The Brandeis Hoot, Best of

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Volume 18 Issue 2

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe”

Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper · Waltham, Mass.

August 2020 - March 2021

Univ. releases anti-racism draft plan

Panel on Uyghurs Zoombombed By Victoria Morrongiello, Celia Young, Teresa Shi and Emma Lichtenstein

By Victoria Morrongiello, Sabrina Chow and Celia Young

editors and special to the hoot

editors and special to the hoot

A panel discussing the Uyghur people—a Muslim-Turkish ethnic population living mainly in the Xinjiang region of western China—was disrupted by Zoom users who wrote “FAKE NEWS” and “Bullshit” on a presenter’s slides and played China’s national anthem, according to students who attended. Attendees and presenters alike were displeased with the results of the panel, according to interviews with The Brandeis Hoot. The panel, held on Friday, Nov. 13, focused on Uyghur Muslims living in Xinjiang, China. The

The university’s draft plan to address systemic racism focuses on examining policing at Brandeis, student financial burdens and faculty and staff hiring, salaries and promotions, according to a Nov. 10 email from President Ron Liebowitz. Liebowitz called for feedback to the draft, which intends to increase diversity, education and training on racism to ensure a campus free of discrimination. The draft plan is a compilation of action plans created across three major parts of campus: public safety and human resources, community living, resi-

See PANEL, page 3


See ANTI-RACISM, page 7

BAASA event gives healing space for students affected by Anti-Asian racism By Victoria Morrongiello editor

Student leaders of the Brandeis Asian American Student Association (BAASA) put together an event on Anti-Asian racism and violence which has esca-

lated in the United States, days after the attacks in Atlanta, offering a place for healing for students affected by the trauma. The co-presidents of BAASA Juliana Hyojoo An ’21 and Ellie Kleiman ’21, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) coordinator Grace Wang ’23 spoke about Anti-Asian racism

and creating a safe space in our communities for people of color. “There is the violence that we are actually seeing which is the physical assault of Asian folks, versus the violence that we don’t see as explicitly like poverty, houselessness, unemployment, et cetera,” said Wang during the event. Anti-Asian racism is structural

and systematic and it goes past the physical assaults being reported. The “invisible violence” hit hard with the COVID-19 pandemic, since South Asians have one of the highest test positivity and death rates in New York City, according to Wang. Anti-Asian racism is also seen in structural inequalities like housing and food security.

Wang added that many frontline workers are also likely to be from the Asian American community which puts them at a higher risk for developing COVID-19. Wang discussed the increased Anti-Asian violence occurring in the United States in big citSee BAASA, page 8

Professors strike to protest racial injustice in higher ed. By Teresa Shi editor

Brandeis faculty members joined professors across the country in a two-day strike to draw attention to racial injustice in American higher education on Sep. 8. Professors walked out of their academic duty and implemented their educating roles about racism in non-traditional settings, such as social media, Youtube and other discussion platforms. Professor Dorothy Kim (ENG) wrote to The Brandeis Hoot in an email that her strike experience “was mostly concentrated on social media and particularly Twitter to share these resources and materials specifically about Anti-Blackness, police violence, and

Inside This Issue:

#BlackLivesMatter.” The technology-based strike provided a platform to be more participant-driven and knowledge-exchanged, according to Kim.“Since so many of us are now teaching remotely and it’s difficult to do in-person teach-ins and demonstrations, I think the effort towards digital media—[Facebook], Twitter, Youtube—allows us to highlight the range of topics, teach-ins, and education that highlight these issues that can be shared and used with faculty and students throughout the world,” said Professor Kim. Some Brandeis professors have also adjusted the class materials to acknowledge racial injustices, according to Kim. She assigned the entire book “Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code” to students, changing

News: Award winners contribute to vaccine Ops: The Hoot’s favorite study spots Features: Sweetest way to be charitable Sports: Brandeis Athletics discusses racism Editorials: Vote.

the original plan from only reading the introduction and the first chapter. The book talks about how technologies can reinforce racial inequality and white supremacy. She hoped to discuss the topic when returning to the classroom and provide the students with an option to reflect. While not participating directly, some other professors acknowledged the strike and shared resources about the Black Lives Matters movement. The Scholar Strike was “an action inspired by the NBA, WNBA, Colin Kaepernick and other athletes,” according to the strike’s official website, in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, on Aug. 23. It started with a tweet on Aug. 26 by Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious


Page 6 Page 18 What coming out of quarantine feels like. Page 15 Page 9 OPS: PAGE 20 Page 11

studies and graduate chair at the University of Pennsylvania, who stated, “I would be down as a professor to follow the NBA and Strike for a few days to protest police violence in America.” In the early stage of the strike, Inside Higher Ed revealed that over 600 professors had committed to strike on Aug. 28. On Sep. 7, Butler told Washington Square News that “more than 5,000 people have signed up and expressed interest in participating.” The strike was entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic. The official YouTube channel released 58 short videos featuring professors across the country that discussed a wide range of related topics from “Black Muslims and State Violence” to “Scripture in Racial Projects.”

South Park The COVID-19 Edition. ARTS: PAGE 22

Inside Higher Ed reported that “few institutions have openly endorsed the Scholar Strike, but colleges and universities haven’t gone out of their way to discourage faculty or student participation, either.” According to Washington Square News, the dean of Steinhardt in New York University sent an email to the Steinhardt community stating that “I want to recognize those members of our community who may choose to participate in the upcoming #ScholarStrike.” Co-organizer Kevin Gannon, a historian at Grand View University, said that he was paying attention to institutional responses to the strike since many institutions issued statements of support for the uprisings this summer.


2 The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

University releases COVID-19 amnesty policy By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The university has implemented the COVID Amnesty Policy at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester, which protects students who are proactively seeking help after violating the university’s policies relating to COVID-19. In order to ensure that students give the Brandeis Community Tracing Program (BCTP) accurate information, the COVID Amnesty Policy will prevent any conduct action for violations, according to the policy. “As we continue to navigate COVID-19 and all of its implication[s], it is important for the University to consider ways to support the community and clarify expectations on an ongoing basis,” Assistant Dean of Student Rights and Community Standards, Alexandra Rossett, wrote to The Brandeis Hoot in an email. According to Rossett, the COVID Amnesty Policy was created with the intention of addressing four main points. The first is to reiterate the importance of BCTP in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our community. It also provides transparency to students on how the BCTP operates and collects information; this would also serve as an incentive to have students cooperate with the BCTP. The policy also reemphasizes that if a student reports a violation which could also fall under a separate university policy, then students are protected by that policy’s own amnesty descriptions, according to Rossett. The fourth point is to make community members feel comfortable using resources available on

campus, without having to worry about potential consequences for violating policy with formal conduct processes. According to the policy, it aims to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the Brandeis community by encouraging students to report any violations of the university COVID-19 policies. Student reports would then be followed up with proper assistance from the university or public resources where students are expected to cooperate with responding persons and with the Dean of Student Office for follow-up questions, according to the policy. Students will not be penalized for violating policies relating to COVID-19, however according to the policy, it does not protect students from disciplinary action if they also violated the university’s Rights and Responsibilities code. Students will then receive conduct action for those violations. The BCTP has expanded since the fall semester, according to Rossett, with the increase of students living on campus the university has consequently also increased its contact tracing program. According to Rossett, the program is under constant renovation as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) releases new information in regards to the virus, and as Massachusetts state guidelines change. “As members and residents of the wider community, Brandeis impacts and is impacted by community case rates. We monitor community transmission rates regularly as we make decisions about campus policies,” wrote Rossett. According to Rossett, after the


fall 2020 semester the university decided to implement the COVID Amnesty Policy to formally encourage students to com-

ply with the requests of the BCTP as well as use additional resources provided if necessary. In the fall semester, the university used the

medical amnesty policy in the Rights and Responsibilities code in regards to violations that related to COVID-19.

BAP seeks accountability from admin

By Sabrina Chow and Victoria Morrongiello editors

The Black Action Plan is a list of concerns, demands and reforms to structurally change departments of the university to be more equitable, diverse and inclusive, according to the plan’s text. It hopes to create an anti-racist Brandeis by diversifying the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) staff, increasing professional opportunities for students of color, reforming and defunding the Brandeis Police, reimagining the structure of the Department of Community Living (DCL)—which oversees housing at Brandeis—and creating a committee to oversee the implementation process. Since launching in August, the plan’s Instagram page has gained over 1000 followers, 250 signatures to a solidarity form about the demands for the Black Action Plan and student volunteers have made over 300 calls to the Brandeis administration, according to their Instagram page. Leaders of the Black Action Plan Sonali Anderson ’22, DeBorah Ault ’22 and Kyra Fraiser ’21, met with President Ron Liebowitz and other members of the senior administration, including Provost Lisa Lynch, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargaras, Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Ou and Executive

Vice President of Finance and Administration Stewart Uretsky, to discuss concerns and the demands set forth by the plan. “It sounds like you guys [senior administration] are trying to make that change, however, on the ground level nothing has been changed,” Anderson said during the meeting. “I can only emphasize that you can make as many policies as you want but it’s within the structure of who is helping you bridge that gap, if they are not helping you do that then they are not doing their role as a department director.” The Black Action plan was edited by Black students and students of color at Brandeis who wanted to see structural change in the university administration, according to the plan. The plan seeks reform in DCL, Brandeis Police, the BCC, Academic Services, the Hiatt Career Center and Student Financial Services (SFS), according to their plan. The student representatives discussed with the administration about what various university departments are doing to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion. Anderson said on behalf of the plan that their purpose is accountability and to have a clear understanding of the administration’s place in the university. Ault added that the plan seeks to protect the experiences of Black students and students of color on campus. “We want to ensure that we hold the university accountable to making sustainable strides to

ensure that students don’t feel this way,” said Ault in a conversation with the administration that was livestreamed on Instagram. Fraiser explained over the course of her Brandeis career, she’s been disheartened to hear some students’ experiences and hopes that the plan will cause a shift in campus culture. “I would love to see Brandeis fully commit and lean into the social justice reputation that we have,” Fraiser said in a conversation with the administration. “We recognize that in the past, it was about getting students of color on campus, but also I want to bring to attention that once students of color are here there are still structures that need to be adjusted in order to ensure that we feel welcomed and that we belong here,” Ault explained. Ou responded to Ault’s concern saying that—in his experience of dealing with diversity equity and inclusion—he relies on a “gut check.” “If we have completed and addressed all the steps, if Black students still don’t feel comfortable or don’t feel like Brandeis is a welcoming environment then we need to think of something else,” said Ou. In addition to meeting all of the measures outlined in the plan, Ou says the administration must rely on a “gut check” to see if the policies put in place are having the intended impact. By the end of the meeting, the student organizers hoped that the administration would have a thorough understanding of what

the plan is demanding, as well as a clear timeline for steps to address the complaints, Anderson said during the livestream. The plan also asks the administration to commit to frequent check-ins on the progress made to the plan. Effective immediately, the plan has requested the creation of a task force composed of students, faculty and staff to oversee the implementation of the reforms of the Black Action Plan, said Anderson. “This is an opportunity for us to think about how we convey information,” said Ou, when asked about the feasibility of the plan. Ou stated how he wants to come to a consensus between administration and the student representatives to come up with a diagnosis of where the university is at to then begin work. He added that he liked the specificity of the demands in the areas it was targeting, though he noted that there may be challenges in areas where administration is doing the work, but it is unseen to the general community, and that there are places where students believe there is more progress than what has actually been completed. Ou suggested past forms of communication which had been considered to share information to the community such as an email, webpage or forum. Ou said he believed they needed a combination of all of these methods of communication in order to get a true sense of where our campus climate is at. The Black Action Plan first launched in August with a goal to

create an anti-racist Brandeis, according to their Instagram page. It cites the lack of implementation of promises the university made during Ford Hall 2015 and Still Concerned 2019—two earlier student-driven initiatives to demand administrative change for students of color. Similar to the Black Action Plan, student activists during Ford Hall 2015 and Still Concerned 2019 staged protests to the administration demanding action be taken to support Black students and students of color on campus, according to the Heller School for Social Policy’s website. Both of these movements were inspired by Ford Hall 1969, where Black students and students of color staged sit-ins in the offices of senior administration with a list of 10 demands. During the 2015 sitin, students and administration came to an agreement, ending the sit-in, according to the article. “Our mission is to intentionally create structural changes alongside our allies that eliminates racism at Brandeis and leads Black, Brown and People of Color to feel more safe, secure and valued in all spaces they enter,” according to a post on Black Action Plan’s Instagram page. The Black Action Plan now seeks to hold the university accountable to the institution’s 2015 promises—some of which remain unfulfilled—as well as seek reform in their additional demands, according to the plan. This is the first part of a series about the Black Action Plan.

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Webinar speaks on U.S. response to COVID-19 By Roshni Ray and Luca Swinford staff

Science communication leaders Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Atul Gawande and Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal reflected on the governmental mishandlings over the past year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how Americans can better face future health crises. “If you’re going to fight a pandemic, it’s gotta be the entire country pulling together,” Fauci said during the discussion. The panelists discussed the belief that conveying truthful and accessible information about scientific discovery and public health protocol is crucial during an unprecedented event like the COVID-19 pandemic. President Ron Liebowitz talked of the importance of the bridge between breakthroughs in basic scientific research and science communication. He emphasized the webinar’s focus on “the urgent challenge of explaining science to the public and the role of the news media in the fight against the pandemic.” Professor Neil Swidey (JOUR) asked the panelists to identify lessons to be learned from the United States’s response to the pandemic. Rosenthal brought up the issue of “news deserts,” which

are what she refers to as pockets of America in which there exists a lack of high quality, vetted information. According to Fauci, the adversity faced during the pandemic was especially potent since it came at a time of “intense divisiveness in society.” The pandemic has exposed the “impotence of science journalism in addressing the strengthening forces of pseudo-science and anti-science,” Gawande added. The panelists also discussed how because consumers have access to clickbait headlines on social media platforms and highly politicized news forums as primary sources of information, misinformation and disinformation can spread rapidly and hurt numerous communities. According to Rosenthal, there needs to be a fix to click-baiting on social media. She suggested that there should be an adjustment to the approach of science-based journalism. “Most of the people reading the New York Times know that COVID is real and [that] we need to wear masks,” she explained. “We should shift our strategy to small newspapers and small markets.” Another issue, according to Fauci, is the tendency for consumers to either refute the public health protocol suggested in reliable news sources or perceive all scien-

tific news they receive as infallible. Swidey introduces these groups of people as “under-believers” and “over-believers,” respectively. The example discussed by the panelists was the mask issue in the early days of the pandemic in the United states where the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were advising the general public not to purchase face masks, according to their official Twitter page. Now, a year into the pandemic, the public is informed that wearing masks is crucial in lowering transmission rates, according to the CDC. The decision was made at the time due to limited information available about the pandemic and a fear of mask shortages for essential healthcare workers, according to Fauci. Under-believers used the fact that the CDC changed their stance on the mask issue to say that the CDC, and science in general, should not be trusted, Fauci explained. Gawande offered a potential solution to the growing tension between over-believers and under-believers, saying that a crucial step to combat the dissemination of science conspiracies is to help people understand how to differentiate between real science and pseudo-science. According to Gawande, instances of “cherry-picking data,”

the prevalence of logical fallacies and the presence of figures with no credible scientific background are some of the key characteristics of unreliable science news. By developing literacy in identifying untrustworthy and biased news sources, people can also come to realize when they are being “snookered,” or exploited for political reasons. According to the panelists, high quality and effective science communication should include unbiased science reporting and be able to resonate with the struggles of many groups of Americans. Additionally, Rosenthal underscores the importance of the human aspect in science reporting to provide compelling motives to follow public health protocol. Gawande and Rosenthal discussed the healthcare system in the United States, which they described as having many problems that need solutions. While Rosenthal notes that the U.S. government has allocated $8 billion for vaccine distribution, she said there is still a lot of fallibility in accounting for who has received the vaccine and who has not. The current inconsistent and error-prone system is causing COVID-19 deaths to increase, according to an article by USA today. Rosenthal shares a personal detail: this past year, her mother

passed away as a result of being infected with COVID-19. “[I]f this country had a public health system and politicians were honest, we wouldn’t be quick to jump the line for vaccines,” she criticized, adding how her account exemplifies the severity of the United States’ fragmented healthcare system and the imminent need for the reconsideration of national policy. “We need a national functional health system,” she added. Reflecting on the past year, the panelists offered tangible ways to better integrate and understand the role of science in society. Fauci emphasized that, in the event of another crisis, there is a necessity for empathy and communication. Fauci is the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, a New Yorker magazine writer and the founder of Ariadne Labs, a center for developing solutions to improve the United States healthcare delivery system, according to their page. Rosenthal is the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, a physician and former New York Times reporter. The virtual webinar was co-sponsored by the Brandeis Journalism Program, and was moderated by Swidey.

Panel discusses Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China PANEL, from page 1

conflict between Uyghur Muslims and the Chinese government stems from religious differences going back several years, according to a BBC article. After a 2014 attack, tensions escalated and the Chinese government launched an anti-terrorism campaign, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, that targeted Uyghurs through detention sites. The Chinese government has acknowledged the existence of “re-education centers” for Uyghurs, after previously denying that centers existed. Before the event, students came forward with concerns about the panel, according to Leon Grinis ’22. Grinis was awarded with a peace award this fall from the Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies Program (PAX) “to host an online panel of leading experts and scholars on the plight of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China,” according to a joint statement from Grinis and other panel co-sponsors. The Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA) club posted in the group’s WeChat page with concerns about how the panel might negatively influence the Chinese community at Brandeis. The panel was Zoombombed multiple times with unknown attendees writing on slides and playing the anthem, according to both student attendees and Grinis. The Hoot was unable to confirm who was disrupting the Zoom panel, and one student attendee, Tianqi Zhao ’22, told The Hoot that most participants had their video turned off, making them only identifiable by their screen name. After the panel, both the organizers and Brandeis students expressed frustration with its content. Zhao, and other students, criticized the panel for not providing enough academic information or a diversity of viewpoints. Panelists discussed

the Zoombombing on Twitter. The panel was not recorded, and no members of The Hoot attended, but The Hoot contacted panel organizers and attendees. The panel itself featured five scholars from different universities and a lawyer, according to a description of the event on the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life website that has since been taken down. It was co-sponsored by the Ethics Center and the Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies department. Professor Elanah Uretsky (EAS/IGS) moderated the panel. “The hope for this panel was to educate the Brandeis community about the situation in Xinjiang from an objective and non-politicized perspective,” wrote Grinis, Professor Gordie Fellman (PAX/ SOC/WGS), Interim Director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life Melissa Stimell (LGLS) and Academic Administrator Lauren Jordahl (PAX) in a joint statement to The Hoot. “In this way, we can build tolerance, understanding, and stronger relationships in the community. It is our hope that we can create a space within the University for safe objective discussion of this and other topics that are often fraught with intense emotions and misunderstandings,” the statement read. Two panelists, James Milward of Georgetown University and Rayhan Asat from Hughes Hubbard Lawyer, commented on the Zoombombing on Twitter. Milward called the Zoombombing a “coordinated disruption,” linking the CSSA WeChat post. Zhao mentioned that several users replied to the panelists on Twitter with anti-China comments. Asat wrote on Twitter, “A #Chinese student hijacked my screen & [sic] kept writing all over to prevent me keep [sic] continuing. It was a tough moment. I still maintained my professionalism and called for civility and

respect for academic freedom.” In subsequent tweets, Asat described the event as traumatizing. Stimell sent an email out to students who raised concerns over the panel on Nov. 18, said Zhao. “While some of the questions during the Q&A expressed genuine curiosity and sought to extend the conversation, others were made in an especially hostile manner that was offensive and disrespectful of the speakers and the intent of this event,” part of Stimell’s email read. Students raised concerns in a feedback form organized by Student Union Undergraduate Diversity and Inclusion Officer Panny Tao ’21. About seven students, with some writing anonymously, provided feedback on the panel. Many stated that panelists muted participants when speaking during the question and answer portion, with different students describing that decision as “unprofessional” or “justified.” Zhao, who also authored a Medium post on the panel and attended the first hour, said the panelists did not provide enough academic information. “I do know that there are a lot of stereotypes going on around academia and among others, so I really [wanted] to get something insightful and interesting from the panel,” Zhao told The Hoot in an interview. But he said he felt the panel was not a “scholarly presentation of diverse viewpoints” because “if you ignore another part of the story, even if you graduated from Harvard or from Yale, you are not scholarly.” As a person born in Xinjiang, Zhao believed that he has more insight into the issue than other students. “I was back in Xinjiang one summer ago, everything was pretty peaceful,” he explained. “The economy started to grow, and everyone started to work. There hasn’t been a terrorist act for three years.”

He advised the panelists to go to Xinjiang and make first-hand observations now. “If the government is killing thousands of people, it can never be hidden. There is no physical genecide going on. If there is a cultural genocide, it is something tricky to debate about,” he said. This panel was about a more controversial topic than typical events sponsored by the Ethics center or PAX, which often host events about social justice, art and peaceful learning. This panel, however, tackled a long and complicated relationship between the Uyghur Muslims and the Chinese government. In the early 20th century, Uyghurs Muslims in Xinjiang declared independence from China, but the region was reclaimed by China in 1949, according to a BBC article. Xinjiang is designated as an autonomous region within China, but Xinjiang has little autonomy from the Chinese government, according to the article. Over the years, Uyghur activists have argued that the Chinese government was infringing on their religious practices through governmental policies, according to the article. China is designated as an atheist state, the government only labels five religions as legitimate, including: Buddhism, Catholicism, Dauis, Islam and Protestantism, according to a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council. People of varying faiths experience violations of their religious freedom, including the closure of their places of worship, according to that same report. Chinese governmental authorities have stated that they do not accept Uyghurs and other Muslims to prevent activities that “disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the State,” according to the report. Tensions escalated in 2014 when the Kunming Attack occurred,

an event which left 29 dead and more than 100 others wounded according to a BBC article. The Chinese government labeled the attack as a “terrorist attack” committed by Uyghur Muslims from the Northwest Xinjiang province, according to the same article. The Chinese government then launched a one year campaign against terrorism, according to a document from the United Nations Human Rights Council. The campaign targeted Uyghurs escalating tensions between the two groups. “The terms ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ have also been over-extended to those who merely wish to peacefully practice their rightful freedom of speech or religion,” according to the document. “In this way, the Chinese authorities have been trying to legitimize their own actions taken against Uyghur activists and demonstrators.” The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), an organization aiming to inform the public on various issues according to their webpage, launched The Xinjiang Data Project. This project has compiled information which identifies 380 potential detention sites being used in the Xinjiang Uyghur region, according to the document. The project highlights the “re-education” camps, detention centers and prisons which have been newly built or expanded since 2017 in the area, according to the document. There are 350 facilities reported by The Xinjiang Data Project’s findings, with a 37 percent growth rate from 2017 to 2019. According to the document, through the use of the latest satellite imagery of the region, there are still at least 14 facilities under construction in 2020. The ambassador noted that the region has not had a “terrorist attack” in the past three years in Xinjiang, according to the BBC article.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

Panelists discuss restorative justice in Berlin By Alexis Albert special to the hoot

In an event held by the university, panelists discussed relations between Germans, Israelis and Palestinians in Berlin in what they referred to as The Moral Triangle. Authors of The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians, Katharina Galor and Sa’ed Atshan, brought these three communities into dialogue regarding different treatment of these groups and restorative justice measures being taken. “We discovered that the topic touched upon a huge taboo,” said Galor, referring to the Holocaust. Galor, a German-born Israeli woman talked about her first meeting with Atshan, a Palestinian-born man. They met years following the Gaza War, after a panel at Brown University gave birth to the discussion topic. Galor and Atshan both asked, “What moral responsibility does Germany have, the state and society, towards Israelis and Palestinians in its borders in the present?” Germany is currently undergoing a restorative justice period where Jews and Israelis are being awarded compensa-

tion both financially and emotionally, according to Galor. In the age of restorative justice, Germany is confronting its history and understanding moral responsibility. “Berlin provides the model for restorative justice,” Atshan explained. According to Galor, there are about 60 thousand Palestinians and 25 thousand Israelis residing in Berlin. Despite the Palestinian population doubling the size of its Israeli neighbors, it is “mostly the Israelis who dominate the public landscape and discourse,” according to Galor. Conversely, the Palestinian population which is criminally represented in the media, according to Galor. The Palestinian community is often recognized by the discrimination it faces while the Israeli community is discussed through its privilege, according to Galor. Fleeing Lebanon during the Civil War, Palestinians confronted German resistance in the 1970s. Over time, Germans changed their political policies and granted refuge to Palestinines, which allowed for them to build capital in Berlin, according to Galor. Around thirty years later, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Berlin welcomed a wave of Is-

raeli migrants to the region. The Berlin Israeli population, according to Galor, is young and politically active while also being intellectually left. Their draw is “mostly defined by economic advantages and to some extent by educational and professional opportunities,” Galor explained. Atshan referenced Edward Said, a late Palestinian intellectual, who believed Palestinines were the “victims of the victims and the refugees of the refugees.” Atshan drew attention to the Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe, which he said is used to refer to the “seven decades of displacement, dispossession, and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people which continues through the present.” According to Atshan, Germans currently have an a heightened awareness of the Holocaust, however, there is a lack of acknowledgement of the Nakba. “This compassion extended towards Israelis...should be extended to Palestinians as well,” Atshan said. The Holocaust and the Nakba are the two historical events which sit at the heart of The Moral Triangle, according to the speakers. “[The Nakba and the Holocaust] should be understood in conversation with


one another given their historial links as well as their intersecting traumas” according to Atshan. “This moral triangle in Berlin gives us hope for what the future of Israel/Palestine can look like,” according to Atshan. The event was sponsored by the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and the Center for German

and European Studies and moderated by Professor Sabine von Mering (ENVS/WGS/GRALL) on Feb. 24. Galor is a Visiting Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and Urban Studies at Brown University and Atshan is an Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College.

