation and external distribution.” After the final review period, according to Liebowitz, he plans to have the university’s entire community familiar with the Anti-Racism Plan’s initiative. Community members will be able to engage in learning experiences with one another, deliberate what the best practices are for creating an equitable environment and

start conversations about race and racism on campus, according to the email update. Once plans are finalized, the Anti-Racism Plan draft will serve as a resource for the future as the university attempts to tackle the understanding, response and analysis of systematic racism at Brandeis and in its community, according to Liebowitz. The finalization of the Anti-Racism Plan is not the end of the work to end systematic racism on campus, wrote Liebowitz. “The work of ridding our institution and society of lingering vestiges of racism— in all of its forms— will be an ongoing process. This is a goal which we are both enthu-

siastically committed to achieve,” wrote Liebowitz. Each academic and administrative department within the university has produced drafts of their plans to address any instances of structural racism, according to the university’s website. Furthermore, there are more specific, division-wide plans for addressing racism in the Brandeis community as a whole, according to the university’s website. The School of Arts and Sciences cites hiring professors from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds such as Latin American scholars as a top priority, according to their page. The university has also begun course content

revision which has been cited as an additional response towards anti-racism. To do this, the university has begun including more courses that encourage students to learn about the wide variety of human societies, cultures and countries, according to the university’s global engagement page. Recent developments in the School of Arts and Sciences include new hires within the Division of Science, according to their page. “The Biology Department has recently been very successful in hiring three Latinx scientists to their faculty,” reads the Division of Science Progress to Date section.

The univ. makes national headlines with PARC’s “Suggested Language List FREE SPEECH, from page 1

PARC provided suggestions for replacements for the words that they recommended students not use. This Language List was noticed by many major news outlets, most of which received it negatively. The list was broken up into five subcategories: violent language, identity-based language, language that doesn’t say what we mean, culturally appropriative language and person-first and identity-first. Since its release, the list has moved from the university’s website and reestablished on an independent web page separate from the university, according to the Suggested Language List page. The list was not reflective of the university’s policies and therefore had to be moved to an independent website not affiliated with the university, according to the page. According to the university’s free speech and free expression page, all members of the Brandeis community are allowed to: maximize free speech in a diverse community, develop skills to engage in difficult conversations, share responsibility, reject physical violence, distinguish between invited speakers and university honorees and abide by institutional restrictions. On the revised Suggested Language List page, the university notes that the list was not university policy, rather it was a resource meant to provide information and suggestions to community members. The independent webpage with the Suggested Language List contains the same five subcategories featured originally on the Brandeis website. The list remains as a tool for individuals to share information about language usage and intent, according to the page. “ We recognize that language is a powerful tool which can be used to perpetrate and perpetuate violence and oppression,” according to the page. Moving forward from this, Jette wrote on behalf of PARC, “We know the intentions of the students are good, wanting to provide suggestions for those who are concerned about the language they use with those who have been impacted by violence in their lives.” Prior to the page being removed the list website wrote, “PARC’s Suggested Language List* was

developed, created and continues to be managed by students involved with PARC. Suggestions are brought forth by students who have been impacted by violence and students who have sought out advanced training for intervening in potentially violent situations.” Sources like The Atlantic reported on the original list, writing “we are being preached to by people on a quest to change reality through the performative policing of manners.” Fox News and the New York Post also commented on the list. Students also had a negative reaction to the Language List. Sarah Kalinowski ’23 started a petition against the Language List, saying that some of the terms listed as “oppressive” were not oppressive at all. Kalinowski’s biggest concern was with the term “mentally ill” which was listed as a word to avoid. “I think what really made me initially stop when I was first reading this was when I saw mentally ill listed as oppressive language because it is identity first and not person first,” Kalinowski said. “That is when I realized that I had to do something.” Kalinowski also rejected “oppressive” terms like disabled person, victim and survivor (in terms of sexual assault), as she recognized these are preferred terminology for most rather than an offensive word. PARC recently changed the list to reflect some of these concerns. The list is now called the “Suggested Language List” and terms like mentally ill and disabled persons have been removed. This updated list also includes stars in slurs, rather than typing out the entire word as it was previously. Students can also make suggestions for the list on the PARC website. When asks about the negative reception of the Suggested Langauge List, Jette wrote on behalf of PARC saying, “The reactions seem to reflect some misunderstanding of the intent of the list. To be clear: The list was never an official Brandeis policy, and no member of the university community was ever required to consult with or use the list.” “Formerly known as the ‘Oppressive Language List,’ in August 2021 we retitled this list to center the suggested alternatives rather than the words and phrases that may cause harm,” reads the PARC website.

than the words and phrases that may cause harm,” reads the PARC website. With the adjustments made to the list, expanding its content, the

media picked up the story again with a negative reaction. The New York Post called the university an “ultra-woke college.” The Boston Herald and The

College Fix also wrote about the list citing that there was no university that is more “ politically correct.”

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September 3, 2021

SPORTS

MLB postseason picture

By Justin Leung editor

The 2021 Major League Baseball (MLB) season has been full of surprises as some teams have significantly overperformed their preseason rankings and other teams have disappointed. Two teams have been particularly disappointing: the Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins had high aspirations for this season but at this point stand in fourth and fifth place of their respective divisions. The San Francisco Giants on the other hand, are in a division with two of the most stacked rosters in all of baseball and are still in first place of the National League West division; they also have the best record in all of baseball. The Houston Astros is also a very surprising team considering they lost outfielder George Springer in the offseason to the Toronto Blue Jays and are in first place of the American League West Division. Even after such a crazy season, a few teams are still a near lock to make the playoffs. These teams include the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. All these teams are not guaranteed a spot in the playoffs but based on their record and recent level of play it is safe to say that these teams will make the playoffs. There are a few teams that have a chance but need a lot of things to go their way in this last month of the regular season. The New York Yankees surprised everyone when they decided to buy at the trade deadline even though they were third in their division. But since the deadline the Yankees are 22-7 and are now second in the division. The addition of first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Joey Gallo have been decent, but the rest of the roster has continued to heat up over time. Outfielder Aaron Judge looks like a possible Most Valuable Player Award candidate as he is now top 10 in nearly every offensive category. Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole has also returned to form and is back to being elite. As of Aug. 31, the Yankees are two games ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the second Wild Card position but seven games back from the Rays for first place in the division. After recently winning 13 games in a row, the Yankees appear to be on a hot streak going into the final month of the regular season. However, the small lead for the wild card position may quickly fade if their star players start to underperform a little bit. The Red Sox currently hold the second Wild Card position and are above the Oakland Athletics for the place by two games. This is not the spot the Red Sox were supposed to be in following the trade deadline. At the trade deadline, the Red Sox were leading the American League East division and were ahead of the Yankees by 7.5 games. Now, after a poor August, are two games behind the Yankees. Before the deadline and after the deadline, the team has been an offensive powerhouse. According to MLB.com, the Red Sox are nearly at the top of every major offensive category. The issue is that they did not address their weaknesses at the deadline. They did not pursue any starting pitching or relief help which was their downfall for the month of August. The Red Sox did add outfielder Kyle Schwarber to the

team, and he has been incredible so far, but the team has far too many pitching weaknesses to be effective. Starting pitcher Chris Sale has returned from injury, but it may not be enough to keep the

according to reporter Ben Nicholson-Smith. So, for the most part, the trade deadline has not helped the Blue Jays. The relief core continues to be poor, and the starting pitching has been inconsistent.

The Phillies are being led by superstar outfielder Bryce Harper and starting pitcher Zach Wheeler. Both players are putting up phenomenal numbers this season and are giving the Phillies hope

The Brandeis Hoot 5

peting for the final spot. All these teams did very minimally at the trade deadline. The Padres almost traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer, but ultimately, he went to the Dodgers instead. As of re-

PHOTO FROM MLB.COM

team afloat. There is a solid chance that the Red Sox can control the second Wild Card position with their offense, but if their pitching continues to fail them, the Athletics have a chance to catch up. There are three American League teams that as of the current standings would not make the playoffs, but still may have a chance. The Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Blue Jays are all still in the hunt to make the playoffs. Each team has a solid chance to overtake the Red Sox or Yankees for a Wild Card position. The Athletics added outfielder Starling Marte at the trade deadline, and he has been incredible for them. According to MLB. com, he has a 0.342 batting average and 20 stolen bases in just 28 games with the Athletics this season. Additionally, he has been a very solid defender in the outfield. Unfortunately, the Athletics did not have a strong August, so they must adjust against the poor play they have had recently. However, if Marte continues to be a superstar and the Red Sox take a tumble, the Athletics are ready to take that Wild Card spot. The Mariners are in an interesting position as they were not expected to do this well this season. Overall, the team is young and was not expected to play up to their full potential this early. However, they have successfully kept themselves in the race, as they are only four games behind the Red Sox. Even though they have found success, the stats do not like the Mariners. According to MLB.com, the Mariners are nearly at the bottom of every offensive category and are around the middle of the league in terms of pitching. So, is it likely that the Mariners make the playoffs? The answer is no, however if there is a wild card in play during this final push, it is the Mariners. Against all odds, the team continues to win, so maybe they get some momentum and take over a Wild Card spot. The final team in a tough spot is the Blue Jays. At the trade deadline, the Blue Jays traded for starter Jose Berrios. He has not been horrible for the Blue Jays, but he has not been elite. They also traded for closer Brad Hand. He has been terrible for the Blue Jays and was designated for assignment (released) on Aug. 31

Starting pitcher Robbie Ray has been surprisingly excellent this season with a sub 3.00 earned run average (ERA) and is major stability in an otherwise shaky pitching squad. The offense continues to be incredible as first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. continues to show the world why he is one of the best hitters in all of baseball. As of Aug. 31, the blue jays are 4.5 games behind the Red Sox, so there is still a solid chance of them making a run and barely making it into the playoffs. The offense will likely do everything it can to get there, but ultimately will come down to if the relievers can pick up some consistency and close out games. Almost an entire division is in the playoff hunt. This is because the entire division has not been great. The National League East is this division. Currently the Atlanta Braves are in first place with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets behind them. The Braves are without their best player Ronald Acuna Jr. and possibly their best starting pitcher Mike Soroka. However, the Braves traded for outfielder Jorge Soler, and he has been very good offensively for the Braves. Since the Acuna injury, most of the Braves players have been picking up the slack. Shortstop Dansby Swanson and second baseman Ozzie Albies have been playing well recently.

