The Brandeis Hoot, December 3, 2021

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Volume 19 Issue 13

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe”

December 3, 2021

Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper · Waltham, Mass.

GSAS update on univ. doctorial programs

Dining petition

By Roshni Ray

By Sasha Skarboviychuk & Victoria Morrongiello




Brandeis’ Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) recently published an article concerning updates to doctoral programs at Brandeis. According to their website, this article was the first of a series of newsletters to be published in order to fully outline the efforts underway towards various career pathways. The article addresses the discrepancy between the skillset students obtain in their doctoral programs and the careers that they actually end up pursuing. Research cited in the article that

A petition has been circulating around campus, aiming to support dining workers. At the time of writing, the petition has gained 444 concerned students signatures. The petition was shared with the public in late November and was spread virtually. According to the petition, there are four main goals that they are trying to achieve. Firstly, they want Brandeis to “guarantee the job security of current dining service workers, even if Brandeis chooses to change

See GSAS , page 4

ByVictoria Morrongiello editor

Recent graduate of Wellesley College, Kisha James, attended a panel discussion as a guest speaker to debunk the myth of thanksgiving and emphasize the importance of commemorat-

See DINING, page 3


ing the national day of mourning. James is a member of the Wampanoag tribe of Aquinnah and Oglala Lakota, whose homeland is in Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts. James described the popular myth that most Americans know of today. The Pilgrims were seeking religious freedom, they land-

ed on Plymouth rock, where the Native Americans, referred to as American Indians by James, welcomed them with a feast and they lived happily ever after. However, according to James, the myth that has been passed down from generation to generation and ingrained into school curriculums across America, is

false. The Pilgrims, or Separatists, originated from England, arriving in Plymouth for the purpose of a commercial venture of the natural resources. It was here that the Separatists met the Wampanoag tribe hoping to make a political alliance. The Wampanoag had saved the Separatists from starvation and

a select few Wampanoag attended a harvest meal. James claimed that the first thanksgiving that was held was not a gathering of peace, but rather a feast to commemorate the massacre of hundreds of Pequots on the banks of the Mystic River in Connecticut. See SUSTAINABILITY, page 3

Univ. announces for DEI position By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The university has announced three candidates as the finalists for the Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position, according to an email sent out on Nov. 23 by Carol Fierke, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. The current Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is David Fryson. Fierke wrote that the search for an individual to fill the exposition

Inside This Issue:

is nearly complete and wrote on behalf of the administration that they are hopeful that the new person in this position will be able to start in the spring 2022 semester. The names of the final three candidates have not been disclosed to the public at the time of publication due to the candidates wish to remain anonymous outside of the Brandeis community, according to the Chief DIversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Search Finalist page. The search committee, which See DEI, page 2

News: in person commencement is back Page 3 Ops: what is the best food at sherman? Page 14 Features: lectures on israeli law Page 11 Sports: women’s xc goes to nationals Page 8 Editorial: reflecting on this year Page 9


Liebowitz Interview The last installation from the interviews with the president Features: PAGE 11

new on netflix A review of Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop’ ARTS: PAGE 18


2 The Brandeis Hoot

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

University administration released a statement to students regarding the jury decision in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, according to an email sent on Nov. 22. Raymond Ou, Vice President of Student Affairs and David Fryson, Interim Chief Diversity Officer, acknowledged student emotions regarding the verdict and listed sources that students can utilize on-campus that provide support. “Many in our community may be deeply troubled by the jury decision in the Kyle Rittenhouse case … We know how important it is for all of us to have the kind of thoughtful, respectful and supportive community we have here at Brandeis,” wrote Ou and Fryson. Kyle Rittenhouse was brought up on six charges: first-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon; first degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon; first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon; attempt first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon; first degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, according to the charges document. Rittenhouse pleaded “Not Guilty” to all of the above charges, according to the court document. Of the six charges the jury had to decide if the defendant acted out of self-defense for the first five. Self-defense, as highlighted by the document provided to the jurors, is considered to be: if the defendant believed there was an actual unlawful interference with the defendant’s person, if the defendant believed the force used was necessary to prevent

DEI, from page 1

is co-chaired by Fierke and Herleen Singh (WGS), recommended they select six semi-finalists from the 40 individuals who applied for the position, wrote Fierke. The six semi-finalists were selected by the candidates and after meeting with the search committee the pool was narrowed down to the three finalists, wrote Fierke. The three finalists selected by the search committee will now be interviewed by members of stakeholder groups in person, wrote Fierke. There will also be an open Zoom session for all members of the Brandeis community to meet the candidates. Candidate 1 will have their zoom session on Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. Candidate 2 will have their zoom session on Thursday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. Candidate 3 will have their zoom session on Monday, Dec. 6 from 1 to 2 p.m. EST, according to the email. Community members can send questions ahead of time via an online google form, wrote Fierke, questions can also be asked during the session. Community

the interference of if the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable. Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, fatally shot two individuals, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, at a protest regarding police conduct in Wisconsin, according to a NYtimes article. Rittenhouse was found not guilty of intentional homicide and of four of the other charges brought against him, according to the article. The case has brought up discussions on “vigilantism, gun rights and the definition of self-defense,” according to a NYtimes article. Rittenhouse was acquitted by the jury due to their belief that he acted out of self-defence at the protest. The protest was held after police officers shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake, an African American male. The officers were found by the District Attorney’s office to have been justified in their response to the situation, according to a CNN article. According to the NYtimes article, the prosecution—Thomas Binger—said there was chaos on the night of the shootings in Kenosha where the protest was occurring. But, said Binger, “the only one who killed anyone was the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse.” Rittenhouse used a semi-automatic weapon, an AR-15 style rifle. The gun was purchased by a friend of Rittenhouse— Dominick Black—since Rittenhouse was not old enough to legally purchase a gun. Since the gun was not purchased by Rittenhouse the sixth charge of possessing a dangerous weapon was dropped, according to the NYtimes article. Being acquitted of these charges has caused controversy among Americans, according to the NYtimes article. Many calling for justice which the trial has

denied them, individuals have cited the case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy, who was killed by police officers for carrying a toy gun and how this juxtaposes the Rittenhouse case. Rittenhouse, who is a white male, was acquitted despite having murdered two individuals and injuring another and Rice, who was not in possession of any weapons, was killed. Lawyers from the estates of Rittenhouse’s two victims released a statement for peace following the verdict, according to

members may also provide feedback regarding the candidates after each of the sessions. “Participation and feedback from the entire Brandeis community is crucial to the search process,” Fierke wrote in her email, “I hope you will join these Zoom sessions to get to know the candidates and then share your thoughts and impressions about them.” The sessions are a way for the candidates to get to know the Brandeis community, according to Fierke. During the sessions, the candidates will present a short presentation regarding their background and their reason for pursuing work with diversity, equity and inclusion. Community members will also learn what each finalist has done which makes them feel prepared to fill in their role and well as learn their visions for what diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education means to them. Though, according to the university page, a bulk of the time during the sessions will be focused on community member questions. Students can register for each Zoom session on a secure page provided by Fierke. On the same page commu-

nity members may submit their questions if they want to. One business day prior to each of the candidate’s sessions, candidate materials will be posted to the webpage for community members to view. Feedback forms for each candidate will be posted after their session has taken place. For those who are not able to attend at the set times due to conflicts

December 3, 2021

the NYtimes article. “What we need right now is justice, not more violence. While today’s verdict may mean justice delayed, it will not mean justice denied,” according to the statement. Ou and Fryson, in their email to students, acknowledged that the news of the verdict may be “difficult and painful” for students. Especially, they noted, because the verdict had yet to be released on the Ahmaud Arbery case and the outcome of the civil case related to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlotte. After the

email was sent, a verdict was released for the Arbery case which fold all three white men—Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan Jr—responsible for murdering Arbery, according to a CNN article. In the email, Ou and Fryson listed resources which students could use for support during these times including: the Brandeis Counseling Center, the Intercultural Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Center for Spiritual Life.


will be able to access recordings, according to Fierke. Community members will also have access to each of the candidates resumes to review them.Candidate materials were asked to be sent in by Nov. 5, 2021, according to the university’s search page. The search committee is made up of 17 members including: four undergraduate students, one graduate students, one

member of the Board of Trustees, one alumni representative, as well as multiple members of the faculty and administration. The consultants to the committee include Fryson and Anita Hill (AAAS/ LGLS/HS/WGS). An executive recruiting firm was hired to help with this process, WittKiefer— a group focused on executive search.


December 3, 2021

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The university announced that the Class of 2022 will be having a live and in-person on-campus commencement, according to an email sent to community members by university president Ron Liebowitz on Nov. 22. This will be the first in-person commencement since the COVID-19 pandemic began.


The university is one of five institutions as a finalist for the institutions with under 10,000 FTE enrollment for the award. The other institutions are: Brown University, Georgia College and State University, University of California, Merced and the University of St. Thomas. According to the AASHE webpage, Brown University was recognized for its thermal efficiency project, Georgia College and State University was recognized for the glass recycling program, the University of California, Merced was recognized for its community refrigerator and the University of St. Thomas was recognized for its stewardship garden. The university submitted for the award in May 2021 by Mary Fischer, Manager of Sustainabilty Programs at the university, according to the submission. “The case study reviews how Brandeis harnessed the [requests for proposals] and contracting process

DINING, from page 1

contractors.” Additionally, the petition wants the university to pledge to “work with the current unionized workers for all dining, catering, and event services instead of hiring outside non-unionized workers.” Finally, to “eplace the clause (3.3 Exclusive) in the dining contract to guarantee exclusive catering to the current dining staff without exemptions or conditions.” “As students and community members, we are concerned about the job security of our current dining service workers,” reads the petition. This was started because the organizers recently learned that the university “has been hiring outside contractors and temporary workers to cater events,” instead of employing union catering workers. According to the petition those are workers that are not union workers and therefore are not protected. The petition states that “by doing this, Brandeis University has chosen profit over the livelihood and welfare of its dining service workers.” According to the petition,


The Brandeis Hoot

“We can’t wait to celebrate with our graduates and their families,” reads the university’s commencement page. The commencement for the class of 2022 will be held on May 22, 2022, according to the email. The president also informally invited graduates from the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 to attend as well, according to the university’s commencement page. A formal invitation will be sent to the graduates of the previous two classes in De-

cember, according to the page. “I hope you will join us for what promises to be a very special day,” wrote Liebowitz in his email. A video announcement was released on the university’s YouTube page where the president addressed the graduates of the class of 2020 and class of 2021. “I’m grateful for the resilience, flexibility and resolve [the students of the class of 2020 and 2021] demonstrated during [their] final year at Brandeis and in the time since,” said Liebowitz in the video.

The last commencement held by the university in person was for the class of 2019. The university held virtual commencement events for the class of 2020 and class of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a university page. An announcement was made in February 2021 canceling the class of 2021’s in person commencement, according to a previous Hoot article. The university decided to cancel due to the slow vaccine roll out in the state of Massachusetts, the increasing

infection rate, the gathering limits set by Massachusetts state and the new strains of COVID-19 spreading, according to the article. In place of the in person ceremony there was a virtual commencement with pre-recorded material, according to an email sent by the president in February 2021. Graduates from the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 were invited to attend in-person commencements in future years, according to a previous Hoot article.

for a new dining vendor in 2019-2021 to make huge and first-ever strides in our dining program,” reads the submission. The university’s dining contract with Sodexo was set to end in 2020 and a selection process began in 2019 to find a new vendor, reads the submission. Due to the pandemic, the university extended its contract with Sodexo. “The goals of our project were to incorporate sustainability goals and metrics in our Brandeis Dining Services program for the first time in our history. Through extensive research and interviews with peers and experts in the food industry, Brandeis proposed a set of eight metrics. Four metrics focus on the food itself, and the remaining four are focused on waste reduction,” reads the proposal. The AASHE, “with the help of volunteer judges from the community, the awards program raises the visibility of high-impact sustainability projects and collaborations, pioneering research,

and student leadership, helping to disseminate innovations and inspire continued progress toward environmental, social and economic health,” reads their website. Aside from the Campus Sustainability Achievement Award, the AASHE is also giving awards fo: Racial Equity and Sustainability Collaborations, Campus Sustainability Research and Student Sustainability Leadership,

according to the page. “I was thrilled to see hundreds of submissions for this year’s AASHE Sustainability Awards. This clearly shows the commitment and passion of the higher education community toward creating a thriving, equitable and ecologically healthy world,” said Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser according to the AASHE website.

The AASHE is an organization that supports higher education community members to get involved with sustainability innovation in their communities, according to their page. “We work with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges,” according to their page.

because of this, the jobs of the workers, who “have worked for Brandeis for decades and have fought to have fair wages and benefits,” are now at risk. Students are bringing this to the university’s attention because the dining union can negotiate with Sodexo, but not with the university. Therefore the union cannot influence Brandeis’ decisions. “As students, we are uniquely positioned to influence Brandeis’ decision making, as we are the ones who pay tuition,” reads the petition, saying that it is the students’ responsibility to “ensure that Brandeis cares for its employees, and pays them living wages with good benefits.” A rally in support of the petition was held on Dec. 1 at the bottom of Rabb Steps on campus at 5:30 p.m. About 15 community members gathered around the concerned dining workers. A sign was put up on Rabb stairs reading, “Protect those who feed us. Support dining workers.” Concerned community members were able to talk with the dining workers who attended the rally. At the rally, a table was set up with computers where

community members could sign the virtual petition. In addition to the rally, flyers with QR codes to the petition have been put up around campus in order to gain signatures in support and awareness to community members on campus. The petition is sponsored by


the Brandeis Leftist Union, the Brandeis Labor Coalition and the Brandeis Nordic Skiing Team. The petition was signed by 14 concerned student groups, two faculty members, 19 concerned alumni, eight concerned parents and 22 concerned locals. At the time of publica-

tion, the university did not respond to the petition. The petition’s demands are targeted at university president Ron Liebowitz and Director of University Services Jeffrey Hershberger. The wider Brandeis community is also referenced in the email to take part in this issue.



The Brandeis Hoot

By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

Period Activists at ‘Deis (PAD)—a student run club on campus fighting for menstrual justice, according to their Instagram page—is currently working on an initiative that will provide free menstrual products to students by distributing them in residence halls. Currently, PAD is trying to gauge student need. To identify where the menstrual products are needed most, the club has created a survey for students to fill out. It is meant to help them get a better idea of the impacts that access to these products would have on campus. In an email interview with The Brandeis Hoot, Savannah Jackson ’22, PAD’s Advocacy Chair, said that PAD “is

ByVimukthi Mawilmada staff

The panel discussed why the spreading of the thanksgiving myth could potentially be harmful. According to James, “it perpetuates the idea of peaceful coexistence between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag” and causes native American Indians to be “erased from [their] own story”. “I do think that because Thanksgiving is one of the foun-

GASA, from page 1

doctoral programs exclusively cater to students who aim to pursue tenure track positions in academia. However, these positions are increasingly few and far between, according to researcher Leonard Cussuto, author of The New PhD. Graduates of the GSAS include a vast variety of alumni in fields such as biomedical researchers, navy chaplains, schoolteachers, Broadway playwrights, politicians and composers. The Dean of GSAS Wendy Cadge is quoted in the article, saying, “This is a crisis we can’t ignore. The world needs

By Roshni Ray editor

The Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra performed Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 the week before Thanksgiving break for their final fall semester concert at the Slosberg Recital Hall. The entire program consisted of a pre-concert lecture by Katie Ball ’22 contextualizing the symphony and the four-movement piece itself. Ball’s pre-concert lecture integrated an informational presentation with demonstrations from the orchestra. After describing prominent American musicians

December 3, 2021

hoping to improve free access to menstrual products for menstruators on the Brandeis campus.” In spring 2020, they were working with the Student Union to “figure out where it would be most helpful to provide complementary products in existing dispensers in academic buildings.” However, with COVID-19 things changed: it “reminded us all about how much time we spend in our rooms, and we realized that the dorms are a neglected area on campus when it comes to conversations about menstrual product access,” wrote Jackson. “The idea came to [Jackson] during [her] sophomore year. SSIS puts out bags of condoms in the dorm hallways every semester and they put them in very visible places—usually pinned to the wall near entryways or lounges.” From that, she wanted to do

something like this, except with menstrual products: to build “an environment on campus where we’re okay with seeing pads or tampons in public spaces,” she wrote. However, this also came from need; many menstruators often find themselves in situations where they do not have products on them when they are needed. Although in the previous academic year PAD distributed over 300 menstrual cups, they also want to cater to students who are uncomfortable using them. “We wanted to make sure we continued to focus on improving access to different types of products and across different spaces on campus,” said Jackson. “Our ultimate goal is to have free menstrual products available in every building on campus, and in spaces that are accessible to all menstruators. Some menstrua-

tors don’t identify as female and might not be comfortable entering women’s restrooms, so we want to make sure that menstrual products are accessible in other locations as well,” wrote Jackson. Currently, there are menstrual product dispensers in nine bathrooms around campus; however, not all of them work. Additionally, many students do not know about the existence of these dispensers. PAD is currently in talks with Facilities and the Student Union to try to fix these issues, according to Jackson. However, they are currently facing hurdles with funding and logistics. PAD is working “on applying to [Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund] to secure funding for this initiative, and recently put together and distributed a survey, which is one part of how [PAD is] getting some

answers to our questions about logistics.” They wanted to assure that they are getting what Brandeis menstruators want and need. The Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund (CEEF) is a type of funding offered by the university which reaches a total amount of $250,000 that is refilled to the amount through every rollover year, according to their university page. CEEF offers full, partial and no funding for projects on campus, according to the page. Currently, PAD is focusing on getting free menstrual products in the freshman quads for fall 2021, however, if they are able to get enough funding, they would also like to put some products in East Quad. “If the spring [2022] semester goes well, [PAD is] hoping to be able to expand and put products in upperclassmen residence buildings in the near future.”

