The Brandeis Hoot, October 1, 2021

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Volume 19 Issue 5

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

October 1, 2021

Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper · Waltham, Mass.

Flu shot clinic reopens

Compost bins at risk of removal

By Victoria Morongiello editor

By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

The university will be distributing flu vaccines to community members starting on Oct. 4 in the Hassenfeld Conference Center on-campus, according to an email sent to the student body by Morgen Bergman, Assistant Provost of Strategic Initiatives. The clinic will be open to the Brandeis community as well as the general public, according to the email. The flu vaccine clinic will be held on Oct. 4, 5 and 6 for all individuals in the Waltham area , according

Following numerous bins of compost having to go to the trash, the Office of Sustainability took to Instagram to post information about composting, according to a post on Sep. 13. They have also written numerous signs on campus sidewalks in chalk, reminding people about the importance of sustainability, composting and having a green campus. On Sep. 13, the Brandeis Office of Sustainability posted pictures of bags, boxes, pizza boxes and trash

See FLU, page 4

By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

Ann Z. Branchini, Interim Dean of Academic Services, wrote that students who are in COVID-19 isolation or quarantine will be offered assistance with navigating quizzes and tests, according to an email sent out

See COMPOST, page 4

PHOTO COURTESY OF AILEEN CAHILL

to the student body on Sep. 27. There were no such accommodations offered in the past academic year with remote learning. According to the email, “Student Accessibility Support (SAS) together with the School of Arts and Sciences have created a protocol for special support.” This idea behind the protocol is to “preserve the health of

the Brandeis community, while assisting students to meet the demands of their coursework.” With midterm season coming up, there is an increase in the number of students who need to take quizzes and tests while being in COVID-19 isolation or quarantine, according to the email. Since the start of the semester, an average of 4.5 students per

week have been testing positive for COVID-19 according to the Brandeis COVID-19 Dashboard. The university as of Sep. 26 had a 0.07 percent positivity rate for community members on campus including faculty, staff and students, according to the dashboard. According to the email, if a student has to go into quarantine or isolation, they will be

contacted by a Brandeis Community Contact Tracer, who will then ask the student if they wish to “be placed on a list for assistance arranging an exam or quiz.” Students have to say to the contact tracer that they would like help, otherwise, they will not be placed on the list. See TESTING, page 4

Univ. faculty and students attend 2021 climate march By Victoria Morongiello editor

PHOTO FROM BY VICTORIA MORRONGIELLO/THE HOOT

Inside This Issue:

News: Family-weekend show looking for talent Ops: The return of the pre-pandemic life? Features: Students attend climate march Sports: Women’s soccer: fifth win of the season Editorial: Campus safety

Page 2 Page 11 Page 9 Page 5 Page 7

Tennis begins

Brandeis men and women’s tennis teams start their seasons. SPORTS: PAGE 6

Hundreds of people, including 90 Brandeis community members, partook in the Climate March in Boston on Sep. 24 demanding change to help mitigate the effects of climate change, according to a Boston Globe article. Professors Sabine von Mering (GRALL, WGS, ENVS ) and Sally Warner (ENVS, PHYS) helped coordinate busing for Brandeis students to attend the march. “I hope that students gained a deeper sense of what climate activism looks like and why it’s important in the fight to solve

climate change,” wrote Warner to The Hoot in an email interview regarding the march. According to von Mering, there were 140 Brandeis students who signed up to attend the march but approximately 90 students wound up attending. In 2019, wrote Warner, about 150 Brandeis students attended the event. The reason why the turnout was slightly lower than what was seen in past years, according to von Mering, could be attributed to a combination of factors including the rainy weather, the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the brief advertisement period for the

Star Wars New series for fans to enjoy! ARTS: PAGE 15

See CLIMATE, page 3


NEWS

2 The Brandeis Hoot

October 1, 2021

Prof’s study discusses ‘gendered political socialization’ By Victoria Morrongiello editor

A new study has found that children living in the United States perceive politics as a “male-dominated” space, according to a study co-written by Jill Greenlee (POL). The study also found with increasing age girls perceive political leadership as a “man’s world,” according to the study. “As a mother of two young girls, our research has led me to spend more time pointing out women leaders in many different fields to my children,” said Greenlee in an interview with Forbes about the study. The study cited the 2016 presidential election between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The authors cite Hillary Clinton’s ad campaign which featured young children watching Trump make “offensive and sexist” comments. “The ad’s message was simple: children are watching and learning. What the ad does not draw out explicitly is that children are watching and learning about gender, politics and how they interact,” according to the authors of the study. In the study, the authors looked

at 1,604 children living in different regions of the country. The sample was examined in 2017 and 2018 through interviews and surveys of children in grades one through six, according to the study. Children were asked to complete tasks such as drawing a political leader and answering a questionnaire about interest in politics. In the questionnaire, the researchers looked at attitudes regarding children’s perceptions of political leaders, exposure to political events and political ambition. They looked at traditional gender socialization, which is when children internalize gender stereotypes and manifest them into their own choice of careers. They also looked at when political socialization occurs in children, or the age when children are exposed to political concepts and ideas, according to the study. The authors of the study merge the ideas of gender socialization and political socialization to create “gendered political socialization,” according to the study. The authors explain “gendered political socialization” as when children infer that politics are designated for men, which conflicts with the designated gender roles assigned to girls, wrote the authors. It is theorized by the authors

that sex differences in politics emerge once children learn that American politics are dominated by men, according to the authors. The results found that with age, girls are less likely to picture women as leaders, according to the study, and they tend to have lower interest or ambition in politics in comparison to boys. The results of the study also suggest that as children get older they internalize societal gender expectations and will consequently shift their interest towards a profession that aligns with the gendered stereotype that matches their sex. While sex differences regarding political ambitions emerge in childhood, the contrast becomes greater at older ages as boys and girls develop their own complex understanding of the United States political system, according to the study. School, media, families and peers can all be associated with a child’s perception of politics as a male-dominated domain, according to the study. As girls become more aware of the association between politics and masculinity they become less likely to see themselves in politics, as it breaks from traditional gender roles. One way to lessen the gap between boys’ and girls’ political interest is to have more women