of a playoff berth. The Mets season has gone up and down. At the trade deadline, the Mets were first in the division, but now are seven games behind the Braves. This can be partly associated with Francisco Lindor and Jacob deGrom injuries. Additionally, the Mets traded for flashy shortstop Javier Baez, who has not surprisingly struck out during a large portion of his at bats. So, Baez has not picked up the offense as much as they hoped. The reason why all these teams are still in the race is because the division is in complete chaos. Within the last month each team has led the division at some point. Due to their competition, they likely will not get a Wild Card spot, however the division is still up for grabs. No team in the National League East has been consistent this season so any team can really take the lead. The Braves are likely the favorites due to their team being the most well rounded and the momentum they got from taking the lead of the division. The last three teams are all going for a wild card spot because their respective division leaders are very far ahead of them. These teams include the Cincinnati Reds, St Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres. The Dodgers already have one of the two Wild Card spots basically locked up, so these three teams are all com-

cently, the Padres have been struggling, especially against one of the worst teams in baseball. The Padres have lost half of their games against the Arizona Diamondbacks in August. Arizona is often considered the worst team in all of baseball, so the Padres should not be losing those games. In the month of August, the Padres did not win a single series. Some of this can be attributed to the lack of superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., but the team should be playing a lot better than it has been. The Cardinals are another fringe playoff team. They have been slowly creeping in and out of the race due to inconsistent starting pitching. Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright has been their best pitcher even at age 40. The Reds currently hold the second Wild Card spot, but they are only leading by half a game. Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker and Wade Miley have been leading the team to many wins. First baseman Joey Votto has also found a power stroke as he leads his team in home runs with 28. At this point, the Reds and the Padres are the favorites, but the race is so close that any of these teams has a chance. The Reds had a much better August compared to the Padres, so they have the momentum, but the Padres have plenty of star power to make a comeback.

PHOTO FROM MLB.COM

PHOTO FROM MLB.COM


6 SPORTS

The Brandeis Hoot

September 3, 2021

Men’s soccer versus Western New England By Francesca Marchese staff

In a scoreless draw against Western New England University, the Brandeis men’s soccer team not only battled their first intercollegiate contest in two years against the Golden Bears, but they also battled the weather, as the return of collegiate athletics was welcomed by massive downpours. After 110 minutes of play, both teams open their seasons at 0-0-1. While the visiting Golden Bears outshot the Judges 10-3 in the first half, junior goalie Aiden Guthro made four saves in the initial 45 minutes of action, three of which were fired in the final seven minutes before heading into halftime. At the 60th minute, Mike Milazzo of Western New England University fired a promising shot toward Guthro, but the score remained 0-0, as the shot was deflected by the post. The Judges dominated the second half, outshooting their opponent 4-2. In the 87th minute, sophomore Judge Liam Car-

penter-Shulman ’24 was denied which helped force overtime. Brandeis controlled play with a 7-2 shot advantage throughout the extra 20 minutes of play, including 5-1 on net. First year Gabriel Haithcock ’25 led the Judges with three shots on goal in overtime, but without Guthro’s save in the 107th minute against Golden Bear Mike Riley, the Judges would not have been able to clinch the draw in their opening contest. Guthro finished the game with five saves and a shutout in his first career start. Opposing goalkeeper Brady Allen finished with seven stops against the Judges. Haithcock led all players with six shots, and both teams finished evenly in total shots, 14-14; Brandeis did, though, outshoot WNEU, 11-4, after the first half. The Judges take the road for their second game of the season resuming action on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in New Hampshire. They will take on Hobart College at the Keene State/Home Depot Classic. On Sunday, the Judges will take on the host team at 1:30 p.m. before heading back to Waltham.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEISJUDGES.COM

Women’s soccer against MIT By Francesca Marchese staff

Mother Nature did not welcome the Brandeis soccer teams nicely, as both the men’s and women’s teams faced tremendous downpours. However, the Brandeis University women’s soccer team appeared unfazed, powering through as they competed head to head against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prior to the game, both MIT and Brandeis were ranked 0-0-1; while the game ended in a 2-2 draw, by the end of the contest the Judges were ranked seventh among Division III teams by the United States Soccer Coaches. The scoring opened quickly for both teams, beginning with the Judges. Nearly four minutes after kickoff, the Brandeis Judges were on the board as a result of an MIT own goal. As the rain intensified, so too did the battle in front of MIT’s goal, resulting in an Engineer defender accidentally redirecting the ball into her own net. The Engineers, though, wasted no time navigating their way down the field to put themselves on the board just shy of 1:50 minutes after Judges. MIT player Meagan Roqlett blasted a ball from the top of the 18-yard box that flew past rookie goalie Hanna Bassan ’25. Midway through the first half, Judge Yasla Ngoma ’24 emerged victorious from another skirmish

in front of the net, sliding the ball inside the left post right past the MIT goalie Ava Gillikin. With only 13 shots attempted in the first half by either team, the Engineers gained a 9-7 advantage over the Judges in the second half, quickly scoring the only goal to tie up the contest 2-2. While Brandeis responded with three shots on goal, MIT dominated the possession as the clock wound down. This momentum carried the Engineers into overtime where they outshot the Judges 11-1. Bassan worked tirelessly in the goal, making four saves in the second overtime session; this included an impressive diving save in the 106th minute, followed by two more saves in the last two minutes of the game. Bassan ended her first collegiate game with eight saves, most of which helped the Judges remain even with the opponent; Gillikin also concluded the game with eight stops. MIT outshot the Judges 26-15 and 8-2 in corner kicks; the Brandeis women’s soccer team, though, played a relatively clean game compared to their opponent, only racking up 5 fouls to the Engineers’ 14. Ngoma led the Judges’ offense with four shots, two of which were on net. The Judges will face Lasell University on Gordon Field on Saturday, September 4th at 1 p.m. Come out and support the Judges as they look to win their first game of the season.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEISJUDGES.COM


September 3, 2021

SPORTS 7

The Brandeis Hoot

Brandeis volleyball Sep. 1 By Jesse Lieberman staff

Playing for the first time in nearly two years, the Brandeis Judges volleyball team opened their season at Red Auerbach Arena on Wednesday, defeating the Suffolk Rams in straight sets (25-14, 25-15, 26-24).After convincingly taking the first two sets, the Judges clawed their way in the

third set. Following a Suffolk timeout when the Judges were up 20-18, the Rams rattled off four points in a row, which included two aces. The Judges benefited from several mistakes to go ahead 23-22. The Rams answered with two straight points to go up 24-23 with a chance to win the set. The Judges tied the score at 24 thanks to a kill from outside hitter Lara Verstovsek ’25. The Judges won

the next point to go up 25-24. Emerson White ’22 sealed the deal with her match-leading eighth kill. The Judges were led with a balanced attack. Verstovsek and middle hitter Kaisa Newberg ’22 had seven and six kills respectively. Setter Ines Grom-Mansenecal ’24 was instrumental in setting up her teammates with pinpoint passes, as she notched 26 assists. Libero Kaitlyn Oh ’22, who av-

PHOTO FROM BRANDEISJUDGES.COM

eraged a team-high 4.90 digs per set in 2019, picked up right where she left off, leading the Judges with eight digs. The Judges recorded eight aces in the match, with Verstovsek and Grom-Mansenecal each leading the team with two. In the opening set, the Judges got out to an early 8-6 lead. The Judges then proceeded to go on an 11-5 run, extending their lead in the set to 19-11, and causing Suffolk to call a timeout. The Judges closed out the set winning six of the final nine points, capped off by a kill from Stephanie Borr ’22 The Judges picked up right where they left off in the second set, as they raced out to an 11-2 lead. The Judges led by at least seven points throughout the set, and their largest lead in the set was 13 points at 20-7. The Judges have one of the toughest schedules in all of Division III. As it stands currently the Judges will play 12 games against teams who made it to the NCAA tournament in 2019.

In addition, the Judges are members of the University Athletic Association (UAA), which boasts some of the top teams in the nation. Four teams from the UAA qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2019, including Emory who advanced to the final. Judges head coach Alesia Bennett has high expectations for her team. In a phone call with The Hoot, she said the Judges have all the ingredients to make a tournament run. She believes the Judges will need to display more consistency in conference play to be successful. With many formidable conference opponents, the margin for error is that much smaller.The Judges’ challenging non-conference schedule should bode well for them heading into UAA play. The Judges play Westfield St. on Saturday, Sep. 4 and Tufts on Saturday, Sep. 11 and Tuesday, Sep. 14. Both teams made the tournament in 2019. The Judges’ next game at Red Auerbach Arena is Thursday, Sep. 9 at 6 p.m..

NFL preseason injuries By Justin Leung editor

The National Football League (NFL) preseason is the time for players to get back into shape and get the feel of live play for the first time in half a year, while the games have no impact on the regular season. During training camp and the offseason, the players work with the team to get ready for the season, but there is nothing like playing a live game. That is why it is difficult to evaluate how ready players are for the season without playing a live game. This is where the preseason games come in, as players can truly play and see if they are ready to go. Preseason is also a time for players that are not guaranteed a starting job, to play for a roster spot. So, it appears as if the preseason games should be played by everyone. The only issue with playing in games is that there is an increased risk of injuries, and injuries in the NFL can be devastating to a team. Recently, there have been a few injuries that have caused teams to rethink their strategy when it comes to having their starters play minutes during preseason games. Injuries are inevitable for an NFL team. Football is a physical sport that involves players being put into positions that likely will get them injured. Running back Christian Mccaffrey was injured for most of last year because of an ankle injury. Since he is a running back, he gets tackled a lot, so he is likely going to get some lower extremity injury. So, it is not surprising that he got injured. The Carolina Panthers last season finished with five wins and 11 losses last year as they were missing the production of Mccaffery. Injuries to key players can ruin a team’s season as a lot of teams build their game plans around a star player. So, teams want to avoid injuries, but they also want to make sure that they are winning games. To win games, the players need to be ready with real playing time. That is what the preseason games are for. But then you also want to avoid any injuries, so you do not want to play your starters in games that do not matter. This is

where an issue arises. Do you play your starters in the preseason, and if you do for how long? According to NFL reporter Ian Rapoport,