dational myths in America, there’s a reason why it is taught this way and why the Wampanoag specifically is not taught. If you perpetuate the idea that America was actually founded on genocide, that would be less marketable,” said James. James highlighted how every year the annual day of mourning is held on the fourth Thursday of November which is a demonstration that aims to acknowledge the lives of Native Americans in the United States that were lost and

dispel the myth that surrounds the famous American holiday. The national day of mourning was founded by James’ grandfather, Wamsutta Frank James in 1970, and this year the 52nd Annual National Day of Mourning will be commemorated at noon on Cole’s Hill, Plymouth, MA. James discussed the backlash her grandfather received for hosting and organizing the demonstrations, being subject to threats from the police and the public. Towards the end of the ses-

sion, James opened up to a question and answer session where she received multiple questions from the audience. James mentioned that there are many ways to educate children about the grim reality of the holiday without diving into the graphic details as they would be able to understand phrases like “the pilgrims were not actually good people” in the story. When asked about what can be done to influence the policy regarding changing school cur-

riculums to include the true story, James replied saying, “within Massachusetts and other states, we do have curriculum bills currently at the statehouse, which would require public schools within Massachusetts to teach the true history of Thanksgiving”. James added her involvement with the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) working as an archivist and youth organizer.

scientists, humanists, artists and social scientists to tackle its most pressing problems. We must, as a school that produces 80 percent of Brandeis’ PhDs, ensure that our doctoral curricula … prepares students for the vast array of careers they will actually pursue.” Curricular reform is happening at a smaller scope within Brandeis’ English Department. A recent grant from the GSAS’s Connected PhD Program allowed sub-grants to students and faculty in order to conduct career exploration in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences. The English department also introduced a more flexible dissertation model by allowing students to

develop portfolios of their own making. This can include a series of articles or multimedia content. Furthermore, the department of English took suggestions from alumni in order to integrate new course requirements that promote transferable skills. For example students may consider taking courses from the International Business School or the Rabb School of Continuing Studies. Other programs that are currently undergoing curricular reform include Anthropology, Musicology and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. The GSAS’s Directors of Professional Development Jonathan Anjaria (ANTH) and Marika Mc-

Cann (DEP) have promoted individually catered learning via oneon-one advising consultations and are encouraging students to explore diverse careers within the humanities and the sciences via career fairs and guest speakers. Some examples include the Technology and Innovation Fairs from the Hiatt Career Center, where students were able to network with prospective employers. This coming spring, Anjaria and McCann will partner with the Science Communication Lab to conduct a three minute dissertation competition where students can share their research interests. McCann is quoted in the article saying, “The Brandeis 3MT

competition is a university competition designed to showcase graduate student research—three minute talks to a great audience.” Additionally, the GSAS recently purchased a subscription to Aurora, an online platform developed by Beyond the Professoriate that helps students navigate various career pathways outside of academia via online tools. Future changes to the GSAS’s doctoral programs are the beginning to an ever-evolving process of change. Cadge envisions Brandeis as a model for different institutions to reflect and adapt what they value as a good education, according to the article.

in the 1800s, Ball described the structure of the overall symphony. The orchestra demonstrated musical motifs present in different movements of the symphony in order to allow the viewers to understand the symphony in more depth. Furthermore, Ball provided a historical background of Dvořák as a composer and concluded the presentation by asking the audience what artistic influences contribute to the “American sound” as it is understood today. Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 is colloquially referred to as the “New World” symphony because he composed it during the time he spent in America. While Dvořák is of Czech origin, he traveled to

America in order to better understand what the American sound was and gain inspiration from it. His discovery of melodies from African-American composers and Native-American composers influenced the melodies he wrote in his ninth symphony.Each movement contributes to the musical expression of the symphony through the use of musical phrasing and tempo. The symphony begins with the Movement I: the Adagio-Allegro Molto movement. Translated, this means that the first movement begins at a slow, leisurely pace and then transitions to a very quick tempo. It is then followed by the Largo movement, which aims to produce a

broad, grand and dignified sound. Afterwards comes the Molto Vivace movement where the piece is played in a lively style. Lastly, the symphony is concluded with the fourth movement: Allegro con Fuoco or with passion and energy. Director of the program and current conductor Neal Hampton is a music faculty of both the Brandeis Music Department and the Wellesley Music Department. Additionally, he is the Assistant Conductor of the Plymouth Philharmonic. Hampton has served as a guest composer in a number of different ensembles including, The Rhode Island Philharmonic, London’s Westminster Philharmonic and The Savannah Symphony.

Hampton also composes: he has written music for ballet, film and theater and the concert stage. The Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra (BWO) consists of Brandeis University and Wellesley College students, faculty, and staff. The orchestra was formally established in 2002 by the direction of conductor Neal Hampton. According to the BWO website, the success of the group is founded upon access to the talent and resources of both institutions. The BWO orchestra is “dedicated to bringing inspiring performances of the great orchestral literature, both past and present, to a new generation of musicians and audiences,” the website reads.

December 3 , 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Library Workers Union protest for ‘fair contract’ By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

A rally of concerned community members took place on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 12 p.m. in front of the Bernstein-Marcus building, the area near the Office of the President and other administrators to support library workers. University library workers held a strike in order to push for a change in their contract. According to Thomas Valicenti—a Brandeis Library worker, union steward and negotiator

with the Brandeis Library Workers Union—the union members “face flat wages, opaque pay structures and no clear paths to careers at Brandeis.” The union has been in contract with the university for six months, Valicenti told The Brandeis Hoot in an email. “We’ve had 11 sessions over that time period, and we still have a long way to go in order to get a fair contract,” he wrote. The union’s goal is to achieve benefits equity as well as transparent salary which, according to Valicenti, align with the Brandeis proposal to address systemic racism as

well as ‘21-’22 goals of the Staff Advisory Committee (BUSAC). Brandeis has proposed “a two percent across-the-board increase for library staff for the next three years,” wrote Valicenti. He also explained that currently, the library workers have to tiers of benefits, however those who are non-exempt are “treated like second class citizens,” while Brandeis rejected the proposal on benefits equality. According to Valicenti, without a fair contract, the library workers “face effective wage cuts, inequitable benefits across groups and no clear career trajectories.”

COVID-19 Dashboard


In the Senate, Nov. 21 •

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Total postive COVID-19 cases each week. Last Update December 2, 2021.


Total postive COVID-19 cases each week. Last Update September 2, 2021.

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Total COVID-19 tests administered each week. Last Update December 2, 2021.

The student union saw three clubs for charters, recognitions and de-charters. The three clubs were Period Activists at ‘Deis (PAD), Brandeis Undergraduate Consulting Club and Quant Club Chartering. PAD—a club promoting menstrual justice according to their constitution—was seen for a constitution change that was passed. The change was to the media and outreach chair position. This position would be required to create graphics for flyers and posters for the club as well as create social media content and maintain social media accounts. The position would be responsible for editing the PAD monthly digital magazine, communicating with on and off-campus organizations and sending weekly emails on behalf of the club. The Brandeis Undergraduate Consulting Club—a group which connects students to industry speakers according to their linkedin page—was looking to become established. The motion passed. The Quant Club—a group that provides experience to students in quantitative finance by allowing them to create projects and enter in competitions according to their constitution—was also looking to become established. The motion was passed. The Senate also reviewed communications in their committees. The administrative communications did not have a meeting on Sunday, Nov. 28. The Executive Board also did not have a meeting. The Senate Committee Chair Reports. The Rules Committee was presented by Joseph Coles ’22 where he reviewed the senate agenda and discussed the Judiciary meeting he attended. The Service and Outreach committee met and are planning Midnight Buffet—the Student Union’s largest and most popular event according to their Instagram page. Health and Safety Committee chair, Skye Liu ’23, discussed the refilling of the condom dispensers in both Massell and North Quad. The Club Support Committee shared that it would be wrapping up work on new clubs. The Sustainability senator, Peyton Gillespie ’25, had a meeting with A-Board in order to discuss implementing sustainable efforts in the Marathon application for clubs. There is a project in the works which will use fund shuttles to Logan Airport every Thanksgiving and Christmas break. The Student Union is continuing to look for how to support the student voices of the Brandeis Climate Justice group on campus after they released an opinion article about the university’s divestment plan. The Allocations Board spoke about working on Marathon. In the senator reports, Gillespie spoke on working on getting free menstrual products through the Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund (CEEF)—a funding available to on-campus products which enhance the Brandeis community, according to their page. -Victoria Morrongiello

Univ. gives updates on COVID-19 policies By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The university released a statement regarding the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, according to an email sent by Carol A. Fierke, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Stew Uretsky, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and Raymond Lu-Ming Ou, Vice President of Student Affairs. The university will continue to enforce its COVID-19 protocols to prevent the spread of the virus or any of its variants. “We know that the identification and naming of the Omicron

variant of COVID-19 last week has caused new concern about the direction of the pandemic. At this time of heightened awareness, we think it’s important to remember all that we are doing, and will continue to do, to limit the spread of any version of COVID on campus,” read the email. According to the email, nearly everyone on campus is vaccinated and the high vaccination rate on campus could be beneficial to mitigate the spread of the variant. The university will be sponsoring a booster clinic the week of Dec. 6 for community members 18 years of age and older to help keep the community vaccinated. The university has maintained COVID-19 policies on campus,

including face coverings, which have helped limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus, according to the email, and these have been beneficial as the community has tackled the Delta variant. “While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, we do know that as a coronavirus, the primary form of transmission is through the air, so continuing to wear face coverings is of paramount importance. All of our existing policies remain in effect,” reads the email. Testing will remain in effect for community members with individual PCR tests for everyone. Following the Thanksgiving break, the university expects that everyone gets tested at the first opportunity upon return to

campus. According to the email, if community members have traveled or celebrated with a large group they should make sure they get tested. The university expects an uptick in the number of positive cases on campus. “We have every reason to believe that with everyone’s continued cooperation and solidarity in adhering to our COVID guidelines, we can continue to manage the risk of this new COVID concern to bring our semester successfully to a close,” said the email. The university is confident that with their “intensive” contact tracing program they will be able to quickly contact and isolate the community members who test positive in the coming week. By identifying close

contacts they will be able to help limit the spread of the virus on campus, according to the email. “It remains imperative that we all embrace and follow our protocols and think about what we can do on and off campus as the semester draws to a close: please continue testing, masking, and consider limiting those with whom you have close contact without a mask on,” read the email.The university will continue to watch its case numbers with its data analysis software through the Broad Institute. Positive case numbers will be monitored on campus as well as in the surrounding communities, according to the email; adjustments to COVID-19 policies on campus will be made if necessary.


6 The Brandeis Hoot

December 3, 2021

Men’s basketball faces ups and downs By Francesca Marchese staff

The Brandeis University men’s basketball team was ranked number 25 in preseason by D3hoops. com. Two losses in non-conference play—the first to Emerson College at the Lion’s Den and the second to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) at Red Auerbach

Arena—leave the Judges with a record of 3-2 on the season. The Brandeis men were successful, both individually and as a team, against UMass Dartmouth, as Collin Sawyer (GRAD), who scored 24 points—three shy of his career best—became the 34th player in Brandeis’ history to score one thousand points, and the first since former teammate and current Graduate Assistant

Coach Eric D’Aguanno ’20. Nolan Hagerty ’22, who had his fifth career double-double, scored 18 points and secured 13 rebounds. Hagerty’s efforts coupled with Sawyer’s prolific scoring provided the Judges with a 76-68 victory over UMass Dartmouth. Dylan Lein ’23 also provided an offensive spark for the Judges, finishing with 13 points and three assists. Akin to Hagerty, Tommy Eastman


By Justin Leung editor

The Brandeis women’s basketball started the season off with four straight wins, however they proceeded to lose their next three to close out the first month of the season. These games were close, but the Judges will start their season 4-3. On Nov. 20, the Judges faced Tufts University as they looked to maintain their winning streak. The first quarter of the game saw the Judges play efficient offense and solid defense. Guard Camila Casanueva ’22 led the team in scoring with seven points and four rebounds. Forward Emma Reavis ’23 had six points and two assists. Overall, Brandeis shot 50 percent from the field, while holding Tufts to just 19 percent. The first quarter saw Brandeis go to a quick 27-12 lead. In the second quarter, Tufts outscored Brandeis 22-16. Although both teams shot similarly, Brandeis had seven turnovers in the quarter compared to Tufts’ one. Guard Francesca Marchese ’23 had two three pointers within the quarter. The Judges were again outscored in the third quarter as the team struggled to shoot efficiently in

the quarter. Overall, the team shot 37.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from three. Going into the final quarter of the game, the Judges still led 62-56. However, Tufts found their three-point shot and turned the tides. This led to a Brandeis loss of 77-81. Casanueva ended the game with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Marchese added 15 points while shooting 55.6 percent from the field. The Judges then moved on to face Babson College on Nov. 23. The Judges shot 23.5 percent from the field and only scored 12 points compared to Babson’s 20. Casanueva had eight in the quarter and senior forward Kerry Tanke ’22 had four. The second quarter was much closer. Although Brandeis got outscored 16-17, they were picking up the scoring as they shot 53.8% from the field. Reavis led the team in scoring with six in the quarter. In the third quarter, the Judges narrowed the gap by scoring 24 points within the quarter. They were solid from three, as they had 18 points just from three pointers. Freshman forward Mollie Obar ’25 had five points from the reserves. Brandeis entered the fourth quarter down by nine points. After a strong third quarter, it looked like they could make the comeback. How-

ever, the shooting went cold as the team only made three shots in the final quarter. This resulted in a 65-81 loss to Babson College. Casanueva led the team in scoring with 18 and Marchese added 11. Although both teams did not shoot efficiently in the game, Babson outrebounded Brandeis 5034, which was key in their victory. Brandeis looked to get out of the two-game losing streak with a win against Roger Williams University on Nov. 29. The Judges in the first quarter started off cold. They only made three shots and scored 10 points. Even with a slow start from the offense, the team played solid defense. The Judges held Roger Williams to just 13 points

(GRAD) was active on both ends of the floor, adding 12 points, four assists and eight boards in his first game off the bench. After having the Thanksgiving holiday off, the Brandeis men’s squad competed in the Black Coaches Classic, which Head Coach Jean Bain believed was an important event for a variety of reasons. Namely, the event “shed light on some of the things that have been going on, specifically minority coaches getting opportunities to coach.” Jean Bain also believed that this event was a great way to showcase that there are opportunities for Black aspiring coaches to have success at the Division III level, specifically, as this event honored the successes of four head coaches in men’s Division III—all of whom coach at high academic, well-respected institutions. While this event was meaningful and significant to Coach Jean Bain, his team understood the magnitude of the event and arrived ready to compete. Bain’s squad defeated

UMass Boston 63-54, led by Eastman who totalled 21 points, 14 rebounds and four assists and Hagerty who filled the stats sheet with 11 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. In their losing effort against the WPI Engineers on Tuesday, Nov. 30, Sawyer finished with 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting overall, 3-of7 from behind the arc and 4-of-4 from the line. Productive center Hagerty added 12 points along with a team-high six rebounds and three assists. Providing a defensive spark off the bench, Using had three assists, in addition to three blocked shots. The Judge’s return to action in the opening round of the New England Big Four Challenge hosted by Brandeis University in Red Auerbach Arena, on Friday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. The Judges look to defeat Babson to gain their fourth win on the season. The consolation game is on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m., followed by the championship game at 3 p.m.

to keep the game close. Brandeis then proceeded to outscore Roger Williams 16-15 in the second quarter. Tanke had an all-around solid quarter with three rebounds, two points and a steal. Freshman forward Caitlin Gresko ’25 led the team in scoring with four points in the quarter. The third quarter had only two scorers from Brandeis. Reavis had ten points and Gresko had seven points. The two combined to score seven points from the free throw line in the quarter. This quarter brought the score to 4443 in favor of Roger Williams. The lead for Roger Williams started out small, but they ultimately pulled away in the fourth quarter

to give a final score of 71-60. Roger Williams scored 15 points on free throws in the final quarter, as the Judges had 11 fouls. Casanueva led the team in scoring with 15 points in the game. Reavis and Gresko combined for 27 points and 10 rebounds. Tanke led the team in rebounds with 11. The Judges look to end the losing streak as they play Bridgewater State University on Dec. 2. They will then play Eastern Nazarene College on Dec. 7 before a short break. Editor’s note: Francesca Marchese is a staff writer for The Hoot and did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.


Judges compete at Northeast Fencing Conference By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

On Saturday, Nov. 20, the Brandeis Women’s cross country team participated in the 2021 Division III Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. The Judges were given an AtLarge seat in the National Championships after placing fourth at the Regional Championships the weekend prior and brought six runners to Kentucky. Niamh Kenney ’22 was the Judges first finisher of the day with a time of 21:42.1, placing 32nd overall. Erin Magill ’23 was the Judges second finisher with a time of 21:47.5, placing 36th. Both runners achieved personal best times, breaking the twenty-two minute mark for the first

time that Saturday. Both runners also won the honor of being entitled All-Americans, Kenney’s second All-American honor and Magill’s first. Both Kenney and Magill also made serious strides after the first kilometer of the race. Kenney moved up 141 places during the rest of the race, and Magill 128. Natalie Hattan ’22 was the third Judge to cross the finish line, also running a personal best with a time of 22:45.3. Hattan placed 149th overall. Juliette Intrieri ’24 finished fourth of the Judges’ runners, running a personal best by 50 seconds. Intrieri finished with a time of 23:03.3 in 193rd place overall. Lizzy Reynolds ’24 was the fifth of the Judges to pass the finish line with a personal best of nearly two minutes less than her prior

record. Reynolds finished with a time of 23:29.4 in 239th place and was the last of the Judges to win points for the team. Bridget Pickard ’23 followed in 263rd place with a personal best of 23:48.6, and Zada Forde ’25 was close

behind in 265th place with a personal best of 23:50.8. The Judges finished the weekend with 496 points and 20th place, a six spot improvement from their place after the Regional Championships. Johns Hopkins won its seventh

NCAA Div. III Championships with 130 points. News Editor Victoria Morrongiello is a member of the Cross Country and Track and Field team and did not contribute to this article.