serve in politics and act as role models for young girls to pique their interest in the otherwise male-dominated domain, according to the study. The authors of the study note that gender norms in politics are being broken, citing that the women’s electoral college representation is the highest it has ever been and recognizing female figures such as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who hold high political positions. This type of representation can be important to breaking sex-linked stereotypes children learn regarding politics. Though, the authors note that sex-linked inequalities have not been eradicated and there are still gaps in politics and political interests on the basis of sex. “Moreover, the visibility of figures like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren and Greta Thunberg may expand children’s notions of the characteristics and professional paths that have long been associated with political leaders,” wrote the authors of the study. However, the authors wrote that broader trends of having more female representation in the American political system may slowly shift the context of the gender norms around the domain, and

will not rapidly get young girls interested in politics. Interventions could also be used in a school setting to further involve girls in politics, similar to interventions run to get girls involved in STEM. In the Forbes interview, Greenlee said that “more research is needed to further explore the ways in which multiple identities play a role in how children think about leadership traits.” According to Greenlee, research should further look at the impact of race, ethnicity and gender to see how that affects children’s view on politics and political leaders. Greenlee is an associate professor in Politics and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, according to her university bio page. In her work, Greenlee examines the relationship between motherhood and women’s political attitudes, according to her page. Greenlee’s work has been featured in journals such as Political Psychology, Politics and Gender, P.S. Political Science and Politics, Politics, Groups and Identities, Public Opinion Quarterly and Political Behavior.

Brandeis Has Got Talent during Family Weekend Oct. 15 By John Fornagiel editor

According to an email sent to the Brandeis community on Sep. 23 by Dennis Hicks, the Director of Student Activities, the Department of Student Activities (DSA) will be hosting Family Weekend from Oct. 15 through Oct. 17. Family Weekend is an annual event held in the fall semester that is designed to provide entertainment for students and their families throughout the weekend,

according to the description on the university’s Family Weekend page. Events that will take place include Family Bingo, where you will be able to play for prizes and have the opportunity to meet other families and students. There will also be an exhibition at the Rose Art Museum where the museum will show off its work. The university will also be hosting a neuroscience presentation by Donald Katz, a professor of psychology at Brandeis. During the presentation, Katz will attempt to convince those in attendance that the way that you perceive the

world is an illusion, according to the event description. If you are interested in registering for Family Weekend and taking part in these events, then you can register on the Family Weekend website. Among those mentioned, the Family Weekend website also lists the many different events that are occurring during Family Weekend. In addition to these events, DSA is also looking for Brandeis community members that “make and sell things,” including artists and crafters. According to an email sent to Brandeis communi-

ty members on Sep. 23 by DSA, interested community members will be able to participate in a Create@Brandeis Craft Market event to exchange their goods, taking place in Fellows Garden outside of the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC). According to the email, accepted products include “jewelry, art, body care products, paper crafts [and] textiles.” The registration form can be found in an email sent out by student activities, the deadline to fill out the form is Oct. 3, according to the form. During Family Weekend, DSA

will also be hosting a first-time event on Saturday Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. in Spingold Theatre called “Brandeis Has Got Talent,” according to the email. In the email, Hicks states that at the event, student performers such as musicians, vocalists, dancers and comedians will be performing, further stating that “if you’ve ever watched ‘America’s Got Talent’ then you know what we are aiming for.” Additionally, if you are interested in applying for the event, you are able to apply to perform at the event as either an individual, a duo or a group.

Univ. engineering program set to launch in 2025 By Roshni Ray editor

A recent Brandeis Magazine article reports that Brandeis faculty have voted “overwhelmingly to approve a new interdepartmental engineering major.” According to the article, the new major will be in place no later than 2025. Physics professor Seth Fraden Ph.D. ’87, is one of the Brandeis faculty members playing a prominent role in developing the major. In an interview with Brandeis Magazine, Fraden emphasized that the Brandeis engineering program will still retain the key qualities of its liberal arts education. “We want our engineering students to understand government, economics, culture, and how to write and communicate,”

Fraden explained in the interview with The Hoot. The Division of Science will be hiring about eight more faculty members to support the new major, according to the article. These faculty members will be placed within preexisting departments, much like Brandeis’ neuroscience department. Armed with the interdisciplinary qualities of a liberal arts education, the program aims to equip students with the skills necessary for an entrepreneurial career in engineering, Fraden said in the interview. In addition to the multidisciplinary perspectives offered in Brandeis’ engineering program, the existing organizations such as the Materials Science and Engineering Foundation and the MakerLab, AutomationLab and Digital Scholarship Lab serve as

useful resources for students interested in partaking in scientific innovation, Fraden noted. “We’re not starting from scratch. We have 90% of the science infrastructure to have a world-class engineering program,” he said. Once there are enough funds from donors to support the employment of new faculty members, labs and equipment, the engineering program will be implemented, according to the article. In the meantime, students can engage in scientific innovation via the Brandeis library programs such as the MakerLab, AutomationLab and the Digital Scholarship Lab. Students can select from a wide variety of workshops to hone skills in soldering, working with Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, 3D modeling and printing and more.

With campus back to full capacity, these Brandeis library resources are available for custom appointments scheduled with Ian Roy, head of the MakerLab. These spaces are open for the same hours as the library, and support all projects with an academic purpose, according to the website. Moreover, the Brandeis International Business School supports students seeking to learn more about innovation by hosting workshops and lectures concerning marketing, entrepreneurship and choosing appropriate business models. The Spark program seeks to support undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral students in their entrepreneurial ideas by awarding funding and mentorship to high merit ideas. Similarly the Sprout program

supports students’ ideas that pertain specifically to the sciences. As featured on the website, past projects that have succeeded include projects in sustainability and biochemical innovations applicable in the field of medicine. Moreover, Brandeis is funded by the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, which allows students to join a team and develop a marketable product. Fraden is optimistic about the capabilities of Brandeis engineers: “The Brandeis engineer will have the scientific depth and breadth to build the next generation of technologies that don’t have names yet. Our engineers will also have the social awareness to understand the needs of the customer and design technical solutions to meet these needs,” he concluded in the Brandeis Magazine interview.