be more open. But the overall question is, why was Dobbins in the game in the first place? The decision to have certain

first overall pick by the Jaguars in the 2021 NFL draft was quarterback Trevor Lawrence from Clemson. Lawrence started off

during the final preseason game of the season against the Washington Football Team, Baltimore Ravens running back J.K Dobbins suffered a torn ACL. Many fans were very upset with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh as they believed it was unnecessary to play him in the final game of the preseason. Their opponents, the Washington Football Team, decided to not play most of their starters due to the risk of injury. According to Washington Wire, the Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera decided that the roster was mostly set and they wanted to avoid any injuries before the start of the season. The Ravens are led by superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson, but no doubt the injury to Dobbins has ruined much of their plans for the season. Specifically, the running game from the Ravens is going to have to be changed. The Ravens run a very heavy run offense as Dobbins and Jackson are normally very dynamic running the ball, but with this injury the Ravens must change what they have been practicing for the weeks leading up to the start of the season. Obviously, the season is not completely ruined for the Ravens. The Ravens added a few wide receivers so their passing game may

players play is ultimately up to the coach and sometimes there are valid reasons to play them in games and sometimes there isn’t a need to. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not play in a single preseason game. This decision is obvious considering he’s approaching his 16th year in the NFL and won the NFL Most Valuable Player award last year. Rodgers has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for the past 10 years, which is why it is easy for a coach not to play him during the preseason. Another easy decision comes from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The

the preseason poorly and people were questioning how well he was transitioning into the NFL. Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer decided to play Lawrence in the final preseason game instead of resting him to avoid any injuries before the season. In the final game, Lawrence played extremely well as he had a nearly perfect completion percentage and two touchdowns. This game likely gave Lawrence a large amount of confidence going into the season and got him fully ready for the season. The decision to play Lawrence in the final preseason game is another obvious decision when it comes to presea-

son playing time. So, we return to the decision about Dobbins. In the first two preseason games, Dobbins was not particularly effective, but he played very little, so it is difficult to completely conclude that he was not ready for the season. It seemed completely justifiable from a stats standpoint to play Dobbins in the last game as he did not have a rushing yard in his first game and only had eight yards in four carries in the second preseason game according to ESPN. However, Dobbins had a solid rookie season last year and the poor preseason play could have been nothing. Obviously, there is more happening during training camp and in the offseason that could define whether Dobbins was ready to play in the regular season that the fans cannot see, so fans cannot make the best conclusions about the situation. In the end, these decisions could always go both ways. The decision to play Lawrence in the final preseason game could have been terrible if he broke his leg or the decision to not play Rodgers could turn out to be poor if he throws four interceptions in the first game of the season. Preseason is obviously very important but sometimes it may just be better to play it safe. It may be better to lose a regular season game but let their player fully ramp up, than for their player to be injured during a game that has no value to the regular season and playoffs and force your team to change everything.

PHOTO FROM PFF.COM

PHOTO FROM BLEACHERREPORT.COM


8 The Brandeis Hoot

FEATURES

September 3, 2021

Long-Form Storytelling: Podcast and Written Form By Shruthi Manjunath editor

In today’s day and age, podcasts are exploding. Podcast numbers have doubled in the last year and continue to grow exponentially. Podcasts provide a unique method of storytelling and therefore it may be useful for students to know how to tell a story through a podcast. “JOUR 113a: Long-form Journalism: Storytelling for Magazines and Podcasts” was created as a course that plans to highlight the differences and commonalities between long-form storytelling in written format and longform storytelling in audio format for podcasts. The course was originally created in fall of 2020 and this semester Professor Neil Swidey will be teaching it for his second time. In class, Professor Swidey plans to choose a version of a topic that was covered in written format and another version that was created in the podcast format. This will allow students to learn certain universal principles of good storytelling that are present in all forms. He explains, “so we’ll take something like immigration and take a magazine piece about the history of immigration, how

we got to anti-immigration view in this country and the ebbs and flows over the history of the country. And then we’ll study a two part series on immigration from This American Life.” In addition, Miki Meek, the producer of This American Life, will be a guest speaker in this class and discuss the process of creating a long-form story in audio format so that students are able to fully understand what works differently in audio format storytelling. In terms of future goals, Professor Swidey hopes that students become “thoughtful consumers of long-form storytelling and confident producers of long-form storytelling.” He plans to have students pursue subjects that they’re interested in and apply rigorous standards in order to produce compelling journalism. In class, Professor Swidey plans to have students engage in peer-feedback. In addition, one of his goals is to “break down the barriers between the campus and the real world that’s out there and bring great journalists who come from very different backgrounds and have diverse approaches and storytelling techniques to campus or to the class so that students can engage with them. I found that these really accomplished jour-

nalists really like hearing from our students. They like how serious and engaged the Brandeis students are.” Previously, Wesley Morris, a two time Pulitzer Prize winner from the New York Times, visited the class and the students engaged in a master storyteller kind of workshop where they asked him questions about his process. Overall, the process will consist of discussing, interrogating, and workshopping. The class will begin with a short story that is either told by a guest speaker or by Professor Swidey. Then students will discuss the mechanics of storytelling and isolate a particular part of storytelling. In addition, students will engage in discussions online through Perusal and LATTE Forums and bring this discussion into class and apply the lessons they have been studying in class to the work they have been studying. Then the class will break up into small groups to discuss the works they have been studying or to give each other feedback on their pieces. Professor Swidey explains that the hardest part of storytelling is maintaining the interest of the audience in a long-form piece. The risk of losing an audience is quite large and they get larger the longer a piece gets so one must learn

PHOTO FROM WATERSTREETBOOKS.COM

the skill of how to attract people’s attention. He highlights how one should try to “keep your audience invested in your narrative that’s so compelling and so engrossing that they’ll miss their shuttle bus,

they’ll miss their favorite netflix show, they’ll miss a class just because they’re so immersed in this story they they don’t want to leave it until they find out what happens.”

New course centers Indigenous and native women, genders and sexualities By Emma Lichtenstein editor

New this semester there is a course centering a perspective not often discussed at Brandeis. Professor Evangelina Macias is teaching WGS 107A: Introduction to Indigenous and Native Women, Gender and Sexualities. The course “covers a broad range of studies or perspectives, because we’ve got Native American and Indigneous. Even though they can be considered interchangeable, there are specificities within Native American and Indigneous studies,” says Macias. The course will look at women, genders and sexualities, with a specific focus on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Two Spirit and Trans (MMIWG2ST)

people. Enrolled students will look into this crisis, including the causes, impacts and the reasons why these specific groups of native and Indigenous people are being targeted. The Brandeis Sexual Feminist Ethics Project addresses this crisis, saying, “Native American women suffer the highest incidence of sexual and other violence and face specific legal hurdles. More research and advocacy are needed to reverse this trend.” Macias says her course is almost a response to that description, acknowledging that the class speaks to the research and advocacy that is needed. She says it is very important to acknowledge this crisis, as well as both the history and future of Native American and Indigenous people, as we are living in a colonized area. “As long as we’re on Indigenous land, we have a re-

PHOTO FROM LINKEDIN.COM

PHOTO FROM THENOUNPROJECT.COM

PHOTO FROM FREESVG.ORG

sponsibility to know the history and current issues and experiences of Indigenous people,” she said. “I think that’s the first step to making a commitment to support Native and Indigenous people.” That commitment involves both doing research and listening to native and Indigenous people. She notes that understanding native and Indigenous history is important, but that it is not the end of the story. Though there is a broad range of histories, there continues to be a broad range of presents and there will be a broad range of futures. “Centering Indigenous voices is imperative and shows that we’re

still existing; we’re not just existing in relation to colonialism. We have futures, we have artists, we have thinkers who transcend this connection to colonialism.” Macias will emphasize modern issues and discussions of native and Indigenous people in her course. WGS 107A includes readings, videos and guest lectures as course material. Macias says she is most excited about the guest lecturers. “I am also excited to facilitate a space where we’re listening to Indigenous voices—especially when we’re talking about women, genders and sexualities, there’s just such an exciting range of knowl-

edge, perspective, and voices.” These lecturers will help provide a modern perspective, further proving the relevance of this course and of Indigenous issues. Macias hopes students who take the course will walk away with “more than just an awareness.” Her goal is for students to have “a desire to continue to learn more, to keep listening to Native and Indigneous voices and a commitment to support Native and Indigenous people.” The course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.. It is listed as a “special one-time course offering” so don’t miss your chance to take it!


EDITORIALS

September 3, 2021

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe.”

Editors-in-Chief John Fornagiel Emma Lichtenstein Sasha Skarboviychuk Copy Editor Madeline Rousell News Editor Victoria Morrongiello Deputy News Editor Roshni Ray Arts Editors Stewart Huang Caroline O Opinions Editor Thomas Pickering Deputy Opinions Editors Mia Plante Features Editor Shruthi Manjunath Sports Editor Justin Leung Layout Editor Anya Lance-Chacko Editors-at-Large Abdel Achibat Tim Dillon Grace Zhou

Volume 19 • Issue 2 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma

FOUNDED BY Leslie Pazan, Igor Pedan and Daniel Silverman

STAFF

Jonathan Ayash, Lucy Fay, Sam Finbury, Zach Katz, Josh Lannon, Kristianna Lapierre, Max Lerner, Rafi Levi, Francesca Marchese, David Shapiro, Matt Shapiro, Jahnavi Swamy, Luca Swinford, Alex Williams

MISSION As the weekly community student newspaper of Brandeis University, The Brandeis Hoot aims to provide our readers with a reliable, accurate and unbiased source of news and information. Produced entirely by students, The Hoot serves a readership of 6,000 with in-depth news, relevant commentary, sports and coverage of cultural events. Recognizing that better journalism leads to better policy, The Brandeis Hoot is dedicated to the principles of investigative reporting and news analysis. Our mission is to give every community member a voice.

SUBMISSION POLICIES The Brandeis Hoot welcomes letters to the editor on subjects that are of interest to the community. Preference is given to current or former community members and The Hoot reserves the right to edit or reject submissions. The deadline for submitting letters is Wednesday at noon. Please submit letters to letters@thebrandeishoot.com along with your contact information. Letters should not exceed 500 words. The opinions, columns, cartoons and advertisements printed in The Hoot do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board.