December 3, 2021

By Justin Leung editor

The Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the National Football League (NFL) is like other sports. In many cases, the MVP is obvious. The 2020 season was the most recent example. Quarterback Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens had a season that easily made him the MVP that year. According to Pro-Football-Reference, Jackson led his team to a 14-2 record and first place in their division. Additionally, he led the league in passing touchdowns and total quarterback rating. However, what placed him above the rest of the league was that he also had 1206 rushing yards in the season. So, he not only impacted the passing game, but also the running game. His ability to do both caused the


The Brandeis Hoot

Ravens to have one of the best offenses in the entire league. The decision to give him the MVP award was obvious. Other years the MVP was less clear, however there has been a quality of the MVP award winners since the awards creation. Often, the winner of the award has been a quarterback. According to Pro-Football-Reference, the award has been given out 65 times and a quarterback has won 44 out of those 65 times. In the last 10 years, the award has been given to a quarterback every year but one. That one non-quarterback winner was running back Adrian Peterson. In that year he rushed for over two thousand yards and averaged well over one hundred yards per game. It took an incredible season from Peterson to snatch the MVP award away from quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. So, what is happening this year?

Is there a clear frontrunner to win the award? According to DraftKings, there are favorites, but there is not any clear MVP yet. As of Nov. 29, the favorite to win the award is Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As of now the favorite is still a quarterback but should he win the award? Brady is having a great year on the Buccaneers. He is second in the league in passing yards and first in the league in passing touchdowns. The Buccaneers are currently first in their division with an 8-3 record. However, it may be time to change the narrative and look at a player who needs to be in the conversation to win the award. That player is running back Johnathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. Taylor is currently one of the best running backs in the NFL while being just one full season removed from college. According to, Taylor leads all players


in rushing yards with 1205. This is three hundred yards ahead of the next closest player. He also leads all players in rushing touchdowns with 14. So, for the season, he averages over 100 rushing yards per game and a rushing touchdown a game. Taylor has scored a touchdown in nine straight games. In week 11 against the Buffalo Bills, he rushed for four touchdowns in the game and had one receiving touchdown. His last game without a touchdown was against the Tennessee Titans in week three of the season. The Colts are close to the middle in the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns, so their passing attack may not seem elite, however when combined with Taylor in the backfield, the offense is one of the best in the league. Teams know that they must stop the run, which makes passing the ball easier. Their quarterback Carson Wentz isn’t one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, however he is doing well playing off the teams running game. If Taylor is having an incredibly impactful season, what stops him from winning the MVP award? The first issue is that his team is 6-6. Oftentimes, the award goes to a player on a top team in the league. The Colts are still close to making the playoffs, but they are not a sure team to make the playoffs. Also, the key factor is that he is a running back. Voters have swayed towards quarterbacks for a good reason. Quarterbacks control the game. They can run and pass and lead their teams to wins more than any other position. A team without a good quarterback is likely not a very good team. The worst teams in the NFL are currently the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars. According to, these teams are at the bottom end of the league in passer rating. They overall have quarterbacks that cannot consistently lead their team to wins. However,

when you look at the best teams in the league, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Dallas Cowboys, they all have quarterbacks with high passer ratings. So, most of the time the teams that win have good quarterbacks because quarterbacks’ control so many aspects of the game. A running back may not have as much impact. Quarterbacks play almost every snap in a game, while a running back does not. For a running back to win the MVP award, they would have to be almost their team’s entire offense. While Taylor is impacting his team’s offense in a big way, the Colts could still function without him. Overall, is a quarterback going to win the MVP award this year? The answer is probably. While Johnathan Taylor has brought up some discussion about how he should win with his five-touchdown game that led to a win against a top NFL team, the impact of the running back position is too frequently overruled by a good quarterback. Taylor may have a chance to win the award if he breaks records or if the Colts become the best team in the NFL. According to Pro-Football-Focus, the record for most rushing yards in a season is 2,105 yards and it was set by running back Eric Dickerson. Even in that season, a quarterback won the MVP award. The record for the most rushing touchdowns in a season was set by LaDainian Tomlinson when he had 28 rushing touchdowns in 2006. The Colts have five more games this season. For Taylor to break a record and give him a good chance to win the MVP award, he would likely need 14 more touchdowns and/or nine hundred rushing yards. That is roughly three rushing touchdowns per game and 180 rushing yards per game. This seems very unlikely, however crazier things have happened in the NFL.

Brandeis swimming & diving competes twice By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

On Saturday, Nov. 27 the Judges competed against the United States Coast Guard Academy, with both teams losing, 185-93 for women and 185-97 for men. The Judges did win first place in two individual events. Ema Rennie ’23 was the only winner on the women’s side, winning the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:02.18, and finished second in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.29. This was her season-best time for the freestyle. Anastasia Bekou ’25 placed second in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:01.13. Chloe

Gonzalez ’25 placed second in the 100-yard Freestyle, with a time of 55.17. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the team of Bekou, Gonzalez, Rennie and Bailey Gold ’23 took second place. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the team of Bekou, Gonzalez, Rennie and Gold took second place. In the 400-yard medley relay, Bekou, Gold, Rennie and Olivia Stebbins ’22 finished second. Andrew Ngo ’25 was the only winner on the men’s side, winning the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:59.34. This was also his season-best time. Sam Dienstag ’24 placed second in the 1000-yard freestyle and the 500yard freestyle. Brendon Lu ’22 placed second


in the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard breaststroke, both with season best times of


1:59.73 and 2:10.38 respectively. The relay team composed of Lu, Dienstag and James Barno ’23 placed second in the 400-yard medley relay. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, Dienstag, Ryan Schulken ’24 and Benton Ferebee ’22 placed third. On Sunday, Nov. 28 the team took on Tufts University, with both teams losing. The women’s team lost 252-41 while the men’s team lost 227-65; the men’s team won three individual events. Bekou finished third in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:01.09. Gonzalez placed third in the 200-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100-yard freestyle, with times of 1:58.66 and 55.41. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Gold, Gonzalez, Rennie and Aubrey Cheng ’25 placed third with

a time of 1:41.62. In the 200-yard medley relay Bekou, Gold and Stebbins placed fourth, with a time of 1:53.79. Lu won the 100-yard breaststroke race with a time of 59.59 as well as the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:09.35. This was his season-best time for the 200-yard breaststroke. Dienstag won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:46.74. Dienstag, Ferebee, Ngo and Dylan Levy ’24 placed third in the 200yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:31.95. Barno, Ferebee, Lu and Ngo placed third in the 200yard medley relay with a time of 1:37.29. The Judges’ next meet will take place at the Gompei Invitational, which runs from Friday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 5.


The Brandeis Hoot

By Justin Leung editor

After one of the craziest Major League Baseball trade deadlines of all time, the offseason was set to be an interesting one. Some of the best players in all of baseball were set to be free agents with many teams that had an abundance of money available. Even though people knew this offseason was going to be interesting, people did not expect this level of crazy. Within the past week, multiple top players have changed teams and changed the landscape of the MLB. The first major move of the offseason came from the Detroit Tigers. According to ESPN, on Nov. 15, the Tigers signed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to a five year contract worth 77 million dollars. This was a big signing for the Tigers because it showed that the Tigers were done rebuilding. For the past few years, the Tigers have been a below average team, but they have been slowly accumulating solid young players through the draft and international signings. After being last in their division in 2020, the Tigers jumped to third in the division in 2021. The team is ready to compete with young players such as Akil Baddoo and Casey Mize. They showed their readiness with this first big signing. However, they were not done there. According to reporter Jeff Passan, the Tigers were looking into one of the best shortstops in the league to fill their issues at that position. This shortstop was Carlos Correa, and he is set to get a very large contract for his excellent defense and above average hitting. However, almost out of nowhere, the Tigers appeared to change directions after believing Correa was going to cost them too much. Instead, they turned to shortstop Javier Baez to fill that role. Baez is a former Most Valuable Player award runner up and Gold Glove defender. He is a star that cost them significantly less than what Correa would have cost them. This signing further showed that the Tigers are no longer rebuilding. It is time for them to compete.

Another big signing came by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. According to ESPN, the Angels signed starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard to a one year 21 million dollar contract. This signing confused many fans as Syndergaard had made it clear that he wanted to remain with his former team the New York Mets. Additionally, fans were confused because the contract gave Syndergaard a lot of money even though he barely pitched last season. In 2021, he only pitched in two innings due to an injury. His signing was a major risk for the Angels because there is no guarantee how good he is going to be for the 2022 season, considering he has pitched so little for the past two years. This signing shows that the Angles are desperate. Fans have been complaining about how the team has failed to address their starting pitching issues. They have outfielder Mike Trout who is one of the best players in the league, but they have done nothing to help him. The Syndergaard signing displays that the front office is done messing around and they are just going after good pitching regardless of the risk. The next signing was more impactful for another team than the team the player actually signed with. According to ESPN, starting pitcher Steven Matz signed with the Cardinals on a four year 44 million dollar contract. Although this was a good signing for the Cardinals, what happened next was crazy. Mets owner Steven Cohen publicly talked about how unprofessional Matz, and his agent were through the signing process. Cohen believed Matz was set to return to the Mets, but at the last second Matz changed his mind as the Cardinals gave a better offer. After that, Cohen took complete control of the offseason. Cohen and the Mets then signed the best free agent outfielder Starling Marte to a four year 78 million dollar contract. On the same day, they signed infielder Eduardo Escobar to a two year 20 million dollar contract. They were not done. After missing out on Matz, Cohen refused to get outbid by anyone else. So, he then went after the best start-

ing pitcher available. Former Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer was by far the best pitcher on the market. Scherzer got offers from multiple teams, but Cohen refused to get outbid. The Mets proceeded to sign Scherzer to a three year 130 million dollar contract. That means Scherzer is going to get paid 43.3 million dollars a year. This broke the record for the highest yearly salary for a pitcher. Not only did it break the record, but the contract was given to a player who was 37 years old. So, the Mets are going to pay him 43.3 million dollars when he turns 40. Mets fans did not care as they believed they had the best starting pitcher duo in the league. The Mets already have starting pitcher Jacob deGrom and now they have Scherzer. At this point Steve Cohen has shown that money is king. Nothing matters when you can just pay more than any other team. The Mets may continue to make even more signings and put themselves in the conversation for World Series favorites. Two teams made very impactful contract extensions during the offseason so far. The Minnesota Twins extended outfielder Byron Buxton with a seven year 100-million-dollar contract. At the time, this appeared to be a steal considering Buxton, when healthy, is one of the best players in all of baseball. However, the contract has additional incentives if he is healthy. Buxton’s issue has always been staying on the field. When he has played, he has been good. The issue is that he always gets injured. Buxton’s extension is so impactful because his contract is not costing the Twins a lot, so if he is healthy, they are getting a steal for a top player in the league. The other impactful extension came from the Tampa Bay Rays. They gave young super star shortstop Wander Franco a 12 year 185 million dollar contract after playing just one season. The Rays are a team that is known for not spending a lot of money. According to Spotrac, their highest paid player of 2021, was outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and it was for 11 million dollars. Oftentimes, when one of their players starts to get


By Mia Plante editor

On Saturday, Nov. 20, the Brandeis Women’s cross country team participated in the 2021 Division III Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. The Judges were given an AtLarge seat in the National Championships after placing fourth at the Regional Championships the weekend prior and brought six runners to Kentucky.

Niamh Kenney ’22 was the Judges first finisher of the day with a time of 21:42.1, placing 32nd overall. Erin Magill ’23 was the Judges second finisher with a time of 21:47.5, placing 36th. Both runners achieved personal best times, breaking the twenty-two minute mark for the first time that Saturday. Both runners also won the honor of being entitled All-Americans, Kenney’s second All-American honor and Magill’s first.

Both Kenney and Magill also made serious strides after the first kilometer of the race. Kenney moved up 141 places during the rest of the race, and Magill 128. Natalie Hattan ’22 was the third Judge to cross the finish line, also running a personal best with a time of 22:45.3. Hattan placed 149th overall. Juliette Intrieri ’24 finished fourth of the Judges’ runners, running a personal best by 50 seconds. Intrieri finished with a time

December 3, 2021

too expensive, they trade them. So many fans were surprised to see Franco get paid. Not only was he paid a large portion, but he was paid after only playing one season. Although Franco is only 20 years old, he showed in the regular season and postseason why he is a generational talent and that he deserved the extension. As of now he will remain on the Rays and continue to torment other teams for many years to come. The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners both made big starting pitching signings. Although they signed very different players, they are similar as they both have pitched only one good season. According to ESPN, the Blue Jays signed starting pitcher Kevin Gausman to a five year 110 million dollar contract. The Mariners proceeded to sign former Blue Jay Robbie Ray to a five year 115 million dollar contract. Both players had excellent 2021 seasons. Ray even won the Cy Young award for the American League. However, signing both pitchers have a high level of risk included. Before the 2021 season, Ray had been a below average pitcher for his career. It wasn’t until this year that he had a good season. Is it possible that the 2021 season was a fluke? Not only is there a chance that he got lucky in this past season, but he is also 30 years old, so there is a chance he regresses quickly with his age. Gausman is in a similar situation. Before 2020, Gausman was mostly a below average pitcher with some decent seasons occasionally. That was until 2021 where he was truly an elite pitcher. The question for both players is: Did they figure out how to pitch to their full potential, or did they just have a fluke season? The two signings were big because the Mariners and the Blue Jays are on the cusp of being one of the top teams in baseball. Both teams have a lot of young talent, so they are gearing up to compete very soon. Are these signings going to pay off and help them compete in the playoffs, or are we going to see all that money go to waste? The final two big signings were possibly the most surprising of them all. According to ESPN, the Texas Rangers signed infielder Marcus Semien to a seven year 175 million dollar contract and infielder Corey Seager to a 10 year 325 million dollar contract. Both players are very deserving of these contracts. Semien just set the record for the most home runs hit by a second baseman in a season. Seager has been a very good shortstop for the Dodgers for the past seven years. The contracts themselves are not surprising, it is instead the team that signed them. In 2020 and 2021, the Rangers finished in last place in their division. The team traded away their best player in the middle of the 2021 season. It ap-

peared as if the Rangers were in a complete rebuild. Within the next few years, the team could be ready to compete behind the likes of starting pitcher Jack Leiter and infielder Josh Jung. However, the Rangers decided that they were done rebuilding. Instead, they went out and committed to signing two of the best infielders in the free agent market. Between Semien and Seager, the Rangers have committed half a billion dollars. The Rangers also signed starting pitcher Jon Gray to a contract to further bolster their lineup. Most teams spend a lot of time working on a rebuild. They slowly get prospects and develop them into star players. For example, the Nationals were one of the worst teams in baseball before 2010, but then they drafted outfielder Bryce Harper, starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and infielder Anthony Rendon. Within a few years they were playoff contenders. It is normally a long process for teams to be ready to compete, however the Rangers were done waiting. They believe that they are ready to make a playoff run. The team still has many holes to fill, but at this point who knows how many more players the team is going to sign. They are truly unpredictable, and this crazy offseason might just be what they need to put them back into contention. There are many other big free agents that have yet to sign to a team. Carlos Correa has still not been signed. Former Colorado Rockies All-Star shortstop Trevor Story also has not been signed yet. First baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Nicholas Castellanos have yet to be signed. There are plenty of signings to go before this offseason is done, so the craziness is not over yet. Additionally, to add onto the free agents are the players that have been floated around in trade talks. Third baseman Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Guardians has been brought up in trade talks. First baseman Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics has frequently been discussed in trades. Even closer Craig Kimbrel of the Chicago White Sox has been talked about. This offseason is already one of the craziest we have ever seen and there is still so much to go. Even though it is hard to predict what is going to happen next, we know that teams that we didn’t expect to get significantly better are making big signings. We may soon see a league where no team is bad if teams like the Rangers are making big splashes. MLB has just entered a lockout period due to a disagreement between the players and team owners. This has resulted in a freeze on trades and free agent signings. However, once both sides have come to an agreement, the madness will continue.

of 23:03.3 in 193rd place overall. Lizzy Reynolds ’24 was the fifth of the Judges to pass the finish line with a personal best of nearly two minutes less than her prior record. Reynolds finished with a time of 23:29.4 in 239th place and was the last of the Judges to win points for the team. Bridget Pickard ’23 followed in 263rd place with a personal best of 23:48.6, and Zada Forde ’25 was close behind in 265th place

with a personal best of 23:50.8. The Judges finished the weekend with 496 points and 20th place, a six spot improvement from their place after the Regional Championships. Johns Hopkins won its seventh NCAA Div. III Championships with 130 points. News Editor Victoria Morrongiello is a member of the Cross Country and Track and Field team and did not contribute to this article.


December 3, 2021

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe.”

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

Volume 19 • Issue 13 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma

Founded By Leslie Pazan, Igor Pedan and Daniel Silverman


Cyrenity Augustin, Logan Ashkinazy, Jonathan Ayash, Lucy Fay, Sam Finbury, Cooper Gottfried, Zach Katz, Sarah Kim, Joey Kornman, Josh Lannon, Kristianna Lapierre, Max Lerner, Rafi Levi, Jesse Lieberman, Francesca Marchese, Vimukthi Mawilmada, Abigail Roberts, Rachel Rosenfield, David Shapiro, Matt Shapiro, Jahnavi Swamy, Luca Swinford 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.