October 1 , 2021

NEWS 3

The Brandeis Hoot

Community members march for climate justice CLIMATE, from page 1

the march. “Many students feel deeply anxious about the climate crisis, and going to a rally like this, marching with others who are equally anxious/angry/upset, and hearing from youth activists... I think is extremely important both for students’ sanity and their ability to learn from others what can be done,” wrote von Mering. The Climate March was organized by the Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition, a group fighting for the execution of climate justice policy, according to their Instagram page. The spearhead of the event was Divya Nandan, a senior at Westborough High School, according to a Boston Globe article. The Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition is a part of a network of youth-led programs seeking climate policy reform, according to the article. Overall, the march was smaller in comparison to the Climate march held in 2019. The organizers of the event did not plan for the march to be as large as the 2019 event which had 7000 people attend, according to von Mering. There were approximately 200 people in attendance at the march, von Mering wrote to The Hoot, with Brandeis being probably the largest contingent represented. The Brandeis community’s involvement in climate action extends past going to the Climate March. On-campus there are student groups who work to implement climate action and reduce their own carbon footprint as well as the university’s. Warner wrote that she is impressed by the work of student groups on campus such as: Brandeis Climate Justice, Brandeis Sustainability Ambassadors and Symbiosis, which is

a part of Waltham Group. “Students are very important for enacting climate solutions on campus,” wrote Warner. Warner wrote to The Hoot that an important step for students to take is to educate themselves about climate change. The university launched a new minor Climate Justice, Science and Policy, a program that prepares students to address issues related to climate change, according to an email sent by Dorothy Hodgson, Dean of Arts and Sciences, on Sep. 27. In one of her own courses, ENVS 39B Climate Change: Causes, Impacts, Responses and Solutions, Warner discusses how students can get involved with implementing climate solutions on small and large scales, wrote Warner. “For more immediate action, participating in activism like attending last Friday’s climate rally or joining one of the student climate organizations on campus are also great ways to work towards the implementation of large-scale climate actions,” wrote Warner in regards to what students can do to participate in climate activism. According to von Mering, students should become aware of the climate crisis because of the impact it can have on their lives. Von Mering cited a study that discussed the future of extreme heatwaves that will be far more severe than what has previously been experienced. “Students better prepare now for what’s ahead. Which means: Study climate, study the connections between climate and other issues (health, justice, economy, art - everything!), and start talking about it everywhere,” wrote von Mering When asked about steps the university should take to become more climate-conscious, Warner wrote that she would like to see the university adopt the Vision

2030 sustainability plan, which was addressed in the university’s President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability in 2020. The Campus Sustainability document outlines ways in which the university can promote sustainability on campus and become a more climate-resistant institution, according to the university’s President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability webpage. von Mering and Warner both wrote that they would like to see the university divest from fossil fuels like how institutions such as Harvard University have. According to von Mering, “Nine years ago Brandeis had the opportunity to become a leader in the fossil fuel divestment movement. We lost that opportunity, and now even Harvard and BU have already divested.” By investing in fossil fuels, the university is profiting off of the destruction fossil fuels cause. This destruction in turn hinders students’ futures, wrote von Mering. Once divestment is achieved, according to von Mering, the university will be able to advocate for policies that will end society’s dependence on fossil fuels and shift laws towards 100 percent renewable energy sources. For the march, the organizers required that everyone wear masks at all times. According to Warner, the organizers provided masks for individuals who had forgotten theirs. von Mering and Warner did random checks of students’ passports when entering the busses to make sure that they had green passports, wrote von Mering. In her email, von Mering also noted the lack of representation in the age group under 16 which is usually a large continent at the march. von Mering attributed this likely to the fact that many kids under the age of 16 are not vaccinated.

In the Senate, Sep. 26 •

• •

Emma Fiesinger ’23 launched this Sunday’s senate meeting with updates surrounding the Allocations board which is responsible for the distribution of university funds to clubs on campus. Fiesinger said that the allocations board is currently running with only five elected members while there are supposed to be ten. This means that A-board would be unable to pass a vote on issues since they are under the minimum number of members, according to Fiesinger. She also spoke about the time commitment (during non-marathon periods) to be roughly two hours total, one hour being for meetings and the other for office hours. Vice president, Courtney Thrun ’22 talked about plans to host “Pumpkin-fest” on October 17, which would take place towards the end of Family Weekend from 10:00 AM to noon. Scarlett Renn ’24 is still planning the event and more details are yet to be released. Thrun also mentioned plans to implement a Jury Duty bus that would transport students to Gosman for sports events. There was a confirmation of committee chairs where the senators made a final decision by calling a vote to confirm everyone. Yael Trager ’24 was elected for the Chair of Social Justice and diversity, Meli Jackson ’25 for the chair of Facilities, Housing, and Transportation, Skye Liu ’23 for the Chair of Health and Safety, Peyton Gillespie ’25 for the Chair of Sustainability, Joseph Coles ’22 for Chair of Rules, Charlotte Li ’24 for Chair of Club Support, Ashna Kelkar ’24 as the Chair of Dining and Shannon Smally ’22 as the Chair of Services and Outreach. Clay Napurano ’24 was confirmed as the director of Health and Wellness, a position that involves working with the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) and leading mental health initiatives on campus. This was Napurano’s second time campaigning for the role this election, explaining why he would be an appropriate fit for the position. Napurano spoke about his involvement with Sodexo and attended dining committee meetings in the past through his role as a Brandeis Sustainability Ambassador. Napurano noted that he has and continues to communicate with Amy Scobie-Carroll, Director of the BCC as well as Sucheta Thekkedam, the Assistant Director of the BCC. Some of Napurano’s plans include hosting mental health walks, mask cleanup events and engage in active dialogue surrounding mental health. Napurano’s presentation prompted a few questions from some of the senators. Kelkar inquired about how his lack of experience and whether it affects his ability to communicate with the BCC, to which Napurano responded that he is not new to being an advocate for mental health and is good at communicating with departments like the BCC or the Department of Community Living (DCL). Audrey Sequeria ’24 questioned his involvement with the BCC to which Napurano commented that he “takes mental health very seriously” and that a lot of the advocacy work has been carried out “behind the scenes”. Napurano ended up getting the majority vote, allowing him to win the position. -Vimukthi Mawilmada