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GIVE A HOOT, JOIN THE HOOT! Writers, editors, photographers and graphic artists wanted to join The Brandeis Hoot, your weekly community newspaper. To learn more, send us an e-mail at join@thebrandeishoot.com, or visit our website http://brandeishoot.com/join.

UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS We welcome unsolicited submissions from members of the community sent by e-mail to eic@thebrandeishoot.com. Please limit submissions to 800 words. All submissions are subject to editing.

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The Brandeis Hoot 9

Why doesn’t Workday work?

n April 20, the Brandeis administration switched from Sage to Workday in regards to academic records and personal information—smack in the middle of a coronavirus semester. Our editors, along with other students, have experienced stress as a result of the transfer, with issues ranging from incorrect information to an non-intuitive user interface. A large frustration with Workday comes from the incorrect transfer of credits over from Sage. We are confused to see credits that we know we have completed suddenly registering as “not satisfied” on Workday—especially when they are properly marked on Sage. It is additionally a burden for our older editors, as they are worried about their graduation requirements. Moreover, there are some credits that have not been transferred over that are prerequisites for other classes, and we are not able to sign up for the classes that we want as a result. While we are told to not worry about the untransferred credits, we still have to jump through hoops

with our academic advisors and the registrar trying to get this figured out and signing us up for the correct classes. There are also some issues that we have with Workday’s functionalities. For example, in Sage, there was only a single page where you are able to add, drop and swap classes. However, in Workday this is not the case. Instead, there are two separate pages for this, which took some of our editors more time than they would like to figure out. Moreover, when you are unable to add a class, the website does not directly tell you what is wrong: instead, an error message appears that you have to hover over to figure out what you must change. These sorts of inefficiencies in Workday are also what added to a lot of the stress during class sign-ups. It is also difficult to understand why the administration chose now as a good time to transfer to Workday. This is a time where class schedules have drastically changed, core requirements are changing for the majority of undergraduate students and we also have to try and get used to living on cam-

pus with evolving COVID-19 policies. To us, this did not feel like the right time to transfer the entire academic system and have us get used to this in addition to everything else. Sage might not have been perfect, but it is certainly better than Workday for now. There, our credits are correct, creating class schedules is simple and the overall interface is significantly simpler to use. Now that we are stuck with Workday, we hope that the administration can figure out a way to make this experience less taxing for all, especially as we are all trying to adjust to a new campus life. While we all appreciate the transfer from the ancient-looking functionalities of Sage to something that looks relatively modern like Workday, this was not the time to force all students to move to the new system. Generally, we also think that it would have been beneficial to test the website out prior to the system transfer and fix as many issues as possible, especially in regards to the correct transfer of credits.


10 The Brandeis Hoot

CROSSWORD

September 3, 2021

Summer by Chris Martin Across 1. Necessary for truffle-hunting 5. 5-year joint degree program 9. Relating to birth 14. Out of control 15. Proto-guitar 16. Rock of the Outback 17. American stereotype 20. Sound of man’s best friend 21. “Star Trek” captain’s journal 22. Ground-type move from Pokémon 23. The ultimate canceller 24. Part of a triathalon 25. What Adelaide’s friends call her 26. Statement of being from the mouth of a Spaniard 28. Rita, Irene, and Sandy, for ex. 34. To burn upon; Shakespearian 35. Familiar place for ’08 Oscar-winner’s protagonist

36. Regrets; archaic 38. Something only a liquid can do 41. Term of affectionate address 42. “Now that’s a right proper sham, ___?” 44. Access obstructed 46. Darkened Beantown’s harbor 50. Jacob’s brother 51. British politicians 52. Currently possesses 54. Contains both yin and yang 57. Roleplaying game stat 58. A kind of necklace 59. Futuristic anti-electronics device 60. ’96 Summer blockbuster 64. Follows diciembre 65. ___ dixit 66. Japanese PM and ’74 Nobel Prize winner 67. Prepare again 68. Theon Greyjoy’s ailment

69. French city Down 1. Mayan Leader 2. Name for an Ottoman “soup kitchen” 3. Familiar territory for PGAers 4. Long-bladed piece of seasonal footgear 5. Inflicts a messy injury 6. Precise 7. Topographical abbreviation 8. Female American marathoner 9. Jokic’s team 10. Self-proclaimed “Greatest!” 11. In boardgames, your time to act 12. Married to Janis 13. Darker than desire 18. Follows both “ear” and “door” 19. Vapors you can “put on” 27. Alloy used to join metals 29. Presence at a particular place 30. Something an unexpected problem might have done

31. See 36 across, in past tense 32. McGregor’s sport 33. Formerly Belarus and Ukraine 36. Tease gently 37. Game of colorful reverses 39. ___ transition 40. Occurred in the past 43. A pejorative for idiot 45. Solution for the sight-impaired 47. Comic book character created by Lincoln Peirce 48. Sometimes confused with radish 49. Japanese historical period 53. Activity of jealous exes 54. A way by which to rank 55. Amsterdam adolescent of literary fame 56. A form of poetry (pl.) 61. Before, in time 62. Common abbreviation in govt. 63. Non-native speakers


September 3, 2021

OPINIONS The great Brandeisian facade

By Thomas Pickering editor

Despite the hard-earned academic acclaim Brandeis receives as an institution it has continuously sat at #48 on the list of the ugliest college campuses in America. As described by the college reviewers from COMPLEX magazine, despite Brandeis hiring one of the most renowned modern architects of the 21st century, Eero Saarinen, his skill was not enough to pull the campus together and make it beautiful. COMPLEX even wrote, “…Brandeis mixed these Modernist buildings with bland, brick structures and a castle to come up with their current campus. This jumble of styles and aesthetics leaves the school looking disheveled and incoherent.” If only those writers were able to see the inside of those buildings and what complicated, dated and in some cases unsafe methods they take to foster student life on campus; it is safe to say that their conclusion of the university may be more scathing than just “disheveled and incoherent.” I offer this critique of the university and its infrastructure not as an angry message from a student who hates it here; instead, I offer this as a call to action to the administration to change the physical spaces we find ourselves in. It is also important that I begin this column by acknowledging the work the university is doing at the moment and the specific members of the staff who deserve credit for the work they do in the spaces we have currently. The university has created its “Framework for the Future” plan, which seeks to rejuvenate campus life by investing up to $1 billion from fundraising into the physical infrastructure. This plan shows that Brandeis is aware of the slow decay of its buildings and is committed to updating its infrastructure. Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused much disruption with fundraising, both for this framework, which was supposed to begin in fall 2020, and in general for the university. As the framework’s schedule is revised due to the implications of the pandemic, the facilities team has been on their A-game to maintain what they can. The facilities staff are easily the most important workers on campus when it comes to maintaining and keeping campus clean. Their efforts do not go unnoticed, as their swift and timely work to fix whatever hazards arise on campus is heroic. As mentioned before, I bring these points up for two reasons: first to commend the university for the

work they have done so far and acknowledge that they are not blind to the issues on campus, and secondly, to show that I am not making this criticism out of pure contempt that nothing good is happening on campus. I understand that the administration is aware of the issues regarding our infrastructure on campus; my goal is to show that the situation is far more dire than they are planning for. This issue is important to me because, at least in the way I see it, this institution can only be carried on as far as its infrastructure will take it. Not everyone can stomach the lamentable living conditions in return for the quality of education. As an individual who believes in this university and the education it provides, so much so that I work in the Admissions office to help prospective students find themselves here, I believe the university can and must do more to appeal to incoming students and improve life for those of us here right now. Getting to the meat of this article, I would like to begin this column by examining the quad most sophomores and some firstyears will find themselves living in. East is a prime example of the harsh reality that Brandeis does not completely offer safe and upto-date housing but instead offers affordable, unattractive and dangerous living spaces. Combined, the two buildings in East boast a large number of beds: 338 (as published by DCL on the live availability chart from the Spring 2021 selection process). The high volume of student traffic in that dorm creates two issues: student accessibility to facilities and fire hazards. With minimal bathrooms and laundry rooms for that many students it can difficult for residents to properly find available lavatories, washers, dryers and sinks with which to maintain good hygiene: a clear issue in a pandemic as cleanliness and hygiene are key ways to stop the spread of any virus or cold. East forces students to share utilities on an almost rationed basis where finding an open bathroom or washer for your clothes can become a frustrating experience as none are generally free. But on a far more serious and even deadly note, East is a fire hazard. It is a six-story building with no fire escapes on the outside, and the mess of hallways and corridors is easily confusing to any new resident looking to exit the building in a timely manner. Now, although I understand that in its grandfathered nature it does not legally need to change, when comparing it to current standards the disparities will be illuminating. The revised building code of

Massachusetts was published in 2016 and chapter 10 section 1011 sets the standard for hallways. As written there, “1011.3 Width: The minimum required width of passageways, aisle accessways, aisles and corridors shall be determined by the most restrictive of the following criteria: 1.44 inches (1118 mm) where serving an occupant load of greater than 50. 2.36 inches (914 mm) where serving an occupant load of 50 or less. 3.96 inches (2438 mm) in an occupancy in Use Group I-2 used for the movement of beds. 4.72 inches (1829 mm) in an occupancy in Use Group E with more than 100 occupants.” Considering East hosts 338 students between its two buildings, it would need hallways which are at least 72 inches in width to properly serve its residents; simple eyesight can deduce they are not at that width currently. With the number of students residing in that space, if there were to be a fire in the middle of the night, the hallways and stairwells would be too narrow for timely exits. That is only made increasingly dangerous by the fact that sixth floor residents have no external exit from their floors. They would have to traverse the narrow hallways and long stairwells down six floors and allow other students to join them on the way out which is by no means the safest, fastest or most effective way for those students to make it

to safety. As mentioned previously, the administration is keenly aware of the risks, dangers and general dissatisfaction that come from East. In my own opinion, it is far more concerning that they are aware of the present issues. The administration in their Framework proposals had an assessor view East who told them that the quad needed to come down; the university then considered the rebuilding of East as a long-term project. I understand that the challenge when it comes to rebuilding one of the largest living spaces on campus is like untying the Gordian knot, but when the Castle was deemed a living hazard, students were moved out and Skyline was built. East must follow that precedent because by today’s standards it is a truly dangerous place for students to live, and to know that the university is not yet making headway on changing that is a problem. Now, as much as people want to look forward and away from the pandemic, I think a solution to this infrastructural issue exists in the policies Brandeis and other universities put in place during the 2020-2021 academic year. To rebuild East, Brandeis should rent the rooms in local hotels to house students who would otherwise be living in East. The Branvan under Joseph’s Transportation can be extended to those hotels to offer a

The Brandeis Hoot 11

shuttle service and students could be offered free parking passes for the year if they choose to live in the hotel and commute to campus. This solution does not cover every contingency but it serves as an idea to get the ball rolling on student input on the status of campus infrastructure. East is an easy target, hence why it will be the first of this column. East is a physical stain on the image of campus and how students see it, and it is also a stain in the memories of students who have had to live there. Brandeis has an interest in updating infrastructure; it attracts more students and improves the lives of current students. Both of those factors increase the university’s budget as students will be more likely to pay to come here for the good spaces and alumni will donate due to their pleasant memories. The return on investment from infrastructure upgrades are immense, though they may be delayed. The university may not see that money for some time but the investments made now will shape the future and prosperity of this institution. If the current infrastructure remains as it is, the next review of Brandeis’ campus could end with words far more harsh than “disheveled and incoherent”; they could end with “dangerous and deplorable.”