University responds to hate crimes against Asian Americans By Sasha Skarboviychuk and John Fornagiel editors

The university released a statement in response to the deadly shootings at Asian spas in Atlanta, calling March 16 “a new horrifying low,” in an email sent by Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas, on March 17. The response follows three shootings in three different locations across Georgia on Tuesday, March 16. “Over the past year, we have witnessed a disturbing increase in the number of attacks and hate

crimes in the U.S. directed at people who are Asian or of Asian descent,” highlighted Brimhall-Vargas. According to research done by Stop AAPI Hate, there have been close to four thousand anti-Asian hate incidents over the course of the pandemic, 68 percent of which targeted Asian women. Brimhall-Vargas encouraged students to attend the Brandeis Asian American Students Association’s (BAASA) event, “Anti-Asian Racism and Envisioning Safety in our Communities,” to discuss “this disturbing rise in violence and engage with one another on how we can act in solidarity to oppose violence.” For those that are unable to join the event live or

for those that would like further information before attending, Brimhall-Vargas recommend the following resources compiled by the organizers of the event. Brimhall-Vargas acknowledged how “deeply upsetting” the occurrences are to members of the Brandeis community and how difficult it is to feel supported during these times. Quoting President Ron Liebowitz, he condemned the actions of Robert Aaron Long, as well as others who discriminate against others based on their race or background. “We mourn the loss of their lives, and are outraged by the fact that their intersecting identities may have rendered them especially vulnerable in our

society,” wrote Brimhall-Vargas. Brimhall-Vargas encouraged witnesses or victims of violence to utilize Brandeis resources for support, including the Brandeis Counseling Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center, the Intercultural Center as well as the Center for Spiritual Life. On March 1, alumni and students sent a letter to Liebowitz which encouraged him to “make a statement to stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community,” according to a previous Hoot article. Liebowitz responded with a community-wide email the following day condemning violence and encouraging students

to support the AAPI community. According to a CNN article, these shootings have fatally injured eight people, the majority of whom were Asian women. Specifically, four women were of Korean descent, as was confirmed by a statement from the South Korean Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, March 17, according to an AP News article. Hours after the shootings took place, a 21-yearold man was taken into custody as the primary suspect. This man, who is the current suspect as of the writing of this article, is Robert Aaron Long, who “did take responsibility for the shootings,” according to Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff ’s Office.

Univ. responds to open letter drafted by alumna on increased violence against AAPI

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

In response to the increase in anti-Asian violence across the nation, current students and alumni signed a letter sent to President Ron Liebowitz on March 1 encouraging him to make a statement to stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, according to the open letter. Liebowitz responded in an email sent to the Brandeis community the day after, on March 2, condemning the recent attacks and calling for students to come together to support AAPI in our community, according to the email. “To me social justice has the message of justice for all, and I felt that it’s important for Brandeis to speak up because, in a way, I felt that they are obligated to because they tout social justice,” said Jessica Chow ’18, author of the open letter, in a Zoom interview with The Brandeis Hoot. In the letter sent to Liebow-

itz, it encouraged him to make a statement on behalf of the university acknowledging the recent increase in attacks against the AAPI community happening nationwide. “The concept of social justice cannot exist while remaining silent on the issue of ongoing and increased violence against the AAPI community,” reads the letter. A statement from Liebowitz, according to the letter, would show support and solidarity for members of the Brandeis community who are impacted by this surge in violence. “Our university was founded in response to antisemitism and bigotry. When we encounter discrimination, hatred, or violence against another person based on their race, religion, or background, we must condemn these acts and join together in opposition to injustice,” wrote Liebowitz in his email. According to the letter, violence, discrimination and hate crimes against the AAPI community have been an ongoing issue, not an issue which was initiated by the pandemic. However, there

has been an increase in these attacks since the pandemic began. According to Stop AAPI Hate, a group which keeps track and responds to cases of violence against the AAPI community in the United States, there has been an “alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Chow added that there is a large Asian American community on campus which is impacted by these attacks. “I felt that because of all of these different factors, Brandeis should speak up, especially being a leading institution in social justice,” said Chow. “Growing up, I was taught to use my voice to speak up not only for myself but also for what is right, and I am humbled by the fact that Brandeis took swift action to release a statement; their prompt action showed me that your voice matters, and you can make a difference.” These increased attacks have been most prevalent in New York and California, Chow explained, and many of the university’s out-

of-state undergraduates come from these two states. According to Stop AAPI Hate’s National Report from March 2020 to August 2020, California reported 46 percent of all hate crimes in the United States against the AAPI community, while New York was second with 14 percent, out of 47 states where data was collected. Alabama, Kansas, North Dakota and West Virginia were not included in data collection but Puerto Rico was. Stop AAPI Hate has received 2,583 reports of varying violence against the AAPI community nationwide, according to their National Report. “My first exposure to all of this was through social media, and the stories I read about hit particularly close to home, quite literally because I’m from California,” said Chow, “I’m part of this community, and I can be a voice for change for those who don’t have the voice.” In response to Liebowtiz’s email to the Brandeis community, Chow wrote to The Hoot that she appreciated the university made a statement and that they

did not send a response the same day she emailed them because it shows they took time to think about how they would respond. At the time of publication, the letter has received 70 signatures from current students and alumni. In his response email, Liwbowitz wrote that the Brandeis Asian American Student Association (BAASA) would be hosting an event on the recent anti-Asian violence on March 18 which would be open to the entire Brandeis community. Liebowitz added that there are services on campus which can provide support for members of the AAPI community on campus during this time, including the Brandeis Counseling Center, the Intercultural Center and the Center for Spiritual Life. Students that would like to report any cases of discrimination on campus should file a report with the Office of Equal Opportunity, which handles all cases for students, faculty and staff if they’ve experienced discrimination, harassment and/or secual violence in the Brandeis community.

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Univ. honors Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg By Rachel Saal special to the hoot

President Ron Liebowitz emailed the university to honor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, H ‘96 who died on Friday, Sept. 18, at age 87. The cause of death was complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, according to the Supreme Court. “Justice Ginsburg – who became affectionately known as ‘Notorious RBG’ to a younger generation – was admired for her keen intellect, her determination in the face of injustice, and in particular for her eloquent dissents from majority decisions,” read the email from LIebowitz. On Sunday, “dozens” of Waltham residents, including

several Brandeis students, gathered on the Waltham Common for a vigil to honor Ginsburg, according to Microsoft News. “Justice Ginsburg was a role model and a fearless champion of equality. She was unapologetic when she declared during a Supreme Court oral argument that the grand goal of federal law was to ‘undo generations of rank discrimination in housing,’” wrote Professor Anita Hill (AAAS/ LGLS/HS/WGS) in Liebowitz’s email. “I think of her contributions as really helping us define in a very inclusive way what equality was going to mean—what it would look like if we ultimately get to it. And of course being inclusive, her impact did have very much to do with the issues of

gender violence, including sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace,” said Hill on NPR’s podcast “All Things Considered.” The podcast also discussed the struggle between Republican and Democrat senators that began with Ginsburg’s passing, with members of the former party largely arguing for a new justice to be appointed before the November presidential election, and the latter arguing that an appointment should take place after. Ginsburg was the second woman to ascend to the Supreme Court, and she will be the first woman to have the honor of lying in state in the U.S. Capitol. Ginsburg accepted an honorary degree from Brandeis in 1996, and in 2016, she was a keynote speaker at Brandeis’


100th anniversary celebration of Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ ascension to the Supreme Court. “We should never lose sight of the enduring legacy Ruth Bader

Ginsburg leaves behind, and we should embrace her determination to work toward opportunity and justice,” read Liebowitz’s email.

Four members of campus operations staff die, students pay tribute By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

Michael Carbone, James Adams, Patricia Conboy and Nerva Nazaire all passed away within the last six months. “Between them, they served Brandeis University for a total of nearly 70 years,” according to an email sent on Sept. 3. Michael Carbone, who worked in the Facilities Services for 33 years, died on Aug. 17, according to the email. He was “an avid hockey fan who enjoy[ed] reminiscing about the ‘good ol’ days’ of the Boston Bruins.“ Carbone followed in the footsteps of his father, who was a Brandeis custodian for 40 years.

James Adams worked for the Facilities Services Operations as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician for five years. He died on June 4, according to his obituary. He was described as a “fun-loving gentle giant of a man who wore his passion and commitment for his family proudly.” Patricia Conboy worked for Sodexo at Brandeis for 20 years and died on April 29 according to her obituary. She was described as “a woman of great work ethic and drive” by her daughterin-law on her obituary page. Nerva Nazaire, who worked at Brandeis’ The C-Store for nine years, according to an email sent on Sept. 3, died on May 25 in

Mount Auburn Hospital at age 61, according to his obituary. Many students learned the news of Nazaire’s death when Syed Hassan ’23 posted on social media about Nazaire’s passing, which has been shared numerous times since. Hassan told The Brandeis Hoot in an email that since returning to campus, he had been on the lookout for Nazaire but had not seen him. After a few days of not seeing Nazaire on campus, Hassan asked another dining worker, who informed him of Nazaire’s passing. Nancy Zhai ’22, the chair of the Senate Dining Committee of the Brandeis University Student Union, told The Hoot that she encourages students “to leave some

memories on the obituary pages.” Zhai concluded by mentioning that she is “working with Brandeis Dining to ensure students and workers are safeguarded by necessary sanitation/distancing protocols” and that the Dining Committee continues making this a priority. Brandeis Dining also posted tributes to Nazaire and Conboy on their Instagram. Hassan and Zhai are far from the only ones paying tribute to Nazaire—his memory book linked to his obituary has over 60 messages at the time of writing, mostly from Brandeis students written within the last week. “My experience at Brandeis just would not have been the same without Nerva. His kind-

ness, genuine interest in others’ wellbeing and generosity were truly remarkable. He always gave the best advice and maintained a great sense of optimism. Nerva touched so many lives for so many years, and I am so grateful to have known him,” wrote Agape Niyobuhungiro ’20. “Nerva was such a light at Brandeis,” Elizabeth Dabanka ’20 wrote in the memory book. “He is going to be truly missed by the students there. Nerva always made time to chat with me and to say encouraging words or just to check in and ask how I was doing. He was a very caring and sweet man and someone who had an impact on a lot of people.”

Univ. benefactor Carl Shapiro dies at 108 By Victoria Morrongiello editor

Carl Shapiro H’03 passed away on March 7 at 108 years old. Shapiro and his family were benefactors of the university since the founding of Brandeis and have donated more than $72 million to the university throughout the years, according to a BrandeisNOW article. Shapiro and his late wife Ruth Shapiro, who passed away in 2012, first donated to the university in 1950, making a $10 donation, according to an email sent out by President Ron Liebowitz on March 9 to the Brandeis community. Shapiro has since been one of the “most generous benefactor[s], who had a tremendous impact on this institution,” according to Liebowtiz. In his email, Liebowtiz wrote that the Shapiro name is all across the campus. In the email, he cites the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center and the Carl J. Shapiro Science Center, which are all located on campus. Shapiro did not attend the university since it had not yet been founded, according to the article. He became involved in the university during its founding due to the exclusionary practices


used in other top tier higher education institutions at the time, which prevented certain groups from attending, according to the article. The university was founded by the American Jewish community who faced hardships in admittance to higher education at the time, according to the article. Shapiro served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1988, according to a BrandeisNOW article. He was

given the honorary title of trustee emeritus, which placed him as a chair of the Campaign for Brandeis, according to the article. Shapiro was given an honorary humane letters degree by the university in 2003, according to the university’s honorary degree recipients page. “We are grateful for and inspired by the legacy Mr. Shapiro and his family have built here at Brandeis,” wrote Liebowitz in his email.

Shapiro donated to many beneficiaries through the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation. Shapiro and his late wife launched the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation in 1961, according to the foundation’s page, of which Shapiro was chairman. One of the first major gifts made by the foundation was to the university, according to The Boston Globe obituary for Shapiro. The foundation continues

to help beneficiaries in the Great Boston Area, supporting arts and culture, education, health and hospitals, Jewish causes and social welfare programs, according to the page. The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation makes grant donations in four main areas of interest: disability inclusion, youth in the arts, early childhood and empowerment, according to their page. The foundation has contributed to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Boston Impact Initiative and many other programs, according to their page. Shapiro’s impact on the university continued with his three daughters: late Rhonda Zinner, Ellen Jaffe and Linda Waintrup, according to the BrandeisNOW article. Zinner, who passed away in 2014, sat on the Board of Trustees and was vice-chair of the Heller Schools Board of Overseers, according to the article. Waintrup served on the Board of Advisors for The Rose Art Museum, according to the article The Carl J. Shapiro Memorial Fund has been set up in the late benefactor’s name in honor of the legacy and impact he has had on the university, according to the memorial fund page. Donations can be made to support the fund, according to the page.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

Chaplaincy Lab receives $1.5 million grant By Sabrina Chow editor

The Templeton Religion Trust has granted the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, in partnership with Gallup, Inc., a $1.5 million grant to study the demand for chaplaincy and spiritual care work in the United States, according to a BrandeisNOW article. As part of the three-year study, the lab will disseminate a national survey and conduct interviews to learn more about individuals in the general public that engage with spiritual care workers. The study will produce numerous papers and academic articles and will provide a framework for the future of the chaplaincy field. “The project will also allow the Lab to map how chaplains are trained and where the gaps are between supply and demand,” ac-

cording to the BrandeisNOW article. There is currently debate in the spiritual community on how chaplains should be educated, according to the BrandeisNOW article, including endorsements and certifications, as well as continued support during their careers. Looking at national data in how chaplains are being utilized in the United States will help to inform the training of future chaplains by focusing on the demand of chaplains in areas, rather than the supply that currently exists. “We think chaplains and spiritual care providers are going to play increasingly central roles in religious leadership in the coming years,” founder and director of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab Wendy Cadge (SOC/WGS) said in a press release. “The public has become more aware of their work since the COVID-19 pandemic as they cared for patients, staff

and family members at a distance in hospitals across the United States.” An advisory group of 30 stakeholders in “spiritual care, the institutions where chaplains work, and theological education” will work with the lab throughout the study to bring together individuals of various backgrounds and belief systems, according to a BrandeisNOW article. “[The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab] CIL has quickly become an important part of the American landscape in preparing educators and chaplains to facilitate cooperative, constructive engagement across deep differences while enhancing the spiritual welfare of individuals, and society,” Vice President of Grant Programs at the Templeton Religion Trust, W. Christopher Stewart said in a BrandeisNOW article. “[Templeton Religion Trust] TRT supports

CIL because chaplains embody the freedom of conscience, religious literacy, and humility that our world needs to engage others with empathy and patience, thus improving the overall conditions of societies and strengthening the vitality of religions.” Grace Tien will be joining the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab as a postdoctoral fellow to assist with this project, according to the BrandeisNOW article. While completing her Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University, she was recently awarded the 2020 best student paper prize in economic sociology and entrepreneurship by the American Sociological Association, according to a press release. This is the second grant that the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab received since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lab also received a $750,000 grant

from the Henry Luce Foundation, according to a previous Hoot article. The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab was founded in 2018 as a place “to support chaplains in healthcare, the military, prisons … workplaces, colleges and universities, and other settings in recognizing and responding to the changes in American religious and spiritual life,” according to their website. The Templeton Religion Trust was chartered in 1984 as a global charitable trust by Sir John Templeton and “supports projects as well as storytelling related to projects seeking to enrich the conversation about religion,” according to their website. Editor’s Note: Sports Editor Sophie Trachtenberg ’21 is a research assistant at the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.

Rebecca Cokley named 2020 Richman Fellow By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

Disability activist Rebecca Cokley was honored as the 2020 Richman Distinguished Fellow in Public Life in a Zoom event on Wednesday March 24, and gave a keynote address on how to achieve a truly inclusive democracy. “When I found myself thinking about what an inclusive democracy would look like, I still was not sure,” Cokley said during her talk. “Fundamentally, an inclusive democracy is one where for my community, people with disabilities, we are able to exercise our right to access the rights coming in the infrastructure and responsibilities that are the cornerstone of our democracy without racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and, for disabled people, ableism.” Thinking back to her first experience of an inclusive democracy, Cokley remembers voting with her parents at a young age. While her mother was able to go into polling places to vote, Cokley needed to assist her father, a wheelchair user. “The person at the desk would hand me a ballot or walk back to the car with me where they would lean on

the window and hang out while he took the same opportunity as everyone had to cast a vote but not a private vote,” she explained. Having an inclusive democracy means that everyone benefits, Cokley explained, not just people with disabilities. “It reminds society that when you make the world more accessible for people with disabilities, it becomes more accessible for everyone … So when thinking about what an inclusive democracy would look like, I am making it inclusive to people with disabilities. It would have the added effect of making it more inclusive for everyone,” said Cokely. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, disability is defined as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major activities of such an individual.” This definition is wide enough to include disabled veterans, mothers with postpartum depression, children in Flint, MI who are still fighting for clean water, the deaf community and the individuals with long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19. “Often society tries to nail down who is and who isn’t disabled,” Cokley explained. “The important thing, which is why I use that definition, is the pow-

er of grounding that defines and activities of daily life.” Opponents of the disabled community that value ableism, who have a “desire to keep people with disabilities largely disconnected from mainstream society,” present daily challenges for people with disabilities, Cokley explained in her address. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Cokley estimated that one-third of the over 30 million people affected by the coronavirus in the U.S. will have symptoms that last for months, or even years, after infection. “Being a person with a disability on the front-end of the [COVID-19] pandemic gives you a certain type of perspective,” she explained. “I knew a year ago that people with disabilities would be the most disproportionately impacted and represent a disproportionate number of deaths.” The moderator was Monika Mitra (HS), and Nancy Lurie Marks, Associate Professor of Disability Policy and Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, stated that “Cokley’s leadership embodies a rallying cry of the disability rights movement. Her work has helped to ensure that our country’s democratic institutions represent all Americans including Americans with disabilities.”


Provost Carol Fierke, who presented Cokley with her medal, emphasized that “Cokley’s work recognizes that disability rights play out across social issues including those related to education, poverty, immigration, rights of parents with disabilities and police violence.” Cokley served as the executive director of the National Council on Disability (NCD). After, from 2017 to 2020, she led the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress. Cokley currently serves as the first Disability Rights Program Officer at the Ford Foundation. Cokley was supposed to receive the award last year, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cokley’s keynote

speech, “Achieving an Inclusive Democracy: What It Means for Every Voice to Count” was sponsored by the Ethics Center on behalf of the Office of the President. According to the website, “The Richman Distinguished Fellowship in Public Life was created by Brandeis alumna Dr. Carol Richman Saivetz ’69, along with her children, Michael Saivetz ’97 and Aliza Saivetz Glasser ’01, in honor of Carol’s parents, Fred and Rita Richman. The award is funded by the generosity of the Richman and Saivetz families.” Editor’s Note: Editor-in-Chief Sabrina Chow is an undergraduate research fellow at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy and did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.

Rosenstiel winners contribute to vaccine production By Roshni Ray staff

Biochemist Katalin Karikó and Professor Drew Weissman ’81, MA’81 were presented the 50th annual Rosenstiel Award for their pioneering work on the modification of nucleic acids to develop RNA therapeutics and vaccines. Karikó currently serves as the senior vice president at BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals and Weissman is a Professor of Medicine as well as the co-director of the Penn Center for AIDS Research (Immunology Core) and director of vaccine research (Infectious Diseases Division) at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, according to the award’s website. Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz, cofounder of Moderna, Derrick

Rossi, and director of NIAID and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci gave congratulatory remarks during the ceremony. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there has been an immediate focus by the scientific community to develop vaccines to combat the virus. The foundational biological concept underlying the COVID-19 vaccine development can be traced back decades ago, Rossi explained during the awards ceremony. “DNA makes RNA, makes protein, makes life.” In our cells, messenger RNA (mRNA) acts as a mobile intermediary between the passive molecule DNA that resides isolated in our cell’s nuclei and the proteins in the cytoplasm. Through their research, Karikó and Weissman sought to harness a cell’s protein making capabilities

by engineering their own RNA instruction manual. However, a problem arose: cell cultures perished in response to the addition of synthetic mRNA. To combat this, Karikó and Weissman modified the structure of the synthetic mRNA molecule and developed a protective lipid bubble encasing the RNA, allowing cells to efficiently produce the desired proteins. Our immune system fights against viral infections by recognizing and remembering viral protein markers displayed on the surfaces of infected cells and subsequently destroying them. Coronaviruses all contain pointed surface proteins called spike proteins, enabling the virus to enter and infect human cells. Biotechnology companies Moderna and Pfizer aimed to engineer mRNAs that code for the spike protein. Once the mRNA COVID-19

vaccine is administered, our cells are able to express the spike protein, enabling immune cells to fight against future coronavirus infections without actually undergoing the dangers of being infected. Karikó and Weissman’s past work on refining the introduction of chemically engineered RNAs in cells made subsequent therapeutic applications like the COVID-19 vaccine development feasible. The rapid vaccine turnover was an “extraordinary feat unprecedented in the annals of science,” Fauci said during the presentation. Rossi believes that “most vaccines in the future will be mRNA vaccines,” and Haber attests that “mRNA is becoming a new class of medicine.” By raising the middle-child molecule mRNA into the scientific limelight, Karikó and Weissman opened doors to a new realm of

biotechnological applications. Karikó and Weissman are continuing to collaborate on their work, Haber announced during the ceremony. The relevance of Karikó and Weissman’s past work in today’s scientific issues is testament to the ever-evolving nature of science. “Forecasting the ultimate value of basic research can be difficult, however fundamental advances in basic research can underpin extraordinary progress in real world medicine,” Fauci added. The Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research was established in 1971 “as an expression of the conviction that educational institutions have an important role to play in encouragement and development of basic science as it applies to medicine,” according to the award page’s website.