Univ. prof releases third book on gender violence By Emma Lichtenstein and Sasha Skarboviychuk editors

Professor Anita Hill (HELLER) released her third book on Sep. 28. Titled “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence.” This book is “a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society,” according to its summary on Penguin Random House publishing website. When discussing the process of writing the book, Hill described it as “a bit like trying to boil the ocean,” according to a New York Times article. She highlights that “we can’t really fix any one piece” until the problem is seen holistically, which is what she is trying to achieve in the book, according to her NY Times interview. Hill tries to show the connections between what seem to be separate social issues, such as homelessness, school shootings and domestic violence, and then underlines the relationship between racial and gender factors and these issues. Hill claims that this creates a culture in which

there is a “literal and figurative foot on women’s necks,” according to the article. One of the issues that Hill addressed in her book is “the myth of the woke generation,” which is also the title of one of the chapters, according to the article. Hill says that this comes from the idea that “a generation will come along and realize that all of these differences that we use to keep people down — whether it’s race or gender or sexual identity or gender identity or class — that all of those things really don’t matter. That this generation will see people as equal, and because of that, the problems will go away, all the biases will be gone.” Hill claims that this is a myth for two main reasons. Firstly, she says that in any generation there will be a mixture of beliefs, as opposed to a universal set. But the larger issue comes from the system: “there are going to be systems that are biased and the only way that they’re going to be successful in those systems is to accommodate some of those biases. What we need to do is change the systems, but it’s not going to happen overnight. We can’t expect

one generation to correct them,” said Hill in the interview. She also mentioned that she is running out of patience with these issues: “that was part of the urgency for me in writing this book — it’s like, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be doing this. I don’t even know how much longer I’m going to be around. I want to get all of this out.” Hill is known for testifying against Clarence Thomas before the Senate in 1991, according to her Britannica page. The two had worked together when he was chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—she was his adviser. She testified that he had sexually assaulted her in their time as colleagues, according to the page. Since then, Hill has continued to use her voice to speak against sexual violence. Her earlier works include “Speaking Truth to Power” and “Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.” Both books deal with issues of inequality and sexual violence, according to the book summaries. Hill came to Brandeis in 1998 and has taught courses in the Af-

rican and African American Studies, Legal Studies, Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies departments, according to her faculty profile. This semester, she is teaching

three individual research-based classes. These courses are WGS 92A5: Internship and Analysis, WGS 99A4: Senior Research Project and WGS 299A18: Master’s Project in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEIS.EDU


4 NEWS

The Brandeis Hoot

FLU, from page 1

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

the community, according to Liebowitz. The plan was drafted through a compilation of action plans written by concerned community members targeting three parts of campus life: public safety and human resources, community living and residential life and athletics and the academic schools, according to a previous Hoot article. In his email update, Liebowitz encouraged students, faculty and staff to read the draft of the Anti-Racism Plan and submit feedback via the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page on the University’s website. Liebowitz described the motive for creating the Anti-Racism Plan in his most recent email, writing, “In June 2020, a much-needed

October 1, 2021

conversation on race and systemic racism was initiated around the country.” The Anti-Racism Plan was originally spearheaded by Mark Brimhall-Vargas, former Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Presi to the email. There will be an additional two days of the vaccine clinic on Oct. 7 and 8 which will be designated for vaccinating students only. Students getting vaccinated on Oct. 7 and 8 will report to the Health Center to receive their vaccine, according to the vaccine appointment page. “Our flu shot clinic this year is open to everyone—not only faculty, staff, and students, but also their families, friends, and the general Waltham community,” wrote Bergman.

Last year, the flu shot clinic was available to students, faculty and staff on campus but not to the greater Waltham community due to visitor restrictions on campus, according to an email sent by Dan Kim in September 2020. In her email, Bergman encouraged community members to share the link to the university’s flu shot clinic with family and friends in the Waltham area. Visitors coming to campus to receive their flu shot were reminded to look through the university’s visitor policy, according to the university’s Flu Shot Clinic page. Those eligible to get the vaccine must be three years of age or older. Individuals who are receiving the vaccine who are over 65 years old will receive a high dose

or an adjuvanted vaccine, according to the page. Students can make their flu shot appointment via the university’s COVID-19 Passport Portal, according to a link in the portal. Students can also sign up for their appointment using a secure patient portal provided by the university through Medicatconnect, according to the email. After making the appointment, individuals should receive a confirmation email with a link to a consent form for the vaccine, according to Bergman. This form must be filled out, printed and brought with the individual to the clinic when they are scheduled to receive their flu vaccine. The pharmacist will then review the consent form. All individuals

Compost bins being misused on campus COMPOST, from page 1

bags, among other things, on their Instagram, sustainable. brandeis. According to the post, the pictures came from the hauler who takes Brandeis’ compost. According to the post “compost from res[idence] halls keeps getting rejected by our composter and has to go straight to the trash.” The Office of Sustainability then reminded people that compost is food and certified compostable items only.

On Sep. 23, the Office once again took to Instagram to post more photos of compost bins full of trash bags and other items that are not compostable, including bottles, tissues and drink cups. According to the description of the post, all of the items in those bins had to go to the trash, even the things that are compostable. The post was concluded with an infographic that shows that the only things that should be going into the compost bins are food and items labeled “compostable.”

On campus, green bins are for compost, blue bins are for recycling while black bins are for trash. The post also includes a QR code that leads to their waste guide, which gives members of the Brandeis community information on what to do with their waste. The guide gives users four basic rules of thumb: “When in doubt, throw it out,” “Keep recycling clean,” “No plastic bags or plastic film, except in grocery store collection boxes” and “No

cords, ropes, hoses, or anything that can tangle.” On the page there is also a link to Recyclopedia, which tells users what to do with the particular waste in question; a user can simply look up the item they have doubts about, and it will tell them what to do with it. There is also a table which outlines the basic items and where they go, among other infographics on composting. Following the rejected compost, the Office of Sustainability wrote numerous reminders for students

around campus; chalked signs included “Compost = Food Waste Only! Nothing Else!” and “Green Bins = Food Waste Only!” among others. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, composting is “the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants.” In order for composting to be successful, there can only be items in the bins that decompose quickly.