PHOTO FROM BRANDEIS.EDU


12 OPINIONS

The Brandeis Hoot

September 3, 2021

Thoughts on the American “justice” system By Mia Plante editor

It is common knowledge that the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Approximately two million people are incarcerated in the U.S., and yet most Americans ignore the simple fact that our prison system is continuously failing us and those it is meant to rehabilitate and reform. The U.S. justice system in general is a joke. As seen through police corruption and racism that was highlighted by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and earlier Trayvonn Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and unfortunately many, many more, justice is not always the focus of those who promise to protect and serve. Justice isn’t always the focus of those who try and sentence accused criminals, and justice is rarely the focus of the politicians who nominate said racially and politically biased judges to state courts. This isn’t a surprise or a change from the original goals of the “justice” system though. In the American South in particular, the prison system and policing were largely created to enforce white supremacy and prolong a form of slavery. Racism and classism still linger in every aspect of American life, and the “justice” system is a startling example of the prolonged injustices that exist in the nation. Prison populations are overwhelmingly disproportionate when it comes to race classification. White populations are underrepresented within the prison system, while Black populations are extremely overrepresented, quite notably when it comes to extreme sentences. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 41.6 percent of people on death row or who have been on death row are Black, despite only 13.4 percent of the U.S. population being Black. 42.15 percent of people on death row or who have been on death row are white, while white people make up 55.8 percent of the U.S. population. This does not mean Black individuals commit more crimes, or commit more serious crimes than their white counterparts, but it means that sentences tend to be heavier for Black individuals due to structural bias within the judicial system. Additionally, it means that police officers tend to frequent Black neighborhoods due to their internal biases and racist assumptions, which leads to a higher arrest level despite similar crime levels across racial lines.

Next, part of what sparked my interest to write this article lies in wrongful convictions. The wrongful conviction rate is approximately 6 percent in general prison populations in the United States, according to a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology in 2018. At face value this does not seem like a lot, but 6 percent of the approximate two million people incarcerated is 120,000 people. Around 120,000 people in the United States are serving time for a crime they did not commit. Terrifyingly, some of these people are on death row. According to a February 2021 report by Witness to Innocence, “an organization of, by, and for death row exonerees,” 4.1 percent of people on death row are likely innocent due to exoneration statistics, and around 20 people have been killed on death row despite very strong evidence of innocence. One case that sticks out to me is the case of Walter McMillian, an Alabaman man unlawfully held on death row for over a year prior to his trial and who spent six years there after being wrongfully convicted until he was exonerated in 1993. McMillian, a well respected Black man, was convicted of murder despite having a solid alibi and piles of evidence proving his innocence. The system worked against him every step of the way. Racism ingrained in the justice system, particularly that of the American South, painted McMillian as a monster and used him as a scapegoat for the failure of the Monroeville, AL police department. Another troubling example of wrongful conviction is that of Larry Griffin. Mr. Griffin was convicted of murder in 1981 and executed in 1995. Throughout his years in prison, Griffin maintained his innocence. Years after his execution, an NAACP investigation determined that significant evidence pointed to his innocence. Wallace Conners, a survivor of the shooting that Griffin was convicted of, was never contacted prior to the trial to tell his version of events. Conners claims that Larry Griffin was “definitely” not in the car that drove by and killed Quinton Moss, according to an article by NBC News. Additionally, a police officer who was first to arrive on the scene of the crime has given an account that undermines key witness testimony, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. These cases are unfortunately not a surprise due to the lack of passion for true justice that can be seen in the American

PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

judicial system. Individual police officers likely have different perspectives on what justice means to them, but structural bias and racism has gotten in the way of what law enforcement is actually meant to do. Even during the exoneration process when there is significant evidence pointing to innocence, officers such as Sheriff Tate, who arrested Walter McMillian, claim that their investigations were legitimate. Exoneration for Black defendants takes an average of 4.3 years longer than exoneration for white defendants, even when those who arrested the innocent “withheld … evidence, generated false … evidence, and subjected [the accused] to gross racial insults and relentless intimidation,” such as Sheriff Tate did to McMillian. Attempting to exonerate innocent prisoners takes far too long when the racist status quo is upheld in every aspect of the exoneration process, from district attorneys to lower court judges. Failures of the American judicial system do not only affect racial minorities, but children as well. These issues are also not limited to death sentences and false convictions. According to the Washington Post, around 15 percent of the U.S. prison population is in for life; that is about 300,000 people. On top of this, the United States is the only country that allows life without parole sentences to be imposed on people under 18. While 25 states have banned this sentencing, there are still 25 that allow such an extreme sentence to be burdened on juveniles. As expected, juveniles who are serving life without parole have

PHOTO FROM HUFFPOST.COM

had very hard childhoods. According to The Sentencing Project, 79 percent of these children have witnessed regular violence in their homes. 80 percent of girls reported physical abuse, 77 percent reported sexual abuse. Prison is no place for juveniles, due to its violent nature and the psychological challenges it imposes on its residents, but some youth are tried as adults and sent to adult facilities. Around 250,000 youth are tried or incarcerated as adults in the United States each year. Those who sentence these children as adults ignore the facts that youth in adult facilities are at very high risk of sexual abuse, and are 36 times more likely to commit suicide, according to the National Juvenile Justice Network. Some juveniles are put into solitary confinement for their own safety after being sexually assaulted or raped while in adult facilities—essentially being punished for being a victim. Indigent defendants are also at high risk of wrongful conviction and are often subjected to poor defense. There is a serious shortage of public defenders in the United States, particularly a shortage of passionate and adequate public defenders. Attorneys are often given more cases than they can properly handle, some defending 100 or more people at a time. They are quick to burn out, and severely underpaid for how much work they are expected to be doing. According to the New York Times, approximately 80 percent of criminal defendants are unable to afford a lawyer and are appointed a public defender. This shortage of proper attorneys for each defendant has made the right to counsel, as guaranteed to us by the 6th amendment of the Constitution, essentially impossible for those unable to afford counsel. Indigent defendants may be given an attorney, but one who is overworked and unable to give each of their clients the proper time needed to create a reasonably effective defense. Prisoners’ mental health also comes to mind when discussing all of the downfalls of the “justice” system. Poor individuals who suffer from mental health issues or mental disabilities are more likely to suffer at the hands of the law. Being unable to pay for treatments could cause people to break laws unknowingly and be imprisoned through no fault of their own, such as the case of Herbert Richardson, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from PTSD. Defense often fails to bring up mental health issues, causing accused mentally ill people to be

charged for crimes they committed while unwell. Additionally, mental health issues are likely to worsen in prison due to high levels of stress and the likelihood of inadequate care and medication. Some may believe the prison system and its violence, inadequate living conditions and poor mental health care acts as a deterrent from those committing crimes post-release, but this is exactly the opposite of the reality in the United States. We have among one of the highest recidivism rates in the world. A study conducted in 2005 and updated in 2018 by the U.S. Department of Justice noted that 44 percent of released prisoners were arrested at least once within one year of their release, and this number grows each year post-release. So why do we continue to put people behind bars? Why do we make people suffer rather than attempt to truly reform? The answer lies in the root of much of America’s problems—because it’s what we have always done. Changing this now may make citizens afraid of living among former prisoners, who are assumed to be violent and crazed. There is a stigma that has yet to be broken and likely won’t be in the near future. Prison in the United States is hell. It is one big problem that an article this short cannot begin to scratch the surface of. The American South has created a tradition of harsh sentences and upholding the death penalty as a new form of slavery. Prisoners—disproportionately people of color—have been put to work like slaves, being punished for the failures of the government and the justice system as a whole. The death penalty itself was first used as a type of legally acceptable lynching in the South. The Atlanta Black Star wrote in 2015 that the South shifted to capital punishment as a way to legally satisfy a “lust for revenge” rooted in the U.S.’ history of racism. There is much that needs to be done to reform such a system that has so little care for what its name entails. There is no justice when hundreds of thousands of people are wrongfully convicted. There is no justice when racism is what fuels the courts and pays private companies who own prisons in America with each new inmate behind bars. There is nothing just about our “justice” system. *Author recommended reading: Just Mercy (2014) by Bryan Stevenson


ARTS

September 3, 2021

The Brandeis Hoot 13

‘Beyond Evil’ is Beyond Perfection By Caroline O editor

Now that autumn is officially around the corner and everyone’s dying to break out the sweaters and jackets, it’s also the perfect season to enjoy the recently released small town murder show “Beyond Evil,” which is available on both Netflix and Viki (for free!). Complete with morally grey characters, a delicious detective-suspect relationship akin to shows like “Killing Eve” and “Hannibal,” as well as one of the most intriguing murder-mystery plots ever, this 16-episode Korean drama will be an easy favorite that people will want to rewatch over and over again. “Beyond Evil” centers itself around Lee Dong Sik (Shin Ha Kyun), a man who, 20 years ago, was accused of murdering multiple young women, including his missing twin sister. While Dong Sik was deemed innocent, he still carries the weight of this tragedy as he continues to search for his sister. His life is upturned by the arrival of Han Joo Won (Yeo Jin Goo), the hot new detective who’s trying to solve the mystery of these murders, his main suspect being Lee Dong Sik himself.