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Liebowitz refuses one-year extension on contract By Sabrina Chow and Victoria Morrongiello editors

President Ron Liebowitz will not be accepting a one-year “dead-end” contract proposed by the Board of Trustees six months before the end of his current contract, which is set to expire June 30, according to a statement obtained by The Brandeis Hoot. The statement, released by a public relations firm representing Liebowitz independent of the university on Tuesday, March 17, states that the contract “would not allow [Liebowitz] to complete the ongoing donor solicitations, particularly those greater than $1 million, that the board has claimed are so critical to the university’s future.” In a leaked email obtained by The Boston Globe on March 15, Liebowitz accused the Board of forcing him from his position as president due to their disapproval of his fundraising efforts. The one-year contract extension was presented as an opportunity to see if Liebowitz would be successful in reaching the fundraising goals expected by the Board. “Trustees have said the president must achieve fund-raising ‘success’ during the next nine months in order to qualify for a longer-term contract,” according to the letter. Liebowitz claimed that he could not secure large donations from donors if he could not also assure them that he will be in the position to oversee that the money is allocated to meet the donor’s intent, according to The Boston

ANTI-RACISM, from page 1

Globe article. He claims that a multi-million dollar donation fell through when the donor was notified that the Board was pushing him out of his presidency. In the statement, Liebowitz claims that the university saw “the best ‘cash in’ year at Brandeis since 2010, excluding an unusual year of 2017 when Brandeis received a $50 million bequest,” according to the statement obtained by The Hoot. He also added that through February 2021, “new pledges in the first eight months of the fiscal year have nearly doubled what they were for each of the past two full fiscal years—despite the [COVID-19] pandemic.” Compared to other higher education institutions, fundraising revenue makes up a large part of the university’s operating budget, Larry Ladd, a senior consultant at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, told Inside Higher Ed, which is the why the Board is so focused on Liebowitz’s fundraising efforts. Frederick Lawrence, Liebowitz’s predecessor, resigned in January 2015 after fundraising declines during his presidency, according to an article by The Boston Globe. The university was averaging $90 million in fundraising the four years prior to Lawrence’s arrival; however, statements obtained by The Globe showed that contributions averaged $37 million during his tenure. The Board had initially set a deadline for him to accept the contract extension by the evening of March 15, according to the

email; however, Liebowitz called for a “conversation about my contract,” according to The Boston Globe article. Both parties are currently discussing the length of Liebowitz’s contract with the university, according to an email sent out to the Brandeis community on March 16. Meyer Koplow, chair of the Board of Trustees, wrote in an email to the Globe that negotiations were extending longer than the Board had hoped. Liebowitz was denied a meeting with the full Board of Trustees to negotiate his contract, according to an article by Inside Higher Ed. “Staring down a deadline on the one-year offer, he felt he had no choice but to alert the Brandeis community—including alumni and friends—of the situation,” Judy Rakowsky, Liebowitz’s spokesperson, wrote. According to Koplow, the Board offered Liebowitz approximately the same pay that he receives currently, but he countered with additional financial requests that the Board could not agree to. Liebowitz did not request tenure when he accepted the position as president in 2016, according to the statement, which is something common for individuals in his position “to avoid burdening the university with a longterm financial commitment.” The university is still paying Jehuda Reinharz, the seventh president of Brandeis who stepped down in 2010, an $8 million compensation package, which includes a salary as a part-time president emeritus and professor. The package is expected to

be paid out in an annual salary of over six figures until 2024. Liebowitz claimed that he took a 20 percent decrease in salary, rather than asking for an increase in salary, according to the statement, but did request a retiree health benefit like other senior administrators had previously received. Rakowsky told Inside Higher Ed that he earned $618,014 during fiscal year 2021, which is a 20 percent decrease from his base salary of $772,518. It was announced in a March 30, 2020 statement that Liebowitz, and other members of the senior administration, took a 10 percent salary decrease in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduction in salary happened as a response to deferral of the July 1 salary increase program for non-unionized faculty and staff until Jan. 1, 2021. “I believe that the more pressing issue at Brandeis has to do with the governance and the roles of the president and board,” Liebowitz wrote in the statement. “I appreciate the board’s authority to dismiss a president at will. But I also recognize that, when greater than 20 percent of a governing board has served an average of 29 years, it is difficult for that board to shift gears and allow the president to address challenges that have emerged under their time on the board, and to allow the president to manage the process without undue interference.” Liebowitz is the ninth president of the university and has held the position since July 1, 2016, when he took over for Interim


President Lisa Lynch, according to a previous Hoot article. He previously served as the president of Middlebury College, where he led a successful $500 million fundraising campaign, according to a statement obtained by The Hoot. Liebowitz declined to comment about the ongoing conversations with the Board of Trustees. Professor Joel Christensen (CLAS), chair of the faculty senate, speaking on behalf of the group, also declined to comment on the continuing negotiations but added that “They are still in conversation and we hope all parties are working to keep Brandeis safe for students, staff and faculty and to ensure our institution’s future,” he wrote in an email to The Hoot. Koplow could not be reached as of press time. Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is released.

Univ. releases draft plan ‘to address systemic racism’ on campus

dential life and athletics and the academic schools, according to the plan’s website. The schools include the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the International Business School, the Rabb School of Continuing Studies and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Liebowitz announced an initiative to “transform our campus and address systemic racism” in a June 9 email following nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd. All campus departments were tasked with creating internal action plans to address systemic racism. Chief Diversity Office and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas has been charged with coordinating with departments to review and share their action plans with Liebowitz and Brandeis. Several students of color at Brandeis created the Black Action Plan in the summer of 2020, a report which surveyed concerns and demands of students of color on campus, which they sent to Liebowitz in August. The Black Action Plan builds on previous student activism and protests, like Ford Hall 2015 and Still Concerned 2019, which called for more Black faculty and students, more Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) staff of color, better transportation and advocates for students of color accused of code violations, among other demands, according to a previous Hoot article.

“One of the things that’s wonderful about Ford Hall [2015], Still Concerned [2019] and the Black Action Plan is that the Black student community hasn’t given up on Brandeis,” Brimhall-Vargas told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. “The idea that they believe Brandeis can and should be better reveals commitment to the institution.” “The goal-setting by Ford Hall [2015] laid the foundation for us to dig deeper and to figure out on the systemic level what are the issues we can address not only in higher education but here specifically at Brandeis,” Liebowitz told The Hoot in an interview. Brimhall-Vargas’s position, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), the Office of Equal Opportunity and the Ombuds program were created as a direct result of the demands set forth by students during Ford Hall 2015, Liebowitz explained. The draft plan is extensive, and includes changes to campus police, mental health services, student finances and potentially a university “letter of atonement.” The Public Safety department will consider new policies like a “police oversight board” and the room lockout policy. The Department of Community Living (DCL) is working towards being responsible for the lockout process, according to the plan, where students would call DCL rather than the Brandeis police to be let into their rooms if they are locked out. As Brandeis searches for a new director of Public Safety, after announcing in July that former director Ed Callahan plans to

retire, the draft plan calls for expanding a search committee to include students representatives and Black Action Plan representatives. The search committee, which was announced in September in an email by Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration Stew Uretsky, includes undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and Board of Trustees members and is being led by Brandeis Trustee Barbara Dortch-Okara ’71, a retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge, Chair of the Academy Committee and Professor Daniel Kryder (AAAS/HIST/POL), the Louis Stulberg Chair in Law and Politics. The BCC plans to design a student advisory group to focus on communications between the center and students, and intends to recruit Black students and students of color. The BCC also plans to host weekly trainings on equity, diversity and inclusion. Brandeis admissions has already started recruiting more diverse students through admissions fairs, according to the plan, and is considering anti-bias training for all new staff hires and eliminating loans for low-income students. The university is also considering eliminating the use of standardized tests in the admissions process. The university is planning on developing admissions and hiring goals for the next five academic years and requiring search and selection training for individuals that may sit on selection committees for fulltime faculty and staff searches. The university will also examine the financial and employ-

ment trajectory of all university employees through salary reviews, career promotions and excessive employee turnover. “Brandeis must engage in a twopart process of attracting academically qualified underrepresented populations, both establishing an array of academic and career pipelines into the campus and creating accountability systems to measure progress toward these goals,” in order to improve diversity on campus, according to the plan. “We can do more when we know what areas we have not necessarily achieved what we hoped to accomplish there,” Liebowitz told The Hoot regarding the matter of increasing diversity on campus. The Dean of Students Office proposed raising a Black Lives Matter flag in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) and hosting a community therapist of color in the SCC. The office also proposed that Brandeis author a “letter of atonement” for “shortcomings relative to our BIPOC students, staff and community members.” The university is responsible for building a “diverse Brandeis, with a baseline expectation that all faculty, staff, and students can effectively and positively engage that community regardless of their point of entry,” according to the website. The university plans to grow students, staff and faculty’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) knowledge through explicitly anti-racist training, workshops, symposiums and other events, including a first-year experience for both undergraduate and graduate students to help build community. The undergraduate first-year

experience will create a “Community Living-Learning environment designed to explicitly address anti-oppression topics and learning to navigate a diverse environment,” according to the website. The university also plans to check all physical and virtual spaces on campus to ensure “inclusive imagery and messaging” as well as standardize a minimum level of DEI competencies for all job descriptions and performance reviews. The university is planning on monitoring and reporting the progress of university efforts through climate surveys and other assessments surrounding community engagement with all departments, according to their website. ODEI will continue to update a status website related to student protest agreements, create a “diversity” dashboard with the Office of Planning and Institutional Research (OPIR) that shows the diversity of campus and will develop Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) metrics to measure the impact of these initiatives. The Heller School, according to its Our Commitment page, began tracking its progress regarding diversity, equity and inclusion using HEED metrics in 2017 as an “internal dashboard.” According to their website, the university will be holding virtual listening sessions for students, faculty and staff. There will be four sessions throughout November, and more information on these sessions can be found on their website. This is the first part in a series examining the draft anti-racism plan.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

Rabbi responds to criticism of union president By Victoria Morrongiello and Celia Young editor and special to the hoot

Rabbi and Executive Director of Brandeis Hillel Seth Winberg responded to social media criticism of Brandeis’ Student Union president’s Instagram comments about a New York Senate Bill—a bill that would require school children in the state to be educated on the meaning of swastikas and nooses as symbols of hatred and intolerance—according to its text. Winberg’s email, which came out on July 24, followed tensions on social media as Brandeis students discussed the president’s statements—arguing that the swastika’s history in other cultures should also be acknowledged— and as social media accounts with larger followings drew attention to the conversation. Winberg acknowledged the backlash Student Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21 faced online, including what appeared to be a threat on an Instagram page with over 13,000 followers. An Instagram user wrote that they were “finding her name location and address [sic].” The Instagram page replied that it had that information, according to screenshots obtained by The Brandeis Hoot. The page, @stop_antisemetism, which deleted the comments, did not respond to requests for comment. In a post on Facebook, Winberg said that he was “embarrassed” by the response to Tatuskar’s post made by those who claimed to be representative of the Jewish community. Winberg also wrote that a more productive reaction would be to be considerate of the opposing argument, ask further questions to get a better understanding and check the facts before criticizing someone. “Some of the assessments of the current student union president have been unfair and distressing,” Winberg wrote in an email to the Brandeis community addressing the backlash. “My sense from her other social media posts is that she is aware of and speaks up

about antisemitism … Students deserve the benefit of the doubt as they find their voices and learn how to express themselves sincerely and delicately.” He continued, “We need to be vigilant in combating antisemitism, and we should all be allies in that regard.” The social media backlash followed an Instagram story on Tatuskar’s account that questioned a New York Senate bill—S6648— which passed in the senate on July 21, according to the senate. The bill comes in response to a rise in hate crimes nationwide, according to a CNN article. Tatuskar posted comments, around July 20, made by an Instagram account discussing the bill and added her own commentary, where she argued that both histories—the Hindu and Buddhist history of the symbol and the Nazi history—should be taught. “I grew up in a religious family and understand the historic significance and value of this symbol in Hindu culture,” she wrote in the post. “I don’t understand why cultural appropriation from Hindu/Buddhist culture for a truly evil and vicious cause by Nazi Germany isn’t isolated from the origins of the symbol and what it still continues to mean.” “I think it’s important to teach both - awareness of other cultures and to be cognizant of antisemitism as a reality,” wrote Tatuskar. “I’m aware of how valuable and historic Jewish culture is, and the level of antisemitism that’s faced to this day that needs to be addressed. But that can’t be done by invalidating other cultures and their values/symbols in the process.” Winberg responded directly to Tatuskar’s comments, writing, “My own view is that there ought to be a way to teach about the swastika as a symbol of hateful anti-Judaism without disenfranchising American Hindus. The Third Reich’s misappropriation of the swastika should be taught as part of Holocaust history.” Tatuskar later clarified her remarks in a subsequent post, saying she regretted the misunderstandings it caused.

“The Nazi swastika undoubtedly represents the horrors of the Holocaust,” Tatuskar wrote in the subsequent post a few days later, on July 22. “Hitler tilted the swastika and turned it into a symbol of hate … As someone who is not Jewish, I know that I cannot fully understand the Jewish experience and feelings my post evoked, but I never wanted to harm anyone … The current version of the bill erases and vilifies various cultures for using this symbol. This may perpetuate ignorance, since all students will learn that the Swastika [sic] is solely and exclusively associated with hatred and intolerance rather than being educated about the full historical and cultural meaning of the symbol.” The history of the swastika dates back to before the Second World War, and the word “swastika” means “well-being” in Sanskrit, according to a BBC article. The symbol is used by Buddhists, Hindus and Jainists and was used in the west for advertising and product design prior to the 1930s. Within the religion of Hinduism, “it is an auspicious sign that signifies prosperity and good luck, hence it is displayed during religious festivals,” according to an ABC op-ed. The swastika was used during the Second World War by the Nazi Third Reich for uniforms, flags and even troop formations at rallies, according to The Smithsonian. The symbol used by Nazi Germany at the time, the black straight-armed hakenkreuz, or hooked cross, was placed on a white circle and red background to form the Nazi flag. The symbol is notorious for representing antisemitism and the Holocaust—or the imprisonment and genocide of around six million Jewish people. It is known as a hate symbol in the U.S. and linked with white supremacy movements, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The symbol has been banned in Germany since the end of World War II, according to a Vox article. Several Brandeis Instagram users referenced a post by user Anna

Rajagopal, who does not attend Brandeis (though she says she was accepted into Brandeis’ mid-year program last fall and chose not to attend) and who self-identifies as both Indian and Jewish. She told The Hoot in an email that several Brandeis students reached out to her about Tatuskar’s posts. She wrote about the meaning of the symbol to her and criticized Tatuskar’s statements in a post to over 3,000 followers on July 21. “Here’s the bottom line: If you aren’t Jewish, you are not ‘aware’ of the way the Swastika [sic] affects us Jews. We suffer from intergenerational trauma correlated directly to the Swastika [sic],” the post reads. “As president of @brandeisuniversity’s student union, this is unacceptable. I ask—Why post this now? The answer: Because antisemitism is finally gaining the attention that we Jews have long waited for, and you are using our momentum—our outcry of trauma and pain.” Rajagopal wrote she stands by her post and that Tatuskar’s second post “was not an apology” but minimized Jewish trauma and failed to acknowledge that some Jewish people are non-white. Rajapogal wrote that she condemns threats and doxxing—where individuals publish another’s private information online as a form of revenge—of any kind. “I hope that the Jewish community—my community—realizes the nuance inherent to this issue … I am a Jewish Indian. I grew up around the Swastika [sic], with the symbol present in my life— as a symbol of peace. As a Jew, I also grew up with that symbol as a reminder & bringer of great trauma. Jewish Indians NEED [sic] to be included in these discussions. This conversation can’t be Jews versus Indians, because then we are leaving out thousands of those of us who exist as both,” she wrote. “To allow Hitler, Nazi Germany and White Supremacy [sic] to continue to pit both marginalized groups against each other is doing EVERYONE [sic] a disservice.” Several prominent Instagram

pages, including @jewishoncampus and @stop_antisemitism, also posted criticism against Tatuskar and the Free Press Journal, an English daily newspaper out of Mumbai, and the website Swarajya Magazine picked up the story. Tatuskar’s original post was reposted to the Instagram stories of several Brandeis students in the following days. When Tatuskar clarified her statement, she wrote that her original post was about the New York Senate bill. Tatuskar described the Nazi definition of the swastika as “vital and necessary learning for all students,” and concluded that, “marginalized identities should not be pitted against one another.” She cited a leadership summit that Winberg also references in his email response. The 2008 summit, attended by both Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, representatives of the World Council of Religious Leaders produced a declaration which included a description of the swastika’s history. “Svastika is an ancient and greatly auspicious symbol of the Hindu tradition,” the declaration reads. “It is inscribed on Hindu temples, ritual altars, entrances, and even account books. A distorted version of this sacred symbol was misappropriated by the Third Reich in Germany, and abused as an emblem under which heinous crimes were perpetrated against humanity, particularly the Jewish people. The participants recognize that this symbol is, and has been sacred to Hindus for millennia, long before its misappropriation.” The discussion was brought to the comments section of Brandeis University’s official Instagram page on July 23, which discussed the return to fall learning. It was repeatedly commented on by users writing the hashtag “#Hinduphobia,” “#westandwithSimranTatuskar,” “#stophinduphobia” and others. This post now has over 150 comments, with Brandeis students and others discussing the origin, meaning and modern use of the swastika.

BAASA event gives healing space for students BAASA, from page 1

ies including San Francesco, New York City, San Jose, Oakland and San Leandro. Wang also discussed two robberies in Quincy, Massachusetts which targeted Asian-Americans. “These anti-asian racist occurrences don’t only happen in big cities but also right in our own backyard,” said Wang. Kleiman provided a brief history of Anti-Asian violence in the United States discussing Yellow Peril, which occurred in the 1800s. She explained that the history of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is intertwined with a global history of Western colonial expansion and imperial wars. The US has been involved in many wars in Asia including China, Cambodia, Pakistan and other countries. This

violence has increased refugees, caused trauma from displacement and caused many deaths of Asians, said Kleiman. The presenters also noted that carceral solutions the US has are not impactful since they do not contribute towards creating safe communities. “We cannot rely on the same systems that oppress us to protect us,” according to the slides. BAASA, partnered with the Intercultural Center (ICC), a resource for students which supports the understanding of different cultures and ethnicities on campus, held the event on March 18 to provide a space for students of color to heal and to discuss steps into creating real safety for marginalized groups, according to their event description. The presentation was entirely student run, according to An, specifically by Asian women and femmes. The only support was

provided by Tara Whitehurst, program advisor at the ICC. The planning of the event was difficult on the student leaders since they had to adapt to accommodate a larger audience just two days before the event was scheduled for, due to its wide circulation, according to an email sent by the BAASA presidents. In addition to this, the students were processing the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings which happened two days before on March 16, An said. The students had to adapt the event to hold more people while also maintaining a healing space for Asians and other marginalized groups on campus who have been affected by the increased violence. “This is indicative of a larger problem at Brandeis of not supporting students of color,” said An. The event was promoted by university President Ron Liebowitz and Chief Diversity Office and Vice President for Diversi-

ty, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas in emails sent out to the Brandeis community regarding the increased violence toward the AAPI community. The student leaders wrote that they were not given any support or substantial checkins from upper administration leading up to the event. Even though administrators were directing people to the event, they did not help when the students had to change the structure and ensure security for the event, according to the email. It is not enough for the university to rely on and direct students towards, “Asian students to perform the labor of educating,” said An. “With the event being widely promoted to audiences outside of BAASA’s usual network, there was no way for our small group of students to sufficiently protect ourselves/our safety with the given time, resources, or support,”

wrote the BAASA student leaders. Before the presentation began, Whitehurst offered the ICC as a “brave and safe space” for communities of color on campus to come to. The ICC is a place of solidarity for students as violence is continually observed against these communities, said Whitehurst. “It is important for us to come together as a community during these trying times,” said Whitehurst. “As a proud Brandeisian, who also identifies as Asian-American, I bring my own lived experiences to work daily,” invited speaker Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Ou said during the presentation. Ou gave an anecdote of his own immigration from Taiwan to North Carolina at the age of 9. The experience has shaped him and how he views the world. It has also impacted his work with students of color, he explained.

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot 9

Two members of Brandeis Athletics participate in UAA series on race and racism By Sophie Trachtenberg editor

The University Athletic Association (UAA) has released a series titled, “Conversations on Race and Racism”—highlighting current and former coaches, players and administration and their individual experiences with race and racism—and two members of Brandeis athletics were invited to share their stories. Lauren Haynie, the Director of Athletics, and Pauri Pandian, the Head Coach of the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams, have used this platform to not only describe their narratives, but also with the hopes of sparking future conversations and moving to dismantle the inherent structural racism that has been present throughout history and continues today. Since August of 2020, the UAA has shared over 12 personal stories, each detailing intimate anecdotes of encountering prejudice and racism both on and off the playing field, as well as inside and outside of the conference itself. “No individual or collective statement can adequately express the frustration, outrage, fear, hurt, sorrow, helplessness, guilt many of us feel as we seek to understand the systemic roots of this evil within our society and the degree to which we have become and remain blind to the everyday reality of its existence,” said Dick Rasmussen, Executive Vice President of the UAA, in a press release from late June that announced the establishment of the series. “Stories, personal stories, however, are powerful,” he continued. “They have the ability to touch us, move us, and inspire us to act.” It is this idea that ultimately led to the conception of this series, as Rasmussen notes that hearing personal stories, whether they come from those we know closely or others whom we do not, can be quite impactful in terms of recognizing and better understanding the long-withstanding racism that invades every aspect of our society. These stories are authentic, genuine and exist in their purest form, being told directly by those who embody these experiences. Participants were invited to engage in a personal fashion and were able to take their story in any direction they saw fit. As Pandian shared in a message to the Hoot, “My understanding was that everyone contributing a piece to this series was given wide latitude to write what they felt passionate about, or to share their experience in life, athletics, career, or family. I felt like in this piece, I wanted to share my experience in life, as that is what I could speak most clearly and honestly about.” For Haynie, a similar approach was taken, as she felt compelled to share her original story in this way “…because there are very few opportunities to share personal insights on race and the way


that it impacts my work and my life. The stories of people of color need to be highlighted and uplifted, and this was one small way for me to play a part in telling these stories.” Pandian began his account with memories from childhood, pointing out the harsh contrast that existed between living the idealized American Dream on the one hand, and encountering blatant instances of racism from those around him on the other. His parents immigrated to the United States from India in the 1970s, and instilled the value of meritocracy in both him and his sister at a very young age. “I believed that every person could achieve anything in this country with hard work, dedication, and humility. I believed that limits didn’t exist. Despite small instances of feeling like an outsider, I felt like my individuality was honored. I felt like my town, my school, my community supported me,” said Pandian in telling his story to the UAA. “It took two planes flying into the World Trade Center to attune me to the stark reality that my community always saw me as different, they just didn’t always vocalize it.” Haynie recalls a powerful shift like this as well during young adulthood. “College was an enormous shock for me because it was really the first time I experienced being ‘the only one in the room. I was suddenly very conscious that I was expected to speak for all members of my race instead of simply from my own perspective,” she wrote in her article. Throughout her childhood, Haynie attended racially diverse elementary and high schools in the Washington D.C. area. Since attending Penn State as an undergraduate, however, Haynie has encountered many instances, across both higher education and athletics, in which she was the only person of color in the room, resulting in countless microaggressions and disbelief regarding her reality. “More than anything, when people of color are questioned about whether their experience of discrimination, it is real, it is

harmful … I know when I am treated differently because of my skin color. Simply believe me,” Haynie conveyed to the UAA. For both Pandian and Haynie, these experiences have not been isolated or unique, but rather have occurred repeatedly throughout the course of their personal and professional lives, extending far beyond just their early years. In unpacking their stories, both individuals have reflected on the shortfalls occurring now in our own campus community, recognizing the need for change right here at Brandeis. When asked what message she wanted to share with others regarding race and racism in college athletics, Haynie replied, “the entire athletics community [at Brandeis and beyond] should know that we are not immune to racism in sports. We are not inoculated because we often work together in reaching the same competitive goals.” But, Haynie is quite hopeful in charting a different path and believes that the athletic community gives us an excellent platform to do so. She then proposed the notion that, “we are unique in that our pursuits often put each other in proximity, and if we are willing to lean in, engage with each other, and have honest conversations, we have the opportunity to make meaningful connections that can be transformative.” Pandian echoed this, adding that “ultimately, everyone needs to know that these issues aren’t going to solve themselves … [but] on college sports teams, because team culture and close bonds among teammates are priorities, we are well equipped to have open, honest conversations about these topics.” Despite calling for change now, the department itself has had its own troubled history with race and racism. In May of 2017, “six students came forward with a formal complaint against basketball coach Brian Meehan alleging nepotism, racial discrimination and emotionally abusive conduct,” accoding to an earlier article from the Brandeis Hoot. However, Mee-

han was not fired by the university until April 2018, over a year after the initial allegations were made by members of the team. Brandeis has received much criticism regarding how they handled his termination, and the lasting effects that his actions had on the men’s basketball program and the department as a whole. Today, Brandeis Athletics has taken a new direction. More discussions about race and racism have been taking place, starting this summer after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd. Individual teams met over Zoom with Aseem Rastogi, Assistant Coach of the Women’s Basketball team, who facilitated structured conversations about this event and the many other racial injustices that have occurred over the past few months. Throughout the fall semester, Rastogi is leading Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) sessions for all of Brandeis Athletics, including student-athletes, coaches and staff. “Essentially, our collective work is focused on education, advocacy and representation,” commented Haynie. The efforts do not conclude after these initial DEI sessions, as Haynie says that “Out of that work, we will build a list of commitments to advocacy for causes that are important to student-athletes, coaches and staff.” She also mentioned a department-wide initiative to reexamine recruitment practices that will ideally result in a more diverse and representative student-athlete population. In order to effectively accomplish such goals and make necessary changes, Haynie concludes that “again, essential to these efforts is our ability to have honest, direct conversations about race and creating an anti-racist, inclusive culture.” In participating in this series, both she and Pandian have done just that, setting an example for the rest of the athletic and greater Brandeis community to follow. With sharing his story, Pandian hopes that his narrative will serve as a starting place, bring-

ing conversations about race and racism to the forefront of people’s minds. “My hope is that anyone who reads it learns … about my experience, reflects on their own, and makes adjustments to better the lives of [others] in whatever ways feel tangible to them,” he expressed. “My hope is that people feel inspired to continue to educate themselves about how racism is an inescapable part of every facet of our society. The more that people understand how that plays out in their own area of study and eventual careers, the more they can engage in anti-racist behavior in their respective fields.” As a whole, the Brandeis campus has a long way to go. Talking about race and racism, both inside and outside the context of sport, is only the first step in making much needed change. Along with the rest of our country, we have a responsibility and a duty to lead the way. Haynie believes that Brandeis Athletics is up for the challenge. “I have been heartened by the enthusiasm demonstrated by our students and staff to truly engage in this work,” she added. “There seems to be a collective understanding that creating the inclusive environment we want to see will require continued work, re-examination and likely missteps.” The road does not simply end here. These two personal stories, as well as the others shared by the UAA, serve as a testament for the work that still needs to be done. Although DEI training is occurring, education is taking place and resources are being shared, we must also take the time to step back, listen and ultimately believe the stories that people of color choose to share. Engaging in dialogue, educating ourselves and actively using anti-racist tactics are not onetime feats, but are rather a part of a continued process that must be constantly employed. Haynie, Pandian and other members of the Brandeis Athletics community have demonstrated this. It is now our turn to do the same.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