Students in quarantine recieve test assistance TESTING, from page 1

Afterwards, SAS will reach out to the student and their professor to “arrange alternate testing that will enable [them] to maintain isolation/quarantine as appropriate,” according to the email. According to the Brandeis COVID-19 quarantine policies, on-campus students “should quarantine in their assigned residence hall room. Students can only leave their room to use the

bathroom, pick up meals or visit the Health Center.” If a student is already in quarantine/isolation and needs to arrange to take a quiz or test, they should contact Cara Streit, Director of SAS. Students in quarantine housing have not tested positive for COVID-19 but have been contact-traced as a close contact to someone who has tested positive, according to the university’s quarantine FAQ page. Students in quarantine are allowed to stay

in their own dorm rooms and have meals sent to their doors. Students on-campus who test positive are asked to move into isolation housing on campus, according to the university’s Testing Positive page. Isolation housing this year is in the 567 residence hall. Students in isolation housing are not allowed to leave their newly assigned room until they are approved to leave by the Health Center, according to the page.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEIS.EDU

COVID-19 dashboards

CASES

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

TESTS

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


SPORTS

October 1, 2021

By Justin Leung editor

The Major League Baseball (MLB) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is one of the most prestigious awards a baseball player can get during their career. One player from the American League (AL) and one player from the National League (NL) is given the MVP. Oftentimes, the race to win the award is close and this year is no different. Both leagues have strong candidates to win the award. The question of who wins the award is difficult as what defines a player as “most valuable” is still up for debate and the “requirements” a player must fulfill to win the award are inconsistent. The first thing to discuss is what are the “requirements” to win the award. Obviously, the player needs to be performing at the highest level in the MLB. So, they likely are at the top of the league in various stats that would indicate that they are one of the best in the league. The next part is a concept that is still widely discussed. For a player to win this award, the player needs to be on a winning team. Oftentimes the award is given to a player that leads his team to the playoffs. When looking at the past five MVP winners in both the NL and AL, six of those 10 players made the playoffs. There is only one player that has won two MVPs during that time and that is Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Trout has been possibly the best player in baseball for the past decade. He has finished top five in MVP voting in every full year of his career and has won the MVP three times. However, he has made the playoffs once. The two he won within the past five years did not include the year he went to the playoffs. Outfielder Bryce Harper was another player within the last five years to win an MVP but miss the playoffs. During that season he was statistically almost two times better than the average player. So, he was probably one of the best players in all of baseball during that year. But then you have 2018, where Trout was still better than the MVP winner outfielder Mookie Betts, yet considering Betts was on a team that had over 100 wins while Trout was on a team that finished in fourth place of their division, Betts got the edge. Nobody knows how much voters really value a player making the playoffs, but that most certainly is in their mind. As of Oct. 1, 2021, there

Who wins the MLB MVP race?

are a few players that appear to be in the lead for MVP voting for the AL and NL. According to betting odds from VegasInsider.com, outfielder Bryce Harper from the Philadelphia Phillies, shortstop/ outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr from the San Diego Padres and outfielder Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals are the most likely players to win the MVP from the NL. Sporting Bets Dime has pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani from the Angels, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr from the Toronto Blue Jays and second baseman Marcus Semien from the Blue Jays as the top three most likely players to win the AL MVP. Juan Soto is dominating baseball on a level that we have not seen in a while. In the second half of the season, he has an on base percentage (OBP) greater than .500. That means that he gets on base over 50% of the time. He is also leading the league in walks and is the only player in all of baseball to have more walks than strikeouts. His total OBP is 0.471 which is 0.037 points higher than the next closest player. The plate vision that Soto possesses is something that is compared to some of the best players of all time. Although Soto is at the top of multiple categories, he is not at the top of home run totals which gives him a relative disadvantage when it comes to high impact playmaking. Additionally, his team, the Washington Nationals, are in last place in the National League East division, so he is not on a winning team. However, when looking at value, Soto is one of the most valuable players in all of baseball as he has been carrying the Nationals to wins almost on his own. Fernando Tatis Jr is one of the most exciting players to watch in all of baseball. He can literally do it all. He gets hits, steals bases and plays a flashy defensive position in shortstop. Also, he hits the ball very far. He currently leads the National League in home runs with 41. Additionally, he has 25 stolen bases during this season. Again, this guy does everything. According to Baseball Reference, Tatis is only behind starting pitcher Zach Wheeler and Soto for the NL lead in wins above replacement (WAR). WAR is a statistic that describes how valuable a player a team is for the team to succeed. Tatis is also on a team that is not going to the playoffs, however his team has performed better than Soto’s team and he has hit more home runs

which tends to have more weight than walks in the voters’ eyes, so Tatis may have a better chance to win the MVP than Soto. The most likely NL MVP winner is currently Bryce Harper. Harper is leading the league in various important offensive numbers including on base plus slugging percentage. However, the key thing that voters have seen is that he isn’t just performing at a high level, but he is also leading his team to multiple wins. The Phillies have a chance to make the playoffs and a recent hot streak from Harper has allowed them to do so. Marcus Semien is not going to win the AL MVP award. This isn’t due to a poor season. Semien is having a career year after signing a one-year contract with the Blue Jays. Semien is fourth in all of baseball in home runs as he has hit an absurd 44 home runs which is a record for the most home runs by a second baseman in a single season. For other years he may have had a better chance, but this year the AL MVP race is between two players which unfortunately does not give Semien a good chance. The AL MVP race was a simple one for most of the season. Shohei Ohtani was the leading candidate for most of the season. This is because he is doing something that hasn’t really been done before. Ohtani is a two-way player, so he hits, and he pitches. Most pitchers hit. But no pitcher hits like Ohtani. Ohtani for most of the season led all of baseball in home runs. He is currently second in the league with 45 home runs. So Ohtani is an offensive powerhouse with those home run numbers, and they alone would put him in the conversation for MVP. However, he does not only just hit home runs. Ohtani also