Things only get more complicated once the murders start again, and thus the game of cat and mouse begins between these two protagonists. One of the greatest strengths of this show—and there are many, many strengths—is probably the incredibly complex, well-acted protagonists. While the audience questions whether Lee Dong Sik might be the real culprit of all the past and current murders, they can’t help but feel drawn to his character. He appears kind in certain scenes but is deemed a nutjob by the town in others. One moment, he’s smiling and laughing mockingly at the temperamental Han Joo Won, and in the next, he’s showing genuine concern for the detective. Han Joo Won, on the other hand, is a character who comes off as snobbish and abrasive. But as the show unfolds, the audience realizes that at the end of the day, he’s more committed to justice than anything else. These two protagonists make a wonderful pair—Dong Sik and Joo Won are both fascinated and exasperated by each other, the two of them walking a knife’s edge between flirtation and accusation. Simply put, the chemistry between these two characters alone is worth the watch, and with awards-winning Shin Ha Kyun and Yeo Jin Goo as the leads, you really can’t go

wrong with their legendary (and yes, very homoerotic) interactions. Another notable feature of this show is simply the way this plotline is executed. When having a plot that involves female victims, it’s very easy to have unsettling amounts of murder porn. However, this is where director Shim Na Yeon and writer Kim Su Jin deviate from the norm. While this show revolves around two male protagonists and largely female victims, the shots are deliberately filmed to leave more to the imagination, rather than having explicit murder and violence done to women. All the murders are done off-screen, although not without some subtle yet creative details: for example, in some of the opening scenes, one hears the quiet gasping, dying breaths of a woman. In others, one hears the vague screech of a knife being sharpened. All of these details are quiet, yet they are just as effective in delivering the bone-chilling blow of any good murder mystery—but without the uncomfortable, often excessive brutality to women that viewers, particularly female viewers, have to sit through. Outside of all these things, however, the show’s ultimate strength, despite its grim-sounding plot, is that it’s a healing show. Without spoiling too much, this

PHOTO FROM VIKI.COM

show explores a great multitude of themes related to what actually makes a person a monster, as well as what one must do to catch said monsters. It’s often the case that at least in thriller and crime shows, those with cool heads and reserved emotions prevail—but one of the most important and refreshing parts of this show is that it demonstrates how while logic is important, emotions and vulnerability are equally important in obtaining justice. Our protagonists struggle together through this journey: they cry tears of frustration and grief, they see each other at their worst and best points,

they make mistakes and try again until they get things right. Emotion and vulnerability don’t weaken our attempts to make things better—it is instead a force for good, a force necessary to move forward and eventually heal from past traumas. So, if you’re in the mood for a bingeworthy show about a small town murder-mystery with off-the-charts chemistry and well-written male characters, then I encourage you to give “Beyond Evil” a watch this weekend. Like Han Joo Won and Lee Dong Sik themselves, this mystery will cling to you for a long, long time.

Butterscotch Blues: a short story By Cyrenity Augustin staff

Owen Swain had been working at this office for three weeks, and it had only taken him a day to realize that it was not going to be everything he thought it was. He had expected hands-on surgeries, a supportive mentor and getting one step closer to his dream of being a dentist himself. Instead he had gotten Dr. Martin and her lack of compassion. When he had first stepped into the office, he had walked up to her with a bright smile, excitement and nerves mingling within him as he introduced himself. She had regarded him with a strange look, nodded stiffly and pointed to a desk. “You’ll start there. I have an appointment in a few minutes, and I don’t have the time to finish organizing the notes from the previous patient. So pick that up for me, will you?” And with that she was gone. At that moment he had almost given up on the experience completely. But, as he sat down at the dentist’s desk, an older woman poked her head around the corner with a sweet smile. “Hello there, you must be Owen! I’m Mrs. Winshire, the receptionist. Let me know if I can help you with anything, alright?” He hadn’t realized it then, but this woman would be the reason that he came to enjoy coming to his internship every day. One day, as Owen stepped inside the building, moving past the patients in the waiting room, he caught sight of Mrs. Winshire’s desk, decorated with streamers, a vase of flowers and a card with those words on it. Just seeing them made Owen’s stomach twist. He had almost forgotten. Mrs. Winshire looked up from her computer screen, where she was engaged in checking in a mother while her child stuck

their hand into the bowl of candy she kept on the edge of her desk. Upon seeing him, her face lit up. “Owen, good morning!” “Good morning, Mrs. Winshire.” She quickly finished up with the patient, and as they walked away, she motioned him over, her excited demeanor making Owen smile despite himself. As he came up to her desk, she pulled out a smaller bowl of candies, setting it before him. Rather than contain a mix of colorful wrappers, this one was filled with strictly golden ones. Butterscotches. Owen sighed, putting on a scolding tone that far from matched the smile on his face. “You know, offering candy at a dentist’s office is probably counterproductive.” “Or it’s genius.” “Or it’s genius.” The woman laughed, and Owen’s smile turned bittersweet as he remembered that this would be the last day of butterscotch bowls and playful banter. Despite this, though, he meant it when he said, “Congrats on retirement, Mrs. Winshire.” Mrs. Winshire’s smile, which was before sharp with mischief, seemed to soften. Her eyes filled with concern, as if she could tell that deep down, it broke him to have to put his worst fear into reality. “Owen-” Just then, Dr. Martin stepped out into the receptionist area, her eyes scanning the room like an owl’s. When they landed on Owen, they narrowed, and she crossed her arms. “Last I checked, you were here to work, not to fraternize.” Owen took the opportunity to escape Mrs. Winshire’s confrontation, walking over to the dentist. “Sorry, Dr. Martin.” “Sorry doesn’t cut it.” She motioned to the back, where another impossibly high stack of papers

awaited him. “If you have time to chat, then I expect all of that to be organized before lunch. Get on it.” Owen headed to the back office as Dr. Martin disappeared into one of the exam rooms, fighting back a groan as he sat in front of all of the paperwork. This was going to be a long day. As lunch rolled around, he filed away the final sheet of paper and fell back in the chair with a sigh. That was half of the day already gone. Dr. Martin walking in shook him out of his thoughts, and he braced himself for the usual scolding. Probably something about sitting around when there was work to be done. However, to his surprise, she simply crossed her arms, eyes angled slightly downward as she said. “We’re going to do something for Mrs. Winshire after we close. I figured you’d want to know.” Before he could respond, she had disappeared again, leaving him alone with his thoughts. After that, the day seemed to pass by with incredible speed. He was forced to work through his lunch, a new wave of notes finding their way onto the desk, and then when he had finally received his break, the office had gained a sudden rush of patients. Their levity only came upon closing, locking the front door. And that was when the staff ’s night finally began. The office was quickly transformed from a professional establishment to party central, streamers hanging from the ceiling lights, balloons tied to chairs and the main attraction, a large sheet cake, set out on a table and flanked on either side by bowls of punch. Owen took a deep breath, and then put on a smile as he joined the rest of the staff as they cheered. “Congrats on your retirement!” The rest of the night was filled

with disco music and talking, and Mrs. Winshire was constantly surrounded by her colleagues, laughing along with them. Owen watched this all from a slight ways away, observing the way they interacted. Even Dr. Martin, who everyone knew as a no-nonsense woman, was mingling with the others with a soft smile. Mrs. Winshire really was the light of this office. As he looked away, he made eye contact with Mrs. Winshire, who was watching him with a slightly worried expression. It seemed that she hadn’t forgotten about this morning. It was only a few moments later that the two found themselves somewhat away from the group, punch cups in hand as they sat in silence. Mrs. Winshire was the first to break it, turning to look at Owen with an understanding smile. “You’re going to be just fine.” Owen took a sharp inhale of breath, as if he had been struck. There it was. Another moment of silence passed, before he spoke up, gripping the punch cup tightly. “You’re the only good thing about this place … I don’t know how I’m going to get through the rest of this internship without you.” Mrs. Winshire smiled sadly and put a hand on Owen’s shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. “I know that you’re going to do great things, Owen. Don’t let yourself believe otherwise.” Owen sighed, and gave a resigned nod, looking away. There was another moment of silence between the two, before Mrs. Winshire suddenly gasped, straightening up. “I almost forgot! I have something for you.” The elderly woman rushed out of the room, and a few moments later she returned with a small, wrapped box, holding it out to him.

He stared at it, surprised into silence for a few seconds, before shaking himself out of his stupor. “Oh, Mrs. Winshire, I don’t have anything for you ….” “Just take it. And don’t open it until after I leave for the day, understand?” Owen considered whether to accept the gift for another moment before taking it with a nod. “Thank you, Mrs. Winshire.” She gave him a sweet smile, and after giving his shoulder another squeeze, she stepped back into the common room, leaving Owen to ponder the unexpected gift cradled in his hands. Quicker than he would have liked, the party, and with it, Mrs. Winshire’s last day, reached its end. Owen had volunteered to stay late to help clean up the office, and so he was able to catch a last glance at his true mentor from this experience. Mrs. Winshire caught his eye, and gave him a smile with a mischievous look in her eyes before giving a final wave and a “goodbye” and stepping out into the night. The clean up was quick, luckily for Owen, and soon he found himself sitting in his car, staring at the box in his hand. He pried the top open, and was greeted with the bright sheen of butterscotch wrappers, filling the box up to the rim. On top of it sat a note that simply read: “Make sure that I’m your first patient, Dr. Owen.” Owen pulled out one of the candies, tears welling in his eyes as he laughed to himself. Mrs. Winshire had once been his only reason for staying. But now, as he unwrapped the wrapper and popped the candy into his mouth, he realized she was his reason to keep going, as well.