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e have had quite a semester, both in good and bad ways. First, on the good. As the editorial board of The Hoot, we are very happy to be writing this in our cozy room. We are grateful that we are able to do the things we love in person. It warms our hearts to see all the clubs coming back to life after a year and a half hiatus. Athletics are back: we can finally watch Brandeis get its ass beat live. We can hear parents, friends and teammates cheer each other on. We are able to enjoy live musical performances, be it in Slosberg, in the Shapiro Science Center or Mandel. Our editors are finally able to get back to the things they love, live. Maddie is finally able to perform the Nutcracker live. Thomas is able to spend hours playing tennis and rugby. Roshni is able to enjoy live music around campus. John and Sasha are able to attend games. Victoria is able to travel with her team. Cooper is able to complain about mint chocolate chip ice cream in person. Emma is able to attend (and be confused by) live

theatre at Brandeis. Mia is able to go to concerts (and drag shows). We are all grateful to be able to do these things again. We are also thankful to everyone in the Brandeis community for doing their part and following COVID-19 policies, keeping us all safe. This semester, with a 97 percent vaccination rate, we have not had a major COVID-19 outbreak. Also, we want to thank the university for hosting the various vaccination clinics throughout the semester first with the flu shot clinic and then with the COVID-19 booster shot clinic. By bringing vaccinations to campus, it makes getting vaccinated more accessible and easier for students who are already stressed about getting their school work done. However, as we came back to campus, so did the issues. Firstly, it is hard to ignore mold and mice in your dorm, lead-poisoned and rusty water or a falling roof in Usdan. Brandeis needs to make an effort to make the campus safe for its students. Looking forward, we hope Brandeis reconsiders its attendance policies. Despite our

The Brandeis Hoot 9

success with the coronavirus, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. The goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy. But how can that be done if professors do not accommodate students who do not have COVID-19? If classes are not recorded or available on Zoom, students are forced to choose between lying on the Daily Health Assessment or missing out on their education. Since the university is hoping to go almost fully in person next semester, we hope the tools we gained during our online semesters get carried through.For the Union, we hope for more transparency and a better functioning Allocations Board. For the University, we hope to see employees being treated well. Students should not have to create endless petitions to persuade you to do the right thing. For the students, please continue doing your part; we all want to continue to do the things we love, but in order to do so, we have to remain diligent. Overall, this was a solid semester, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

10 The Brandeis Hoot

By John Fornagiel & Sasha Skarboviychuk editors

On Sunday, Nov. 21, Brandeis Effective Altruism and the Philosophy Undergraduate Department Representatives brought in a speaker, Kaleem Ahmid, to speak to Brandeis students on the topic of effective altruism (EA). Ahmid began by giving the audience five potential ways of increasing the amount of children that go to school, asking the audience to rank them. Contrary to what most people assumed, the thing that had the most impact was educating parents on the importance of education, followed by deworming. The third factor was free uniforms, followed by merit based scholarships and unconditional monetary transfers. This example was then used to show the audience that intuition is not always reliable. Intuition is heavily influenced by what problems are most visible to the person, so it is important to go by evidence and reason, not intuition, said Ahmid. He highlighted that intuition is particularly “terrible with dealing with very large numbers.” From there, Ahmid went on to discuss the best way to avoid

By Thomas Pickering editor

Fifteen minutes north of campus in the town of Bedford there is an airfield hiding in plain sight. As you drive through the residential neighborhood one would never think that beyond those quiet homes lies the chance for Brandeis’ students to fly. Well, the Aviation Club is making that possible as everyone is invited to take off with them and learn how to properly control and fly a plane. Led by club president Lachlan Elam ’22, the Brandeis Aviation Club is returning to the skies and in an interview with The

By Shruthi Manjunath editor

At the event entitled, “CGES Online: Good Food for All—Towards Sustainable Food Systems in Germany and the US,” Friedhelm Von Mering and Ed Stockman discussed organic farming in Germany and the US. Friedhelm Von Mering is a political liaison manager at Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW), also known as the German Association of Organic Farmers, Food Processors and Retailers while Ed Stockman is a fourth generation farmer and co-founder and education director of Regeneration Massachusetts. The event began with Friedhelm Von Mering explaining more about BÖLW. BÖLW is an organization of farmers that works towards ensuring that the organic food industry’s achievements are represented in German


December 3, 2021

making mistakes when trying to do what’s best for people. The project is based on using evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible and taking action on that basis. The big thing with this was trying to find a way to avoid all of our biases. The first step is to become neutral and only have a bias towards welfare. There are three criteria used to find things that should be prioritized. Firstly, one should consider scale: find a cause that will affect the largest number of people. The examples Ahmid provided were climate change and ALS. The next thing to consider is neglectedness followed by tractability. They can be used at different levels: societal, organizational and individual. Ahmid used the following example to demonstrate a dissonance within people: imagine that you are going to a wedding and you are in a very expensive outfit. However, on the way to the wedding, you see a child that’s drowning and needs to be rescued. You have two options: the first option is to save the child at some cost to you, which would be to ruin your wedding outfit and possibly the memory of the wedding, or ignore the drowning child and go to the wedding. Ahmid then

presents the following argument: if people are willing to save a child right in front of them if it incurs some sort of cost, why would they not do this for a child who is far away? However, Ahmid also emphasizes that you should not burn yourself out, and you should be actively engaging in your own mental health and self-care. Moreover, he stresses that he understands that people are not perfect, but we can always strive to do better. Overall, there are four things that the EA community is working on. These include crowding the number of engaged EAs around the world, helping people find effective careers, supporting EA and EA-aligned research organizations and encouraging people to find out about what they are doing and to think and take action. To assist people in finding careers they emphasize that the most impactful career that you could do depends on who you are and what skills you have. However, they also state that while it may not matter what sphere you go in to, the big thing is doing the “good” thing in whatever sphere you are in. They also gave out free books to students at the event. The first book was “The Precipice: Exis-

tential Risk and the Future of Humanity” by Toby Ord. The book “explores the science behind the risks we face. It puts them in the context of the greater story of humanity: showing how ending these risks is among the most pressing moral issues of our time. And it points the way forward to the actions and strategies we can take today to safeguard humanity’s future,” according to the book’s website. The other book was “Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and How You Can Make a Difference” by William MacAskill. According to the book’s GoodReads page, it “urges us to think differently, set aside biases, and use evidence and careful reasoning rather than act on impulse. When we do this—when we apply the head and the heart to each of our altruistic endeavors—we find that each of us has the power to do an astonishing amount of good.” At the end of the event, vegetarian Indian food and boba were served to attendees. Effective altruism is a global movement that combines evidence with empathy in an effort to do the most good possible. According to the event description, Effective altruism is a philosophical and social movement which focuses on answering the

question: How can we best help others? It points out that resources are limited, therefore it is up to people to use them in the best way possible. Effective altruism has two main pillars: “using evidence and reason to find the most promising causes to work on” and “taking action, by using our time and money to do the most good we can.” The organization also provides career advising for students, which aims to show students how they can do the most good through their chosen careers. According to the event description, Kaleem is a community organizer in the effective altruism community. He received a master’s degree in public health from Northeastern University. According to the Brandeis Effective Altruism Facebook page, Brandeis is “a place that prides itself on social justice, on expanding our circle of caring to those who are underrepresented, disenfranchised, and oppressed.” The club therefore aims to “expand that circle to its widest possible bounds, assigning value to every life and every experience.” The event took place on Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. in the Skyline Common Room. The event was sponsored by Brandeis Effective Altruism and the Philosophy (UDRs).

Brandeis Hoot, Elam discussed the opportunity and how he became involved. His beginning with the club started his first year at Brandeis as he noted, “I have always wanted to [fly], but my parents would not pay for it, both because it was expensive and also because they wanted to spare me being on an episode of ‘Mayday.’” From his first flying lesson through the club Elam became dedicated to receiving his pilot license, noting that it “has been a blast ever since!” The Brandeis Aviation Club has been present on campus for 10 years and not only offers students the ability to fly but also provides simulator training in the MakerLab, drone flying opportunities

and ground school lessons all on campus. The club prepares students for real life flight which is practiced at the East Coast Aero Club (ECAC) in Bedford. ECAC, as Elam described it to The Hoot, is “one of the most seasoned and professional flight schools in New England,” with their instructors working closely with the club to “understand the standards and expectations of student pilots learning at the school.” Instructors at ECAC are all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified instructors whose teaching “guarantees a long and safe flight career,” as Elam noted. The club continues to bring in interested and new pilots who have never gone in the air before

attending Aviation Club lessons, as Elam said, “We have many people flying for the first time every semester. Most people come to the next meeting after their flight with a big smile and I love hearing about their experience. The club has also given a few people with aviation aspirations the chance to begin their careers!” The Brandeis Aviation Club offers anyone interested in flight a chance to step into that experience and partake in the beauty of the location, as Elam explained, “there is something really special about coming in for a right traffic landing with Boston off your left wing.” When asked about the experience thus far with the club

and why those interested should join, Elam said, “there is no feeling of freedom quite like flying. Brandeis Flight Club gives members the opportunity to experience the miracle of human flight! Take lessons for free and work towards your pilot license! We also hold weekly meetings to fly on a simulator, and discuss aviation news and other flying related topics. The meetings are quite fun, we are a pretty comedic group, as are most pilots.” The Brandeis Aviation Club meets on Tuesdays in the MakerLab from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. because as Elam made sure to tell us, “I want more people to know that they have the opportunity to fly!”

society. They specifically do this through lobbying, research and knowledge transfer, communications, events and service for member associations. Von Mering highlighted how organic farms in Germany are increasing in number and organic food sales are also increasing. There was previously a major wave of organic movements throughout the 1900s. Currently, organic farming is thriving all across Europe. This is due to the fact that the European Union is densely populated, a number of food scandals that propelled people to think more about organic farming, environmental degradation, structural changes and culinary traditions. Von Mering described how organic farms are better for the environment because they produce much more biodiversity, allow for clean water, produce healthy and fertile soil, allow high standards for animal welfare, create strict, legally de-

fined standards and have independent annual inspections of all operators and allow for better food. The event then continued with Ed Stockman explaining his background in farming and issues that he is passionate about. Stockman began by explaining how agriculture is the largest polluter in the US. According to him, Americans are so removed from their food supply that they are not aware of this. Stockman became aware of this when he purchased a farm in New Hampshire in the 1970s and began to read more about organic agriculture. He heard about GMOs that were going to make farmers rich at this time, however, GMOs were actually a let down. According to him, “the hype around GMOs is not true.” Stockman also highlighted how labeling in the US is another problem as there is a lack of labeling of genetically modified

foods. A bill was passed during the Obama administration regarding regulation of GMO food labeling, however, according to Stockham, nothing has been done since then to actually create changes. This bill, known as the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know), has sparked much controversy throughout the United States. GMO pesticides are systemic, meaning that once they are sprayed on the plant, they are in the plant and part of the cellulose structure of the plant. Based on testing, there are high concentrations of herbicides, specifically glyphosate, in most of the food consumed by people in the US. Glyphosate is the most abundantly used herbicide throughout the world. As Stockman explains, “when you are eating a corn seed that has been sprayed with a pesticide, you are also eating the pesticide.” He also highlights that consumers are the ones who can put pressure on the government


to make changes. This information is important for consumers to know as when we consume food, our bodies may be polluted by pesticide residues. Stockman lastly explains that many farmers are converting to regenerative agriculture and techniques to rebuild soil. Specifically, the focus of Regeneration Massachusetts, the organization that Stockman co-founded, is to educate people so that they can make wise decisions when purchasing food and push for transparency in food labeling. In the end, it is important to think about what we are putting in our bodies.


December 3, 2021

By Emma Lichtenstein editor

David Ellenson, a past director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, broke down the changing thoughts on who is considered “a Jew” by the state of Israel. On Thursday, Dec. 2, in a Zoom event titled “Who is a Convert? The Law of Return and the Legality of Reform and Conservative Conversions in Israel,” Ellenson took attendees through 70 years of Israeli policy, with the most recent update being from this year. He started the event with the original 1950 “Law of Return,” which stated that Israel is “the national state of the Jewish people and welcomes all Jews to citizenship within its borders,” according to a document shared with attendees. He clarified that personal matters—like marriage or burial—were not addressed by this law; those were still under the jurisdiction of the Rabbinate, the religious council that oversees Israeli affairs. This law only determined the citizenship rights of Jewish people. However, this law was vague and didn’t specify parameters of Judaism; it didn’t specify who was considered Jewish. This law has since been specified over a myriad of court cases, Ellenson highlighted in his talk. The defi-

By Cooper Gottfried staff

President Ron Liebowitz sat down with The Brandeis Hoot to help the student body get to know him better. In a half-hour dialogue with The Hoot, Liebowitz gave some insights into himself, Brandeis and his job. What do you wish the students knew about you? Doing this job is really to try to find ways to make the educational experience here the best it could be. So whether it’s in the classroom or whether it’s in the residence halls or whether it’s in opportunities with internships, I’m in it for really improving Brandeis. Brandeis to me as an institution is a really important institution, it’s not just any institution. As I said, the reason that drew me here is because I think it’s an inspiring institution in its founding and so forth. So I think it’s important that we succeed and be as good as we can be. What do you wish the students knew about Brandeis? I wish they knew its history. I wish they really had a feel for how different it is. I just came back from college tours because we have a senior [in high school]. So it’s interesting how everything about Brandeis’ founding has become universal. But it wasn’t always that way. Schools talking about inclusion, and students talking about openness, and schools talking about social jus-

nition of a Jewish person was broadened in 1970, with citizens being able to be labeled ethnically Jewish but religiously atheist. This result comes in the case of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother. Judaism is traditionally considered to be passed down from the mother. If you’re born from a Jewish woman, then you’re Jewish; if you’re born from a non-Jewish mother, you’re not, regardless of paternal status. This court case goes against that idea though. According to the document, “The Court, stated that in the absence of a legislative definition of “Jew” in the Law of Return, a person could be registered as Jewish in the Population Registry if she or he self-defined as Jewish, even if traditional Jewish law did not accord the individual Jewish status.” Following this, the Law of Return was updated in 1970 to say, “For the purposes of this Law, ‘Jew’ means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.” This update would soon be challenged, as there are many denominations to Judaism. It was ruled in the 1980s that regardless of denomination—Reform, Conservative or Orthodox—a person whose conversion (outside of Israel) was performed “within a Jewish community” was to be considered a Jew. However, Ellenson pointed out that this failed to address concerns about the Law of Return or the Population Registry (of the state of Israel). The rules in Israel remained more technical than those for converts outside of Israel. “The

Ministry maintained that for a change of religion to have legal effect, it had to be registered by the head of the ‘Religious Community’ in Israel. As the head of the Jewish religious community in Israel was the Chief Rabbinate, a person seeking to change his/her religion in Israel must bring certification from the Chief Rabbinate,” reads Ellenson’s document, about a 1993 case. The section on this case, Eliane Pesaro (Goldstein) v. Ministry of the Interior (1993), ends with a quote from one of the Supreme Court judges that made this ruling: “We are not determining that Reform conversion be recognized for the Law of Return and the Population Registry. Therefore, we are not ordering the respondents to accept the petitioner as a Jew for the Law of Return, and we are not ordering that she be registered as Jewish in the Population Registry.” In 2002, the Court ruled that Reform and Conservative converts, regardless of conversion location, will be allowed to be labeled as Jewish in the Population Registry, but did not address the Law of Return. In 2016, the Law of Return was finally addressed in regards to converts. All Orthodox converts, regardless of conversion location, were eligible for citizenship in the Law of Return. This decision did not expand to Reform or Conservative Jewish converts. Fifteen years later, in 2021, the status of Reform and Conservative Jewish converts would be accepted by the Supreme Court. President Hayut, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, stated, “Seeing as under all accounts these con-

gregations are ‘recognized Jewish communities’ and so long as the legislators have not legislated differently, there are no grounds not to recognize converts, like the petitioners, who converted in these congregations in Israel, as Jews for the purpose of the Law of Return,” according to Ellenson’s document. After 70 years, who gets to be treated as Jewish under Israeli

law? Currently, the definition expands to all Jewish converts regardless of denomination or conversion location as well as people who are Jewish by birth. As evidenced by the very busy chat in the Zoom call, there are still questions and technicalities to be considered. Updates are likely to come later as we all still struggle to answer that lifelong question: who is a Jew?

tice. All these things were part of Brandeis’ DNA. It’s the reason for its founding: to provide access to individuals who had been denied access for a long time. That is now the clarion call for almost all universities, and it wasn’t always that way. So I wish students understood that those are our roots and that it really comes from millennial-old Jewish tradition, these things go way back in the Jewish texts. And so I think both understanding our values from the beginning and understanding our Jewish founding, I wish we did better. And I think we will do better. I think we’re going to focus more when students come in to sort of just orient them to the history of this place, because I think it is that important. Do you want your kids to come to Brandeis? Jessica and I just had lunch with some foundation heads and they asked that question …. I would love it. I think it would be great for them. I mean, it’s their choice. It’s not our choice. Of course I think Brandeis would be terrific for them. As I said before, they’d have really interesting classmates. I think the faculty here are incredibly dedicated to students and I think the education one gets here is superb. What do you work towards in your free time? Sleep? No, I don’t sleep much. So family, you know, we have three kids who are in high school, all in high school, 10th, 11th and 12th grade. Just by being in 10th, 11th, 12th grade, there’s a lot go-

ing on in their lives. So my wife and I, Jessica and I, try to be as involved as possible and we try to carve out time to make sure that we’re involved and engaged with all of them. They’re all three with different interests. So it’s great. You know, in some ways it’s great. In some ways you don’t get two for one like, they’re both not going to a soccer game together. One has to go to music lessons, one has to go to a cross country meet or whatever. So kids are important and then there’s downtime where you just want to read or you want to just chill [and] relax. Favorite bands? *Laugh* You’re dating me! I have a few and they probably predate you. So I would say I like Radiohead, I like The Pretenders ... they’d be a second group. I was just listening to my new playlist, our youngest put together a Spotify playlist for me of 135 songs. I like REM—I’m dating myself! Contemporary—I’ll tell you the truth—I don’t like contemporary that much. There was a show on Netflix that my wife and I saw that wasn’t well advertised here. They had an incredible soundtrack. And so I went out on Spotify and it was on Spotify. It was “The A Word,” incredible show. The show was about a young kid with autism. It was an amazing show. But anyway, this kid, the way he managed was with music. And so he always had his headphones on, and they were all post new wave … all British rock. It’s an incredible soundtrack. And so I downloaded the soundtrack from

“The A Word.” You gotta check it out, it’s incredible. I never heard of these groups, but I listen to it all the time. So … I’m more of ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, than I am with the contemporary. I’m only recently getting into jazz. I fought off jazz because my brother was a big jazz fanatic, and so I had to oppose him. But now that we’re older and we get along really well I’ve started listening to jazz. Favorite TV shows? We never watched TV, except when the COVID-19 came and now we’re always watching. So you’re gonna laugh, but the current one we’re enjoying a lot is “Call My Agent.” It’s hilarious. So it’s about a talent agency overseeing movie stars in France. It’s in French, so you have to read the subtitles. You gotta see it …. That’s one, and another one that we loved on Netflix was … “Schitt’s Creek.” We’re in season two and we understand by the end, you really embrace them [the characters]. They’re very unlikable at first, but then you really embrace them. So we haven’t seen beyond season two, but that was another good one. “Schitt’s Creek” was good. Can you compare Middlebury to Brandeis? Brandeis is a Research I university that has the highest level of research, which is what Middlebury is not. Middlebury is a liberal arts college. Middlebury had many parts to it, which made it a complex institution. It had 12 intensive language schools, it had 36 sites abroad. It has a gradu-

ate school out in California, the Monterey Institute, now the Middlebury Institute. So it is a complicated and complex place, but it’s not comprehensive like this. So it differs, it’s been a fascinating and also rewarding challenge to get used to this environment. How has your PhD in geography helped you throughout your career? I don’t necessarily think it helped me in my day to day as president of Brandeis, except I don’t get lost when I go on development calls ’cause I’m a geographer. But in all seriousness, I guess I combine qualitative and quantitative geography and to that extent, I think having a facility and also an experience with numbers and data in my analysis … is important for the work I do here. And also I think an appreciation for cultures because I’m a human geographer and a political geographer. I studied nationalities and ethnicity in the Soviet Union and Russia, so somehow that appreciation for the multiethnic makeup of the Soviet Union and how they interact in policies plays a role in how I view the world. But geography in itself is a discipline that forces you to think about the world beyondyour locale.