steals bases, as he has 24, and is second in the league in triples. He simply is an incredible player offensively. Also, he is a really good pitcher. Ohtani may not pitch as many innings as some of the other top arms in all of baseball, but every five days he comes out and pitches solid games. According to Baseball Reference, he has more strikeouts than innings pitched. So not only does he hit and help the team score runs, but he also pitches and prevents the other team from scoring runs. What he is doing is something that has never been done before. He leads all of baseball in WAR by a significant margin considering what he does on both sides of the plate. If Ohtani is doing something so unbelievable, how could the competition be so close? That is because Vladimir Guerrero Jr is on the verge of doing something that is also incredible. Guerrero Jr is vying for the Triple Crown. This means that he leads the AL in batting average, home runs and RBIs. According to ESPN, this has been accomplished only twelve times in MLB history. The most recent player to accomplish this was Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Cabrera won the AL MVP that year. Earning the Triple Crown is an incredible feat as it is very uncommon to see a player lead in all three of those categories. Most players that lead the league in home runs do not tend to have a high batting average. Guerrero Jr is currently tied for second in batting average, 12 RBIs behind the leader and tied for first place in home runs with 46. Catching up in the RBI category may be difficult but it is very possible within the last week of the season. Also, Guerrero Jr has been at the center of one of the best offenses in the entire league and has helped bring his team back into the playoff race.

The Brandeis Hoot 5

The Blue Jays are fighting for an AL Wild Card spot with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics. Even if Guerrero does not earn the Triple Crown, he is probably the best offensive player in all of baseball and, he also may get his team to the playoffs. So, who wins the MVP? Although the MVP award is often associated with the best player in the league or the player that is considered the most “valuable”, ultimately this year the winner is likely going to be determined by a storyline as there is not a definitive player that should 100 percent win the award. In the National League, Soto may be the better overall player than Tatis and Harper. He has been better overall offensively and significantly better than both defensively. However, there isn’t a great storyline there. Harper has a chance to lead the Phillies to their first playoff appearance in ten years. If he leads the Phillies to the playoffs, he is significantly more likely to win the award, however if the Phillies fail to make the playoffs again, there is a chance for Soto and Tatis to win the award. In the American League, Ohtani’s edge has slowly slipped away as Guerrero Jr has improved as the season has gone on and the Angels have fallen out of playoff relevancy. Once again Guerrero Jr has a great storyline considering he could be the one to lead the Blue Jays to the playoffs and earn the Triple Crown. However, Ohtani is still doing things every day we have never seen before. In terms of who is more valuable, Ohtani should get the edge because he pitches and hits, but the storyline may cause the voting to fluctuate and help Guerrero Jr get the MVP.

PHOTO FROM MLB.COM

Brandeis women’s soccer beat Lesley By Francesca Marchese staff

Ranked 22nd nationally in Division III in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll, the Brandeis University Women’s soccer team won their fifth game of the season at home in a non-conference match against Lesley University. Led by midfielder Daria Bakhtiari ’22, the Judges were able to edge out the Lynx by one goal, 2-1, in a rainy yet competitive game. In the first half, Brandeis outshot the visitors 5-0, putting two shots on goal. It wasn’t until the 59th minute, though, where senior forward Juliette Carreiro ’22 kicked the ball toward the net on the attack that slid past the Lynx goalkeeper; Bakhtiari was there

and able to punch it in, scoring the team’s first of the game and her third goal of the season. Carreiro was credited with the assist. In the 66th minute, the Lesley Lynx gained momentum off of a Brandeis turnover, which tied the game up, 1-1. The goal was deflected into the Judges’ net by a defender, the first goal surrendered by the Judges this season after scoring three of their own. It was Bakhtiari’s second goal of the game that led the Judges to victory with under five minutes to play in regulation. Lauren Mastandrea ’22, another veteran on the squad, fired a shot at the Lesley goalie, which was initially saved off the crossbar. However, the ball landed in front of Bakhtiari, who swiftly touched it in over the goal line for the Judges’

PHOTO FROM BRANDEISJUDGES.COM

second goal and Bakhtiari’s first multi-goal game of her career. Mastandrea executed her first assist of the season and Bakhtiari finished the game with two goals, resulting in a season total of four

and counting and 16 for her career—a success all around. Overall, Brandeis outshot Lesley 16-3 and their goalkeeper, Audrey Calhoun, racked up seven saves for the game; rookie

goalkeeper Hannah Bassan ’25 made one stop to earn the win. The Judges travel to Pittsburgh this weekend to face 17th-ranked Carnegie Mellon in a U.A.A. competition on Oct. 2, at 11 a.m.


6 SPORTS

The Brandeis Hoot

October 1, 2021

Women’s volleyball play three games, win one By Jesse Lieberman staff

The Brandeis volleyball team played three matches this past week, winning one. The Judges traveled to Middlebury College on Sep. 25 for a double-header, losing to Amherst (25-14, 25-19, 25-14) and Middlebury (25-14, 25-15, 25-13). The Judges bounced back on Sep. 28, defeating Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in three sets (25-19, 27-25, 25-7). The Judges are 5-9 on the season and 0-3 in University Athletic Association (UAA) play. Saturday, Sep. 25, Amherst 3 – Brandeis 0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-14): Sophomore Ines Grom-Mansenecal ’24 recorded her second consecutive double-double and freshman Lara Verstovsek ’25 added nine kills, but the Judges fell to Amherst in three sets to open their double-header in Middlebury. After a service error by Amherst, the Judges were down 11-8 in the opening set. The Mammoths went on an 8-3 run, putting the set out of reach. The second set was the most competitive. After a ball handling violation on the Mammoths followed by a kill from senior Stephanie Borr ’22, the