14 ARTS

The Brandeis Hoot

September 3, 2021

Halsey earns both love and power on new album By Emma Lichtenstein editor

Halsey continues to impress with her fourth album, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power,” a journey into the intense emotions and complexities that come with being a woman in American society. Halsey uses this album to explore essential emotional crosses that society asks women to bear: motherhood, men’s desires and unrelenting anger. Her sound is still unfailingly unique and yet clearly a darker shift from her earlier works, making for another stellar showcase of both her songwriting and singing abilities. The thesis of the album is the opening track, “The Tradition.” Halsey sings about a girl who is beautiful but miserable. The song opens with “the loneliest girl in town is bought for pennies a price. We dress her up in lovely gowns, she’s easy on the eyes.” The story continues, telling listeners about the loss of autonomy for the loneliest girl in town, an autonomy that may have never existed as this practice was “in the blood and this is the tradition.” The production on this track is slow and simple, letting the lyrics set the pace and keep listeners engaged—or rather, keep listeners enraged. I am rooting for the poor girl trapped in what she thought was her dream, but I know that this story likely doesn’t end happily ever after. Though “I’m Not A Woman, I’m A God” is far from heavenly, Halsey is clearly divine on

the track. Similar to most of the album, the song is intense, with almost overwhelming production as she works her way through the song. She is not a soft forgiving god of angels and light; she is a woman scorned while refusing to be a damsel in distress. The song is reminiscent of old Greek gods: powerful, angry and ready to stand up in defense of herself. She, similar to the girl in “The Tradition,” is trapped in her life of fame, a god among her fans. She loves it; she hates it; she can’t get out. Halsey uses a lot of religious imagery in the album, from Jesus references in “Bells of Sante Fe” to an entire track called “Lilith.” Here she breaks free from that traditional, biblical sense of angels and demons and defines herself as a new type of god: a fearless, misunderstood woman in a position of power. I love good uses of biblical imagery, especially when used to go against traditional ideals, and Halsey uses these metaphors flawlessly. Though there is a lot of anger, there are a few more positive numbers. My favorite track on the album is called “honey.” It’s upbeat and fast, a love song about goodbyes. The song starts fast and fun, “She was sweet like honey! But all I can taste is the blood in my mouth and the bitterness in goodbye.” There’s no regret in this song though; Halsey sings about the appreciation of a lover long gone. This track is almost happy, a true headbanger that I hope to be able to see live one day. “honey” has such smart lyrics, it almost

makes me want to make a 2015 style Tumblr post about it. I’m obsessed with the way Halsey uses repetition of sounds in this song, with my two favorite examples being “she’s on the tip of my tongue, she’s on the top of my thighs” and “she stings like she means it, she’s mean, and she’s mine” Interestingly, “honey” is written lowercase, the only track on the album to be formatted in this way. I’ve yet to come to a conclusion about this detail, but perhaps it is the only song that highlights women’s desires as something positive? Another light song is “Darling.” The production is delicate, almost acoustic, yet still incredibly beautiful. The track is a love letter and lullaby to her child, as Halsey embraced her pregnancy and the idea of motherhood while making this album. Halsey sings of her own troubled past, but she promises to make sure that her kid’s experience is better than her own. The opening verse starts with “really can’t remember where I left my spine,” but the track ends with promises to her (at the time) unborn child, saying “only you have shown me how to love being alive.” Between this and the closing track “Ya’aburnee,” also dedicated to her kid, it is clear that Halsey will love her baby endlessly and unconditionally. The song starts so sad, but ends so hopeful. I love the idea of ending a cycle of trauma, of dedicating yourself to making a better and brighter legacy. Halsey’s legacy will clearly be one of fantastic music. “If I

PHOTO FROM CONSEQUENCE.NET

Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” is mostly dark in a heavily-produced way, using Trent Reznor of rock band Nine-Inch Nails. The few lightly produced tracks fit in seamlessly, serving to tell the story of women as multidimensional human beings. Halsey is always

unapologetically feminist, but her songwriting is only improving with practice. She wants power and this album proves that she has it, in addition to my love.

The Better Suicide Squad and the Fantabulous Uselessness of Harley Quinn By Josh Lannon staff

“The Suicide Squad” is a follow up to 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” Director James Gunn’s take on this DC comics property greatly improves upon the many flaws of the original. The clearest improvement is that the movie is actually watchable, with a decently follow-able plot and plenty of crazy explosive action. While the movie is undeniably entertaining and a vast improvement upon it predecessor, 2021’s “The Suicide Squad” still suffers from one fatal flaw: flat female characters. For those unitiated in the lore of DC comics, the titular Suicide Squad is a team made up of supervillains contracted by the government to undertake suicide missions in exchange for a shorter sentence. Usually in the comics, the team was made up of lesser known super villains who were more or less expendable. This gave the comic the rare quality of having actual stakes. While many superheroes have died and returned to life, the Suicide Squad was a way for DC comics to kill off lesser known villains and have them stay that way. This gave the stories a sense of danger because you didn’t necessarily know which characters would be killed next. “The Suicide Squad” does continue the tradtion of killing off team members. The beginning of the film is told from the perspective of new member Savant, played by Michael Rooker. Most of his squad, including Savant

himself, is quickly and abruptly killed off in a gory and dark comedic fashion. The film then switches to the film’s real protagonists who make up a second Suicide Squad. This not only sends a message to the audience that any character can die at any moment, but also sets the tone for the film’s unique form of comedic carnage. The action and fights in the film are over-the-top and explosive both literally and figuratively. While a lot of it is gruesome and gory, it isn’t a nonstop bloodfest, and the film strikes a delicate balance between violence and comedy and throws in a bit of character development to boot. Idris Elba plays the supervillain Bloodsport, a mercenary akin to Will Smith’s Deadshot in the first movie. Both are hired mercenaries and weapons experts with estranged daughters, but Elba’s performance is enhanced by a much better script and an excellent supporting cast. In particular, Bloodsport’s dynamic with Peacemaker, played by John Cena, is a great comedic device. The ironically named Peacemaker, who will kill anyone to attain peace, has a similar skill set and backstory to Bloodsport, yet both characters seem to absolutely loathe each other. Their rivalry results in several entertaining and violent sequences where they try to oneup each other by seeing who can kill people in the most over-thetop and flamboyant manner. Elba and Cena are not the only funny cast members; Sylvester Stallone does a convincing vocal performance as the lovable maneater King Shark and David Dastmal-

chian plays the depressed D-list villain with mother issues, Polka Dot Man. I know what you’re thinking, yes, he does shoot polka dots at people. The heart of this iteration of the Suicide Squad is Rat Catcher II, played by Daniela Melchior. Rat Catcher II and her adorable rat sidekick Sebastian bring some much needed emotion to the film. Rat Catcher II took over the title and rat controlling technology from her father, the first Rat Catcher, played by Taika Waititi, after he died due to his drug use. Her love for her flawed yet loving father makes Bloodsport reevaluate his own relationship with his daughter. Rat Catcher II inspires Bloodsport to be less of a cold-hearted mercenary and act more like a hero, or at least an anti-hero. Despite the amazing cast and action, the film’s most glaring flaw lies in its supposed greatest strength: Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie reprises her role as Harley Quinn in this film. While her performance is fine—and her costume is thankfully much more acceptable and comic book accurate than her previous outfits—Harley really doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie. That’s not to say her moments in the film are not entertaining, as Harley has some of the most creative and visually stunning scenes in the movie. The problem is she really doesn’t feel connected to the rest of the film; you could honestly cut her out of most of the film without any real effect on the plot. In fact, there is a scene where Rick Flag, played by Joel Kinnamen, actually states

that they can’t complete the mission until they go rescue Harley. This is an in-movie admission that the plot needs to stop to go rescue Harley Quinn, who is happily off in what seems to be her own separate movie. Ultimately “The Suicide Squad” achieves what it sets out to do: it’s bloody, it’s gory and it’s funny. And while it is way better than its predecessor, it still falls short of what it could have been thanks

ironically to one of its major selling points. No one can deny the popularity of Harley Quinn, and her scenes in the film are great, but she still feels like she is in a separate movie or is just tagged on to this one. What could have been an amazing Suicide Squad moive ended being just a good Suicide Squad movie with a Harley Quinn short film stuffed inside.

PHOTO FROM THEDAILYBEAST.COM


September 3, 2021

ARTS 15

The Brandeis Hoot

‘The White Lotus,’ a painful reality in paradise By Lucy Fay staff

Snobbery, ignorance, petty feuds and a relative lack of likable characters: HBO’s “The White Lotus” is unpleasant and frustrating to watch, and yet it leaves viewers engaged and wanting more after six-hour-long episodes. “The White Lotus” follows a group of guests and employees at a high-end beach resort in Hawaii called the White Lotus. The show begins with a short teaser making it clear to the audience that in a week’s time, a murder will occur. The involved parties and the circumstances behind the death remain unclear until the show’s conclusion. The rest of the show is a linear chain of events spanning familial squabbles, gross displays of classism, spousal abuse, wacky hijinks and so much more. A murder mystery, if done remotely well, is built-in tension.

“The White Lotus” establishes its murder plotline very well. Despite the murderer and victim meeting quite early on in the show, this feud did not seem to lead up to any violence until the moment a central character was bleeding out. A major factor in the show’s constant tension and uncertainty surrounding the murder is its consistency in pettiness. No argument or drama seems more valid than the rest, and by the climax, most characters seem completely capable of severely overreacting. The viewer is bound to come up with a dozen rationalities throughout the show for why every character could possibly be involved, everyone being suspect until the bitter end. One of the show’s most memorable aspects is its score. Traditional Hawaiian music is composed in such a way that it sets an atmosphere with oftentimes minimal dialogical support. Scenes of complete tension and serenity

alike are both set and punctuated by beautifully chilling instrumentals that communicate emotion in ways a character’s actions could not. The music, in addition to being an effective striking score, serves “The White Lotus” in symbolic ways as well. This show deals heavily with concepts of classism and identity, so the usage of instrumentals based heavily in Hawaiian tradition in order to elevate primarily the stories of wealthy White people from the coastal United States expresses a deeper history of the misuse of native Hawaiian heritage. This show would be truly unwatchable without its fascinating characters and the incredible actors bringing them to life. While the captivating quality of the characters stems heavily from the script, the acting demonstrated in “The White Lotus’’ forces the audience to constantly live in the world presented to them. Despite following 10 complex individuals,

every character has completed a fleshed-out personal arc by the end of the show. Few characters have many appealing qualities and almost everyone commits immoral acts, yet they are all compelling and their experiences feel significant. With the exception of Shane, a guest on honeymoon who may just be the most unlikeable character on television, the audience cares or at least is morbidly curious as to what everyone’s fate will hold. These characters, who are established with such haste, manage to avoid relying too heavily on stereotypes or their relationships to others. While most characters’ stories intermingle, they all remain individuals. The characters are dramatized but manage to keep their humanity. No one is effortlessly charismatic, everyone is a little awkward; No evil character is thoughtlessly evil, with the exception of Shane who is truly the worst. “The White Lotus” is difficult to

suggest as a general recommendation because some people do not enjoy such cynical dramas. There are few characters to root for and the likelihood of those few amiable characters ending the show on a high note is slim. That is what makes this show ultimately so important and notable it never breaks from the painful reality it takes place in, and its reality is that those with privilege rarely atone for or suffer from their actions. When the wealthy guests’ stay at the White Lotus is done, they can return home to their money and privilege. The resort employees have to stay where they are. The White Lotus is their unavoidable daily reality that strangers with money can dismantle as they please. This show effortlessly captures such important aspects of the world today succinctly and without sacrificing plot or entertainment, but that does not mean it’s always very fun to watch.