Trevor Bauer to the Dodgers?! By Justin Leung editor

The Los Angeles Dodgers, 2020 World Series champions and the best team in baseball, have somehow gotten even better. Possibly the most coveted free agent of this offseason, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, has signed with the Dodgers. It was difficult to predict where Bauer would go entering the 2021 offseason, however most people would not have guessed that he would sign with the reigning champions. This signing has many implications for the future of baseball and the future for all sports. Two years ago, the Washington Nationals won the World Series. They proceeded to lose one of their best players, third baseman Anthony Rendon, to the Los Angeles Angels in free agency. This is not uncommon because it is difficult to have many good players on the same team because inevitably, they will ask for more money than the team may have. The Nationals went from the World Series champions to last place in their division and they ended up missing the 2020 playoffs. It appears as if the Dodgers do not want to fail like the Nationals. The Dodgers maintained a majority of their championship roster and instead of losing a top player, they added pitcher Trevor Bauer.

According to Jeff Passan, the Dodgers signed Bauer to a threeyear $102 million contract. He has an opt-out for each year of his contract. Bauer is set to earn $40 million in his first year and $45 million in his second year. The $40 million is a record for the highest salary in a year, but he breaks that record in the following year with $45 million. How is it possible that the best team in baseball is able to afford this contract? First, the Dodgers have one of the highest payrolls in baseball. They are in a big market and are consistently a very good baseball team. This leads them to have and spend a lot of money. Second, they are in a situation where they can hardly afford it, but they do not care. According to Jeff Passan, when the Dodgers added Bauer, they went $30 million over the luxury tax. The luxury tax makes it so that if a team passes a certain limit, they must pay an extra percentage of their payroll to the league. Most teams try to avoid going over the luxury tax, but it appears as if the Dodgers are just trying to go win again and they do not care how much they have to spend to do it. So, what does this mean for baseball? Simply put, the Dodgers are going to be very difficult to beat. Last year the Dodgers had one of the best pitching rotations in baseball, but now it is even better. Their projected starting rotation consists of Clayton Kershaw,

who is almost a lock in for the hall of fame and is still one of the most effective pitchers in all of baseball, Walker Buehler, who is a playoff superstar and is often considered to be a top 10 pitcher in baseball, Julio Urias, who is a young pitcher that shined in the 2020 playoffs, David Price, who is a former Cy Young award winner and finally Trevor Bauer who won the Cy Young award just last year. The Dodgers still have the second-best player in baseball, right fielder Mookie Betts. They still have Corey Seager who is a top five shortstop in baseball. The Dodgers aren’t the only team in baseball that made major upgrades. The San Diego Padres traded for many top pitchers as well and will have a formidable rotation just like the Dodgers. The Yankees signed former Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber. The Chicago White Sox signed elite closer Liam Hendricks. So, it isn’t a lock that the Dodgers are going to repeat, however considering that the Dodgers looked dominant last year and now they added a top five pitcher in baseball to their rotation, it is going to be difficult for many teams to compete with them. How does Bauer’s contract and situation affect all sports? Trevor Bauer is known to be very vocal, whether it’s on the field or on social media: he is very active. He frequently uses Twitter to complain about something going on in baseball or anything else. Bauer


also posts videos on YouTube on his opinions about certain players and his own gameplay. This past year he posted vlogs about his process of playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has done interviews with many social media groups and channels as he attempts to build his brand. So, this brings to question: did his brand have anything to do with his contract? Do teams want to bring in players with more personality and more connection to fans? It is possible that teams do not actually want their players to be as active in social media as Bauer is because they are afraid of what they might say. Bauer is not afraid to speak his mind, so that might bring a scare to teams. Maybe the Dodgers just paid Bauer because he was really good last year, but he made it clear that his brand and off field programs are very important to him. Bauer

did not just change the dynamic of how players act off the field, but he did change how people are likely going to be paid in other sports as well. The amount elite players are paid may completely change now that Bauer has set this standard. According to ESPN, point guard Stephen Curry is the highest paid player in basketball as he is making $43 million in this year alone. Curry’s situation is different considering he has played on the same team for his whole career, but it is possible that other players may take Bauer’s approach to free agency and be more aggressive with the amount of money that they want. Even if Bauer’s signing has little effect on contracts in other sports, it is clear that Bauer is paving a path for sports players to be more interactive with their fans and for players to entertain and do more for fans off the field.

Which running back is better: Marshawn Lynch or Derrick Henry?

By William Kevorkian special to the hoot

As sports talk show hosts love to debate how the New England Patriots should approach the upcoming 2021 National Football League (NFL) Draft with respect to the quarterback position or whether LeBron James holds the title of “Greatest of All Time” against Michael Jordan, rarely has the question arisen about which NFL player is better—former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch or current Tennessee Titans feature back Derrick Henry. While neither can compare to Hall of Fame running backs Jim Brown or Emmitt Smith, the question should be raised as both have been considered among the best at their position during their respective prime playing years. Playing for Coach Nick Saban

at the University of Alabama from 2013 until 2015, Derrick Henry’s best year came during his junior season when he amassed two thousand rushing yards and subsequently won the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football, according to their website. Alabama also won the National Championship game that year, beating Clemson 45-40. Nevertheless, a decade earlier in Oakland California, Marshawn Lynch rushed for more than 3.2 thousand yards from 2004 until 2006 for the California Golden Bears Football program. Today, Lynch continues to hold the Cal school record for most 100-yard rushing games with 17. In college and at the professional level, both were, and continue to be recognized for their quick elusiveness and abilities to break and escape tackles on the field. Both players


also chose to forgo their senior seasons in college and declared for the NFL draft. In 2007, Marshawn Lynch was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 12th overall pick; in 2016 the Tennessee Titans selected Derrick Henry with the 45th pick. As a rookie, Lynch was the Bills starting back. In his first two seasons, he rushed for 1,115 and 1,036 yards respectively. Nearly a decade later in the AFC South however, Derrick Henry was viewed as a backup running back to veteran star DeMarco Murray under a Mike Mularkey led offense. Nevertheless, it was not until Lynch was traded to the Seattle Seahawks during the 2010 season and Henry was given the opportunity to start for the 2018 season that both players’ careers took off! Starting in his first career playoff game in Seattle, Lynch had a 67-yard touchdown run in which he broke nine tackles and threw a stiff arm against the New Orleans Saints. This run would become locally known as the “Beast Quake” and caused heads to turn around the league about the power and grit that Lynch offered. Moreover, in week 14 of the 2018 season, Henry had a 99-yard touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars, fending off three defenders. During his 13-year career with the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, and formerly-known as the Oakland Raiders, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 10,413 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He also averaged 7.7 yards per reception. During his arguably best season in 2012, Lynch had 1,590 rushing yards with 11 touchdowns off 315 rushing attempts. Comparably, after his fifth season, Henry thus far has rushed for 5,860 yards, in-

cluding 55 touchdowns. His best season arguably came last year when he rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging six yards per reception. In his career, Lynch rushed an average of 4.2 yards per carry while Henry in the last five seasons has rushed for 5 yards, on average. While some will be quick to say that Derrick Henry is automatically the better running back, context is always crucial. Coming into Buffalo, Lynch was asked to compete with established veteran backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. He also faced Rex Ryan’s New York Jets and Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots defenses four times a year. After his in-season trade to Seattle, Lynch also faced competition in the Seattle offense from receivers Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Tyler Lockett for opportunities. In Nashville, Derrick Henry received handoffs from former Quarterback Marcus Mariota and current starter Ryan Tannehill. He also competed against DeMarco Murray during his first two seasons and currently competes for ball opportunities against receivers and tight ends A.J. Brown, Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith. Finally, one must also account for the defenses that both running backs faced during their careers. While competing against the Jets and Patriots stout defensive lines, Lynch also competed against the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and then-St. Louis Rams—all with prolific defenses in the NFC West. Between 2011 and 2013, the San Francisco 49ers defense was praised for their quick, focused, ability to tackle

and create turnovers. Alongside linebacker Patrick Willis, NaVarro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks were a known threat across the league. In 2012, the 49ers rushing defense ranked fourth in the NFL, allowing 3.7 yards per attempt. Additionally, the Rams rushing defense ranked #15, allowing 4.3 rushing yards per attempt. For the majority of the last five seasons, the AFC South, consisting of the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans have had poor defenses. Until last season, the Colts defense was known to be their biggest weakness and Houston’s inability to cause pressure and create turnovers (with the exception of JJ Watt) has been an issue in trying to win games. Last season, the Texans ranked last in rushing defense, allowing an average of 160 rushing yards per game off 5.2 yards per carry. Additionally, the Jaguars ranked 30th as they allowed 4.3 rushing yards per carry. While some fans and analysts will continue to remain faithful, one must recognize that these players’ statistics are closer than previously thought. While Marshawn Lynch did not play to the same level at the end of his career with the Raiders and Seahawks organizations, his consistent, tough, rugged style of playing should be carefully evaluated. I am not here to say that one player is better than the other (that is your prerogative), however, I am here to present you with the qualitative data/information necessary to make a mature decision.

August 2020 - March 2021

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe.”

Editors-in-Chief Sabrina Chow Natalie Fritzson Managing Editor John Fornagiel Copy Editor Madeline Rousell News Editor Victoria Morrongiello Arts Editors Aaron LaFauci Emma Lichtenstein Deputy Arts Editors Stewart Huang Caroline O Opinions Editor Sasha Skarboviychuk Deputy Opinions Editors Abdel Achibat Thomas Pickering Features Editor Shruthi Manjunath Sports Editor Sophie Trachtenberg Deputy Sports Editor Justin Leung Photos Editor Grace Zhou Deputy Photos Editor Teresa Shi Deputy Social Media Editor Anya Lance-Chacko

Volume 18 • Issue 2 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma

FOUNDED BY Leslie Pazan, Igor Pedan and Daniel Silverman


Jonathan Ayash, Tim Dillon, Lucy Fay, Sam Finbury, Uma Jagwani, Josh Lannon, Kristianna Lapierre, Max Lerner, Rafi Levi, Francesca Marchese, Claire Odgen, Mia Plante, Harper Pollio-Barbee, Roshni Ray, Mike Richard, David Shapiro, Matt Shapiro, Luca Swinford, Jahnavi Swamy, and 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 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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ote. As redundant as it may sound with everyone and their grandmothers tweeting at their fellow Americans to vote in the upcoming election, this year, voting remains an important and necessary duty. We are not just talking about the presidential election. Voting goes beyond deciding the next commander-in-chief of our country; it allows each of us to choose the officials that represent us at the local level and gives us the chance to voice our opinion on upcoming changes to our communities. From how much we pay in taxes to how our public schools are run, government at the local level controls many aspects of our daily lives. The outcome of a local election is just as likely to directly affect your life as the outcome of the national election. Voting is always crucial, and this year the act feels even more critical as citizens face a deadly pandemic, the growing threat of climate change and the injustices perpetrated again and again against Black Americans. Voting is neither an instant solution to these problems nor is it the only type of activism needed from every citizen. The wheels of government turn slowly, but in addition to protesting, donating and advocating in our own communities for change, voting is a necessary step to exert our political will on a system that desperately needs change. We, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot, urge any eligible voters in the greater Brandeis community to exercise their right to vote and register to vote in the upcoming general election. Even if your right to vote has been infringed by gerrymandering, an outdated electoral college or a slow mail-in ballot system, your vote still holds the potential for change. It is important to look


beyond the breakdown of the electoral college from the presidential election to the local level. Many states that may lean Democractic or Republican during the presidential election may look very different at the state level when you take a closer look at the distribution of votes at the district level. Districts can be dominated by one political party while the state leans towards another. By exercising your right to vote, you can potentially help flip a district in future elections. As the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said: “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” While voting may seem intimidating at first, Brandeis has plenty of resources to assist both absentee and local voters in getting in their ballots in time. Brandeis recently established the VoteDeis Campus Coalition—a nonpartisan coalition of administrators, faculty and students to help encourage and ease voting for members of the Brandeis community. The webpage includes a link to, which provides information on how to vote in your state. Both Professor Anita Hill (AAAS/LGLS/HS/WGS) and Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz authored short videos on the importance of voting, particularly during this election cycle. “Despite women having the right to vote 100 years ago, in Oklahoma, Black women lacked the license to vote until 1939 when a Supreme Court ruling ended the state's application of a grandfather clause,” said Hill in the video. “That clause was enshrined in law to disenfranchise Blacks and Native Americans. At this 100 year anniversary, I vote for my mother and my grandmothers, as well as for my father and grandfathers. For all of the years they

The Brandeis Hoot 11

couldn't vote, I vote.” Brandeis also has several other resources for voters. The Brandeis library has a voter’s guide with information on how to vote in every state on the library’s website. The Dean of Students Office offers information on how to become a poll worker as well as how to vote—for those interested in being even more involved with our electoral process. Finally, Brandeis’ sociology department has a page with answers to several frequently asked questions about the voting process. At time of printing, there are 39 days left until election day: Nov. 3, 2020. We urge you to remember and research your local elections as well as the national election. This year, as more and more challenges block eligible voters from reaching the ballot box—physically or by mail—it is all the more important to vote early, particularly if you are voting absentee. Earlier this year, the post office warned over 40 states that delayed mail-in ballots could disenfranchise voters, according to The Washington Post. The earlier a ballot is mailed, the more likely that said ballot will make it to the voting box. As a student newspaper, we pride ourselves on being a part of a small microcosm of democracy in our own Brandeis community. We get to cover student union elections, hold our leaders accountable and shed a light on the achievements of Brandeis students, faculty, administrators and staff. This fall, we encourage you to voice your opinion on our national and local democracies—we encourage you to vote. Editor’s Note: Opinions Editor Sasha Skarboviychuk did not contribute to this editorial. Originally published: Sept. 25, 2020

Univ. response to racial violence not enough


he U.S. has undoubtedly been made more aware of racial issues within the past year. From the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests over the summer to the more recent spa shooting in Atlanta, where several individuals of Asian descent were killed, it’s clear that we are in the middle of a racial crisis. On the surface, it may seem that the communication from the senior administration standing in solidarity with communities of color against violence and hate demonstrates the university's support for Brandeis community members that may identify with these groups. When the student leaders of the Black Action Plan (BAP) released their proposal at the beginning of the academic year after a summer of BLM protests, the university welcomed the plan and vowed to address all their concerns. The recent emails in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have provided resources for students that may be affected, as well as events for students to reflect. However, these emails have mostly been informational, and, otherwise,

there have been no real measures that the administration has taken in order to reduce these sorts of racial conflicts on campus. Emails by President Ron Liebowitz and Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas made note of student-led events that would provide a safe space for students to reflect on the event. However, they made no effort to assist in the planning or execution of the event. According to an open letter by the Brandeis Asian American Student Association (BAASA) that planned one of the events marketed by the administration, the club received no assistance in planning their event and had to make last minute changes to accommodate a bigger audience. These emails placed the burden of education and community on the BAASA leaders instead of on the administration. The administration failed to offer support, instead choosing to direct students to other places. It is unfair to delegate this responsibility to the students, especially the students most impacted by the events in Atlanta and around

the country. While Liebowitz’s recent emails in regards to the Atlanta shooting served as a condemnation of these atrocious acts of discrimination, they were just that. They were a reminder that the administration is ready to protect members of the community, without the university putting any policies in place to protect the community or offering any real emotional resources to help students cope with tragedy. While deep-rooted racial issues within a society do require a mindset shift of its inhabitants, as opposed to policy set by the university, we still believe that this is essential to protecting our community and is also merely a stepping stone to a larger goal. The administration’s claims to social justice should not be framed only in terms of recognition of difference, but also in redistributive action: taking initiatives to rectify social inequity. Editor’s Note: Editor-in-Chief Sabrina Chow and News Editor Victoria Morrongiello did not contribute to this editorial Originally published: March 26, 2021

12 The Brandeis Hoot





Apple picking. The quintessential New England fall activity.

Editor-in-Chief Sabrina got pie’d in the face as part of a Relay For Life fundraiser. PI DAY


Banana bread Batman is the only type allowed now.

August 2020 - March 2021



Meet our dog-in-chief, Pebbles.



Arts Editor Emma has achieved zen.


August 2020 - March 2021




Everyone’s gaming now right?



Editor Abdel enjoying the sunshine.


Flowers are starting to bloom as spring is coming!



Dog. ‘Nough said.



Happy Valentine’s Day!


The Brandeis Hoot 13


Just a bunny..and her rock.


14 The Brandeis Hoot


August 2020 - March 2021

In memoriam: Andreas Teuber By Sabrina Chow editor

The Brandeis community, especially within the philosophy community, have recently mourned the loss of the late Professor Andreas Teuber (PHIL), who peacefully passed away at home on Feb. 15, 2021, at the age of 78. As a professor, he “tried to get each and every one of his students to do philosophy,” Provost Carol Finke wrote in an email to the Brandeis community informing them about Teuber’s passing. “To step up onto the stage for a moment and try to discover their philosophical voice; to join a millennium-old conversation about justice or beauty or truth.” And while Teuber’s classes were some of the highest-enrolled classes in the Division of Humanities, according to Finke’s email, students still felt a strong connection to him. “Even in a massive lecture hall, I always felt that he was speaking directly to me,” Jake Mehl ’22 wrote to The Brandeis Hoot in an email. “Teuber gave everything he had to others to make them feel like the most significant person in the room,” Thomas Pickering ’23 wrote in an opinions article in The Hoot. “He took every opportunity to show us something that made us feel small...these questions made us feel small, but no matter how we felt, Teuber always found a way of making every question show us how big we really were.” In this article, we hope to share some tributes by various faculty members about their relationships with Teuber and the memories that he leaves behind. Professor Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow (ANTH/CLAS/CH/FA/ ITAL/WGS) The Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Endowed Chair in the Humanities and Head of the Division of Humanities Koloski-Ostrow worked along-

side Teuber in a program she ran from 1999-2011 through Brandeis, “Ancient Greek Studies in the Schools,” which was a professional development program for K-12 teachers in the greater Boston area, she wrote to The Hoot in an email. The goal of the program was to demonstrate that all subjects could learn from the ancient Greeks. “Professor Teuber was absolutely committed to this professional development program for teachers, and he saw it as crucial for getting us faculty out of our ivory towers,” she wrote. While teaching an introductory course in philosophy during the tenure of the program, the local teachers “came to consider him our very own Socrates—he was somewhat unkempt; he wore rumbled clothing; he had long, matted hair; he was usually unshaven; and he was always questioning everything and everyone from the minute he started his seminars for the teachers,” she wrote. “Everyone was infected by his enthusiasm— especially for how philosophy developed and for Greek theater, as he had been quite an actor himself in his youth.” Professor Daniel Breen (LGLS) Senior Lecturer in Legal Studies Teuber hired Breen as a grading teaching assistant for one of his courses while he was teaching history at Framingham State University in the early 2000s, Breen wrote in an email to The Hoot. He explained that even though Teuber had him grading 60 to 80 essays in a week, “those essay topics had a big influence on me, because they always demanded that students try to see and engage with arguments on the other side of whatever point they were trying to make.” “Andreas enjoyed the give and take of earnest discussion,” Breen added. “I treasure the time I got to spend with him trading ideas in a fun, easygoing way. I’ll always be grateful to him for the opportu-

nities he gave me very early on in my Brandeis career, and especially, for the example he set in terms of caring about his students.” Professor Gordon Fellman (SOC) Chair of Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies (PAX) Fellman described Teuber as one-of-a-kind in an email to The Hoot. “The man was smart almost beyond belief,” Fellman wrote. “Conversations were stimulating and fun. A man of the theater as much as of the academy, Andreas delighted in the arts as much as in his academic field of philosophy.” Both worked together on the PAX steering committee and Fellman described how Teuber “championed PAX as the epitome of Brandeis’s emphasis on social justice and deeply appreciated its place in the Brandeis curriculum.” Hearing from students, Fellman got the impression that students loved Teuber as a professor not just because he was “unusually compelling in the classroom” but that he also “stimulated his students to think widely and deeply about issues crucial to all of our lives.” Professor Rajesh Sampath (HS) Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Justice, Rights, and Social Change at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management “I was immediately struck by the presence, demeanor, and if I may use some continental philosophical jargon, the ‘phenomenality’ of Andreas,” Sampath wrote in an email to The Hoot. Sampath first met Teuber a decade ago when he arrived at Brandeis. “Andreas embodied a living thought, whereby every gesture, glance and word seemed so saturated in meaning, an enviable plenitude given his immense intellectual and artistic gifts,” he wrote. “Andreas could take the ordinary and extract wonder from him.” Sampath described how Teuber challenged people when he spoke to them, not in a way to dominate, or humiliate them, but


to bring out a more philosophical thinking, which allowed an individual to stand out in their own unique way. “Like an artist who seeks truth to occur as their art, Andreas wanted people to experience themselves as an occurrence of profound joy and meaning,” Sampath explained. “One must love what they do. One must not simply walk through life and let events happen; one must make life one, elongated, beautiful event.” According to Sampath, a common saying that Teuber said was that “philosophy is thought in slow motion.” “Andreas was the embodiment of compassion in relation to the contemplative life in slow motion,” he wrote to The Hoot. “This way every moment or instant contained the possibility of excess meaning, every encounter could become a memorable experience.” Sampath will always carry a trace of Teuber’s presence, in the rest of his professional and personal life. “That is the incessant demand that we always pause, we question, we turn ourselves around in different directions but ultimately arrive at where we are supposed to be, namely our authentic self in a world of temporary fixations, busy schedules, and public appearances,” he ex-

plained. Sharon Fray-Witzer (LGLS) Lecturer in Philosophy Fray-Witzer was initially connected with Teuber through Breen and has recently taken over teaching a few of his courses. “Professor Teuber worked hard to create delightful moments of discovery for students by focusing them on something very particular— something which might knock them off balance a bit,” she wrote in an email to The Hoot. “Then he would show genuine interest in knowing what they thought, neighboring them in wonder, and making it safe for them to take risks.” She added that Teuber celebrated the insights that his students had, so they could recognize the strength in their thoughts. “By doing that, he very deliberately created joy in looking and learning, recruiting students to become his allies in continuing a conversation which he never wanted to end.” Editor’s Note: The editorial board of The Hoot would like to extend its sincerest condolences to the family of Andrea Teuber for their recent loss. Members of the board have spoken fondly of him, both as a professor and mentor.