The Brandeis Hoot 12

December 3, 2021

Wrath of the machine: Workday is evil By Cooper Gottfried staff

With registration for spring semester classes looming, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Workday to find the classes I’d like to enroll in next semester. The process of choosing classes is stressful enough as it is, as there are seemingly endless requirements to fulfill. But, the software that Brandeis students are being forced to use to select courses is puzzling, perplexing and downright evil. After logging in to Workday, you’ll be greeted with three main tabs. There’s announcements, applications and inbox. To work on a schedule, you open the academics application before being faced with 21 clickable options. Out of those 21, only one will help you find courses being offered next semester: “Find Course Sections Brandeis.” It doesn’t help that the option for “Find Course Sections Brandeis” is right next to an option called “Find Courses Brandeis”. The “Find Courses Brandeis” option shows courses that are not available for the upcoming semester, but gives no outward indication of that. These pages are unnecessarily complicated, and it feels like the developers had a vendetta against me when they created this god-awful interface. Also confusing is that after opening “Find Course Sections Brandeis,” the correct way to find courses is hidden. It seems like the obvious option to find courses

would be to sort by subject, as that option is at the top of the search filters. In reality, this doesn’t work. If you sort by subject, then you won’t find any cross-listed courses. I was so confused by this that I had to schedule a meeting with an academic advisor to find out that users are meant to use the “course tags” filter to find all courses that pertain to a particular subject. But, when searching by course tags, each tag appears twice. For example, the tag “Hispanic Studies|HISP :: HISP Writing Intensive HISP-WI” appears twice in the list, and it’s not clear which tag yields the proper search results, so both need to be selected. If you’re trying to search for a two credit course, you’ll face even more needless difficulty. Single-module courses don’t appear on a search for all spring semester courses, because of course they don’t. That would be far too easy. The Workday system appears to

be as convoluted as possible, and I had to fight back the urge to give up on registration entirely while I was trying to find courses for next semester. After several hours figuring out how to search for classes, you’ll hopefully have found a class you like. After clicking on the course, the first course page gives a few details, but likely not the ones you’re looking for. You have to click on the title of the course again to see a description of the course and which requirements the course will fulfill. But, the second page for the course doesn’t have the meeting day or time, instructional format, or capacity of the course. That information is only found on the initial course page. I have no idea why all of this information couldn’t be put on one page. It feels like a cruel joke, and the whole registration experience seems to be designed to be as tedious as possible.

After a few hours (or even days) on this despicable website, you’ll probably have figured out which courses you’d like to take next semester. If you close Workday, and then log back onto the homepage with the hopes of reviewing your schedule, get ready for possibly the best part of registration. Again, you have to click on the academics application, and then click on the option called “View my Saved Schedules.” That option, which is doubtless one of the most frequently used, is hidden behind another option that you have to click to see all of the available options. Can you feel it? The aggregate lost seconds of human life piling up like a bounty for a delighted reaper? Of course you can. You feel it every time you use this vile website. Another, smaller thing, is the graphic design of the whole website. It’s a glaring white background that’s covered in yellow

and blue accents. I’m definitely nitpicking, but this background looks gross. There’s an utter lack of effort in this website’s design, and that lack of effort clearly carried over to every other aspect of the website too. Workday has been a plague on Brandeis since the day it was introduced. According to an editorial published earlier in the year in The Hoot, there were numerous problems with transferring credits from the university’s previous registration software, Sage. According to other Brandeis students who are trying to register for courses, Workday’s user experience is damaging mentally, physically and emotionally. I don’t know if there are better software options available, but I know that there certainly aren’t worse ones.


Students are too lazy to compost: how we can change that By Lang Cheng special to the hoot

Even with signs all over the compost bins, chalk reminders on the sidewalk and frequent posts on Instagram, Brandeis students continue to dump trash into compost bins. While the university should take an active role in making sure everybody takes waste management seriously, students need to take responsibility for what they leave behind. Composting is supposed to be sustainable. Yet, when the bins are contaminated by plastic bags, bottles and other trash, they are rejected. Everything then goes to the dumpsters and is shipped either to landfills or the incinerator. We are further increasing our carbon footprint because we must take into account the emissions from the transportation of the compost truck. In addition, food scraps and other organic matter that break down at landfills release methane. When thinking about climate change, we always talk about carbon dioxide. However, methane is 25 times more potent than CO2 in trapping heat. Americans also waste around 40 million tons of food every year. That’s around 3040 percent of our national food supply and it’s an insane amount. If Brandeis students don’t want to compost, they should just take only as much food as they can eat. I would propose that Brandeis make waste separation a mandatory training. The university has already successfully gone through

the COVID-19 training, so we are familiar with the format. The Office of Sustainability has already created something called “Waste Division Training” that takes less than 15 minutes to go through. It shows us how to separate waste, where it ends up and how we can recycle objects like electronics and clothing. However, this exercise is not mandatory. Only those who are in the mailing list or follow the Brandeis Office of Sustainability on social media are likely to see it. Even if the university includes it in their weekly emails, only a small percentage of them are likely to open it. Thus, I think it’s necessary for the university to make everyone accountable. Some might argue that COVID-19 training was a matter of life and death. They may say that waste management is not on the same scale of importance. Yet, while it might not be threatening to Brandeis students, we have to realize that the waste we produce can harm others. Seventy-nine percent of the incinerators in the U.S. are located in low-income/BIPOC communities. The more trash we create, the more harmful it is for those living near landfills and waste incinerators. Burning waste emits heavy metals and other toxins into the surrounding environment. Local residents thus are exposed to those toxic chemicals and as a result, have higher risks of getting cancer and other illnesses. I think it’s immoral to disregard the consequences of our actions just because they don’t directly

impact us. We are already a privileged bunch, being at Brandeis. How can we talk about our commitment to social justice if we don’t play our part in climate justice? Brandeis cannot pride itself on its commitments to sustainability if its own students don’t even care. So why should we care about sustainability at Brandeis? Who are we, as students? We are the consumers. If nothing else matters, think about how much we are paying to be here. Our tuition is tens of thousands of dollars. We better make it worth our money. The public schools in my city didn’t even have recycling bins in their cafeterias, not to mention a compost bin. I have wanted my schools to be sustainable for so

long. I didn’t pay thousands of dollars so I can watch others ruin Brandeis’ effort to reduce its carbon footprint– our carbon footprint. When I started college last fall, I was shocked that Brandeis still had plastic utensils in its dining areas. But the compostable utensils arrived in my second semester. What is the point, then? To have compostable utensils, when students won’t even put in the effort? It’s just absolutely shameful for me to admit that Brandeis can’t compost properly because its students are too lazy. People spend hours on their homework, and they can’t spend a few seconds sorting out their waste? Clean up after yourselves, Brandeisians!

While I may be critical in my opinions of my fellow Brandeis students, I am hopeful that we can do better. The university needs to make waste division training mandatory for everybody involved on campus. Like digital literacy or verbal communication, sustainability and climate awareness should be important skills for us to have in this rapidly changing world. Above all, we as students need to be aware of how our actions impact others. We can’t expect other people to clean up the messes we leave behind, especially since our ancestors already left us the planet in this state. All of this will add up and can make a difference, but it takes all of our efforts.


December 3, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Americans know little of their greatest friends By Alex Williams staff

The rumors in circulation over the last two centuries bear some truth: Americans determinedly perceive the world through a combination of ignorance and fantasy. This is no fault of theirs, really; the Old World has rarely furnished a sufficient reason for the American people to care about its existence, except in those rare instances in which one or more great powers decide to stray from their borders. In fact, the original aspiration of the Pilgrims and subsequent immigrants to live undisturbed by the repressive tremors of Eurasia succeeded spectacularly: The upheavals and repressions of the Old World, with its nine-tenths of the global population, have for centuries been kept at bay by two great oceans and a widening split in civilizational sensibilities that has far outpaced any advancement in intercontinental travel or weaponry. The societies of North and South America have, in isolation from the Old World, developed into a sprawling community of one billion people who collectively wield one-third of the global GDP. Yet even if the Americans have historically had less reason to care for the geographies of its neighbors than, for instance, the French or Belgians, they remain

inextricably conscious of their civilizational origin. Any American middle-schooler can trace the civilizational heritage of America to England and Western Europe, and then to the Greco-Romans, whose Mediterranean axis originated in the Mesopotamian cradle of civilization. Americans, no matter their ancestral origins in lands apart from Western Europe, will associate this nation most readily and instinctively with England and its neighboring cultures. For anyone whose formative years were spent in this country, such a subliminal attachment is inevitable; it is written and integrated into every cultural fiber and instinct within America, assimilating even the remotest foreign imports with unmatched ease and efficacy. That the United States was born of a Western foundation is, to the rest of the world, as obvious a fact as it had been a century ago, and as it will be a century hence. Familiarity engenders affection, naturally, and though English-Americans constitute less than 10 percent of the American population, the United Kingdom is perceived favorably by 68 percent of Americans, according to YouGov research in 2020; in fact, only their fellow English-speaking nations rank higher. The same poll illustrates the extent to which America is enamored with Western Europe: Italy was seen positively by 68 percent; Switzer-

land by 67 percent; Sweden by 63 percent; the Netherlands by 62 percent; and nearly the entire remainder of Western Europe also polled above 50 percent. By contrast, the only country in the Americas which polled above 50 percent was Jamaica, itself among the Anglosphere, whilst the only country in Asia to surpass 50 percent was Japan. Of course, name recognition is of some importance: at 39 percent, Luxembourg expectedly polled the lowest within Western Europe. Americans, having preserved over centuries their famous disinterest in the world, register the greatest familiarity with those nations of Western Europe whose cultures most closely resemble their own. A trifecta of cultural similitude, twentieth-century wartime engagements and nineteenth-century immigrant ancestries have swollen Americans’ stubborn affections toward those countries, furnishing the quaint postcard images to which the American popular consciousness refers instead of facts. Ireland is reduced to a pastoral island of drunken pubs and leprechaun-lairs; Germany is a fairy-tale valley of beer-halls, cobblestone and sugar-dusted Christmas trees; and Norway remains a charmingly glacial backwater of beggar children and reindeer stables. Those countries, of course, capitalize fully upon these candied images within the American

imagination. Americans might intuitively expect Western Europeans to return this love in equal measure. This is not so: Western European public opinion, from France and Germany to the Nordic world, blasts a harsher light upon Americans, manipulated by images as grossly caricatured as those they lambast inside Americans’ heads. The story of West-European resentment towards the United States deserves to be scorned in a separate discourse, but its persistence renders any favorable impressions of America conditional. In this century, Pew Research has shown American favorability to fluctuate from the first quartile to the third quartile. Approval of America has rarely breached 60 percent except in Italy, disclosing an entrenched enmity absent in many other parts of the world. Asian nations preserve their affinity for this country and its people even when they hold American functionaries in poor esteem. Favorability toward America in fact transcends the third and fourth quartiles in countries such as India, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The Philippines, whose score was equal to that of Luxembourg among Americans, itself viewed America favorably with 83 percent of its population, a result which, not unironically, was only surpassed among the Vietnamese. Western Europe contains no comparable collective sympathy.

Such numbers betray a tragic duality of unrequited love, whether in the unreciprocated warmth of Americans toward Western Europeans, or in the extent of Indo-Pacific goodwill toward America. In conjunction with the economic and geopolitical ascendancy of the Indo-Pacific in the twenty-first century, Americans will someday recognize these affections and leave Western Europe to contemplate the ancient mystery of an animosity that differs among, and perhaps bewilders, their counterparts throughout Asia. Time may yet nurture goodwill, as demonstrated by American favorability toward Japan, yet most Americans remain heedless of their position in the hearts of Filipinos or Vietnamese. Americans should understand that an increased fraternity with the East does not constitute a withdrawal from America’s Western heritage; one would hardly regard the English and French as one another’s closest cultural relatives based upon the patterns of war and mutual enmity between them. There is also the question of whether Western European countries themselves are guilty of a retreat from the truths of their civilizational past. Let Americans therefore strengthen their bonds with the willing, whoever they are and wherever they lie in a fraternal world.


By Abdel Achibat editor

Navigating the higher education system in France has been a significant part of my study abroad experience and one that has given me an insightful perspective on the French students’ relation with education. Coming from Brandeis University, I can say I was immersed in a pretty standard Northeastern Liberal Arts college culture. One that focuses on campus activities, feels somewhat bubble-esque and a home away from home. At the same time, I know there are experiences going to a public university, commuter school, inner city school or highly elite university that I simply do not have but could only really ever guess from mutual friends. Going into a French university setting, therefore, was an experience I truly could not really attempt imagining. My decision to go to the Uni-

versity of Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis has been one I continue to be satisfied by. The campus culture is one I had originally sought for even when applying to Brandeis University. I see students constantly passing out flyers, stickers and setting up stations for social justice protests, upcoming political votes and events and for the participating and support of various socio-political organizations. Joining one, attending organization meetings and becoming a part of a movement’s activity is readily accessible by week. There is graffiti and student artwork from the outside of the university entrance to the insides of seats. Bathrooms are filled with ACAB signs and political slogans in which both girls and guys frequently use together. More so, the materials discussed in my political classes are so inherently leftist, it came as a shock to me at first. Discussing communism and socialism, and dismantling capitalism for being a vehicle for neo-colonialism

seems as if a tenet of our collective basic understanding. It feels as if students run the university and the university culture. Orientation week consisted of tables on the university lawn for both beer pong and SOS Racism, at the same time. Ultimately, it’s been an excellent atmosphere to foster political thought and research without the looming feeling of university requirements. Students range from fully sleeping in class, to engaging in fullon conversations with professors about ongoing political phenomena in the U.S. and abroad. They are all three hour long lectures, but the 15 minute break in the middle really does a number to allow you to pull through the latter half. Most students go outside to smoke cigarettes during this break, buy coffee or paninis or engage in some one-on-one time with the professor. Professors seem more than happy to engage with students during these breaks in a much more of an informal setting and informal dy-

namic, sometimes even smoking with them. What I have seen from this is a deep attempt on behalf of professors to open themselves up to the position of mentors themselves. The younger teachers especially frequently recommend internship and job opportunities as well as professional career-related advice. Most students, like at American institutions, cheat a lot or complete assignments as entire classes. Simultaneously most work other jobs, are involved in internships, or vocational type programs. The overall sentiment is one of focusing heavily on the specialization of your own field of study and presumptive career. Contrasting to the American university system, the venture of studying other domains or the requirement to do so does not exist. Homework is very rare and is only ever really just readings, in which lectures tend to be solely in depth analyses of these readings. Grades are based on 1-3 major exams, projects or essays at the middle and end of

the semester. This makes it so it is very easy for students to just skate by school and not engage in constant educational stimulation, but makes it very hard to pass the class if you truly did not soak in any information. Consequently, students are consistently reading and do a very large amount of work for these larger projects, in which I would say they even have a better command of group work and presentation of analysis skills. Ultimately, while the slowness and disorganization of the overall university hierarchy seems to be absolutely neurotic, the overwhelming progressiveness and youth-focused culture of the university has opened me up to exploring the same political theories and phenomena I studied in Brandeis but under a whole new lens and for a whole new purpose of truly deeply understanding it.


The Brandeis Hoot

December 3, 2021

A review: Sherman Dining Hall for vegan options, (which was also the only meal properly seasoned) the only food that isn’t spicy, overly acidic or creamy is the burger station. There is a significant problem when the plain grilled chicken is the highlight of my meal. I think it is also important to note that aside from the inconsistent labels with a few common allergens listed, we had absolutely no clue what was in what we were eating. This is a huge problem. Another striking observation from my meal is that capatavi pasta was used at almost every station. Sodexo seems to sacrifice quality for quantity considering how they feel the need to upkeep so many options but do so by providing a different version of the same mediocre meal at every station. Overall, Sherman does its job in feeding students and providing the illusion of vari-

By Jacob Grosof and Clay Napurano special to the hoot

Criteria: For this review of the Sherman Dining Hall on the evening of Nov. 21, Jacob Grosof and I, Clay Napurano, decided to try everything offered. From the toast bar to the kosher fruit, we took it upon ourselves to sample a small portion of everything. In order to prevent food waste, we ate as much of the food sampled as possible. Ratings: We rated on a scale from zero to five with five being fantastic and zero being nearly inedible. Although food reviews are incredibly subjective, we hope to provide a guide for future students, faculty, staff, or students looking to try a new station at the dining hall.

ety. However, it does its job in an inconsistent and strikingly poor manner. Jacob’s Summary: A very disappointing meal. The Sherman shits are made on nights like these. When your dining hall prioritizes desserts and high-emission animal protein, something is deeply wrong. I’ve seen the potential that Sherman has when its chefs are creative and not just staring at you with dead eyes at the end of the weekend. Maybe Sunday nights aren’t the best time to go to your neighborhood dining hall. Maybe the chefs got left with bad ingredients when the time came for this review. In any case, one thing is for sure: Sodexo can do better.