Judges led 18-17. Amherst won the next eight points and took a commanding 2-0 lead. In the third set, a kill from Grom-Mansenecal evened the score 10-10. The Mammoths closed out the set and the match by winning 15 of the next 19 points. The Mammoths had at least 14 kills in each set and had 44 total in the match. Two Amherst players combined for 32 kills, six more than the Judges had as a team in total. For the Judges, Borr had seven kills and senior Kaitlyn Oh ’22 had a team-high 12 digs. Saturday, Sep. 25, Middlebury 3 – Brandeis 0 (25-14, 25-15, 2513): Oh had a match-high 17 digs, but the Judges fell to the Panthers in three sets to close out their double-header in Middlebury. After a kill by sophomore Rita Lai ’24, the Judges trailed 8-7 in the first set. Middlebury responded with an 11-1 run and took the set 25-14. Lai led the Judges with three kills in the set. The second set was a similar story. Following an attack error by the Panthers, the Judges tied the set at 10-10. Middlebury answered with a 9-1 run and won the set 25-15. The Panthers closed out the match by winning the third set 25-13.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEISJUDGES.COM

The Judges had a hit percentage of 0.010 compared to Middlebury’s 0.236 hit percentage. Verstovsek had 13 digs in the match, the fifth time she had more than 10 digs in a match this season. Kaisa Newberg ’22, Borr and Grom-Mansenecal each had five kills to pace the Judges’ offense. Tuesday, Sep. 28, Brandeis 3 Saint Joseph’s (Maine) 0 (25-19, 27-25, 25-7) Borr tied a career-high with 13 kills and Oh added 14 digs as the Judges snapped a six-game losing

streak, defeating the Monks in three sets. Saint Joseph’s got off to a quick start in the opening set by taking a 14-7 lead. The Judges responded by winning 18 of the next 23 points to take a 1-0. Borr led the Judges with five kills in the set. The Monks started strong again in the second set, going ahead 9-4. The Judges battled back, going on a 13-4 which featured four service aces by Verstovsek. The Monks clawed back and survived two set points to tie the score 25-

25. A kill from Grom-Mansenecal and a Monk attack error gave the Judges a 2-0 advantage. The Judges recorded a season-high 17 service aces. Borr and Verstovsek each had five. Eight different Judges recorded a kill, including Emily Morrison, who got her first kill of the season. The Judges will next play in the second UAA round-robin on Oct. 3 at Gosman. Brandeis will take on no. 16 New York University at 10 a.m. and no. 23 Washington University at 2 p.m.

Men’s and women’s tennis play in tournaments By Justin Leung editor

On Sep. 18 and Sep. 19, the Brandeis men’s tennis team participated in their first competition of the year at the Middlebury Invitational. The competition was fierce but ultimately the Judges fared well in their first games of the year. In the singles A section, senior Jeffrey Chen ’22 started out as the fourth seed and played against a student from Tufts University in the first round. Chen proceeded to win in two consecutive sets with scores 6-4 in both rounds. He then faced a student from Colby College. Chen once again finished the match after winning two consecutive sets with scores 6-4 and 6-3. However, Chen then fell to a student from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute after taking the first set 6-2 but then losing two sets in a row. For the singles B section, freshman Colin Fox ’25 faced his first action for Brandeis against a student from Tufts University. Fox was slated as the first seed of his section. He took the first set 6-4 but dropped the second set before

taking the victory after the third set. In his second match, Fox faced a student from Skidmore College that quickly took the first set 6-1. However, Fox bounced back and won two rounds to move on to the semifinals. In the semifinals against a student from Middlebury College, Fox again lost the first set but finished the reverse sweep to move on to the semifinals. The finals were possibly one of his strongest performances as he defeated a student from Colby College 6-3 and 6-2 to win section C. In the singles D section, three Brandeis players participated and all three of them made it to the quarterfinals. Sophomore Chen Liang ’24 and sophomore Aaron Basye ’24 both made it to the quarterfinals but did not advance. Freshman Aryan Nijhawan ’25 not only made it to the quarterfinals, but also made it to the semifinals before falling to a student from RPI. For the doubles A section, seniors Chen and Adam Tzeng ’22 were ranked as the number one seed, and they did not disappoint. The two seniors dominated the competition to win their section. On Sep. 11 and Sep. 12, the

Brandeis women’s tennis team participated in the Wallach Invitational. They played in teams of two against various schools. In the first round, a team of sophomore Nikita Salkar ’24 and freshman Anastasia Sia ’25 took on students from Colby College. After Salkar lost the first set 3-6, Sia and a combination of the two players won the last two sets to win the match 2-1. In another match against Colby College, freshman Bhakti Parwani ’25 and senior Ana Hatfield ’22 played close sets but ultimately fell to Colby College 1-2. Sophomore Ella Subramanian ’24 and sophomore Jiayi Zhang ’24 also fell to Colby College 1-2. In another close match, senior Olivia Howe ’22 and senior Summer Quinn ’22 faced Bowdoin College but lost 1-2. For the last match of the first round, freshman Sabrini Loui ’25 and freshman Cecelia Denis ’25 defeated Bates College 3-0. In the second round of day 1, Salkar and Sia struggled against Bowdoin College and ultimately lost 0-3. However, Parwani and Hatfield followed the match up with a big 3-0 victory against Trinity College. The Judges got

another win from Subramanian and Zhang against Bates College with a score of 2-1. After their first wins with Brandeis, Loui and Denis could not come out on top against Bowdoin College as they were swept in three sets. In the final match of the round, Howe and Quinn ended on a high note with a 2-1 victory against Trinity College. For the third and final round of day 1, the Judges unfortunately only had two match wins. The first was a 3-0 victory against Trinity College and a 2-1 victory against Bates College. Loui and Denis

bounced back from their previous loss against Bowdoin to beat Trinity College, and Howe and Quinn finished the day strong with their 2-1 win against Bates College. On day 2, through two rounds, the Judges had three total match wins. Two of the matches were against Trinity College and one was against Colby College. After a solid start to the season, the women’s tennis team will move on to the ITA Championships on Oct. 1 and Oct. 3. The men’s tennis team will next play in the MIT Invitational on Oct. 15 and Oct. 17.