The Broad Institute, a profile By Tim Dillon staff

The behind-the-scenes aspect of the university’s COVID-19 testing apparatus was set up in just 11 days in July, Morgen Bergman, the university’s liaison to the Broad Institute and Assistant Provost of Strategic Initiatives, said in a phone interview with The Brandeis Hoot. The Broad Institute processes between 1400 and 1600 tests per day for Brandeis, and approximately seven percent of all tests administered in the U.S. every day, which is around 200,000 tests a day as of Jan. 25, according to Bergman. Since the end of the summer and the resumption of campus life, all residential students and faculty, staff and commuter students that are on campus more than three times a week are required to be tested twice a week, all of which are rapidly processed and tested by the Broad Institute and communicated back to the subject, as well as the campus’ contact tracing team. This ability to frequently, quickly and reliably test members of the Brandeis community that come to campus

often is essential to the university’s strategy to safely bring students back to campus and maintain limited on-campus activities until herd immunity is achieved and the danger of the pandemic has passed, according to the university’s COVID-19 strategy. While the university also mandates the conventional measures for preventing transmission, such as mask wearing, social distancing and restrictions on gathering size, testing is a crucial second level response to plug the inevitable leaks in that system and prevent any on-campus outbreaks from spreading too far. If a case can be detected early and isolated, alongside all of their close contacts, then students should be able to live on campus and attend class in relative safety. Writing in The Atlantic, Indiana University School of Medicine Professor Aaron Carroll talked about the success of such methods not only for keeping universities operating but as a model for society at large for how to not just contain but suppress the virus. And indeed, according to the university’s COVID Dashboard, Brandeis has maintained a significantly lower positivity rate than other Massachusetts universi-

ties, and an even lower rate than the state as a whole. Most of the people being tested, however, are likely unfamiliar with the system behind “a crucial part of our campus health and safety operations,” according to the university’s testing website. The relationship between Brandeis and the Broad Institute began in June 2020, when Bergman said that a representative of the Broad Institute put on a webinar about their “Safe for Schools Program.” While there were some other organizations offering testing services, they could not, she said, guarantee a 24 to 48 hour turnaround time. The Broad Institute, she said, has consistently returned tests within 24 hours other than the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester, when she said it was closer to 28. According to Bergman, the current average turnaround time is 10.6 hours. Bergman also said that the university had briefly considered attempting to start its own testing program, but quickly realized that it was not capable of running such an operation, and so it agreed to work with the Broad Institute. On July 3, Bergman said that

the university formally signed a contract with the Broad Institute, and, on July 14, it administered its first test. “I did it in eleven days including weekends and holidays; it was a very busy time,” Bergman explained about intervening time and the process of setting the system up in an interview with The Hoot. She added that in the early days the university had to use a student courier until the Broad Institute could provide a proper courier. Despite the challenges and hard work, Bergman said, “it was fun doing something so innovative and helping Brandeis.” The Broad Institute was also new to the COVID-19 testing business, said Bergman, who characterized its approach to getting the program off the ground as “a startup mentality,” and said that she “cannot speak highly enough” about the people there and their willingness to solve problems, citing many 2 a.m. phone calls. Once tests have been collected, Bergman said, they are taken to Cambridge by the courier twice a day, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. From there, each sample is tested individually; Bergman made it clear that the Broad Institute does not employ the batch testing method wherein samples are pooled and

testing is repeated individually if traces of the virus are detected in the pool. From there, the results are given to the medical provider, who notifies the test subjects of their results and ensures that any tests not processed (TNPs) are retaken, and that any positive tests are passed on to the students and the contact tracers. Additionally, Bergman told The Hoot, the Broad Institute supplies the university with swabs, tubes, labels, printers and cryogenic boxes, all of which are included with the university’s contract. The supplies are delivered as needed. According to further reporting by The New York Times, each test from the Broad Institute costs $25, a cost which The Times characterizes as being one of the less expensive mass tests available to universities. Bergman confirmed that the tests do in fact cost $25 but said that the benefits are worth the cost. As of press time, the university has spent over $3.2 million on tests, based on the number of tests collected, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. She added that Brandeis is putting its money where its mouth is to keep students safe from the virus, saying, “We are stopping the pandemic.”

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Elias Rosenfeld ’20, DACA recipient, Immigration advocate and Brandeis alum mother passed away from kidney cancer. “What this meant was I fell out of status,” he explained. He recalled finding out that his Visa status had changed when he attempted to apply for a learner’s permit in eighth grade. He was unable to fill out the application because he had no social security number to enter. Rosenfeld describes this particular experience as “the experience that launched me into advocacy.” One of his initial experiences with advocacy was with the gang of eight immigration battle in the Senate in 2012, where he was one of the youngest “dreamers” to be involved. In 2012, former President Barack Obama began the Deferred Action for Child-

By Jahnavi Swamy special to the hoot

Elias Rosenfeld ’20 immigrated to the United States from Caracas, Venezuela at the age of six. According to Rosenfeld, his mother decided to make this move due to the rise in antisemitism in Caracas. “Members of the synagogues were being kidnapped leaving bar mitzvahs or weddings, and swastikas were being drawn on cinema doors,” said Rosenfeld in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. Rosenfeld, his mother and sister came to the states on an L1 Visa and were on the pathway to citizenship. However, when he was 12, his

hood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed DACA recipients, or “dreamers,” to legally obtain a social security card. Rosenfeld graduated high school and received a full merit scholarship at Brandeis University. He went on to help pass a law to improve healthcare access for immigrant children in Florida. In the past few years, Elias took on the role of a full-time immigration advocate. Through his work, Rosenfeld would travel to Washington D.C. three to four times a week from Boston and met with over 300 members of Congress, he told The Hoot. For him, being an immigration advocate began as “a matter of life and circumstance,” rather than an active choice.

“When my Grandfather, who was like a father figure to me, passed away unexpectedly, I was unable to be by his side,” Rosenfeld explained. For him, the termination of the DACA program meant that he could only watch his Grandfather’s funeral on Whatsapp. This moment for him highlighted “how personal the last four years have been.” During the course of the previous presidential administration, Rosenfeld was afraid to leave his apartment on weekends and checked his immigration status for changes on a daily basis to see if it had changed. Rosenfeld expressed that the recent presidential election was an emotional one, but that his

feelings were mixed. Rosenfeld said that the new administration is “actively fighting in Congress for policies that will protect people like myself.” However, he also expressed a belief that the work regarding immigration is far from over. When asked about his hopes for the future of immigration in the US, Rosenfeld said that he has two main goals. First, he hopes that the administration will be able to implement long term humane border and immigration policies. Second, Elias said “Ideally I would like to see all 10 million undocumented immigrants have the dignity and respect that is afforded through permanent protection.”

The sweetest way to be charitable By Emma Lichtenstein editor

Giving back to the Brandeis community just got a whole lot sweeter! Lydia Begag ’22 has created an easy and delicious way to help out fellow Brandeisians with her new baking business that delivers. Found at @thatbitchbaking on Instagram, Begag is raising money for the Brandeis Mutual Aid Fund by donating 50 percent of proceeds from her sales. In her first two weeks, she has already donated almost $200 to the fund! Begag loves to bake and, like many, started baking a lot more during the lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic. In an interview with The Brandeis Hoot, she said that the Instagram account started out as a total joke. Begag said that she had been baking excessively for her four roommates, when one of them suggested that she make an Instagram account to show off her skills. Camila Martinez ’22 then set up the account. However, Martinez quickly realized the potential here to earn

some money and do some good, according to a Sept. 23 post from @thatbitchbaking. The introductory “about us” post reads, “[Martinez] saw the potential in what could be a booming female-led and owned bakery. One that was real. One that was transparent. One that embraced both domesticity and bad bitch energy. Turning the concept on its head to reclaim it. This is what we’re all about.” The system of the bakery is described as “dough to delivery,” with Begag both making the treat and bringing it right to your door. Begag has certainly embraced this concept and the community is responding well to it. In the first week alone, she had about 14 orders, she told The Hoot. Begag mentioned that she expected the orders to only come from her close friends, so she is pleasantly surprised at the response from Brandeisians she doesn’t know. But she enjoys the process, calling it “intimate and personal.” She said that there is a lot of one-on-one communication with

every order to set up delivery times and to ask about allergies. According to a post on the Instagram page bio, vegan and gluten free baked goods are available. Begag offers six different types of baked goods: cookies, breads, pies/cobblers, pastries, cakes and tarts. Each good is listed at a different price between 12 and 25 dollars. For a 15 percent discount, customers can donate a “baking item” during delivery. Pricing details and information about baked good flavors can be found in Instagram posts from late September. Begag said that her current favorite thing to bake was her flourless chocolate cake, which, coincidentally, is a very popular order. She said that the recipe was easy and “called for really, really good quality ingredients,” adding that “baking is something where you get out what you put in.” She boasted of using high quality, natural and organic ingredients in her goods, even if that made them cost a little more. Also contributing to the higher

than average price tag is the donation aspect. She hoped people would be willing to pay a little extra than what they would pay at the grocery store in order to support a good cause. In the interview, she told The Hoot that she knew she wanted to donate part of the proceeds from her baking and that she was very impressed with the Brandeis Mutual Aid Fund. She cited their impact during the coronavirus crisis and large response they had gotten as reasons for this reaction. She noticed that when summer ended, activism of Brandeis students seemed to dwindle, so she wanted to help rejuvenate it. “It’s easy to be disheartened by a lack of mobilization,” she said, which is why she wanted to “bring in something that is directly benefiting the community.” She hopes to “foster something new through a shared love of eating and baked goods.” Begag is also very aware of the pandemic as she is baking. She made clear that she is taking many precautions to make sure that everyone stays healthy. Though she

shares the kitchen with her four roommates, Begag is the only person in the kitchen when baking to fulfill orders. Additionally she said that all five get tested twice a week at Brandeis and are complying with current social distancing standards and wear masks in public spaces—including when delivering orders to customers. She mentioned that if she, or any of her roommates, tested positive, orders would be suspended so as not to infect anyone. She also stated that she wears gloves, never uses dirty dishes, sanitizes cooking surfaces and uses sterile packaging. Those interested in ordering should do so sooner rather than later. The Instagram account’s bio says that Begag is already booked through Oct. 12. She told The Hoot that she has five orders to make this weekend and that she would do more if she wasn’t so busy with her courses. Order forms can be found in the bio of @thatbitchbaking on Instagram. To paraphrase the announcement Instagram post: these are calories for a cause!

Period Activists at ‘Deis continue their work By Sasha Skarbovyichuk and Emily Chou editors

Following a name change, Period Activists at ‘Deis (PAD) continue their work on menstrual education and equality. The name change was caused by recent controversy with the club’s parent organization, PERIOD. “We were originally a chapter of the national nonprofit PERIOD which chapters on a bunch of campuses,” PAD president Cassady Adams ’22 told The Brandeis Hoot in a Zoom interview. Over the summer, some information came out regarding the organization and the founder Nadya Okamoto, accusing her of plagiarism from Black and LatinX menstrual artists, Adams told The Hoot. After this, they decided to stop being a chapter of the organization. However they continued “doing our work as a newly established organization and not connected to that nonprofit,” Adams explained. The primary change was the club’s mission statement, however their main pillars of work did not change, since PERIOD did

not shape what the club did. We do try to “foster a more inclusive environment,” Madison Leifer ’22, the Service Chair of PAD, told The Hoot in an interview. “Before PERIOD, the organization did not assist us with the work we were doing,” Adams explained. “The founder was promoting herself but not acknowledging all the work people in the different chapters were doing.” After the name change, their work has remained relatively similar: menstrual education and community service, such as donation of products to food pantries and public schools, and advocacy, such as to get rid of the tampon tax. From the service standpoint, the club is working to prioritize buying products from Blackowned companies and to donate to the Waltham community, while also trying to reach more immigrant needs in the Waltham area. PAD also tries to use their donations to support Black-owned businesses. “When we can, we buy them from Black-owned shops as opposed to larger corporations,” said Leifer. PAD also started a monthly magazine, PAD Monthly, to cre-

ate an empowering space without having to meet in-person, Adams told The Hoot. “We wanted to create a menstrual justice space digitally that members could contribute to,” she said. Since then the magazine has been developed, it has gotten a lot of attention, according to Leifer and Adams, with them even receiving international submissions. The magazine publishes what they receive, from artwork to poetry to op-eds. There is also a monthly advice column. It is open to anyone at Brandeis and outside to submit menstruation-related artwork. Currently, PAD is focused on planning more events for students. They recently finished up an event in collaboration with CampusCup, where they provided free menstrual cups for Brandeis students to pick up. In total, they were able to provide this resource to 303 Brandeis students. This week, PAD is holding a “Paint and Policy Night,” where students can come and craft while engaging in a discussion about menstrual justice policy, specifically on things such as the tampon tax. Followed by this will be an Earth Day event, which high-

lights sustainable menstruation and eco-friendly period products, such as reusable pads and period underwear. PAD is also launching a semesterly menstrual product drive, which would occur sometime near move out at the end of the year. PAD holds weekly meetings, and always encourages more people to come and become members of their club. These weekly meetings alternate between educational and social meetings every other week. Educational meetings are meetings where a member chooses a menstruation topic and presents it, with the goal of teaching and educating others. From period cravings to menstruation in horror movies, these meetings are open to anyone who wants to join and is passionate about what they want to teach. These educational meetings have Q&A segments and are very interactive between members and students who join. For the social meetings, PAD adopts a more relaxed and casual tone, and hosts a space for people to just come and hang out while getting to know each other better. Through their meetings, PAD

provides an empowering space to talk about menstrual health and feminism. Whether someone is new or a recurring visitor, there is always much to learn from PAD’s weekly meetings. There are also many conversations that surround menstrual products, which help destigmatize them and make them more approachable to new users. Each weekly meeting is a genuine opportunity to bring up new ideas, talk about one’s own experiences and help menstruators throughout Brandeis and the greater Waltham community. PAD makes this space as inclusive as possible, and welcomes everyone to hop in and join one of their weekly meetings to help fight the stigma surrounding menstrual health. Their future goals for the club are to gain more members and to reach out to a wider audience. The club has only been around for a little over two years, and half of that time was during the COVID-19 pandemic. The club’s goals expand outside of the club itself, as it is part of a larger movement: they continue to work towards the communal goal of menstrual equality.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

Shape-shifting cells and evolution: Bisson’s journey with archaeal research By Jahnavi Swamy special to the hoot

Alexandre Bisson (BIOL) and his team are currently researching how evolution has shaped the behavior of molecules within cells through the use of archaea, a domain of single-celled organisms. Bisson gained an interest in this topic while completing his Ph.D. in Brazil at the University of São Paulo, where his research primarily involved isolating proteins in cells. Bisson compared studying an isolated protein to studying a bird in a zoo. “We learn a lot by studying the features of individual

cells in controlled conditions, but they really shine in their jungle,” he wrote to The Brandeis Hoot in an email. After completing his degree, he wanted to study proteins in their “jungle:” the cell. Bisson and his lab have worked alongside scientists across the United States as they search for a microbe with the ability to “preserve a record of humanity,” according to an article in Science Magazine. His work specifically focuses on the DNA of Halobacterium salinarum (a difficult to kill, salt-tolerant microbe) and its behavior in salt crystals. Bisson wrote to The Hoot that his current research now extends beyond halobacterium to haloarchaeal

species in general. “We love archaea because they are the closest prokaryotes (cells that don’t have a nucleus) to us—eukaryotes (cells that have a nucleus compartmentalizing their genetic material),” Bisson explained for his use of archaea. He added that this relation to humans and our limited prior study of this domain makes it “an exciting opportunity to discover new biology.”Bisson and his team prefer working with one particular archaea group known as Haloarchaea. He explains that these archaea are not only fascinating because of their ability to grow in “strange environments” but are easy to domesticate, grow and ge-

netically engineer. Bisson explained that his lab is “interested in poking cells with specific “molecular sticks” (chemical, genetic and physical perturbations) and learning how these stimuli influence the transition between different shapes.” It has been established that the way a cell is shaped can be connected to particular behaviors and tasks. Bisson and his team work to answer questions about the seemingly complex mechanism by which cells are able to “shape-shift.” He is optimistic that this research will lead us to “create synthetic organisms that can adapt to perform specific therapeutic interventions in real-time inside our bodies,” he

wrote to The Hoot. The next step in the lab’s current research is to select thousands of other species from the archaeal branch and observe which traits and behaviors evolve and which remain unchanged. This could give us a better understanding of evolution and even “be the recipe for how to make a eukaryotic cell from scratch,” he explained. The research team is enthusiastic about how quickly they are discovering new things about these organisms. “And here I am, together with my lab at Brandeis, blasting lasers on these tiny, salty beings and begging their molecules to tell us their story,” he wrote to The Hoot.

Villarosa highlights racism in healthcare By Roshni Ray staff

Health coverage journalist and author Linda Villarosa recently spoke to the Brandeis community about racism in healthcare in a webinar hosted by Professor Wangui Muigai (AAAS/HSSP/ HIST). “In the United States, we spend the most on healthcare than any other country,” Villarosa said during her talk. She emphasized the irony of this and how surprising this is, explaining how the infant mortality rates in the U.S. are higher than any other developed country, and that life expectancy is declining. “Money can buy healthcare, but it cannot buy health.” Villarosa’s expertise at the intersection of public health and social rights has given her insight into this problem. “Our inequality [in healthcare] is leading us to our poor health outcomes,” she

explained. Villarosa raised concerns with the inequality faced by Black Americans in particular. Among many examples, she cited that Black babies are almost 2.5 times more likely to die than white babies are. Furthermore, maternal mortality is highly prevalent in Black communities; a Black woman is three to four times more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy than a white woman. And in light of the past year, Villarosa added that Black people have contracted more cases of COVID-19 than other racial groups, either due to exposure from being in frontline occupations or proximity to towns that have had higher rates of positive cases. A misguided notion that arises in response to these inequitable health outcomes is that Black people are to blame for their own health-related adversities. According to Villarosa, skeptics of

healthcare inequality claim, “It’s [Black people’s] fault. [They are] not taking care of [themselves], [They are] not educated, [they are] not eating right, [they are] not exercising … [they are] using drugs; whatever it is, it’s always blaming Black people.” She counters the skeptic belief with examples of members of the Black community who are healthy and educated, yet still face instances of racism in healthcare. Dr. Susan Moore, the president and CEO of an Indian hospital, died of COVID-19 at IU Health North hospital. Her persistent complaints of excruciating pain were not taken seriously, and doctors were pushing to send her home, Villarosa explained. In a scathing Facebook post, Moore implored viewers to see the racial injustice unfolding in healthcare, saying “this is how Black people die.” While Villarosa maintains the importance of healthy lifestyle habits, she emphasizes that

the answer to resolving healthcare inequalities in America does not lie in changing the habits of members within marginalized communities. She describes prior correlatory evidence in the lived experience of racism and poor health outcomes. Weathering, or the phenomenon of racial, gender and economic inequality fueling chronic stress and accelerated aging, is one example of the societal and structural impacts on Black Americans. “Racism, not race, becomes a risk factor for health,” Villarosa says. Despite disproportionate instances of loss and tragedy in marginalized communities, Villarosa sees reasons to believe that progress is being made. She enthusiastically introduced an example of activism and change at the medical school level. An organization called White Coats for Black Lives has created a manifesto for addressing

and recognizing racial biases in healthcare. They hope to dispel myths that Black people are physically different from other racial groups, Villarosa explained. Additionally, the American Medical Association has stepped forth in admitting their own complicity in racial biases and has provided “robust and direct” ways about addressing healthcare inequalities in an apology statement, says Villarosa. “Conversations are in the air,” Villarosa says. She leaves the audience with a final thought: “Caring makes a different, learning makes a difference and understanding makes a difference.” Villarosa has written for the Science Times and was the executive editor for Essence Magazine. She is the author of several books and has been nominated for the Lambda Literary Award in 2008. She is currently working on a book titled “Under the Skin.”

Research Technology and Innovation still designing and prototyping despite restrictions By Sabrina Chow editor

As different parts of campus continue to adjust to fully virtual workspaces, departments have been forced to get creative on how to continue to engage students and the Brandeis community. And while the library is currently open to patrons at a reduced capacity, the Research Technology and Innovation (RTI) department of the library has re-imagined its spaces to allow students, staff and faculty to continue to use them, whether in-person or virtually, Director for RTI Ian Roy ’05 (IBS/ ANTH) told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. “We would love to have Brandeis keep making,” Roy told The Hoot. “Focus more on how the things work in this virtual environment. We want people to work on projects of more personal significance. Make something that will help someone you care about.” The three main workspaces within RTI are the MakerLab, Automation Lab and Digital Scholarship Lab. An additional machine room was opened in November 2020 to provide ad-

ditional workspaces. Because of restrictions set by the library, the MakerLab, Automation Lab and Digital Scholarship are available for individuals to book one at a time with a 48-hour advanced notice, according to Roy. Due to the new restrictions, any work that is done at any of the labs under RTI must be academic-related. Members of the Brandeis community that may have been interested in using the lab can still reach out to the MakerLab and they are able to connect you with other services that can provide similar services to the MakerLab. “Traditionally in the MakerLab, patrons own their own workflow,” Roy explained. “It’s up to you to book a machine and a human [to help]. You have to show up and run the machine.” With the new guidelines, the MakerLab has had to adjust and now offers fabrication as a service, including 3D printing and lasercutting for projects in case an individual is unable to make it to the lab. Roy explained that a lot of projects will take longer to complete than in the past. Projects that used to take one hour in person now take three to four hours. “We’re really outcome-focused,” Roy explained. “We’re working in an ‘outside the box’ way, a custom

way and we’re building custom things. We need to have patience with certain things.” Members of the Brandeis community are also able to virtually connect to eight remote desktops to use machines that have higher horsepower to run programs that personal computers may not be adept to handle. RTI is also loaning out equipment to individuals that prefer to work within the comfort of their own spaces, rather than in the lab. Equipment can be picked up through curbside pickup, contact-free pick up through the lockers in Usdan or mailed for individuals not on campus, according to Roy. “We can’t wait to have you back,” he said. “We are super more productive when you’re on campus. The magic of design is when design meets community and I can’t wait until we have in-person things again.” RTI is split into four main pillars: teaching and learning, research technology, hackathons and events and outreach. Teaching and learning is accomplished through lectures on various emerging technologies, weekly trainings and workshops that are available to all students, faculty and staff. Research technology focuses on “prototyping physical

objects and new workflows, digitization and digital fabrication,” Roy explained. RTI also hosts various events throughout the school year, including a 24-hour hackathon and other programming and prototyping challenges, speaker series and selectively sponsored maker-in-resident projects. Outreach is conducted through various talks with professionals, tours of the spaces and a general building of community. Members of the Brandeis community that work with RTI have access to an array of different

equipment for digital fabrication, tools that are able to physicalize the digital world through 3D printers and laser cutters, digitization and 3D scanning to help digitize the real world through 3D scanning and virtual and augmented reality using both hardware and software like various touch, gesture and multiscreen environments to simulate reality. Requests can be made to and must have an academic or research justification.