N.B. We did not rate the ice cream, frozen desserts, or the drink options. We chose to do this because these products are either from concentrate or from an outside vendor. Clay’s Summary: I want to preface my reflection with the caveat that I don’t normally eat like this in the dining hall. Most of Sherman’s offerings, I physically cannot stomach. The day-to-day selection invites stomach aches and an unbalanced diet. Although there are options for vegans or those with allergies such as the rustic roots station


It’s the mintiest season of the year By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

There is a special place in hell for the person who decided that peppermint is only a seasonal flavor. I want to enjoy my peppermint lattes, peppermint candy, peppermint hot chocolate and basically all things peppermint all year long. But alas that would be too good to be true, so instead, I binge on all things mint in the three months they are available for. Taking a step back, let me just say that peppermint is not the superior minty flavor. Regular mint is clearly much better, but since this country doesn’t seem to appreciate it, I have to settle for pep-

By Emma Lichtenstein editor

Every winter, you can’t go two feet without hearing Christmas music or seeing Christmas decorations. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, it’s a free-for-all of holiday joy. It’s annoying and tacky and superfluous and I want to know why I can’t be part of it! Why don’t we capitalize off of Chanukah more? Is it because no one can figure out how to spell it? I’m aware that there are significantly more people who celebrate Christmas in the United States than there are people who cele-

permint. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that peppermint season starts in early November; pumpkin spice is nice and stuff, but it cannot compare. To the people who think that mint only belongs in toothpaste and gum: I feel sorry for your tastebuds. Mint is the only ice cream you can eat without feeling like there’s too much of it. Its flavor is perfect: it is not too strong but also clearly there. How can you not like mint flavored things? It is such a unique and cool flavor, you can’t not be in the mood for it. And it works so well as basically anything. I even own mint perfume, which of course I wear to celebrate mint season. (It really should be called mint season instead of Christmas season). Though I have to say, mint and

chocolate as a combination is so overused. Just leave mint alone: not all minty things need chocolate to go with it. Have you ever had just mint ice cream without the chocolate chips? It is so much better without chocolate chips (especially if the chocolate chips are made out of bad chocolate, now that’s just a sin). Think about mint candy canes, is there really a better holiday season candy? No, there isn’t. Now here comes the real question: who decided that mint should be a seasonal flavor? Or an even better question: why do seasonal flavors even exist? Everyone goes nuts for these seasonal flavors, but if people like them so much then why can’t we keep them around all year long? Every year there is a trip to Dunkin

during which I am told that they are out of peppermint season, and my taste buds go into a constant state of depression until next November. I can make the same argument for fall season: if everyone loves apple cider and apple cider donuts so much why can’t they be around all year round? There is nothing worse than craving a peppermint mocha in June or an apple cider donut in February. Why do you do this to me, America? Why can’t I just enjoy the things I love all year long? When I first moved here, one of the things that made me the most homesick was not being able to get mint mochas: those were always a source of comfort to me. I get that having these products year round would destroy

the hope around them and make them less special, but let’s be real here: you are not a true fan if you don’t want to have a peppermint latte every day of your life. Why can’t they just make enough peppermint syrup to last all year? True fans will enjoy these flavors year-round. Imagine this: you are sitting there enjoying an apple cider donut with a mint mocha. Wouldn’t that be perfect? Yeah it really would be. Instead we are stuck with lame flavors like caramel or vanilla (don’t get me wrong, they aren’t bad, just not as good as mint). Overall, what can I say, dear everyone: please make peppermint a year-round flavor.

brate Chanukah. There are over 300 million people living in the U.S. and only about six million of them are Jewish. I get it, we’re a small percentage. But, I’d like to think we’re a rather passionate percentage. Target—oh, beloved Target— puts out a modest Chanukah display every year, and basically every Jewish person I know is always over the moon about it. Every single Jewish person I know has at least one decoration from Target. I currently have four in my Ziv. (Quick pause to say that this is not sponsored by Target, but I wish it was.) Why don’t other stores take advantage of this rel-

atively untapped market? Jewish people are only about two percent of this country’s population, so I don’t need a whole lot. Businesses can’t go too crazy or else their goods won’t sell. But, six million is a hefty number; that is a lot of missed revenue! There are endless ways to “celebrate” Christmas without actually doing anything religious. At this point, it’s so integrated into American culture that even I can’t avoid it. Christmas music plays on the radio stations and in stores all throughout December. The Hallmark and Lifetime channels suddenly become popular again. Wreaths and/or lights adorn basi-

cally every storefront. Ugly sweaters start to be worn again, covered in snow and trees and reindeer. It’s super annoying every year, especially because I can’t really engage with any of it. There are maybe two popular Chanukah songs: “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” and the Adam Sandler one. Do they ever get played on the radio? No. There is the occasional Chanukah movie, but the only valid one is the ever iconic, 2003 film, “Full Court Miracle.” So where’s my holiday rom com? Maybe I want a cheesy movie about two rival bakeries selling jelly doughnuts on Chanukah, or something equally as

stupid and heartwarming. Decorations are few and far between, with Target really being my main source of goods. I do have several ugly sweaters from Target (and the Brandeis bookstore!)—which I tragically left at home this year— but the lack of variety is always disappointing. Maybe it’s because Santa always skipped my house, but I’m always a bit of a Grinch when it comes to Christmas. It’s like one big inside joke that I’m never going to be in on. I know this is a personal thing—and that plenty of Jewish people love Christmas. But maybe we’d love it even more if we could have a little fun as well.

December 3, 2021

By John Fornagiel & Sasha Skarboviychuk editors

Although this is the third year that Harpoon and Dunkin’ team up to give fans holiday flavors, this is the first year that both of us are over 21 so of course we had to review these. These come in packs of 12 and include three of each of the four flavors: the classic Dunkin’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte Ale, as well as three new flavors: Harpoon Dunkin’ Blueberry Matcha IPA, Harpoon Dunkin’ Maple Crème Blonde Ale and Harpoon Dunkin’ Midnight American Porter. According to the Harpoon website, all of the drinks are made with coffee, donuts or matcha tea from Dunkin.’ Dunkin’ Pumpkin John Man, so this is the first one that I had to drink, and let me tell you Dunkin’ never disappoints with their new products. I don’t know who is part of the creative team over there at Dunkin’, but between the new cereal and these new beers I can certainly say that they need a raise. Either way, these

beers were freaking solid. Upon first smell, I instantly detected the coffee flavor, which intrigued me since I had no idea how the coffee flavor would mix with the alcoholic and beer flavor. When I took a sip of the beer I tasted the coffee just a little bit, but it was definitely a side-tone compared to the beer and pumpkin flavor. The biggest surprise for me in this drink was the pumpkin-flavored aftertaste, which was heavenly and unlike anything I have tasted in a beer. I would give this flavor an eight out of 10, great first one to try! Sasha This was the first one we tried; I am not sure what kind of expectations I was coming into this with. Dunkin usually makes good products (check out our review of their cereal here), but beer? I was a little hesitant. But at the same time, they have been doing this for three years so people must’ve liked it. The Pumpkin was not bad at all. I definitely smelled the coffee though I don’t know if I tasted strong coffee notes, maybe a bit in the after taste. The one bad thing I have to say is that I didn’t notice anything pumpkin about it so I guess it has to lose points for that. Though I’m not going to lie, I

don’t know if I would want pumpkin in there. Overall it was a solid contestant, I would rate it a seven out of 10. Blueberry Matcha IPA John I solidly agree with Sasha’s take on the initial smell. To be honest it did not taste great and was honestly a bit repulsive. This is likely because I am not a big fan of IPA beer in the first place and am not a big fan of the taste, especially the aftertaste. However, although when I first tasted it I was a bit skeptical, after I swallowed it I noticed that it literally has the aftertaste of a blueberry scone and I love blueberry scones. Eight and a half out of 10 for me. This was absolutely the best IPA beer I have had in my entire life, and if I were to ever pick out an IPA beer to have it would be this. I swear, this is better than most restaurant IPA beers! Sasha The initial smell of this one was very concerning. It smelled like blueberry pie and IPA had a love child and it was just a mistake of nature. But oh my god does the smell not do it justice! It actually tasted so much better


By Mia Plante editor

I love the holiday season as much as the next person. I love the season for its chill in the air that can be warmed up by hot chocolate and sitting by a fireplace. I love winter activities and festivities and lights. I love being with family and friends and giving them thoughtful gifts. But the one thing I cannot stand about this time of year is the music. I am one of the many not actually religous but my parents grew up Catholic people who celebrate Christmas, so my grievances with Christmas music come from the inside. With this fact out there, I am going to give my case for despising (most) Christmas music when played any time other than the week before Christmas


The Brandeis Hoot

First and foremost, Christmas music never changes no matter the year. There are only so many Christmas songs that are considered classics and there is not exactly a market for new Christmas music. The few newer Christmas songs that exist feed off of tackiness and are only played when the songs with good composition are already played. Think your Ariana Grande “Santa Tell Me”s and anything on a pop star’s tired Christmas album. Even Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” has become tacky and overplayed like a worn out joke. For me, the only thing keeping holiday music intact is the classical composition of said Christmas classics. Jazzy older vocals with string accompaniment is the embodiment of Christmas Spirit. If it isn’t by Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby, keep it out of my home. I don’t need to hear Justin Beiber’s version of “Frosty the Snowman ‘’ when I

am enjoying the falling snow outside, but the soft and lovely introduction to “The Christmas Song ‘’. There is something fundamentally different about experiencing the holidays to older music at home than experiencing new Christmas music while in a Target shopping for last-minute gifts. One is what the holidays are meant to be, the other is borderline trauma. On top of the general tackiness of modern Christmas music, the reason why I dislike hearing even the best Christmas music before it is actually Christmas time is because I don’t want it to become too overplayed that I hate it too. I am actively working against everyone else to maintain the sanctity of this music. As a former band kid I have experienced far too much Christmas music, as I have played various versions of many different songs from October to December every year since sixth grade. From


than it smelled. I don’t love IPA in general, but this was probably the best IPA I’ve ever had (because the blueberry does mask its taste). I definitely prefer this to the pumpkin one. This had a very unique flavor; it won’t become my go to drink but if I had to drink IPA, this would be it. I was very impressed with this one: usually when things smell gross they also taste gross but this was actually good. Overall, I would rate it an eight out of 10, I probably would not buy this again because it’s an IPA but I would definitely recommend it if you like IPAs. Maple Crème Blonde Ale John Out of the entire Dunkin’ collection of beers this one was the best out of all of them. That’s not to say that the rest were bad by any means, just that this one absolutely blew the rest of them out of the water. When I first tasted it, I was automatically reminded of a syrupy flavor that masked the flavor of any alcohol. I’m telling you, this stuff is dangerous and you could definitely get very tipsy very fast. Overall, this one gets a nine out of 10 for me. I’m really sad that this is limited edition, because I totally see myself going out of my way for this drink! Sasha This one smelled really good! I had high expectations for it from the start, and boy did it not disappoint. This one was definitely the best one of the bunch. It was not bitter at all (a nice change of pace from the others), I really like the subtle sweetness. It’s not overly sweet but the flavor is definitely there. It’s also very smooth. I think I taste the maple flavor! Overall this was a very good flavor, I would definitely want to purchase this again. It gets a nine

a jazzy “Here Comes Santa Claus” to a botched version of “Carol of the Bells” by an underprepared High School band, I have done it all and I have hated every second of it. So on top of my twenty years on Earth celebrating Christmas, I am understandably exhausted by Christmas music and the hype surrounding it every late November into December. This general obsession with Christmas that grips so many people is generally nauseating to me, and makes the holiday far less genuine and caring than I feel it could be. On top of the tackiness of overplaying Christmas music, the tackiness of certain holiday decorations irritates me as well. Sure, it’s not my place to judge someone’s lawn decor, but if it’s about a dozen of the inflatable Christmas Mickeys I think you need to spend that money on getting actual taste. My exception to holiday decor is

out of 10 from me. Midnight American Porter John If I’m going to be honest, the midnight American porter was the worst drink from this collection. Maybe it’s just a drink that’s not for my taste buds, but I found it quite repulsive and could not wait for it to be finished. When I first saw the can it was like “oh Midnight porter” and it sounded so mysterious and I was excited to try it, but disappointed would be an understatement. I would not buy this again, and would give it a four and a half out of 10 Sasha Smells like coffee ice cream to me (though I put my nose a little too far down and there was beer up my nose and everything smelt like fish for some reason). Anyway, on to the review. I really did not love this one. I taste the subtle coffee flavor, but I don’t think coffee belongs in beer. It’s just too much. Bitter coffee + bitter beer = too bitter (and I like my coffee black). It wasn’t repulsive, just not my cup of tea. Overall, I would give it a six out of 10 and would probably not want this in my system again. Overall, there were definitely some high high’s and some low low’s within this list, but we definitely appreciate whoever the creative team at Dunkin’ is. They’re always providing us with new and fun ideas: from the spider donuts, to the Dunkin’ cereal that has us hooked, to now these great alcoholic drinks. We’re looking forward to the next innovative Dunkin’ product that comes out next!

when it is tasteful. Lights are lovely, just not the over-the-top cheugy inflatables. There is one other exception to my hatred of Christmas music that isn’t necessarily considered a classic, but is to me, and that is the entirety of the John Denver Muppets Christmas album. If you have never listened to this amazing piece of composition, you must. The entire album is ridiculous and comforting, it is childhood Christmas at its absolute best. I want to conclude my rant by saying I am not a scrooge, I love this time of year and a lot of what it brings, but I honestly cannot stand tasteless decisions and most of the music. Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn’t mean it’s automatically Christmas, for the love of people like me and the many people who don’t celebrate Christmas and are tired of hearing about it.


The Brandeis Hoot

December 3, 2021

That doesn’t make any sense! By Thomas Pickering editor

It is the final season here at Brandeis meaning that midterm season which started in mid-September and runs until, well just about right now, is over. We Brandeis students have been pushing hard to make it to this point without any breaks from the beginning of October to last week, but now winter break is now shining like the light at the end of the tunnel. We are all almost there, nearly reaching the end of it and claiming our wellearned rest. This tunnel, which I am told is the only one in which you want

to run towards the light, is unfortunately guarded with booby traps to instill more anxiety in our weary hearts. But, to perhaps make the journey more bearable or at least validate some of you and the crazy thoughts you have had throughout the semester I thought that I would share my deepest inner thoughts with you all. These are things which keep me up at night and keep me wondering how the heck any of us got here and how any of us are going to be successful. Let’s begin with the little stuff that does not put straight into existential mode but works hard to get me there: Fridge is spelled with a “D” but refrigerator is not. Since when did shortening a word mean adding

letters to it that are not even in the original and longer word? Also why does the “D” have to be there if when we say the word fridge it comes out as “frih-ja”. The “D” is not even used in the pronunciation of the word when we shorten it! This is one of the many reasons why I will be billing the English Language for my therapy in the coming years. You can drink a drink but cannot food a food. This one is less intense and certainly less linguistic based than the previous thought but the point stands. How is it that drink can be a verb and a noun within the same sentence? I can tell someone to drink their drink but food is only a noun? Why can’t we also just assign it verb status out of the social justice


principle of equality! It would also reduce the number of words we use when speaking. Rather than saying, “I am eating my food” we can cut that in half and just say, “I food my food.” Dust. Just dust, just the concept of dust. How is it that something can simply be sitting in whatever place that it is in and just become dirty? No one has to use it or touch it and it could even be inside where it is protected from the elements but it can still become dirty. Then we sneeze because I guess in a weird way, we all sneeze because we are all in some minor way allergic to dust? And my final small thought is why is that when we break a bone in our body it can heal itself but when we get a tiny cavity, we have to get that filled? I mean maybe I am just bitter because I had to get four fillings over the summer because I “don’t floss enough” or whatever my dentist was telling me. I don’t know, doesn’t matter anyway, what would my dentist even know? I mean he is a Brandeis graduate after all. So, while those little thoughts which don’t make any sense linger in the front of my mind, two thoughts sit in the back which haunt me to my core and truly keep me up at night. Let us begin with my thoughts on dark matter. If you look at all the mass in the universe you would assume that the universe, if pretty close to constant expansion, is no longer expanding or will implode on itself. But as it turns out, the universe is expanding but not just that—it is accelerating. The universe is getting bigger fast and the end of the universe is both the beginning and the end of time and when we ask scientists why this is they say

it is because of “dark matter” and that “70 percent of the universe could consist of dark matter.” But then when we ask what dark matter is all the scientists can say is “we don’t know’. That doesn’t make any sense! So, when I finally bring myself down to Earth from my thoughts on space my mind then begins to wander about the smaller stuff like atoms. We are all made up of atoms. In fact, we are made up of the same stuff that stars are made up of. To use a Neil DeGrasse Tyson quote, “we are all stardust” and when we drink water, we are drinking the same molecules of water that passed through dinosaurs and other creatures before it got to us. Now all of that has an answer but when we touch something our atoms collide with other atoms which are mainly empty space and somehow, we do not faze through other objects. Yet again, when we ask scientists why this is, they say, “we don’t know.” THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. This world does not make any sense and I hope that these thoughts which I have accumulated throughout this semester can provide you with some joy and fun things to take your mind off of finals. Or perhaps if you are a maniac like me, well then maybe I just validated some of your thoughts—congrats.