PHOTO FROM HAWAIIPUBLICRADIO.ORG

Ashley Young ‘22 welcomes the class of 2025 with ‘Thriving Together’ By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

Commissioned by Academic Services, Senior Ashley Young ’22 created the mural “Thriving Together,” which is currently on display in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC). The mural is a welcome to the class of 2025, as well as a nod to the 2021 New Student Forum book “Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea & the Deep Origins of Consciousness” written by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Every year students are sent a book that will be then discussed with the author as a part of their orientation. “I wanted to have an opportunity to paint something large and paint something for the university,” Young told The Brandeis Hoot in a Zoom interview, “I am very excited that it gets to be out in public and that a lot of people get to see it.” The idea for the mural came from both “Other Minds” and the Critical Conversation series happening at Brandeis in October, which have the focus of community. “Other Minds” discusses consciousness and philosophy, as well as octopuses. When deciding on what to propose for the mural, Young said she was looking for something that tied these two topics togeth-

er. While doing her research, she discovered “Octopolis is a grove off the coast of Australia where octopuses come together and live together as a community … which is weird, because usually they are individual creatures and only come together to mate.” This then became the inspiration behind the mural, Young explained. Young was inspired by the fact that Godfrey-Smith, in “Other Minds,” theorizes that if there was a larger group of octopuses that live together in a community, it could cause an evolution of social behavior. Young thought that this theory was very symbolic of the first years coming to Brandeis, whose main commonality is the fact that they are here; she wanted to show that evolution comes out of community. But when it came to the mural itself, Young said that she “struggled with imagery connecting the community to octopuses because they don’t live together.” In the end, she decided to lean for the more naturalistic view of this. Young described the actual process of making the mural as “all hands on deck for about three weeks,” as she spent over 30 hours making it. Young told The Hoot that she “just really wanted to contribute what I [Young] could” to the first year class, especially as an artist who is so embroiled in

the arts department at Brandeis. Following its display in the

SCC, the mural is going down to Goldman-Shwartz and afterwards

hopefully continuing its journey around Brandeis.

PHOTO FROM EMMA LICHTENSTEIN/THE BRANDEIS HOOT


16 ARTS

The Brandeis Hoot

September 3. 2021

A tribute to Chaos Rings, the great mobile series that died too young By Stewart Huang editor

They don’t make mobile games like they used to anymore. The predatory “free-to-play,” “gacha” genre is far too profitable for most developers to deviate from. And no, mobile ports of classic games can hardly be considered real mobile titles. It’s depressing that almost all the good mobile games—ones that were specifically designed with the mobile platform in mind and weren’t cash grabs—came from the platform’s infancy: the early 2010s. Many of these titles are still available for download, except a few that met their untimely demise. The most notable among these is the “Chaos Rings” series. This was a turn-based, Japanese RPG series published by Square Enix, the developer most known for the “Final Fantasy” franchise (my FF14 review is on the horizon), so you knew these were damn good games. Indeed, they were SE’s last great attempt at making quality mobile titles. The production value was astounding even by today’s standards: plenty of memorable soundtracks, voiced dialogue, stylized pixelated graphics, beautiful character illustrations, innovative gameplay, hours of replayability and a gripping storyline above all. The game sold for $15 to reflect that, which was and still is pretty steep for a mobile game, but it was well

worth every penny. There were no microtransactions. In the original “Chaos Rings,” you played as Escher and Musiea, seemingly a pair of strangers who find themselves mysteriously transported to the “Ark Arena.” There, an ominous humanoid construct simply known as “the Agent” pits them against four other couples in lethal tournaments for the ultimate prize of immortality. Why were these people chosen? What is the Ark Arena? Who is behind the Agent? What is the purpose of holding the tournament? Why is the prize immortality? The premise was so interesting with these looming questions hinting at a much larger picture that I was immediately sucked into the game, and the incredible revelations and twists discovered along the way kept me playing for hours on a tiny screen. After finishing Escher and Musiea’s story, you had the option to replay the game with the other pairs of characters to experience alternate timelines and dig even deeper into the lore. No other mobile title had this much depth when it came to the narrative experience, even to this day. There were also no other games that played like them. Sure, the basic gameplay loop revolved around roaming different maps, encountering enemies at random and progressing through the story as you explored, much like how old-school JRPG’s were played. But contrary to those

games where there were usually four or more characters making their moves one by one, the “Chaos Ring” games allowed you to control only two characters (such as Escher and Musiea) at a time. They could make the same moves together, which meant their attacks were more powerful, but they also became more vulnerable to damage. It was a fun trade-off that added strategy, and it made the turn-based combat feel much faster and more action-packed than other games in the genre. It was bloody brilliant. Having only two characters to control also meant that there were no class systems—no dedicated tank, damage dealer or healer. Although their individual stats nudged you to use them in certain ways, you ultimately decided what role they played based on the situation or the skills—called “genes”—they were equipped with. You acquired genes not by leveling up, but by encountering and slaying different types of enemies, so that you could actually use boss moves if you managed to beat them. Now, you might say that a static two-person party seemed nevertheless limited. I would agree, but I think this was actually an advantage rather than a flaw. It was clear that the game was designed specifically with the mobile platform in mind. When people play mobile games, they are not looking for tons of mechanics that will have them study the game wiki for an extended period of time

and waste their time. They just want engaging, snappy gameplay with incentives to keep playing, and that is exactly what the “Chaos Rings” games offered: a simple, satisfying combat system with a really good plot that kept you hooked. Quality of life features that reflected this mobile-oriented design philosophy included a manual save button (it’s surprising how rare it is in games these days) which was perfect for short sessions, a toggle for enabling/ disabling random encounters to allow for more efficient backtracking and auto healing to full after each combat encounter so you could focus on exploring the map without fumbling through your inventory for heals every so often. The games were by no means easy though. They were just difficult enough, with many bosses taking me quite a few tries

before I figured them out, to be challenging but never frustrating. It’s too bad that you’ll never be able to play these games now, as they were removed by Square Enix from the App Store and the Google Play Store in 2016 for reasons unknown. The latest installment, “Chaos Rings III,” is still available, but it is such a huge departure from the earlier titles that I don’t recommend it. It also came out in 2015, so it seems that the series is basically dead. The only official way to access the previous games is if you bought them before and have a device old enough to run them. I hope that one day we might get a re-release or a remaster of the series, for they were a shining beacon of what mobile gaming should have been. Rest in peace, Chaos Rings. You were too good for this cruel world.

PHOTO FROM POCKETGAMER.COM

‘He’s All That:’ another remake we did not need By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

In case you were not aware, this seems to be the time of remakes. From “Gossip Girl” to “Space Jam,” it appears as though the film industry has no creativity for something new. Following the trend is “He’s All That,” a modern spin on the classic “She’s All That.” Unfortunately, the movie also follows the trend of all of these remakes being complete trash. We just can’t get the same movies as we got in the 2000s. “He’s All That” reverses the roles of the classic. After a bet with her friend, Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae), a “self-improvement” influencer, is on a mission to transform Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), a social out-

cast photographer. The bet was to settle the all-important questions of who is the true “it girl,” Padgett or her backstabbing friend Alden (Madison Pettis), and of course, who would be prom queen (are we really all still so shallow 20 years later?). Overall, the movie was alright at best, maybe a four out of 10. It would probably be better if I was not watching it sober. I am unfamiliar with TikTok or Rae, but if I was to imagine what a TikTok movie would look like this would be it. Cheesy dialogue along with the cheesy plot just made it cringey. Maybe I have grown out of teen movies, but it was a disaster to watch. Most of the lines felt so forced and unnatural; I’ve seen high school plays with better acting. And what kind of a name is Padgett anyway?

The events in the movie play out way too fast. I’m pretty sure only 15 minutes passed between the moment Padgett and Cameron met and Cameron sharing his deepest darkest secrets with her. I understand that they don’t have three hours for the movie but come on. For a social outcast, Cameron started trusting Padgett way too quickly. He doesn’t show the photos he takes to anyone, but 17 minutes after meeting Padgett he’s showing them to her? I don’t buy it: it was as forced as the rest of this movie. And of course in the end, when Cameron is hurt, Padgett gives a long public speech about being real and true to yourself. All of this really reminds me of why I love “Not Another Teen Movie” so much (for those unfamiliar, it is a satire of typical teen movie tropes).

The cast was definitely quite the selection. I question the decision to use Rae, a TikTok star, in such a movie, though the larger problem was that she never gave me “it girl” vibes. I also did not find her believable most of the time, especially in the emotional scenes: it all felt so forced. Peyton Meyer played the role of Jordan Van Draanen, Padgett’s ex-boyfriend who cheated on her and then started dating Alden. Now I know Meyer from “Girl Meets World” and I could not see him as anything else; seeing him play a douche was just weird. I am also still not sure if the audience was supposed to actually perceive him as cool and attractive or as a self-centered ass. Oh and Kourtney Kardashian makes a few appearances in the movie; there seems to be an actor shortage in the industry.

‘Campus Life’ comic

The best part of the movie was definitely the principal (Matthew Lillard). I loved the running joke of “But it’s the committee’s decision, and I support them,” regardless of how unreasonable the decision is. His dancing at the end of the movie was legendary. Perhaps it is the fact that I love Lillard, but he really made the movie better, along with Padgett’s mom (Rachael Leigh Cook), who played the main role in “She’s All That.” They seemed to be the only ones that had the right spirit for the movie. Overall, a remake of “She’s All That” has a place in this world: it truly does have a timeless theme. However this was not the execution this classic film deserved; like almost all modern takes, this one failed miserably.


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