August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot 17

Apple picking during COVID-19 By John Fornagiel and Sasha Skarboviychuk editors

You know that writing opinion pieces has become a lifestyle when the first thing that comes to mind when you do something new is, “We should write an op about it!” So please enjoy our experience at Honey Pot Hill, and we hope that this will inspire you to go apple picking this very weird year. Neither of us have ever been apple picking before, and after everything that happened this year, we thought it would be a nice thing to do to get away from all of the schoolwork that suddenly fell on our heads. After doing some intense Googling, we found that the best place to go apple picking in Massachusetts (according to some magazine anyway) is Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow. This place also won us over because they have a maze that is over a mile long. Because of COVID-19 regulations, they ask that people register for the time that they would like to go apple picking, but you can visit the farm without a reservation. They allow up to 100 people per the 15-minute entrance block. On workdays, they welcome walk-ins, according to their website. Our adventure began with finding a parking spot: We came on a Saturday, so, as you can imagine, there were a lot of people there. However, there were also workers who directed us to open spots,

which made the whole process go a lot faster. The maze was really fun. Neither of us had ever done a hedge maze before, so we were very excited. Our favorite part about the maze was the smell—the maze was made out of pine trees, and the smell…. It was therapeutic. We didn’t want to leave, just because of the amazing smell, which we could smell even through our masks. Overall, in terms of COVID, we felt relatively safe in the maze, although it was impossible to keep six feet apart from people at all times (the maze is way too narrow for you to always be six feet apart from people). When we first went in, we thought that we would eventually get frustrated with the maze and give up, but that never happened! The maze also provides you with some checkpoints and bridges to make the journey interesting and to also inject a bit of strategy into what seems like complete randomness. There were also some groups of people that we ran into over and over again, and you build relationships with these people while in the maze. Sometimes you are even like, “Oh my god, not you again!” They also offer a map in case you get lost in the maze. Though it’s very easy to spend hours in the maze without even getting frustrated, we would still recommend taking a map just in case. After walking around the maze, we were hungry for apple cider

and apple cider donuts. Both were amazing, especially on a hot day. What was not as amazing was the waiting in line to get the donuts. You were lucky if the closest person to you was six centimeters away, let alone six feet. Also, since this was an area with food, most people took their masks off; although that is understandable while eating, that was not the safest thing we could’ve done. If you are very COVID-cautious, we would recommend staying away from the donut and food windows. Though we have to say the donuts––they had plain apple cider and cinnamon and sugar apple cider donuts––were amazing. We couldn’t even choose a favorite: John preferred the plain while Sasha preferred the cinnamon and sugar, so try both! They were also not too expensive, at one donut for $1, and half a dozen for $5. The farm store had similar problems to the donut window; although there were people who seemed to be monitoring the amount of people in the store, the store was pretty packed. There were groups of people and lines (not socially distanced) throughout the entire store. This was definitely the largest crowd we have been in since COVID, and honestly this made us uncomfortable, so we just grabbed the apple cider we wanted and left. They do sell apples, pears and other fruits grown at the farm, as well as honey and caramel apples. And, of course, the apple cider, which is what we went there for in the first

place. There are most likely other things they sell that we just did not get a chance to notice because we left so quickly. There was also a beehive there that John thought was very cool. Once again, if you are COVID-cautious, we would recommend staying away from the store as well, at least on weekends. Speaking of crowds, the area with the animals was not exactly the safest place to be. It is close to where people eat, and as you can imagine, where all the kids are. If you want to stay six feet away from people, stay away from the animals, too. They were, however, very cute; we both loved the goats and the piggies, and who doesn’t love chickens! When moving to the apple fields to go apple picking, you have the option to either walk by foot or take a hayride. Being the lazy people we are after walking around in the maze, we of course chose to take the hayride! The hayride was very fun and bumpy, almost like a very miniature theme park ride. Although, we must add that social distancing measures were definitely not upheld on the hayrides. I would be very surprised if the seats were one foot apart. That being said, they were very convenient to ride, especially after walking all over the maze, and they definitely added to the experience. We did not realize just how convenient it was until our ride back: We would have had to lug pounds and pounds of apples back to the car, but, on the hay-

A review of the Foster Mods living By Aaron LaFauci editor

The Foster Mods represent a hamlet of privacy tucked into the armpit of Brandeis University—a verdant armpit brimming with rabbits and gravel and walled on three sides by a thin strand of trees. While these apartments lack the luxury of newer residence halls like Village and Ridgewood, the opportunity to share a Brandeis-front flat with four to six of your closest college buddies without having to deal with land moguls makes up for a lot. And there is indeed a lot to make up for. For some, a single bedroom and a functional kitchen are more than worth the ant infestations, crushing summer heat, frigid window drafts and a commuter train that has a tendency to shake the very foundation of the world as it passes every morning. The place is undeniably a wreck, but senior friend groups looking to remain within Department of Community Living (DCL) housing will find within this acropolis a fertile ground for sowing lasting memories. Don’t pass up the Ridgewood if you get the chance, though. The Mods were constructed in 1973, and it shows. Despite receiving a major renovation in 2014 that brought the furniture and carpeting to the current Brandeis standard, the place reeks of decay. Rusty hinges and broken cabinets abound, and the concrete steps literally crumble beneath your feet as you approach your own front door. These things are tolerable of course—even charming. Getting a utilities guy to come in


and fix something isn’t particularly hard, though wait times can be long. Upon discovering that our six-person Mod only had two kitchen chairs, the utilities men kindly delivered some new ones (and patched up a set of cabinet doors too). They’ve come by to fix locks and plane down warped doors as well. The shoddiness of the Mods is tolerable if not aesthetically brilliant, but the climate is nearly a deal breaker. As with other residence halls without air conditioning, the first two months of the fall semester bring with them a trial of insane heat and humidity. One might imagine that the impossibly high ceilings afforded by the pitched roofs would offer some kind of reprieve from the ever-rising heat. Alas, there isn’t much ventilation up there to begin with. The hot, wet air just clings to everything, though it is fun to work with your roommates to devise optimal window configurations in the futile hope of catching a breeze. The real solution to beating the heat is as old as time: buy a strong fan and sit in front of it. The resulting nose bleeds and bloodshot eyes are simply another cost of living.

I was shocked to find that winters at the Mods were not much better, at least in the individual rooms. The massive wall-to-wall panes of glass that make up the windows of each room are not great insulators. You can feel the heat being sapped from the room if you stand near them, and this is especially troublesome if your bed happens to be parallel to them (don’t do this). The baseline radiators that heat each room are not ideal temperature modifiers. They have two settings: dormant and blast. The temperature gauge on the thermostats are a facade— if you listen closely, you can hear a click as the dial passes 65. Move the dial beyond that threshold and the room will reach 80 degrees in an hour. Winter Mod residents not used to high temperatures in the first place are liable to becoming locked in a cruel dance between overheating and freezing to death at the same time. The living room and kitchen are much larger, so maintaining a tolerable temperature within them is easy. The February frost also brought with it a fresh invasion of pests. Silverfish and centipedes are standard fare at Brandeis, and Mods is no exception, but mice and an

ride, all we had to do was jump on and take a small break after all of the walking! Apple picking was, as expected, by far our favorite activity! When we arrived at the apple fields, it looked like there were miles and miles of apple trees that were ready to be picked. Even near the end of apple season, there were so many good apples that were ready to be picked. There was also a large variety of apples; from Gala to Honeycrisp to even pears, we were never out of options. Conveniently enough, they even provided ladders scattered throughout the fields so that pickers could reach some of the higher-hanging fruit. After gathering all of these apples and bringing them home, we had one dish in mind: apple pie. The apple pie that was made with the apples we picked were absolutely delicious. A perfect amount of sugar and caramelization from the apples combined with vanilla ice cream was an impeccable combination. We would certainly go apple picking at Honey Pot Hill again if we were to make another apple pie. In regards to COVID regulations, the orchards were significantly better than the maze or the donut line: There was so much space that it was really difficult to get close to anyone, and if you did, then it did not last a long time. Although apple picking season is almost over, we encourage you to get away from your computer screen and schoolwork and spend some time outdoors!


ant colony are our special lower campus treat. My bathroom floor was a stream of ants. The dead carcasses of arthropods quickly began to pile up behind the toilets, and tiny bodies tend to pool together in the corners of the shower stall. The mouse was only seen once, and he seemed friendly enough. Lanky-legged stink bugs have a tendency to trip over themselves and die in empty cups, so always check your mugs before taking a swig. The exterminator took weeks to respond to our call, and all he did was ineffectually spray some gas in the bathroom. Squeamish Brandeisians beware! The rustic flare of these apartments, while unsavory to some, is also their main draw. The Mods are out of the way, tucked in the proverbial woods. The Brandeis Police aren’t hanging out here. There aren’t any lowerclassmen around to screw up and summon a fleet of BEMCo cars. It is the most peaceful housing on campus (unless your Mod is near the train tracks). Nearly every apartment comes equipped with a sliding glass door that leads to an open green space. Bring some folding chairs, set up a pot of flowers, make breakfast and step right outside into the cool morning air. Admire the trees, thin as they are, and watch the family of rabbits flirt about the yard. Neighborhood cats sometimes prowl the courtyard. Lucky watchers might even see a racoon or skunk. I like to leave them snacks. Practically speaking, the Mods offer the space for fun. The apartments aren’t stacked on top of each other like in Ridgewood, so stomp away! Though the kitchen and living rooms are technically two different rooms divided by a

short staircase, a ledge is the only divider so the spaces breathe. Each living room comes with a pair of couches. They don’t hurt your butt too badly so long as you avoid the ridges between each cushion, but you really ought to bring your own comfortable seating to complete the room. An extra coffee table or stand is also a must, since you will want the already existing coffee table for drinks and such. The space is highly configurable of course, and that is half the fun of having your own apartment. Before I wrap this up, there are some miscellaneous details worth noting. The shower pressure is simply okay. It isn’t as bad as Village or Ziv, but you probably won’t like it. The tub shower is better than the stall shower in this regard. The walls and doors do not retain sound at all, so be aware that everyone will hear everything. Finally, the stovetop is a set of electrically heated elements. Mine are pretty beat up; they don’t support skillets in a level way. The oven runs colder and is slow to heat up. Yes, you have to deal with your own trash and recycling. The Mods serve their purpose. They aren’t nice, but they are out of the way. They are also less than a minute from the gym, so you can finally start working out. Those with a tight knit group of friends will absolutely love the experience. Choose the lower numbered Mods if you can! They sit atop the hill and possess their own private backyards. If you know a lot of people, try to get a series of Mods next to one another. The beauty of the Mods lies in their configurability. With the right planning, this slew of disparate villas can be your own personal village.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

The Hoot’s favorite study spots

By Sabrina Chow editor

As a second semester senior, which is still crazy to say, my study location habits have evolved over my years at Brandeis. During my first semester at Brandeis, I was usually in my room studying with my roommate and other friends. Then, I shifted to the library during the latter half of my first year, sophomore year and junior year. Oh the library, one of the best “hangout” places on campus in my opinion. A great space to not only be social but also study (for the most part). But a general public service announcement for whenever we are able to safely use the library in large quantities like before the coronavirus pandemic: it is just rude if you leave your stuff on a table and go off for hours on end. It’s just not fair to the rest of us. When my junior year rolled around, with the growing size of the student body, but the stagnation in amount of study space, I

By Emma Lichtenstein editor

The best place to study on campus is Goldfarb 2. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been there (since I wasn’t on campus this past fall), but I imagine even under COVID-19 regulations, it’s still a perfect study hideaway. Farber is too noisy but the lower and upper levels of Goldfarb are too

often felt like I was walking in circles around Farber and Goldfarb trying to find a table to sit at or a chair to pull up to a table that a friend was already sitting at. Cramming seven or eight people around a small table in the library has to be one of the most entertaining, and chaotic, things I’ve dealt with throughout my years and some of my best memories. As much as I love the library, it isn’t always the best place to study and get work done, if I’m being completely honest. Every time I was there, I got work done, but I was always constantly distracted by friends, unless I was in the quiet parts of the library (which I often was anyway). But in an effort to separate myself from others and recluse to the hermit that my close friends know me as, I started to think about different places on campus where I could study. This may be a huge cop-out answer, but I don’t have a specific place that’s my favorite study place. During the latter half of first semester junior year and up until we were sent home in spring

2020, my favorite study spaces were just random classrooms around campus, usually in the Heller School for Social Policy or in the humanities quad. During class hours, it was sometimes difficult to find rooms to go to because of my crippling fear of just barging into a class; however, at night, it was so easy just to go into a random building and find a random classroom to study in. Not only do these classrooms provide a change of scenery from the library, with practically no people and very little noise (unless you brought people with you, of course), but the access to resources (chalkboards, whiteboards, projectors, etc.) are unparalleled to what you could check out at the library. So, if you’ve got a long research paper to do, need a ton of space to write out mechanisms or just want to explore campus a little more while still being productive, go out, explore and find a random classroom to go study in!

quiet. Goldfarb 2 is the balance of “just right” that even Goldilocks would enjoy. No one is blasting music or having group project meetings on the floor, but also no one is gonna send a dirty look your way if you drop something or even sneeze too loudly. There are lots of different study spaces on this floor, from group desks that seat four to tiny one seaters next to the windows. My favorite spot was all the way in the

back, though. There are long desk tables meant for two people, but often only used by one. It was the perfect place to set up because I had room for my laptop, giant five subject notebook and any textbooks I might need. The desks had tall barriers separating them, even giving the illusion of privacy. I’m not sure what the library looks like this semester, but I really hope I’ll get to go visit my favorite semi-secluded spot on campus.

really tried to monopolize on the outside spaces our campus has to offer. My favorite spot around campus is Chapels Field, not in the middle where you risk being hit by a frisbee, but tucked away in the corner over by the chapels. It sounds a little strange to say behind the chapels, but it offers the ideal amount of shade for when it’s hot along with enough space from where everyone else is to provide some quiet. Plus the sounds from the wooded section right next to it act as white noise, which is really peaceful. Nothing like birds chirping to inspire you

to do your work, am I right? All you need is a flat sheet, snacks and some work and you’re in business. Though, unfortunately, this study space is entirely dependent on the weather. Plus, there are two turkeys that may attack you if you encroach on their territory but are lovely from afar and honestly much nicer than the racoons of Massell Pond. Also, I’d watch out for bees. On second thought you better just study in your room until we can be in a library without fear again.

By Aaron LaFauci editor

I am not fancy; I study in my room. I’ve tried the library. I have friends that stake out the little room off to the side for days on end in order to maintain control of the study space, but it just doesn’t work. The library is a place for meeting up with your friends while holding textbooks on your lap. I need absolutely no distractions in order to focus, and my dorm is the most boring, isolated place in the world. Some of

By John Fornagiel editor

Of course, this only applies for the early and late months of the school year and does not include the cold months. But oh my gosh, when it is a gorgeous 70°F, there is no better place to study than outside. There is something about the sunny bright outdoors that just boosts my productivity compared to the artificial light in the dorm. I almost feel more motivated to better my life when I am outside compared to when I am indoors.

you might strongly disagree. For most college students, a room is rife with colorful hangings and trinkets to ensnare attention. The trick is to design your living space in the most mundane way possible. I mean, I don’t even touch my room. I don’t add posters to the walls, and I keep any baubles and sentimental objects in the drawer. Tapestries are a sin as far as I am concerned. I’m a basement dweller at heart, however, and am used to spending days on end in a dark space, barely exiting the orbit of my bed to feed myself and visit the bathroom. Bonus points if you can not only be outside but be surrounded by nature as well! I am talking about trees, flowers and wildlife all around you and soak up as many of those feel good vibes as you can! In fact, I am pretty sure that there are studies out there that link light and nature with productivity, so it could very well not just be me! With that being said, It is definitely a compromise if it is the winter-time to open up your window and let the natural light to try and take advantage of these productivity-boosting tips!


By Victoria Morrongiello editor

Before COVID-19, I was a loyal studier in Upper Farber. Yes, I know, the most unproductive study spot, but also the most fun with a convenient location near the C-Store for snack runs. But having returned to campus, I haven’t stepped foot in the library once, which wouldn’t sound great if we weren’t in a pandemic. I’ve instead found some alternative study spots to accommodate the loss of Upper Farber, and I’ve

By Tim Dillon staff

OK, so it was a little more than a year ago when I discovered this great spot in Shiffman. It was underneath a staircase, where someone had decided to store a few cushioned chairs. Wait, stick with me. If you climbed over the ones in the front, there was actually enough room to sit in the back. And once you got back there, there was a window that let plenty of light in. You weren’t far

from the world, you could hear everything that was going on, but you were separated enough to have some privacy. Time didn’t pass quite so quickly back there; it was a space to take a moment and relax, to think and to escape. It was back there that I discovered Jorge Luis Borges, one of my favorite authors. It was back there that I sequestered myself to hide from stress. It was back there that I went to make a big decision or two. And strangely enough, I’ve really missed that kind of secret privacy this last year.

Three days By Victoria Morrongiello editor

As I was scrolling through Instagram this week, I came across a pretty interesting post. The photo was a headline saying “New Zealand to offer paid leave to parents after miscarriages.” I think is amazing, and I was thrilled to see it, so naturally I went to the caption to read more about it and my excitement twisted into anger. The caption read “Couples in New Zealand who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth will be given 3 days of paid leave.” Three days. If that doesn’t spark anger in you it really should. Now I have never had a child, nor have I ever miscarried a child. So I cannot truly understand the grief of the situation. However, I know it is something I never want to experience or for anyone I love to experience, because I can only assume that the grief is so great, it could nearly kill a person. Do I think there is any allotted

amount of time which could ever stop this grief? No. I think it lasts your whole lifetime, for every ‘could have been’ milestone. But that initial grief does not subside in three days. And it is an insult to think that that is enough time to process that initial grief. Also, if it is a late term misscarriage or stillbirth the mother is likely to still be experiencing a lot of postnatal complications or symptoms. So even aside from the emotional toll of the situation there is an immense physical toll take on the woman’s body. She will still likely produce breast milk for a child who will never drink it, and she’ll have a higher risk of postpartum infections, but yeah sure all of that should be cleared up in three days. How come maternity leave is eight weeks then for women who give birth to a viable baby? Did both women not give birth? Did both women not become mothers? Did both women not go through an obscene amount of pain from the physical trials of labor? But one woman gets three

days and the other one gets eight weeks. Think about that. Ginny Anderson, a member of New Zealand Parliament, tweeted in response to the bill “I hope [the bill] gives people time to grieve.” Yes, in those three days mothers are really gonna do a lot of grieving (this is sarcasm). Because in those three days they’ll definitely be able to process the fact that they were once carrying a life which they will never see grow old. They will be able to process that they have outlived their child who was meant to outlive them. I feel like I should mention that yes, this bill is better than nothing (not sarcasm). Seriously, the alleviated stress those three days can provide to some families can be really helpful in comparison to having none. But it is absurd that I should be happy with families being given three days to grieve the loss of a child. The only reason why I am at all happy about this is because I know that the alternative is nothing. This shouldn’t be something we praise, it should give us awareness to think we

need to do better for each other. Elizabeth O’Donnell, a D.C. teacher, was recently featured on NBC news for her story where she was denied maternity leave after her stillbirth because she didn’t deliver a “breathing” baby. O’Donnell was set to give birth in January, and she had intended to take her maternity leave through the end of the school year by using her vacation days on top of her 8-week maternity leave. A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks, however, O’Donnell’s stillbirth occurred earlier at 31 weeks gestation. After the stillbirth, O’Donnell was no longer going to take her extended leave from her job, instead, she was only going to take her eight-week maternity leave which was pre-approved by the D.C. Public School Leave of Absence Office. Since she did not give birth to a breathing child she was told she couldn’t take the eight week paid leave. The reasoning being that “she was only taking care of herself.” I don’t know how much this audience knows about prenatal

development, but at 31 weeks you are giving birth to a pretty well formed child. The baby, while tiny, can still be held and for all intents and purposes looks like how any other newborn would. Also for reference, with modern technology viability is now at 24 weeks. So she did give birth to a nearly full sized baby, but this shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter what week she gave birth at, all that should matter is that she gave birth and she deserves those eight weeks. If that is not the biggest slap in the face after having gone through one of the most unfathomable pains I don’t know what is. The DC Public School Leave of Absence Office might as well have said that she didn’t give birth at all, heck they could’ve just said she was never pregnant at all. I’m enraged, I’m hurt, I’m disappointed at this point, because women who go through that painful experience deserve so much more than what they are being given. And yet, in the reality we are in, people think three days is enough.

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Women vs. the world By Mia Plante special to the hoot

It is no secret that women and girls are the butt of modern society’s jokes. From day one we are put into some box: tomboy, girlygirl...Why can’t women just be women? For others that is simply not enough. I remember being told that if a boy is mean to you it is because he has a crush on you, and that bullying is flirting. This toxic narrative of women being forced to smile while getting pushed around has forged something in our media that I doubt will ever subside—the criticism of women for existing. This idea has been seen everywhere in the recent months, particularly on social media in which girls are criticized for following trends and still criticized, in other ways, for being more unique. New “types” of girls are springing up every few months to be torn down until another happy group of individuals becomes the unlucky butt of the internet’s joke once again. Criticism of women for living their lives and something as simple as having bodies has also existed within general media and news for years prior to the boom of social media. Recently, people

are apologizing to women who they wronged in the past such as Janet Jackson—whose “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl cost her respect and turned the world against her. We don’t see this same type of criticism when it comes to men— famous or otherwise. When John Mulaney checked into a rehab center for drug and alcohol addictions recently, everyone posted in solidarity hoping he would get better soon. But, when Demi Lovato entered rehab for the second time, she was made a joke. Even when making themselves better, women are mocked. The lack of respect for women in general is appalling, but this isn’t anything new. The male gaze has been on my mind a lot recently as well. Like the criticism of women in the media, it is something I am becoming more aware of as I grow older. I often catch myself playing a character more likable for men, and my internalized male gaze is growing more unbearable. Women are put into these boxes in media and modern culture based on how they appeal to men, and every woman is in one. If you fall outside of the traditionally desirable you will be harassed and mocked; if you are traditionally desirable you will be sexualized

and diminished to merely the physical. This mockery and sexualization even comes from other women despite being based on male preferences. It seems as if there is no escaping the troubles of being a woman in a male-dominated society, as the self-hatred is built within all

of us. Women don’t exist for men, and I am grappling with attempting to take back that power. I wish this article was more hopeful, for me and for you readers, but right now I am just not hopeful in the slightest. I have been mentally bombarded by the pains of existence as a wom-

an online and in college, and my professors have been assigning feminist readings for homework lately! Since there is no changing the system while I have homework for five classes to work on, the least I can do is become more aware. I hope you all are able to do so as well.