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 our Google Form Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid or weird questions! (Note: These answers are good-faith 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!) By SSIS special to the hoot

Q: Is it normal to have never experienced an orgasm? Thank you for asking SSIS! It is absolutely normal to have never experienced an orgasm. Let’s talk about it! Orgasms are defined differently by everyone, but physiologically consist of rhythmic muscle contractions accompanied by fast breathing and rapid pulse rate, typically after prolonged stimulation. Since orgasms typically vary for folks, there are some ways to narrow down the different kinds of orgasms, depending on the location and type of stimulation applied to the body. There are clitoral orgasms which are usually felt more on the surface of the body. Vaginal orgasms are felt deeper and more widespread, and can produce a pulsating feeling. Orgasms from stimulation of the penis are often localized and can occur with ejaculation, but not always. Anal orgasms can differ depending on whether you have a prostate or not, but are often described as a lot more intense than other orgasms. You could

also have combination Os where multiple regions of the body feel pleasure at once! With that being said though, sex does not need to include any of these orgasms! One really helpful tip could be reframing ideas of sex to focus on the benefits aside from orgams. This can help alleviate some of that pressure to have an orgasm because you’re focused more on the pleasurable journey along the way. Orgasms don’t need to be the be-all and end-all of sex! Sex can be a great means of stress relief, mood improvement and a space to explore your interests. There are many other benefits of sex for people that have nothing to do with orgasms! It can provide a space to be vulnerable, communicative, intimate and honest with a partner. Having conversations about sexual interests and desires can help build intimacy and connection with a partner. Exploring each other’s bodies, gaining confidence and finding new ways to cultivate pleasure can be equally as rewarding as achieving orgasm. Focusing on what feels good to you and what you want more of. Seeing your partner feel pleasure and other feelings that sex can spark can be the things you look forward to instead. If you would like to work towards being able to experience

orgasm, or if you just want to find ways to make sex more pleasurable, here is some more info! Masturbation is a great way to explore your body on your own terms and figure out what you like and what you don’t like sexually. You have the power to stop whenever you want and also continue whenever you want. Being in the right mental space is also crucial for many when it comes to experiencing an orgasm. It could be helpful to set some chill vibes when you masturbate to help with relaxing your mind in addition to your body. This could mean dimming the lights, playing some calm or sensual music (check out Super Sexy Intimate Songs on Spotify!) or wearing some lingerie. If incorporating sex toys is of interest to you, vibrators, dildos, butt plugs and masturbatory sleeves can all be used to increase sensation externally or internally and increase pleasure. It can also be helpful to explore your erogenous zones. These exist all throughout the body, differ for everyone, and are areas that may be a lot more sensitive for you and can heighten arousal. These can include the genitals, anus, perineum, inner thighs, nipples, neck, ears and many more areas. Stimulating these regions with varying pressures of touch, vibrations, kissing, sucking or licking could

feel really good and may lead to orgasm! Lastly, for some people, the inability to orgasm could be due to a medical issue. Many medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotics can affect sexual desire and performance. However, there are steps that can be taken if the cause is medical and achieving orgasm is something that you

want! Talking to your primary care physician about these concerns can help you get closer to that stage. If you ever want to chat more about any of this or want to check out some of the pleasure products we sell, come visit our office in SCC 328 or text our hotline to schedule an appointment!



December 3, 2021

The Brandeis Hoot 17

The ‘Last Night in Soho’ doesn’t feel (W)right staff

If there is only one thing we know about Edgar Wright, it’s his passion for playing with the concept of genres in his movies. His movies are never defined by certain genres—instead, they borrow tropes from different genres. “Shaun of the Dead,” arguably the best of his famous Cornetto Trilogy, was a hilarious horror movie that acted like a romance at times, and “Baby Driver” was a musical disguised as a crime movie. His latest movie “Last Night in Soho” isn’t any different. It’s a brilliant mix of thriller, fantasy and drama that perfectly reflects Wright’s unlimited creativity. Before getting into the review, I should say I’m a big fan of Edgar Wright. He’s not one of my favorite directors, but I certainly believe that he is one of the few modern auteurs with a clearly distinguishable style. With quick action montages, several pubs as settings and energetic camerawork, “Last Night in Soho” features all of Wright’s trademarks. “Last Night in Soho” tells the story of Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), an aspiring fashion designer obsessed with the 1960s, who moves to London to attend London College of Fashion. The initial premise alone presents so many conflicts, such as Eloise having a hard time adapting

to her dashing college life filled with alcohol and clubbing, that I wouldn’t object to spending the whole movie in the world that Wright builds in the first 20 minutes. The movie, however, takes a turn as Eloise mysteriously gains access to the London of the 1960s in her sleep. The twist takes the teenage drama tone of the movie and successfully blends it with the thriller genre. At first, we are introduced to Sandie (Anya Taylor Joy), an aspiring singer that serves as Eloise’s proxy in the ’60s. Despite being more confident in her talents, Sandie struggles just like Eloise to find her place in the glamorous Soho life. Wright effectively establishes the connection between the two by using creative camerawork with mirrors. After a series of encounters, Sandie starts working as a prostitute, and Eloise witnesses some brutal scenes which I will not spoil. The world building is still very impressive with its many musical and cinematic references, even though the present day world seemed more solid. Soon enough, the (literal) ghosts from the past start to haunt Eloise in her present day life, thus adding a whole new layer to her struggle trying to fit in. These moments feel truly Wrightian with many dynamically edited action sequences blending the past and present together. This portion of the movie is the most engaging and enjoyable one, with Thomasin McKenzie’s strong lead per-

formance and Edgar Wright unleashing his full madness. Then comes the ending. The ending has caused a huge debate among critics, and I’ll admit that until the ending, I thought ‘‘Last Night in Soho’’ was the best movie of the year. There is a major twist that I won’t reveal, but it pushes you to reevaluate what the movie has been telling you. It is not necessarily bad, it just feels like one of the mediocre ideas Edgar Wright came up with while brainstorming for possible endings and ended up using it for no good rea-

son. The ending feels somehow disconnected from the rest of the movie tonally and thematically. That being said, the movie definitely has something to say about prostitution and gender politics in general, and the ending enriches that subtext. Maybe that’s the problem. Edgar Wright isn’t known for the social messages in his movies and, judging the first two acts of ‘‘Last Night in Soho,’’ he didn’t seem like he was intending to break that trend. The ending certainly looks as chaotic as you would expect from Wright


Army of Thieves stole my time


The very existence of this movie feels like a joke. In a wasteland of endless remakes, spin offs, prequels and sequels, I cannot conceive of a better apotheosis of pointlessness than a film recounting the backstory of a safe

cracker from “Army of the Dead,” a movie everyone thought was okay, and nobody still talks about. Sure, “Army of the Dead” was a fun enough movie and the character of Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer) was an endearing comic relief highlight. However, he wasn’t exactly screaming for development especially considering how (spoilers) he dies in


aesthetically, but thematically it is really far from what we’re used to seeing from him in the past. Overall, ‘‘Last Night in Soho’’ is definitely one of the noteworthy movies of the year, but with its ending, it falls short of being the best. The movie will certainly please Wright’s fans as a lot of his trademarks are present in there, but it has the potential to disappoint with an ending that feels like it came out of a different writer.

an unnecessary and ultimately pointless self sacrifice in his debut film. To center an entire spin off movie around his never before mentioned lengthy backstory, only six months after the original film came out, seems absurd. But here we are. “Army of Thieves” exists and isn’t a joke. I guess the film industry is the real joke. “Army of Thieves” is a heist film and pseudo prequel to “Army of the Dead,” also directed by Zack Snyder. Taking place a few years before the events of the first movie, we follow freelance safe-cracker Ludwig Dieter who, after the zombie apocalypse in Las Vegas causes a financial crisis, is recruited by a gang of professional thieves, led by the mysterious Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel), to rob a series of highly sophisticated vaults before they are decommissioned. Dieter, drawn out of his hum-drum life by the promise of adventure and his attraction to Gwendoline, aids the crew on their quest, plotting to crack the three unbreakable safes for legend and glory, all the while dodging attacks from interpol and from within the tumultuous band of criminals themselves. Now, after having described the events of this film, I will remind you that the film is a prequel to “Army of the Dead,” a movie about a group of mercinaries and crooks infiltrating a zombie infested Las Vegas, to rob a casino, all before a nuclear bomb is set to anhilate the city. All this, and a subplot about evolved intelligent warrior zombie clans. Does “Army of Thieves’’ sound like a spinoff of this movie? It doesn’t even sound like it’s the same genre. Comparing investment, creativity, tension and memorability between the two films, “Army of Thieves” may as well be the prequel to the Care Bears Movie for

how related they feel. There is no comparison. The ensemble of kooky, intriguing characters is nowhere near as kooky or intriguing as the original. The stakes are lower, the tension lax, the creative elements absent, and the engagement unobtainable. The character of Dieter is fun but he was fun in “Army of the Dead” as well. We didn’t need this 127 minute elaboration on him, he’s not that interesting. The big arc he gets is that he goes from a nobody who is bored with his life to a guy with a sense of purpose and a romance with Gwendoline. It’s not exactly groundbreaking. As a protagonist, Dieter is so standard and relatively unchanging that he feels like a side character in his own movie, the spectre of his imminent horrible demise in “Army of the Dead” certainly doesn’t aid my investment in him. But any heist film can be carried by the strength of its heists, and “Army of Thieves” has three of them so surely it must hold up. Right? Sadly the heist sequences in “Army of Thieves” are so anemic and boneless they can’t hold themselves up, let alone carry this movie. The problem here, again, can be sourced to “Army of the Dead.” That was also a heist flick but it was a ceaselessly tense and creative one, where the crooks were under the constant threat of gruesome death and the circumstances of the crime were unique and imaginative. Any heist in any film would look like small potatoes in comparison, but “Army of Thieves” does itself no favors by having some of the most rinkydink boring heist sequences I have ever yawned through. They steal from one safe and nobody notices. They steal from the second and fake another robbery to get out, and they steal the third safe and solve it in a moving truck. There’s

some trickery and some fake outs but no air duct crawling, hostage switcheroos, volvo’s driving down hallways or skin of the teeth escapes. This could be any heist film ever, and given how the zombie apocalypse is happening invisibly off screen on the opposite side of the world, it feels like it could be the spin off to any movie ever as well. The only somewhat engaging part of these sequences are the safe cracking scenes themselves, where Dieter plays Wagner Operas and muses about the history and mythic symbolism of the legendary puzzle safes he’s infiltrating. But even then, a filmmaker can only make turning dials and tumblers so engaging. Here he breaks into three safes that he says are progressively harder to crack but what that amounts to is simply that the harder ones take more time. Hate to be a broken record, but in “Army of the Dead,” Deiter cracking the safe in the casino was a massive deal and he almost failed multiple times. It was tense and fascinating to watch and what we get in “Army of Thieves” is the watered down, bargain bin version. I suppose that’s the perfect summation of this movie. “Army of Thieves” is DLC for “Army of the Dead,” but not the kind of DLC that is good enough to be its own game. This is the DLC where you get a couple more quests, some more crafting options, and a cosmetically cool sword that you swing around a couple times and then never equip again. It’s fine enough but reeks of redundancy and oozes pointlessness. Lacking the memorability and creativity of its predecessor, I would recommend not letting “Army of Thieves” steal your time as it did mine.


The Brandeis Hoot

December 3, 2021

‘Encanto:’ a musical story of love and acceptance staff

“Encanto” tells the story of the Madrigal family, who are each granted powers when they come of age by their magical home. All except for Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), who, for some reason, is left powerless. However, when she starts to notice that the house is starting to decay—and in turn, that her family’s magic is starting to disappear—she dedicates herself to finding out what is causing the disruption and saving her home and family. When watching this movie, I was blown away by just how deeply the characters were crafted. They were all introduced in a certain light at the beginning of the film, but as the audience progresses through the plot, their perceptions shift along with Mirabel’s. New levels of these characters are exposed—insecurities, desires, backstories—and ultimately it is revealed how stifled they are in their individual roles. By putting such an emphasis on the characters’ development, the film allows audience members to relate more with the different individuals, and


Netflix’s 2021 live action remake of the beloved anime series “Cowboy Bebop” had big shoes to fill from the very beginning. However, while many anime adaptations tend to be just plain bad, Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” is actually entertaining to watch. Thanks in no small part to an excellent cast, some additional character development the original show lacked and fantastic action, this remake is actually quite good. In fact, this show is actually best watched without prior knowledge of the original series. Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” is a full remake of the series, but still follows its storyline to an extent. For example, the first episode “Cowboy Gospel” roughly follows the plot of the first episode of the anime, “Asteroid Blues.” Both episodes follow bounty hunters Spike and Jet hunting a criminal named Asimov who uses a drug called bloody eye to power himself up. Both episodes also end with Asimov and his girlfriend Katerina being shot down by the police in space. While they have a similar plot outline and ending, they reach the same conclusion in different ways. The Netflix episode is emblematic of how the live action pays homage to the original source material by maintaining its plot outline, but adds just enough new material to keep an experienced audience watching. Additional material in remakes tends to dilute or even disrespect the original material. In this instance, the additional material takes the form of character development which actually is an improvement upon the original source material, for the most part. For example, the character of Katerina, played by Lydia Peckham in the Netflix version, is the girlfriend of Asimov in the first episode. The character that she is based on from the anime had very little agency and took a backseat, primarily to her more violent partner. The audience also wasn’t given a lot of detail about her character; however, the Netflix

in turn with the film as a whole. Of course, with this being a Disney movie, I have to talk about the songs. To put it simply, they’re beautiful. The emotion of the characters comes through strongly in each song and they discuss a range of experiences that audience members can relate to, adding another level of connection. They are deep and poignant, with powerful words paired with fun rhythms and beats that allow the listener to be lost in the stories that the different songs tell. I can’t say this is very surprising, as Disney has a history of producing great songs, and Lin-Manuel Miranda had a hand not only in the story, but the songs as well. The different songs in this film are definitely going to be Disney’s next big earworms. My main critiques, in comparison to the film as a whole, are pretty minor when measured against the beauty of the movie. However, I still believe they are worth mentioning. First off, the plot of the film didn’t match much with what was advertised in their trailers. To be more specific, Disney advertised the movie as an adventure piece, one where we follow Maribel on an epic

journey, confronting perils with the help of her family in order to ultimately save the day. However, that doesn’t follow the plot of the movie at all. There were actually moments I saw in the film that were tailored together in the trailer to give it that adventurous feeling, but in context had little to no relation with each other. Therefore, when I realized that the movie was focused more so on inner conflict than external conflict, there was a brief feeling of disappointment. It wasn’t because the plot of the movie was bad, but because I felt like I had gotten catfished into watching it. However, after getting over this betrayal, I was still enticed by the story and happily finished the film. My other critique had to do with the ending of the film. While most of it was satisfying in terms of tying up the plot and providing an emotionally uplifting ending, there was a moment that felt somewhat lacking. Specifically, it was a conflict that persisted throughout about half of the movie that wasn’t tied up as neatly as it could—and honestly should— have been. As a result, this made the conflict seem as if it was quickly brushed over in a rush to

provide a “happy ending.” Since it didn’t have much to do with the main conflict of the film, it is possible to simply ignore this issue. However, I personally couldn’t find myself moving past it. Of course, there is only so much one can do in the span of 109 minutes, but I wish that they had dedicated more time to that line of conflict before trying to wrap it up. There is also a major question that remains unanswered by the end of the film. While it probably could be seen as annoying that it wasn’t resolved, I actually didn’t mind. I was able to accept it, coming up

remake expands her character, giving her a more active role with her partner. It also establishes her motivation as trying to get away from her controlling father. Her new backstory, more active role in the narrative and her genuine affection for Asimov gives Katerina a surprising amount of depth for a character who only appears in one episode. Her character also demonstrates how little changes and extra details can actually give a remake more depth than the original. Katarina was not the only one to get a revamped personality in this remake. One of the most enduring criticisms of the original “Cowboy Bebop” is the character of Julia. Julia is the love interest of both Spike and his archenemy Vicious. She is the main motivation for the blood feud between the two rivals, yet in the original anime, Julia herself rarely appears and has little to no personality or backstory. To say Julia was a paperthin character is an understatement. She was almost a MacGuffin-like object, serving only to forward the main plot. However, in the Netflix remake, Julia, played by Elena Satine, has much more of a personality and is introduced in the first episode. The show gives Julia her own subplot with Vicious which explores their relationship and the politics within the criminal organization known as the Syndicate. Thankfully, she is not only given a subplot, but is actually given stuff to do. She is not simply a MacGuffin, but she is a real character with motivations of her own and the ability to act on her own. Her subplot focuses on her strained relationship with Vicious, who is controlling and egotistical, and her eventual decision to escape him. While Julia really needed character development, other characters actually suffer from it. Specifically, Vicious, played by Alex Hassell, is a much more diluted version of his anime counterpart due primarily to additional screen time. Although Vicious is the show’s overarching villain in the original anime series, he did not appear until episode five. In the remake, Vicious appears

at the end of episode one and is returned to every episode. Vicious’ character originally relies on a sort of mystique surrounding him that made him such a compelling character. In a sense, not knowing about the character made him that much more interesting. Although Hassell gives his all in his performance, the character’s increased screen time allows for more character development which ironically actually lessens the impact of Vicious. While the Netflix remake retains the character’s trademark ruthlessness, it also adds a lot more moments of weakness to him. In his subplot with Julia we see Vicious make increasingly rash decisions based on his desperation to protect his own life and Julia’s life. While this is arguably a more interesting motivation, it ultimately takes away from the mystique of the character. In the anime, Vicious really lived up to his name; he was ruthless and ambitious, but most importantly emotionless. He seemed to kill without mercy, which made him both a terrifying presence but also a unique counterpart to his rival Spike. But the show explores his relationship with Julia and by extension, explores Vicious’ emotions which ultimately weaken the effect of his character. Of course I can’t fault the show for exploring its characters and their relationships, however when comparing the original to his remake counterpart, Vicious just doesn’t live up to his name. Most of the characters are like Vicious in the sense that they don’t quite live up to their anime counterparts. That being said, the remake has a great cast with excellent performances by John Cho as Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black and Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine. These three core cast members may not live up to their animated counterparts, but they still give it their all in their performances. In particular, Cho’s performance is perhaps the closest to his anime counterpart as he embodies both the coolness and the inner tragedy of the character of Spike. His banter with Jet and Faye is funny but also in touch

with the dynamics of the original show. Another appealing quality of the new Netflix series is the action. The original show had a lot of great fight sequences with Spike’s fluid Bruce Lee-inspired Jeet Kune Do. This particular style of martial arts is retained in the Netflix remake. John Cho flexes his martial arts skills in extremely stylized and well choreographed fight sequences. This starts from the very first episode where Cho’s Spike takes out a group of casino robbers in a fight seemingly ripped straight out of a Bruce Lee movie. The moment where Spike knocks out an assailant by kicking a coin may be a bit cartoonish, but given the show’s source material is a little cartoonish, the action is easily forgivable. While it may not live up to some of the original’s more creative animated fights, watching John Cho kick ass is incredibly fun to watch. One of the most noticeable departures from the original is the tonal shift. The original “Cowboy Bebop” was more of a somber series with a build up to dramatic action scenes. The first episode of the original series starts with a noir-esque flashback with Spike and the iconic rose in the puddle. The scene is captivating and accompanied by a sad tune. In contrast, Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” starts with the aforementioned casino fight scene which trades the somber mysterious flashback of the original for an action-packed

with my own answer to this question. However, I don’t think this is the opinion shared with the general population. At the end of the day, “Encanto” is a movie that should be slotted for everyone’s watchlist. The movie tells a beautiful story of love, acceptance and being able to be truly and wholly yourself. The characters feel three-dimensional, the music will find its way into your playlists (I can attest to this personally) and it is quite possible that you will shed tears at least once by the end of the movie.


kung fu fight scene. This is not to say that the new opening scene is bad or even worse than the original, it’s just setting a different tone for the overall series. In general, the new remake is much more action-oriented than the original and also more comedic. While the original series had its funny moments and even some funny episodes, it always returned to more somber themes. The new Netflix series is the inverse, with more comedic elements paired with fewer instances of deeper themes. A remake has to balance pleasing the fans of the original while simultaneously avoiding retelling the same story and therefore making it stale. The age-old cry of fans everywhere is “I want the same thing, but different.” Netflix’s remake of “Cowboy Bebop” does indeed tell the same story but different. It does avoid simply adapting the anime to live action beat for beat and also adds more to some of its characters, but ironically takes away elements from other characters. Weirdly, this show is best viewed by those who haven’t seen the original. Fans of the original will find very little new or interesting about the remake and purists might even decry the remake as blasphemy, but new viewers will find the show an entertaining action-packed romp. The show’s only major discredit is that it can’t live up to the original—the downfall of many a remake and ultimately a forgivable sin.


December 3, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

‘Gravity Rush:’ An underrated classic doomed by a forgotten platform By Stewart Huang editor

I wonder who also remembers the PlayStation Vita (PSVita). It was a handheld gaming console that was released in 2011. It resembled the curved, slick look of the wildly popular PlayStation Portable (PSP), and it featured a touch screen, an additional touch pad at the back, cameras at the front and back and even motion controls. It was Sony’s great answer to Nintendo’s own handheld console, the 3Ds. However, for many reasons, the PSVita became a commercial failure and was forgotten by everyone when it was discontinued in 2019. It’s a damn shame, because it featured one of the best games I’ve ever played. Developed by Japan Studio and released in 2012, “Gravity Rush” is an open-world action title where you play as mysterious amnesiac Kat, a young girl with a striking appearance: blonde hair, red eyes and dark skin, wearing a peculiar, ornate outfit. She finds herself in the steampunk city of Hekseville, situated above the enormous structure known as the World Pillar. In an effort to save a boy from a “gravity storm,” which is something like a black hole, she discovers her power to manipulate gravity and fly in any direction she desires. Using this incredible power, she becomes the heroine of Hekseville, aiding the people in need and defeating strange

creatures that come out of gravity storms, known as the “Nevi.” As her adventure goes on, she begins to unravel the nature of the World Pillar and her own lost identity. I distinctly recall the ability to control gravity being such a fun and addicting mechanic. First, with the press of a button, Kat will glow red and begin to float above the ground. Next, by tilting and moving the PSVita itself, you are able to steer the direction in which the gravity goes. (This was a brilliant use of the console’s motion controls and made the experience of playing on a handheld console felt so magical). You can make Kat fly through the sky, stand on the sides of buildings, harass poor NPC’s or overlook Hekseville while floating in the sky. If you are skilled enough, you can change directions rapidly for efficient travel through the world. The experience is almost like playing a spiderman game where you can swing around buildings and make sharp turns, except it’s even more liberating, since you can go in any direction you like without needing anything to hang onto. In my review of “Genshin Impact,” I mentioned how freedom of movement makes open worlds fun, and this cannot be more true in the case of “Gravity Rush.” Even after I’d already finished the game, I would spend so much time just cruising through the world, bumping into stuff and free falling through the map just to enjoy that sense of verticali-

ty and liberation. Combat is also inextricably vertical. By shifting gravity in the direction of enemies, Kat is able to perform a powerful charged attack that deals massive damage while in mid air. You can even chain these attacks when there are multiple enemies, which is so satisfying to pull off. With the fun, original gameplay as a hook, the game further draws you in with its world-building, both technically and lore-wise. Even though the PSVita is only 10 years old, it is still impressive how the developers managed to craft an open world with such a sense of scale on a hand-held console. There is a quest that requires you to descend down the World Pillar in search of something, and everything about that journey just felt so… awe-inspiring. The World Pillar is so tall that you can barely see the end of it, which is obscured by an enormous gravity storm that darkens the sky with its creepy red hues. As you start falling through, it becomes clear that the World Pillar is actually an enormous tree, as there are branches coming out of it. But after a few hundred more yards of free fall inside it, there appear countless long, bone-like structures that resemble the human spine that stretch for thousands of yards, suggesting that the pillar is not merely a tree. The journey downward seems to last forever. After finally reaching the edge of the World Pillar, you arrive at another city called Boutoume,

which is strangely occupied by only children. After traveling back to Hekseville, You find out that time actually flows differently in the two cities. Above Hekseville exists yet another realm, where Kat falls from at the start of the game! There is so much intrigue surrounding the world of “Gravity Rush” that I was compelled to keep playing. How did the World Pillar come to be? What is the World Pillar? Why is there a gravity storm at the bottom? Why does time flow differently? Who is Kat? Most things ended up being unexplained, only hinted at, but I desperately wanted clear answers to these questions, so I scoured the world, searching for secrets and clues. That’s when you know that a game deserves to be called a classic. It left such a mark on me at the time that I searched the internet for answers too. But it was

too obscure of a game for there to be players passionate enough to engage in such in-depth discussions. (There is a wiki for it now though.) And yes, the game does contain secrets. Really good secrets. After the discontinuation of the PSVita, the game eventually got a very good remaster in 2016 and an amazing sequel on the PlayStation 4 in 2017. But somehow, the series never quite caught on as it should despite the glowing reviews. Among other reasons, I suspect because it was originally a PSVita game, only a few players are aware of the original game. If it had come out on a different platform, perhaps it would have had a much larger following and thus more marketing for it. Alas, that is all in the past now. As a loyal fan, I shall spread the good word and hope.


‘Tick, Tick… Boom’ shows ‘Rent’ playwright Jonathan Larson like never before staff

“What does it take to wake up a generation?” When Jonathan Larson wrote this lyric, he did not know that he would find the answer. Larson is most well known for writing the hit musical “Rent” which ran for 12 years on Broadway. Unfortunately, on the day of the show’s first Off-Broadway performance, Larson died of an aortic dissection at the age of 35. He never had anything on Broadway, or even Off-Broadway, before “Rent.” However, Larson had an Off-off-Broadway autobiographical rock monologue entitled “Tick, Tick… Boom” three years prior. After the success of “Rent,” some of Larson’s colleagues turned this monologue into a three-person musical that played Off-Broadway. Now, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has directed and turned this musical into a full movie. Released on Netflix on Nov. 19, starring Oscar-nominated Andrew Garfield, the film of “Tick, Tick… Boom” is showing audiences Larson as a struggling playwright. I was riveted by this musical. From the story to the songs to the many amazing performances, this is a film I urge everyone to see. The location is Manhattan, and the year is 1990: Larson is preparing a workshop for his upcoming musical “Superbia,” a dystopian story where people are always being watched and always having to impress. He has been working on this for eight years, and now an audience will finally see it.

The life of a struggling playwright is certainly not the easiest. He is working at the Moondance Diner and can barely afford his small and dirty apartment. His friend Michael (Robin De Jesus) was an unsuccessful actor, so he took a cushy job in advertising. Michael is trying to convince Larson to join him in this safe world. Larson never listens to him. Larson is dating a dancer named Susan (Alexandra Shipp) who has been offered a well-paying job teaching dance in the Berkshires, which is hours away. Larson does not want her to go, but she thinks it is a great opportunity. A lot is happening around Larson, but he is putting almost all of his energy into this workshop. His 30th birthday is also approaching soon, and Larson feels disappointed that he has not achieved any success. Larson is questioning what he is doing, even though writing musicals is the only thing he knows. During this time, the AIDS epidemic is growing and even though this does not personally affect Larson it affects a lot of his friends. It is a reminder that everyone is running out of time. This story was told in a very unique way. Most of the film takes place in a way that you would expect for a movie, but other parts take place on stage. Larson shares his inner thoughts for most of the events in this movie on a stage. He talks to the audience like it is stand-up comedy, and he plays the piano to sing his worries. I really enjoyed this choice, as it made this film more personal. Songs that were not told on stage were told fantastically, from creating a magical diner to singing while

sinking in a pool. This makes the musical numbers feel more natural in a way, as it is not randomly breaking out into song. The songs alone, all written by Larson, were powerful. From the high energy existential crisis opening number “30/90” to the more hopeful and deeper ending song “Louder Than Words” and everything in between. This is a musical with songs that you will be humming hours after you watch this musical. Even if you do not have time to watch this film, I highly recommend you listen to the soundtrack for the catchy and emotional tunes. This was an amazing film that would be nothing without the stellar performances. Andrew Garfield became Jonathan Larson, showing the struggles in Larson’s life. He portrayed hope, stress, love, depression and so many more emotions. He played Larson within the scenes of his

life and also on stage with an audience. Before this film, Garfield had not sung professionally, and he had not even had professional training, but Garfield brought so much power to the songs. I was also impressed by the supporting actors. De Jesus’s performance as Michael was a moving performance. De Jesus brought this character to life by going from an exciting and confident side character to an emotional man whose happiness may be a facade. Shipp’s performance as Susan was also impressive, as she showed a fun-loving spirit and a deep frustration towards Larson, becoming an effective foil to Larson. While these actors were the stars of the film, I also enjoyed the performances of even the smallest characters, from Larson’s coworkers to the workshop actors to his agent to his random acquaintances. Everyone had a lot of energy and quirkiness and they were all

the important puzzle pieces of Larson’s life. I finished this film thinking a lot about how much we lost when Jonathan Larson died. This film showed that Larson was a creative genius who had so much to bring to the world. It was sad in a way watching this movie, seeing that he was working so hard for success and then never got to witness it. I am generally a lover of musicals, but this was a different experience. It taught me about a great playwright with his own songs. I got to learn about life as a struggling artist in New York City, and I was introduced to a fun cast of characters. I hope this film and Garfield’s performance get award recognitions, as the brilliance of this film should be celebrated. If you have Netflix, put “Tick, Tick… Boom” on, and get prepared to go through an amazing musical rollercoaster of emotions.



The Brandeis Hoot

December 3, 2021

‘Hellbound’ bound to make you either hate or hope for humanity By Caroline O editor

Whether you’re religious or not, you probably at least understand the concept of Hell, and you probably know the general rule that bad people are supposed to wind up there. Or at least, that’s what you might think. “Hellbound” delves into this exact concept, and in the span of just six episodes, this new Netflix series touches on all the complicated issues that come with the messiness of justice and religion. This series is interesting in that there is no clear protagonist, only characters who have been forced to reckon with the disastrous disturbance in which random people are decreed to be bound for Hell. This whole phenomenon is basically every Sunday school kid’s nightmare: a ghoulish apparition appears in front of its first victim, usually giving them a timeline of when they can expect to be sent to Hell. For some, it’s only 30 seconds worth of waiting. For others, it can be as long as 20 years. In either case, the outcome is the same. When time’s up, three Hulk-like beings maul the vic-

tim, then burn them alive. As the world (and the audience) scrambles to figure out what exactly is the reason for these strange happenings, a Christian cult emerges: The New Truth Society, with figurehead Jeong Ji Soo (Yoo Ah In) explaining that these beings go after those who have committed some grave sin in the past. As these occurrences become both more frequent and more public, the real human chaos begins. Left and right, people start demonizing anyone who’s been given this foul decree. People become obsessed with figuring out what each damned person’s “sin” is, whether it be something like using a company’s credit card or watching pornagraphy. While the world goes insane, those of The New Truth Society thrive. The recurring character, the spittle-strewing streamer Lee Dong Wook (Kim Do Yoon), perhaps speaks for the mob best. Yelling for people to confess their sin and urging people to repent, Dong Wook is a perfect symbol of the most despicable person you might find on Twitter, Reddit or YouTube. He encourages people to dig up information on everyone who’s been bound for Hell, like that of one of the first victims,

Park Jung Ja (Kim Shin Rok)—a single mother of two kids who, till the very end, refuses to explain what her “sin” might be. She’s a chillingly realistic depiction of anyone who’s been a victim of a religious hate group: hiding away from the windows of her own apartment as people scream for her to repent, trying to hold onto her pride and sanity as she sends her children away from the chaos. Meanwhile, characters like attorney Min Hye Jin (Kim Hyun Joo) and Detective Jin Kyung Hun (Yang Ik June) attempt to keep cool with their upending society. It’s an ultimate battle against the cultish mob mentality versus the sensible individuals, one that’s full of blood and sensationalism all fancily dressed up in pulpit language. As a result, the whole show feels incredibly dark (literally: the whole palette is composed of hues of grey and dark blue), with not a whole ton of hope in sight. But now here’s the real twist: there are people who are given this decree, even though they’ve done literally nothing wrong. So all of that religious lecturing about sin and repentance becomes complicated. A sweet, teenage student; a loving husband; a baby born literally three days ago—It doesn’t

make sense for these people to be damned to hell, so why them? What’s the point of all this damnation, really, and what separates the damned from the supposedly saved? Although this review won’t get into any spoilers, it’ll instead establish this: in the end, people will believe whatever the hell they want to believe. “Hellbound’s” pointed thesis is that people will imbue religious meaning into something that’s just plain senseless and violent. Alternatively, it could work as something akin to cancel culture: yes, of course, the show points out that people should be held accountable for their crimes. But in the same breath, the show also asks its audience where we should draw the line between holding someone accountable versus burning them at the stake for something that they might not have even done. Add to all of these concepts a touch of religious fanaticism, and you have “Hellbound’s” final point: hatred for the sake of hatred is a dangerous, dangerous thing—and to mix religion with an idea of justice does not, in fact, answer society’s problems. Rather, it can quickly be turned into a weapon that places undue and excessive harm

on those who don’t even have the chance to defend themselves. And yet, despite these serious themes, this show feels hopeful somehow. In the midst of this grimness, there are still people who are hoping to maintain some form of dignity and peace. There are still people quietly fighting to not fall into the cult behavior of the rest of the world. Perhaps the final line of the show says it best: “I don’t know much about God, and I don’t care. One thing I know for sure is that the world belongs to us. We should settle our own affairs.” In the end, that’s what this show is about—how human beings should settle their affairs, and how they should look at the lines between right and wrong. “Hellbound” doesn’t necessarily attack religious institutions, but it does point out that there is something hellishly wrong about a group of people deciding how to treat people on the basis of something no one understands. It points out that we might not have all the answers to the millions of questions about right and wrong, but we can understand one thing: we need to find the actual answers ourselves.

For a hell of a good time, watch ‘Lucifer’ hate or hope for humanity By Emma Lichtenstein editor

Years late to the trend, I finally got into “Lucifer” in October. From the very beginning, I was totally hooked. A show about a fallen angel who changes for the better because he’s interested in a human? Sign me up! But it ended up being so much more than that. Though “Lucifer” was originally just a detective show with a not-so-subtle “will they, won’t they” plot, the show grew into one about the divinity of humanity and self acceptance. The pilot concept was simple: Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), an incredibly attractive man who is secretly the Devil Himself, moves out of Hell and to Los Angeles, the city of angels. Five years into his adventure, he’s a notorious nightclub owner known for giving favors. In the pilot, he meets Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren Graham). She is smart, witty and, of course, exactly Lucifer’s type. Even more intriguing, she doesn’t fall prey to his angelic powers or his devilish charms. He works with her on a murder

case and decides he’s intrigued, by both the work and the detective. It’s hard to sum up a show like “Lucifer.” So much happened over the course of 93 episodes. Part of this challenge comes with the Netflix acquisition after season three. There was a clear change— both in the depth of plot and the quality of the characters—after this change. Netflix had to make everything larger than life, losing some of the charm that the early seasons had. The seasons get increasingly experimental, completely losing touch with the original plot by season six. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, as every show should develop and grow, but I did miss some of the early elements a little more. I liked when the biggest problem was Lucifer’s “unrequited” crush on Chloe. An all-out angel war against Lucifer’s evil twin brother just seems excessive when compared against those early season plots. The plot of this show spiraled so quickly it’s kinda unbelievable. Season six was the strangest of them all, introducing time travel. I won’t go too heavy into spoilers, but it felt very … experimental. I

can’t say I loved the final season’s plot lines or the new character introduced, but it certainly added a new layer of depth to both Lucifer’s and Chloe’s characters. Even with these over-the-top developments, Tom Ellis carries the show as Lucifer. With his ridiculous good looks and impossibly charming accent, he perfectly encapsulates the mischievous energy of the Devil for six seasons. He brings true depth to this character in Lucifer’s six years of therapy—yes, a crime-solving Devil who goes to therapy; just stick with me here, I swear this show is good. Lucifer’s vulnerable moments are dramatic in the best way, with Ellis putting his entire being into the character. The whole cast did a great job, even if their material wasn’t the best. Graham was an excellent colead, even if Chloe could’ve been better written. She was smart and reliable and trustworthy—well, except for that time she worked with an evil priest against Lucifer, but that’s water under the bridge, right? Even still, it sometimes felt like Chloe’s arcs solely revolved around Lucifer and that she couldn’t exist as an entity on her

own. That idea is even supported by canon half the time. Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt) also felt like she only existed to serve Lucifer—something that was canon in her very character description. She was a demon from Hell, existing only to serve under Lucifer’s rule. She was terribly written for most of the show; she was unreasonably angry and hopelessly lost and only ever existing in relation to other characters. Her hap-

py ending in season six was well deserved and long overdue. “Lucifer” was overall a pretty fantastic show. I was hooked from the very first episode and quickly finished the whole series. The finale wrapped up everything with a nice little bow—even if I didn’t love it, I left the show completely satisfied. For a hell of a good time, watch all six seasons on Netflix.


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