CPAC and the end of the GOP By Max Lerner staff

Throughout the campaign trail and immediately after the election, President Joseph Biden predicted that Republicans would have an “epiphany” about working across the aisle with a Democratic president. Both Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have claimed that America needs a strong Republican Party. Some of Biden’s most common calls have been for unity and bipartisanship, along with a frequent promise to restore the “soul of America.” In the month since taking office, however, Republicans seem to want anything other than unity. Just days ago, 210 of 211 House GOP members voted against the Democrats’ stimulus bill, with one—Congressman Bost of Illinois—not voting. Trump remains the most popular choice among Republican voters for the 2024 presidential race. Whatever moderate, bipartisan steps leading Democrats have made, the GOP leader reaction was to say that they never could have “imagined just how bad they would be and how far left they would go.” If Biden, or anyone else in the nation, thought that the GOP’s degeneration towards far-right populism went away with Trump, then the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has a surprise for them. The CPAC, one of the largest annual conservative political gatherings in America, had an impressive lineup of speakers gathered over recent days in Orlando, Florida. It offered a glimpse into the present and future direction of the GOP. Before any speeches even commenced, however, CPAC faced its own publicity crises. On sale for $10,000 was a six-foot gold-painted fiberglass statue of President Trump wearing formal attire and flip-flops to indicate both the former President’s retirement and,

as the creator put it, the fact that Trump “chose to be a servant.” This reverence for Trump and capitalization on his popularity contradicts the idea that the party might move past Trump or his ideals. The event’s straw poll indicated that 68 percent of attendees wanted him to run again, while 95 percent wanted the party to advance his ideas and causes. He had roughly 55 percent of the primary support, whereas Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who came in second place, had 21 percent. No other candidate passed single digits. The GOP is clearly still the party of Trump. Somehow, between the unveiling of the gold-painted affront to the concept of art and the main event, things got worse. The second major crisis was the stage itself, which was clearly shaped after the Odal Rune. The Odal Rune is a character from a thoroughly dead language, as well as one of the most popular Neo-Nazi symbols in the world. It’s been seen on Nazi uniforms to denote certain troops as well as at white supremacist protests and gatherings. Now it appears in the CPAC main stage. There’s an argument to be made that the design is simply a throwback to the original Odal Rune or that it’s disconnected from the modern meaning of the symbol. This is, of course, baseless, just as most remaining defenses of the GOP seem to be. The design is unique, to say the least. The emptied main shape, as well as the wings, both match the CPAC design stage perfectly and are so unintuitive for any form of construction that designing and approving it without being fully aware of its connotation would require an infant, a random line generator or someone with a similar lack of general awareness (such as Senator Ted Cruz). To any independent voter watching, trying to analyze whether or not the modern GOP is still the


“fiscally responsible” party they once claimed to be, the headlines weren’t looking good––and the main speaker still hadn’t even started. Between the Nazi-inspired stage’s unveiling and the closing remarks were several hours of pure lunacy. While Rush Limbaugh is, fortunately, dead enough that I’m spared another of his speeches, no shortage of speakers mentioned him. Ted Cruz praised Limbaugh extensively. This is unsurprising––Limbaugh, who said that “the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons,” was, as Cruz correctly pointed out, an architect of the GOP. Limbaugh’s ghost seemed to guide the speeches of the rest of the speakers, as if his overwhelming racism could not be contained by hell itself. Cruz advocated that the protesters from this summer be shot and laughed over the vacation he took while his home state was getting rocked by storms that killed eighty people and counting. Senator Josh Hawley claimed that “our inalienable rights to life and liberty come from God and not from

government” and echoed the last few years of calls for a tighter border and slights against China. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton invoked the Black Lives Matter movement to claim that the overwhelmingly white, conservative audience may lose rights based on “the color of [their] skin.” Fortunately for my sanity, trying to cover all the revisionist, reactionary, ahistorical claims in any one of these speeches would max out the character limit of a document. Every speech rested on the same rhetoric, however: Radical liberals would destroy true American culture. Closing out the big event was the speech from former President Trump himself. He seemed convinced that he would be leading the party in 2024, claiming––to thunderous applause––that he “may even decide to beat [the Democrats] for a third time,” in reference to the ongoing myth that he won the 2020 general election. He called so-called moderate senators, such as Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse, grandstanders and “little.” Both he and other convention-goers repeatedly pushed

against these non-loyalists. His first post-White House address, much like his presidency, had thoroughly racist undertones. The 90-minute speech focused heavily on what it means to be a true American. Opening his address, Trump detailed how “America’s future, America’s culture and America’s institutions, borders and most cherished principles … our very identity as Americans is at stake,” and then immediately praised Rush Limbaugh and his widow. There were comments about the “China virus,” on technology companies, on almost every other contemporary issue, all tied back to immigration and the “struggle” for American culture. If this convention—attended by Trump, Cruz, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow and other GOP policy-makers and leaders—is the future of the Republican Party, then it seems to be a party distinct from anything it once pretended to be. If the leading Democrats keep seeking unity and a strong Republican party, what they’re really doing is allowing for white supremacy, far-right rhetoric and total incompetence to thrive.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

The ending of the quarantine experience By Thomas Pickering editor

On March 25 at 12 a.m., I was released from a 10-day quarantine in my room. Now this article is meant to be used as a comparison as to how I thought this was going to go before I was put in here. So to bring you all up to speed my mental state can be described as: unintelligible banging of my head on the keyboard of my laptop. Or in other words—mush. Now I do not know if I can blame this on being locked in a room or if I can blame food deprivation. Look to all the conservatives out there who are on board with waterboarding; I want to let you in on a little secret—you do not need a towel and water to get someone to spill their informational guts. All you need to do is tell them that food will be delivered at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. and then never give it to them. Or there is always the option of saying you delivered it but just bringing it to the wrong building. So basically, if you want to torture them, just pay for Sodexo to provide food to them! Because I do not know how little they know about campus, but based on their track record of delivering food to my door, I’d say it’s minimal. A number of times my food was

delivered to the wrong building but the right suite. For instance, last Saturday I was texted by the people who live in Rosie East 401 that they had my food—I live in Rosie North. This is problematic to me because there are only four cardinal directions, and it is very easy to know which one is north. All you have to know is that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so if it’s dinner and the sun is to your left then you know straight ahead is north. But apparently Sodexo, just as they deny having bad food because they do not believe in recipes, also deny the existence of directions. Apparently if it is 4 p.m. and the sun is behind you then straight ahead is north. Yup, that’s how that works, good one Sodexo! Gold star for you! But even if you do not know how the cardinal directions relate to the sun’s position in the sky according to the time then at least tell me this. If you know which one is south, since you know that is NOT the building my food goes to. Then which one is north? Is it to the right? Is it to the left? Or is it as every forking compass says it is and it’s directly across from South? Jesus Christ, Sodexo, your attention to directions is just as good as your track record of satisfied students—terrible. So maybe it’s the fact that I have

not had enough food to sustain myself in here but maybe it is also just being locked in my room. To pass time I have been playing games on my laptop and Nintendo Switch and I have been grinding through “Luigi’s Mansion 3.” I have been playing that so much that now when I close my eyes, all I see is Luigi looking deep into my soul. He is sucking up all of my

will to live and is leaving me just a shell. I now look out my window onto Chapels Field and see other people live in the outside world, I am reminded of each second of my 10 crippling days inside. I cannot say for sure if my descent into madness is due to the lack of food, my not being around people and only Luigi or maybe it’s because I haven’t been in the outside

world in so long and now, I am just a bubble boy. So, although I do not know what the catalyst is I do know this—I know my forking cardinal directions better than Sodexo. Editor’s Note: If you are interested in reading Thomas’ experience at the start of his quarantine experience, please check out this article.


Why you shouldn’t call CAs for noise complaints By Abdelkader Achibat editor

Within the past few weeks, I have been irritated over and over again at the loudness of Brandeis’s calls to issue noise complaints and police its students over the “guise” of safety and prevention from the coronavirus. These calls ignore how noise complaints have disproportionately targeted students of color more than anyone else. The prevalence of white students calling Community Advisors (CAs) for noise complaints on Black and Latino students is alarmingly noticeable given Brandeis’s claim to social justice. In a time where restorative justice—an idea that has been called upon by racial minorities in this country since the ’60s—has been popularized enough to leak into white circles, it is incredibly obnoxious to witness the number of noise complaints filed by “quiet” white students on their Black and brown peers for being “loud.” To white students, filing noise

complaints to CAs might seem like the safe and most judicial option. This is seldom true when filed against Black and brown students. It’s not the safest, it is not the most judicial and it is definitely not the most respectful option you have. It is your calling of CAs that is intrinsically parallel to calling the cops. It is your choice to police your floormates of color through the issuing an authority to control their volume because of the way your own biases have perceived it to be something that you can control. We see so often, and only ever mildly criticize, how white people in society will call the police on Black and brown people doing normal things, but we must first understand that this white entitlement does not originate in adulthood. It is a pattern that is taught from birth and is grown throughout childhood into adolescence and blossoms to its fullest as an adult. Your reaction to hearing a gathering of Black and brown students and believing calling the authorities is the most appropriate response is your entitlement


to policing minorities coming to fruition. All social groups at Brandeis


University gather, play music loudly, play video games loudly, have loud dinner parties and socialize to an extent that can necessitate a noise complaint, yet it is the gatherings that play “black” music and include Black and brown bodies that are consistently policed. It is only these groups that have to be constantly aware of the likelihood that a CA will be called on them, and it is these groups that have to socialize (or not socialize) with an overarching fear of being disciplinarily targeted due to the biases of their white peers. It is only these groups that have to live with the knowledge that the very people in their building, all of whom act exactly the same way, are willing to call authorities before even talking to you. It is this disrespect that proves to the Black and brown students of this campus that the racial justice we are aiming at bringing

forward is still being scapegoated and ignored by a silent white population. In the age of the coronavirus, filing noise complaints and issuing authorities to the rooms of Black and brown students is not just an exemplification of your biases being actualized in policing, but it is also your agreement to the possibility of those same students having to face exaggerated forms of penalty due to the biases of the Brandeis administration. It is your feeding into the institutions and those institutions’ patterns that exist to police Black and brown bodies. The next time you are thinking of filing noise complaints, issuing the authorities or generally creating formal acts of aggression against students of color, remind yourself that the very real option of knocking on their door and asking them to quiet down still exists.

August 2020 - March 2021

By Victoria Morrongiello


The Brandeis Hoot

How to love home

and Trump,” completely disrespecting so many individuals who identify with that acronym with pride. And I look at these photos of this rally and it isn’t in some random, nowhere place in Pennsylvania, it’s in the streets that I know; it’s in my home. Now I understand that my home has historically been a red district; this isn’t new to me. But the island’s conservative values have changed over these four years. What were once disagreements on economic redistribution and public policy has become a more dangerous version of how we treat those around us. It is harder to be conversational and constructive on the island when the discussion is no longer how to work together but how to assert your views over

others. So I ask myself, how can I possibly love a place that makes me so ashamed? How can I love a place where I have to rethink who I looked up to as a child? I would be stupid to assume that this is a unique situation, I know there must be people who feel this same sentiment about their respective homes too. I know how frustrating and confusing it can be to love a place that does not hold the same values as you, and how it can feel like a betrayal to your beliefs for loving a place which is so contrasting in its ideals. It is terrifying when you know home is not safe for everyone and you can feel powerless in what you can do to change it. So why do I love Staten Island? I love Staten Island because I know it can change, because it’s been changing my whole life. That dump from when I was a baby is now park land which has been cleaned and opened to the public. Those soccer fields have been shut down so no children play on that soil so they are kept safe. We have the capability to change for the better. I can tell you that I don’t love Staten Island for what it is currently, I don’t love it for what it supports from the election results, I don’t love it for the hatred it incites. But I still love it for what it has made me become, and I love it for the people who share my sentiment and are actively seeking to change the island for the better, for the people who help us clean up our beaches and parks, for the people who help us advocate and campaign for change. Because at the end of the day, as someone very wise once told me, you don’t have to like something to love it. Sometimes we can’t make ourselves un-love things. And that’s okay, because that love is what drives us to see change to make things better even when we despise it. I, Victoria Morrongiello, was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, and I love it, so I will see it change.

this can be a great way of getting past that initial Zoom awkwardness and connect more deeply on another platform. In the same vein, it has also become somewhat more common to see Instagram DMs and other in-app private messages, both platonic and romantic. During a time where the “normal” avenues for interaction aren’t always available, some of the pre-pandemic etiquette for social media has loosened slightly. This isn’t a universal experience, though, so others might have different levels of comfortability with this. While dating apps have been a bit less active these days, they can still be a good option for meeting new people. You could meet with people virtually on the first date, which is a good opportunity to gauge an individual’s comfort level with COVID-19 and determine emotional compatibility. If dating apps aren’t up your alley, there may be other options. For instance, the Salty newsletter, a media organization for women, trans and nonbinary people, announced recently that they will start doing singles listings on their social media and in their newsletters. To get involved with something like this, you would include a picture of yourself as well

as some information on who you are and what you’re looking for. This is just one option, though there may be others in this realm. Of course, minimizing new partners and limiting dates to virtual or socially distanced settings is still the most COVID-19-safe method of meeting people. Still, wearing masks and communicating about your social “bubble” with potential partners can also help to limit (but not eliminate) the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Since everyone has different levels of risk and comfort when it comes to COVID-19, it’s important to check in with whoever you are going to meet, as well as whoever you are living with or in close contact with. Communicating with potential dates (romantic or friendly) about your personal safety preferences, your level of risk, whether or not you’re meeting other new people and any other pertinent information will make navigating the process more straightforward for everyone involved. We hope this information helps, and as always, we are happy to meet with you to talk through questions like this in our SCC office and online.


The election undoubtedly has made a lot of people think about all sorts of things in different lights and viewpoints. I have found myself looking at my home in one of the worst lights I’ve ever seen it in, and trust me, I’ve seen it painted pretty poorly. It genuinely used to be a dump. But no matter the light I saw it in, I loved it. It was home, it was where I was raised, where I met my best friends, where I grew up to be who I am today. But now I am disgusted by it, I can’t find it within myself to be proud of it, and yet I even feel guilty for loving it still. I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. This is not a statement I usually say. I typically say I was born and raised in New York City and pray that no one asks any further questions. Most don’t, some do, and whenever people ask where in the city I’m from their response back always seems to start with an “oh,” like they’ve found out some dirty secret about me. You see, it’s always been a running joke that Staten Island is the forgotten borough; it is drastically different from the other four boroughs that make up New York City. It also just so happens to have been dubbed the worst borough, and this is something that everyone has unanimously agreed on, even people from Staten Island. Pete Davidson, a Staten Island native, once made a joke that Staten Island should just “fall into the sea.” But despite knowing our ranking on the totem pole I still loved my home. Yes, it was a dump, and yes, our soccer fields got shut down because they were radioactive, and yes, my high school had multiple bomb threats every year—but all those places built me. They hold special memories in my heart; I can tell you all the trails and bus routes like the back of my hand. I’ve never been embarrassed by my home, and you wouldn’t get it unless you


lived there. But the election made me so incredibly disappointed. Now I know a lot of people voted for Trump in 2016, and to be fair I think a lot of people didn’t really know what they were signing up for. But in this election, on Staten Island, more people voted for Trump than in the 2016 election, making us the only red borough. And it wasn’t even like it’s all that close of a margin, no, there is a significantly higher percentage of our population who voted for Trump. These numbers are from before mail-in ballots have been counted, but still the gap is way too large to even make it close or to pardon. Even our Congressional Representative, Nicole Malliotakis, won

by a landslide. My fundamental disagreement with her does not stem from our differences across party lines. I was disgusted by her basically unrivaled campaign win because she held a Trump rally just weeks before the election where practically no one wore masks, and she still won. Albeit, the other option wasn’t that great either, but you would just think that, during a pandemic, you wouldn’t vote for the candidate who holds a super-spreader event that played a role in why the island had its highest positive COVID-19 rate to date. Not to mention the fact that the rally was fueled by white supremacy and the oppression of minority groups. They had flags saying “LGBT,” as in, “Liberty Guns Beer

Ask SSIS By SSIS special to the hoot

Welcome back to the Student Sexuality Information Service (SSIS) column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email or leave a question in the Google Form link on the Student Sexuality Information Service Facebook page. Any and all questions are welcome: There are no bad, stupid or weird questions! (Note: These answers are goodfaith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!) Is it wrong to use internet porn as a form of self-care? It makes me feel good, yet afterwards I feel ashamed. Hi there, thank you for asking SSIS this question. Porn is a com-

monly stigmatized topic, so your feelings are totally valid. Self-care can look a variety of ways—from working out, treating yourself to a special meal or doing some skincare, to watching porn. There is nothing wrong with watching porn to relax, masturbate or have something on in the background. In fact, watching porn is a pretty common way to relieve stress. When engaging in self-care, it is important to think about how it makes you feel and if it helps you relax and recharge for things coming your way. Uncovering where your feelings of shame come from may be helpful in becoming more comfortable with utilizing porn for selfcare. For example, if these feelings come from feeling unsure about the ethics of the porn you are consuming, there are ways to consume porn that can feel more liberating and empowering. Paying for porn and granting pornstars more control over their content is one way that might help decrease feelings of guilt or shame. However, there may be other reasons at the root of your feelings. That is okay. Recognizing sexual stigma and shame can be an ongoing process and working towards sex positivity can be a lot of emotional work.

If you would ever like to dive more into this, feel free to drop by our online or in-person office hours. We are always happy to talk and support you in whatever way you feel comfortable. What’s the best way to meet people in the time of COVID-19? This is a great question. Meeting people can be a challenge, with or without a global pandemic! We acknowledge that it’s difficult to meet new people during this time, and we applaud your curiosity in finding new and better ways to connect. It’s true that the pandemic has made dating and meeting new people difficult, but luckily, people are creative beings! Of course, you could always use dating apps and do a first date on FaceTime. But people are also finding new ways to utilize social media during this time. In the era of Zoom’s dominance, it’s not unheard of now to directly message a person in Zoom. Be careful with this method, though, since the host can see and download the entirety of the meeting chat, including private messages between attendees. Still, if the only setting in which you see someone regularly is on Zoom,



August 2020 - March 2021

‘Surveillance Camera Man:’ The greatest video on YouTube

By Mike Richard staff

Imagine yourself out in public. You could be alone or with your family. It could be noon or three in the morning. A man approaches you holding a camera. He is a complete stranger, and you can think of no reason as to why he would be filming you, so you ask him what he’s doing. You may do so out of genuine curiosity or with visible discontent. Either way his response is the same, “I’m just taking a video.” He continues filming. You then ask, or command him, to stop. He persists. His robotic demeanor is unfaltering, he is determined to capture something about you, and he will do so whether you permit it or not. If you ignore him, if you scream at him or even if you try to assault him, he will persist. I can say this confidently and without exaggeration: “Surveillance Camera Man” is the singular greatest piece of film posted on Youtube to date. Sitting at less than half a million views, this accidental masterpiece’s influence has far outpaced its popularity. Providence’s NBC 10 and Vox’s The Verge have both published pieces on the video, the first investigating the legality and the second analyzing the validity of the creator’s intentions. The concept is simple: A man films random people in Seattle without their permission. He claims that his filming of strang-

ers is no different than that of an unmanned security camera in a grocery store, but his goals are not what I find fascinating. “Surveillance Camera Man” offers a thrilling exposé on modern expectations of privacy, with seemingly unintentional additional insights into mental illness, drug abuse and homelessness within the United States. “Surveillance Camera Man” captures an incredibly broad range of human experiences, showing more in a 50-minute film than many may experience in a decade. His subjects include: bewildered college students, mormon missionaries and scientology advocates, as well as many individuals suffering from visible mental illness and drug addiction. The creator’s attempt at a poignant message about surveillance technology feels vapid in comparison to the blunt reality of the situations we are shown. While a majority of the subjects are angered by the cameraman’s presence, others appear to see the camera as an opportunity to send a message or tell their story. One of the last scenes in the video features a man who laments over his lot in life. “I’m a homeless American, would you not believe that? I can do no better, I’ve tried,” the man says in the video. His words convey more pain than can be shown through the traditional documentary medium. Another of the most tragic scenes in the film stars a young woman who at first appears to be


a naturally friendly person that wants to be on film, but after a few minutes attempts to prostitute herself to the cameraman. It is the scenes with people like these, those who are the most forthcoming and who have the least to hide, that seem to bear the most darkness in their lives. The people who reacted the most adversely tended to be those in the most mundane situations: eating lunch in a restaurant or walking through the airport with their family. Among the most interesting aspects of the video is the cameraman himself. We, as the viewers, know so little about him. The only clues about him that we acquire are superficial: He is an American male, likely in his late twenties or early thirties judging by his voice. The other thing we can infer

about him is that he is irrationally fearless and immune to feeling awkward. At one point, he films a man who appears to be inspecting a home’s locks presumably to rob it later. The man tells the cameraman to delete the footage, but the cameraman, of course, persists. The robber gives chase, and the cameraman escapes only after hiding behind a vehicle. This scene was not unique. Throughout the video, a number of the cameraman’s subjects attempt to physically assault or at least threaten him, but he always narrowly escapes. While many have tried, nobody has ever successfully identified the man behind the camera. That makes the film all the more fascinating— that he felt comfortable and even righteous putting a stranger’s life

on display but refusing to even show his own face. It is clear that the cameraman’s desire was to be a moralistic protagonist. To make people feel how he thinks they should feel all the time in a surveillant society, in a state of constant paranoia and unease. However, he certainly fails in this regard, as most of the people who see this video categorize him as a creep and an unethical voyeur of others’ personal lives. I agree with this sentiment for the most part, but the video holds incredible value to me nonetheless. I think “Surveillance Camera Man” ultimately taps into a deep seeded desire to see what is not supposed to be seen. To peek into the world’s of those whose activities may seem so foreign to us but are nothing more than mundane to them.

The ‘South Park’ vaccination special asks what happens after the COVID-19 pandemic By Josh Lannon staff

The long-running cartoon series “South Park” has slowed down production. During the pandemic, only two new episodes were produced rather than the usual 10-episode season. The series is famous for pushing the boundaries of comedy and for good taste with its crass humor. In recent years, however, the “South Park” series has started to take on more political issues, using its trademark paper cut-out style to showcase the ridiculousness of real life. Its latest special episode, “The South ParQ: Vaccination Special,” tackles the anxiety induced by the vaccination process and the potential aftermath of the pandemic, as well as the current

icon of stupidity that is QAnon. The episode handles these issues with surprising nuance and plenty of the “South Park” absurdity that we have come to expect. The main conflict of the episode is access to the new COVID-19 vaccine. The hottest club in the town of “South Park” is now the local Walgreens, where only those on the exclusive vaccination list can get in to get their shot. The main characters, Cartman (Trey Parker), Stan (Trey Parker), Kyle (Matt Stone) and Kenny (Matt Stone), get involved after a prank on their teacher goes wrong and she refuses to return to school until all the teachers are vaccinated. This sparks a heist on the local Walgreens where the kids steal vaccines. But the majority of the episode does not focus on the theft of the vaccines, instead


exploring how the town and the kids react to the theft. The boys have to deal with tough decisions about whether to give the vaccine to teachers, to their parents, to sell them or even to use it themselves. This is a surprisingly nuanced take on the vaccination process and the anxiety it can cause not just for those waiting, but for those who have to make tough choices about how to handle the pandemic and vaccination process. That being said, the special still has a lot of crass humor. The inciting prank that Cartman and Kenny pull on their teacher is crude and frankly offensive. They put ketchup on her chair and make period jokes when her clothes get covered in ketchup. The prank is childish and in keeping with the show’s traditional style of humor. But even this prank has a deeper meaning to it. Cartman and Kenny pull the prank and drag Stan and Kyle into their mess in order to keep their “broship” alive. Essentially the prank is an attempt to bring things back to the way they were on “South Park.” In other words, to bring a return to the vulgar humor “South Park” is known for. Of course, this backfires spectacularly, but more importantly the juxtaposition of the prank to the boy’s desire to return to normalcy reflects many people’s similar desire to get things back to normal. Although the episode focuses on the boy’s attempts to get things back to normal, it also asks if that is something that we really

want to do or even can do. The concept of returning to the established order is even more apparent in the episode’s subplot, with the return of Mr. Garrison (Trey Parker). For the past four years, the former teacher has been serving as the “South Park” universe’s version of Donald Trump. He returns after losing the last presidential election and tries to get his old job back. Garrison’s attempts to return to his former life are marred by his actions as president and the fact that everyone in the towns hates him... save for one family aptly named the Whites, who have always supported the former president, but now are also followers of the insane QAnon conspiracy theory. The special absolutely eviscerates the conspiracy theory by having QAnon believers become private tutors spreading their beliefs to the children of “South Park.” Ironically, many of the parents only hire these tutors specifically because Garrison becomes the new public school teacher. Meanwhile kids like popular recurring character Butters (Trey Parker) become susceptible to these lies due to their isolation under quarantine. Garrison’s denial about why the people of “South Park” hate him leads him to team up with the QAnon followers, revealing the cyclical nature of how conspiracy theorists and a certain former president feed off their shared denial of reality. In the end, Garrison betrays

the Whites and strikes a deal with the secret Hollywood powers that control the world. These powers take the form of the animators who literally alter the reality of the “South Park” world in exchange for Garrison returning to his old life, symbolized by the return of his famous sidekick, the hand puppet Mr. Hat (Trey Parker). In the end, everyone gets their vaccines and likes Garrison again. As the adults go out and celebrate the return to normalcy in “South Park,” the boy’s story ends with them going their separate ways. While they reassure each other they will still hang out together, their tone of voice implies that they are not so hopeful about the future. Whether or not the boys’ dynamic is changed forever is yet to be seen, but it does show how the younger generation is handling the stress and anxiety of this pandemic. While the adults party and return to business as usual the kids are forced to contemplate the effects this pandemic has had on them. The point of the episode is more than just about getting the vaccine; It’s about the effects the pandemic has had on American society, a pandemic that revealed the flaws and weaknesses in not just our healthcare system, but in our society as well. It poses the question of what happens after the pandemic ends. Will the residents of “South Park” return to their old ways after the pandemic, and, if so, is that a good thing?

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

The underrated frozen hellscape that is AMC’s ‘The Terror’ By Samuel Finbury staff

Lost in the glow of “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad,” AMC’s forgotten child, “The Terror,” remains one of the most underrated pieces of television ever ignored on the small screen. The 10 episode anthology series is a fictionalized account of Franklin’s Lost Expedition, a real life voyage of Arctic exploration undertaken by the British Royal Navy in the early 19th century. The mystery of the Franklin Expedition is one of the more harrowing tales of doomed survival one can find in recent history, and “The Terror” brings it to life in marvellous desolation. In 1845, with the goal of charting the prized Northwest Passage for queen and country, 129 men set out into the unknown, supplied with the most cutting edge equipment of the time and commanded by some of the most respected and storied officers within the empire. They promptly disappeared. Artifacts from the expedition’s two ships were found scattered across the inhospitable rocky islands of the Arctic tundra, and Inuit accounts detailed sightings of desperate men on a death march south, resorting to cannibalism to survive. Adapting Dan Simmons’ historical fiction of the same name, “The Terror” posits a more fantastical explanation for the expedition’s fate as the crew is beset by unforgiving natural forces and su-

pernatural forces drawn from Inuit mysticism. This magical twist does service to the fatal folly of the real voyage: vainglorious men venturing blindly into an alien land they believe they have already mastered by virtue of their origin, thinking their nationality can keep them warm. It stays true to the allegorical lesson of the real world tragedy, spiritual soul eating polar bear and all. “The Terror” doesn’t even modify the characters. Each actor on screen plays a real person written with their real backstory, down to the ship boy and the dog. There is Sir John Franklin (Ciaran Hinds), a well-liked but unrespected man whose fixation on how things should be going rather than how they are going drives the voyage into ruin, Commander James FitzJames (Tobias Menzies), a stuffy war hero so seems to be more story than man, and Francis Crozier (Jared Harris), a dour captain whose Irish lineage and realist attitude lead him to be ignored by his overconfident fellows. Every character, from the idealistic anatomist Mr. Goodsir (Paul Ready), the conniving and ambitious Corneilius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) and the mysterious Esquimaux woman Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen), all feel whole thanks to expert writing, complete story arcs and the impeccable acting of the entire cast from top to bottom. The whole show feels real in the most incredible way, to the point where it can feel like you are


watching a documentary. Each new ailment or problem faced by the expedition’s crew presents a real possibility for what contributed to the demise of those 129 men. The story and world of the show is so manifestly engrossing and complete that on multiple viewings, you will find yourself discovering background characters who you didn’t even think had names go through fully realized and compelling story arcs. I have researched the lives of figures on the expedition, and their counterparts in the show are written so well that my knowing these unmentioned details about their lives adds another dimension to them, contextualizes their actions in entirely new and fascinating ways. “The Terror’s” vision is so thorough, its writing so gem-like in its polish, that this show might as well be what actually happened to the real Franklin expedition. I mean, what else would you expect with Ridley Scott at the helm as producer. “The Terror” serves as a metic-

ulous deconstruction of the follies of imperialism and the dissolving of artifice in the face of harsh reality. We watch these poor men weather hardship after hardship: the impossible cold, the spoiling of the canned food and the persistent hunting of hostile Inuit spirits which seek to expel them from the land as invaders. And these men think they can cling to the name of their homeland and outsmart and master this tundra better than the “savages” that already live there. We watch the inevitable collapse of the crew’s caste-like chain of command and the towering heights and the depraved lows men will be pushed to in the fight for survival. As bleak as the story is, especially in this lost year of 2020, I feel a tale about the failure of comfortable aggrandizing fantasy in the face of truth, and how hardship has a way of unmasking the best and worst of us, might be prudent. As a horror story, it is flawless; its every fiber pervaded by a creep of impending doom, an intoxicat-

‘The Vigil:’ a Hasidic horror movie By Lucy Fay staff

A beautifully reimagined take on a person’s internal demons personified, “The Vigil” (2019), directed by Keith Thomas, manages to be touching, engaging and scary despite its low budget and well-worn premise. A Hasidic community, often only used as the setting for a documentary or harrowing TV drama, serves as a unique background for this demonic entity’s taunting of a young man spending the night in the community he had abandoned. “The Vigil” follows a very small story within a much larger world. Yakov (David Davis), a former Hasidic Jew, returns to the community he left not so long ago to make a few hundred dollars working as a shomer. In Orthodox communities, a shomer is someone who watches over and protects a dead body as its soul enters the afterlife. But the house Yakov must be shomer in ends up holding entities far more alarming than the corpse he watches over. The story of someone’s trauma and grief returning in a demonic or ghostly form is a common trope of horror, a famous example being “The Babadook.” “The Vigil,” while undoubtedly using this trope to its fullest extent, introduces a complexity into it. Yakov and the man whose body he watches over are haunted not only by their grief, but also by their moving on. Yakov blames himself for a family tragedy, and yet, he left his family when he abandoned his Hasidic lifestyle. The now-deceased Rubin (Ronald


Cohen) blamed himself for the death of his wife during the Holocaust, but he moved to America to start a new family. These men could not fully live their new lives because they could not let go of the misfortune in their pasts. It is implied that the demon within Rubin’s house is not just the embodiment of a dead loved one, but of the lives the two men left behind. This movie shocked me, not so much in its plot, but in its effectiveness. It efficiently establishes characters, creates tension, develops a setting and it does this all while maintaining a truly unsettling atmosphere. The small scale in which this movie takes place allows for a very concentrated environment of scares. Once Yakov enters the house, we do not leave this spooky, tense atmosphere for the remainder of the movie. There

are no lulls or pauses for exposition dumps, the movie just keeps amping up and destroying Yakov more and more. This makes the frightening moments of this movie all the more intense. The one time Yakov tries to escape the house after hours of being tormented, each step he takes outside of the house physically destroys him. His hands, arms and legs collapse below him. He becomes a practically immobile mass of pain as soon as he escapes this house of horror. The house is his only escape from pain and yet the toll it takes on his mental well-being may be nearly as damaging. The constant question apparent in any housebound horror—why not just leave?—is quickly answered in this wonderful plot-advancing scene. While this film succumbs to a couple of jumpscares here and there, for the

most part, “The Vigil,” with the help of its strong cinematography and acting, creates a heart-pounding experience for its viewers. The characters in this movie are fascinating. Of course, Hasidic Jews in this genre of movie are unique enough, but, outside of their religion and culture, the central characters all feel very fleshed-out and distinctive. Yakov is adjusting to his new secular lifestyle while trying to cope with PTSD. Mrs. Litvak (Lynn Cohen), the widow of Rubin who occupies the house Yakov stays in, is a sickly old woman whose life has been a frightening battle against the demon that plagued her husband—a demon that ultimately drove her mad alongside her husband. Yakov’s debilitating mental illness, alongside Mrs. Litvak’s dementia and an evil force hellbent on

ing deterioration that eclipses the supernatural scares the series also provides. All of this is aided by a grossly eerie soundtrack. Like any tragedy worth its depression, “The Terror” has a charming knack for giving the viewer favorite characters, so our guts can be ripped out when they are killed. The series tells you at the start that everyone dies, and yet, despite your best efforts, you will grow attached to all the dead men walking. If it has one major drawback, it is that, by virtue of being a story about a bunch of white bearded guys all named “John” and “James,” it takes a couple of episodes to stop confusing characters with each other. While maybe not the most uplifting tale to watch in these trying times, “The Terror” remains one of the most incredibly compelling cinematic experiences ever to languish in anonymity. It is a captivating exploration of the hells we blindly charge into and ultimately find in each other. It deserves your viewing and recognition by principle.

trapping Yakov in the house, adds an unhinged nature to the film. When Yakov, partway through the night, decides to explore the house he is trapped in, he comes across an old tape in the Litvaks’ dingy basement. This tape shows Rubin rambling about demons with his wife sitting close behind, mouthing something. As the music swells Mrs. Litvak’s words become clearer and clearer until Yakov can finally make out her words, “Behind you, behind you.” Yakov slowly cranes his head back and out of the darkness two hands reach out to him, but he runs away before the viewer can make out the rest of the body. Rubin’s eerie rant, combined with the strain of trying to make out Mrs. Litvak’s words and the darkness that surrounds Yakov effectively sets this moment of terror. The concept of a shomer is odd, creepy and unfamiliar to the average viewer. The vintage qualities apparent in any Hasidic home add a strange contrast to the bustling modern Brooklyn that surrounds it. The constant transitions between Yiddish and English spoken by the main characters create an out-of-the-know feeling for an English-speaking viewer. These very particular environments are rarely represented in fantastical stories and so serve to make this film distinctive and unfamiliar. No matter the viewer’s knowledge of the lore or culture within Hasidic communities, “The Vigil” stands as a short and atmospheric adventure into the depths of a morbid tradition. With a strong cast, a straightforward story and an interesting background to piece together, this film will leave you feeling unsettled yet ultimately satisfied.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

‘The Tower of Nero:’ saying goodbye to an old friend

By Zach Katz special to the hoot

“The Tower of Nero,” written by Rick Riordan, is the grand finale to 15 years of storytelling told across fifteen full-length novels and three distinct series. That total goes up exponentially if Riordan’s novellas and other mythology series are taken into account. As such, I started reading this book hoping for two things: that it would bring those 15 years of story to a satisfying close and that it would be a genuinely compelling story on its own terms. I’m glad to say that all of my expectations were blown. The book picks up with Apollo, still trapped in the form of a hapless mortal named Lester, and Meg, a demigod daughter of Demeter, attempting to get back into New York City. Having defeated two of the three immortal Roman Emperors who sought to control the world in the last book, “The Tyrant’s Tomb,” the duo now has to defeat the third and most powerful emperor, Nero, who also happens to be Meg’s abusive step-father. Meanwhile, Apollo is forced to question what his end goal of regaining his immortality actually means: will he forget all of the lessons he learned as a mortal? Of course, as often happens to Rick Riordan’s characters, Apollo

and Meg’s plan is quickly thrown off course, setting the stage for a final adventure that simultaneously introduces more concepts to an already packed mythological world, and provides a touching send-off to everything about this world that Riordan’s fans already love. The “Trials of Apollo” series has given many Camp Half Blood characters a chance to shine that were sidelined during Percy’s stories. Apollo’s son, Will Solace, returns along with his boyfriend Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades. While Will was only a background character for most of the first ten “Half Blood Chronicles,” he is given a chance to truly shine here (please excuse the pun). Meanwhile, the Nico seen here is definitely a far cry from the geeky ten-year-old introduced in “The Titan’s Curse.” Now he is older, struggling with PTSD and proudly out of the closet. Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the current Oracle of Delphi, also returns and is once more given a chance to show off her hairbrush-related combat skills. Meg and Apollo have both undergone some serious growth over the last five books. At the start of this series, Meg was rude, abrasive and closed-off. Riordan uses Apollo’s narration to comment multiple times that Meg’s entire journey has been about learning


how to face her abuser. While this topic can be triggering for many readers, especially young ones, I think Riordan handles it very carefully and in a way that younger readers will be able to understand. Meg starts this series adrift, and without any spoilers, ends it having returned to her roots with a new family. Apollo is still clearly traumatized by Jason Grace’s death in “The Burning Maze.” Although moving on from Jason’s death is Apollo’s main character arc in “The Tyrant’s Tomb,” “The Tower of Nero” shows that mourning isn’t a one-and-done process. The former god is determined to keep his promise to Jason, to remember what it’s like to be human, although he is concerned about his ability to keep that promise. Apollo has significantly matured

over the course of this series, going from a narcissistic, petulant child to someone who spends most of this book prioritizing others’ needs over his own. This shift ends up driving Apollo’s final confrontation with Nero, as Apollo is forced to prolong it in order to save the lives of his friends. Apollo’s character arc reaches a satisfying conclusion, although I won’t say too much about his final status. As much as I enjoyed reading this book, no piece of writing is perfect. Apollo’s, and perhaps Mr. Riordan’s, inability to let go of Jason seems contradictory. While I love the use of older characters in this novel, Jason’s continued presence strikes me as fan-service. Also confusing is the difference between this novel’s two antagonists. Despite lurking in the shadows as an abstract threat for the last four books, Python never seems as intimidating to me as Nero is. Nero’s presence is electrifying, both in what he means for the characters, and how Riordan describes him. It is hard not to think of politics when Apollo takes note of Nero’s ability to “twist the truth with such brazenness … and still sound like they [believe] what they are saying,” in the book. Meanwhile, Python’s threat is too abstract, especially when compared to Nero’s very human

menace. Despite these minor quibbles, “The Tower of Nero” is an amazing book. Rick Riordan has seemingly brought his massive shared universe, one that predates the Marvel Cinematic Universe by three years, to a satisfying conclusion. This book ends with a farewell tour, checking in on almost all of the major characters from not only this series, but the last two too. I’d be lying if I said that reading Percy’s dialogue for potentially the last time didn’t bring tears to my eyes. But Riordan, or “Uncle Rick” as the fanbase passionately calls him, doesn’t totally close the door on future stories in this world. By my count, at least two potential series are set up in this book, including various hints at the Mythological Avengers series I’ve been predicting since “The Kane Chronicles” were released. Even though we might not see them for a while, Percy, Annabeth and all of our favorite half bloods are still having adventures. Riordan ends this book with a promise. Fresh out of unicorns, Apollo, again acting as Riordan’s mouth-piece, offers the reader his friendship. After fifteen years of stories and adventures, several trips through hell, two movie adaptations we don’t talk about, a musical and an on-the-way Disney+ TV series, what more can we really ask for?

‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’: A Beautiful Anomaly By Uma Jagwani staff

With many people quarantined at home and their eyes glued to Netflix, the recent addition of “Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA)” on the streaming service has offered itself as a form of escape in these chaotic times. This phenomenon has inadvertently led to a random (or possibly fateful) reignition of the show that first aired between 2005-2008 on Nickelodeon. Although “ATLA” was popularized as a show directed towards young adolescents, “ATLA” remains a timeless exemplification of deep values and important themes that frankly, both children and adults can learn from. Although I was familiar with the show as a kid, as an adult viewer watching the entirety of the all three “books” or seasons consecutively for the first time, I, much like many others, fell in love with the wondrous world portrayed through the masterful storytelling of creators Michael Dante DiMar-

tino and Bryan Konietzko. As “ATLA” rose to the #1 spot on Netflix, even setting records, everyone including my 49-yearold mother couldn’t help but fall in love with the show. After her initial resistance, arguing her age as reason for being “too old for cartoons,” a week later I received a message from her saying she has now binged season two, as the show “grew on her.” In moments like these, it’s easy to forget that “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was, in reality, first aired as a children’s show meant for a much younger audience. The show is unique among the array of typical Nickelodeon shows, as it presents deeper and more mature themes (no offense, “iCarly”). This is in part given by its East-Asian-inspired setting, suggesting eastern philosophies as a framework for their world. Still, its distinct features go beyond its celebration of non-white cultures, highlighting important ideals like friendship, feminism and introspectivity. In “ATLA,” one is immediately immersed in a compelling


realm, ripe for adventure, as Avatar Aang, Katara and her brother Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe embark via Aang’s air bison, Appa, on a journey for world peace. The show’s premise introduces us to the four nations: Water, Air, Earth and Fire, and their sometimes gifted citizens born with the ability to manipulate and sometimes conjure their nation’s element, called “benders.” There was peace, until the fire nation attacked and began to colonize. The fate of the world rests in the Avatar, a reincarnated soul that is reborn into a new human for each generation, who is the bridge between the spirits and the humans, and can master all four elements. The defeat of the Fire Nation and restoration of the world relies on the new generation, specifically, in this team of pre-teens. Enter Team Avatar. While it’s an undoubtedly large task to burden a few 12-year-olds with, their journey makes an inquiry into friendship, culture, governmental and societal structuring and the understanding of differing cultures among nations. The show has a charming manner of simplifying ideas that promote sagacity, which I find so clearly encompassed in, ironically, a character from the tyrannical fire nation: Prince Zuko’s tea-loving Uncle Iroh. His character is a loving and kind one, despite being a general of a vicious army. Iroh has a plethora of wise quotes embedded through striking moments, such as when he says to Zuko, “it’s time to start asking yourself the big questions: who are you, what do you want?” These questions spark introspective thought in the same way Zuko struggles with his internal conflict, and we, the viewers, are invited to go inward with him. As much as the “bending” action steals the spotlight, I revel in these


internal struggles just as much. The reminder of childhood magic in the show (aside from bending) comes from the beauty and simplicity of universal ideals like joy, unity and spirituality— which makes the show so incredibly wholesome. Aang, although 113 at the start of episode one, is the embodiment of childhood bliss, as his zen wisdom teaches how to be flexible, and to live life mindfully with a presence of joy at the forefront in the way we go through the world. He shows us how to enjoy, to be so in love with the small moments even during times of extreme struggles. Alongside ideas of wisdom and joy, feminist ideals portrayed by strong women characters are not sparse, as characters like Katara, Toph and Suki showcase strength, wisdom and fearlessness in their own ways. The show very clearly refutes misogyny from the very beginning when Sokka reevaluates his sexist notions after getting pulverized by one of the Warriors of Kyoshi. Suki beats the misogyny out of him, and he is humbled, realizes he is wrong and asks for Suki to teach him. Not only does it highlight strong women, but the demonstration of a man swallowing his hubris and acknowledging women as their equals and possi-

bly even superiors in some regard, sets a strong example for young people (and your racist relatives) in having the ability to recognize their faults and learn from them. Suki saying she is a warrior but “a girl too,” highlights the show’s feminist message, proving women can be both feminine and fierce, and truly, whatever they want to be. Ultimately, what I love most about this resurgence is its ability to bring people together. I can send memes to my mother, college friends and 10th grader cousins about this show, which is astonishing to me. Perhaps, as cheesy as it sounds, just like the four nations, “ATLA” can bridge humans to other humans in these distressed times. In all three seasons, “ATLA” is beautifully woven, unique and an anomaly, in its vast audience that it’s able to captivate, and in the way it both teaches and entertains so gracefully. Aside from amazing characters and profound themes, “ATLA” is filled with moments that can make you laugh out loud or start tearbending. And if you loved “ATLA” as much as I did, its sequel, “Legend of Korra,” which is about the next avatar after Aang (and which I love just as much) was recently added to Netflix as well.

August 2020 - March 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Rapper Tré Warner is back with new music and a new name By Claire Ogden staff

Brandeis rapper Tré Warner ’22 is back with new work, a name change and a sharper, more mature sense of his artistic identity. The rapper made a quarantine comeback this year with several new singles––the latest of which, “Woah,” was just released in October. Fresh off of the success of “Woah” and its accompanying music video, Warner is hard at work in preparation for his upcoming album, tentatively set to be released this summer. Some may be too early on in their Brandeis career to remember, but Warner opened Springfest in spring 2019. It was the biggest live crowd that he’s ever performed for––and unfortunately due to the coronavirus pandemic, that record likely won’t be surpassed any time soon. It’s quite an impressive accomplishment for a first-year, but where do you go from there? “People liked [the Springfest performance], but I think you could probably tell I didn’t know exactly what I was doing just yet,” Warner said in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. He jokes about the “braggadocious energy” of his old persona. Some may know Warner by that old persona, when he went by Trizzy Tré

the Rapper, but he goes by Tyler Hustle now. The name change is just one of many transformations Warner has made to his musical identity over the past year or so. What’s in the new name? Given to him by his father, Tyler is Warner’s middle name. “Hustle,” meanwhile, refers to his drive to work hard and succeed as a young Black man in college. The “hustle” concept is “pretty much ingrained in hip hop,” Warner explained. “Originally, it was about hustling as about coming out from the projects, rapping because they hustled in selling drugs … it’s about like finding some type of way out of making it out of there.” While some rappers have used the term “hustle” to refer to selling drugs to escape those conditions, its meaning to Warner lies in his hard work and drive to succeed in college. Warner’s new single “Woah” gives a nod to that hard work while questioning those who’ve dismissed it: “affirmative action get all of the credit / whenever I kill it or win it or shred it / like I ain’t been putting the work in.” Warner has experienced this form of dismissal at Brandeis. “You can see that on Brandeis Confessions, like there’s a lot of people who don’t take Black students who come into this university seriously,” he explained.


Luckily, the disrespect doesn’t give Warner pause: “I’m Black in America, and you know, I’m doing good …. I put in the work and the results showed,” he told The Hoot. “And if you don’t like it, too bad.” Busy with school and other responsibilities, Warner hadn’t had time to fully focus on his music in the wake of Springfest. Quarantine presented him with an un-

interrupted opportunity to focus on music-making––namely, his freestyle. Warner has a mini-studio setup in the corner of his bedroom— complete with a microphone and pop filter—so music was just a few steps away while in quarantine. Aside from improving his improvisational skills, freestyling helps him find phrasings that later on become lyrics. Warner often re-records his free-styles for a sharper finish and they form a significant part of this new album. Freestyling is clearly important to Warner’s process: “When you first say it, it comes off more impactful, like you mean it the most, more so than when you write something down and then recite it,” he said. Warner is still working on his first album, entitled “Good Grief,” which he hopes to release in summer 2021. He started the album in the wake of a close friend’s death in summer 2019. That friend “was actually the first person who wasn’t me to ever listen to my music. He was my first fan, essentially,” Warner told The Hoot. After his friend passed, Warner decided to dedicate his first album to him. The album takes us through Warner’s grief process in the year that followed his friend’s death. Initially, Warner was focused on moving forward rather than sitting with that grief. He picked up

some new vices, in full denial. The beginning of the album parallels that denial: in the first song, Warner is in shock. But by the second, he raps about making money, signs of grief nonexistent. The listener begins to get the sense that this is merely bravado, and the tension comes to a head in the title track, where “it all comes crashing down” for Warner. In this song, he contends with what he’s realized is a nicotine addiction, and forces himself to take control of the addiction in favor of healthier ways of coping. By the album’s close, Warner comes out a better person and a better artist. He knows how to face his emotions and he knows how to reach out for help. That same braggadocious energy still rears its head, but Warner believes it has more substance now. “That’s essential to hip hop, you have to brag, but when I brag [now], it’s more about … being a leader for the people around me,” Warner explained. “That’s something that I pride myself on, being able to make sure that the people around me are okay … now that is something you can brag about.” It’s clear that Warner has become a more intentional artist and developed a more confident sense of his style in this process. I for one can’t wait for the upcoming album, but for now, it seems that the hustle is paying off.

‘Campus Life’ comic



The Brandeis Hoot

August 2020 - March 2021

Featured student art





Part 1









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