PHOTO FROM BRANDEISJUDGES.COM

Men’s soccer score goals in bunches By Justin Leung editor

Before the two contests of the past week, the Brandeis men’s soccer team was facing some tough defenses which led to struggles for their offense. Only one goal was scored in the Judges’ first six games of the season. That quickly changed when the Judges faced off against Bates College and Clark University. In the game against Bates College on Sep. 25, both teams tried to get the edge early. Senior midfielder Jared Panson ’22 took the first shot of the game just 26 sec-

onds into the game. The shot was saved and led to a turnaround for the Bobcats to go for goal. Their shot 20 seconds later was ultimately saved by junior goalie Aiden Guthro ’23. After a few shots from both teams, sophomore forward Max Horowitz ’24 had a great look on goal and took a shot in the 17th minute. This would turn out to be the first goal of the game and the first goal of his college career. The teams would exchange shots for the rest of the half but the six shots from Bates College and rest of the shots from the Judges would not lead to a goal. In the second half, the Bobcats started out slow but

began putting on pressure with their one goal deficit. This would result in 11 shots from the Bobcats in the half compared to the Judges’ six. However, the Bobcats could not get a goal. Then in the 85th minute, the Judges sealed the victory with a goal from Panson on an assist from Horowitz. The final score of the game was 2-0 with a strong victory from the Judges. Following the strong offensive performance against Bates College, the Judges looked to keep their offense rolling against Clark University on Sep. 29. The offense did not disappoint. In just the

third minute, freshman forward John Loo ’25 took the first shot of the game and scored on an assist from Horowitz. This was Loo’s first goal of the season and college career and Horowitz’s second assist of the season. Brandeis continued to push their advantage by shooting another eight times in the half. Clark University would take only four shots in the half. However, one of those shots went in the 38th minute to even the game up before the half. Although the Judges were playing a strong game, they were committing a lot of fouls before the half. They had eight fouls at halftime.

In the second half, the Judges wanted to eliminate the tie right away. Senior midfielder Evan Glass ’22 was the hero of the game as he scored the go-ahead goal in the 48th minute on an assist from senior midfielder Michael Burch ’22. This was Burch’s first assist of the season and Glass’ first goal of his college career. Clark University would take six shots in the half but none of them would go in. Guthro had two saves en route to the victory. The final score against Clark University was 2-1 with the second straight victory for Brandeis. The men’s soccer team will next play against Carnegie Mellon on Oct. 2.


EDITORIALS

October 1, 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 Tim Dillon Grace Zhou

Volume 19 • Issue 5 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma

Founded By Leslie Pazan, Igor Pedan and Daniel Silverman

STAFF

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

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

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

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The Brandeis Hoot 7

Remember to take care of your students

R

ecently, there has been a wave of events occurring throughout campus that threaten the safety of the student body in the long-term. These issues include mold in the dorm rooms that can lead to medical complications over long periods of time and mislabeled food in the dining hall that could potentially lead to allergic reactions, among many others. Additionally, the health of students with specific allergies and dietary restrictions is ignored as the dining halls usually do not give students with allergies sufficient and well-rounded meal options. One of the most egregious issues that have been pervasive throughout campus is the spreading of mold throughout the dormitories. The board is aware of several people on campus that have respiratory symptoms and complications that have been traced back to the mold. These respiratory symptoms have not only been occurring in students who have not had medical conditions in the past, but many of these students are athletes who have had difficulty performing due to the onset of these medical conditions.We have also noticed that many of the outside stairs around campus need to be repaired and maintained properly. For example, the stairs in East Quad and the many stairs outside of Charles River seem to be crumbling apart, and this provides a hazard for students who have to walk through them several times per day. In the winter, these steps become increasingly more dangerous with the addition of ice and snow on top of the already crumbling concrete. Campus is also really not well lit; even in the places that do have

street lights, those street lights are very weak: there are desk lamps that provide more light. The Light of Reason is the only well-lit place on campus; unfortunately, no one goes through it anyway. Why can’t all lights at Brandeis be that strong? With Brandeis holding classes in person as late as 8 p.m. (which will then end at 9:30 p.m.), this presents a safety concern for the students, who need to walk around campus. Even if students were to take the BranVan, in the case of the International Business School (IBS), they would still have to walk through the Theatre Lot and the IBS hill, which is deserted and has very few street lights. This is especially concerning with the stabbing of two Brandeis students still fresh on our minds. We have also noticed that in Schwartz, the gutters drip water outside of one of the entrances. In the winter, these manifest into large icicles that hang over the entrance. Considering that in the United States alone, 15 people die per year due to icicle-related incidents, we feel that this is an unnecessary hazard and is almost an accident that is waiting to happen. Despite all of this, we do want to give credit where credit is due to the university. Recently there has been implementation of resources to help better student life on campus. Academic Services announced via email a new resource for students in quarantine and isolation where they can receive assistance with tests and quizzes. The Brandeis Community Contact Tracer will reach out to students when they are placed in quarantine/ isolation and ask if they want assistance with arranging for exams and quizzes. From there Stu-

dent Academic Services will reach out to the course instructor to help coordinate the exam schedule for students. This is an extremely helpful resource, as some of our editors have taken exams in quarantine housing and it impacted the quality of their work. Raymond Ou, Vice President of Student Affairs and David M. Fryson, Interim Chief Diversity Office and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion also recently sent an email to the student body highlighting confidential resources available to students. While none of these programs are new, it can be very useful to students to have a condensed list of resources and information on how to contact or use them. Many students on campus are not aware of the resources they have available to them; therefore these resources go unused not out of students not needing them but simply because they are unaware they are there. We also recognize all the university has done for us through the COVID-19 pandemic. The university was able to bring students back to campus last fall semester, avoiding having to lock down the entire campus like other universities like UMass Amherst and Binghamton University. With the university’s testing and tracing system, there have never been more than 11 students testing positive in one week, which is a feat in and of itself and we are grateful to be at a university that takes the pandemic seriously. We appreciate the efforts that Brandeis has done to keep students safe in the pandemic, and we hope to see that rigor applied to other situations around campus.


8 The Brandeis Hoot

ADMISSIONS TEAM

BESTIE

WEEK IN PHOTOS

Editor Emma torturing her bestie Gretchen

BREAKFAST

PHOTO BY THOMAS PICKERING/THE HOOT

They get free food. And balloons.

Editor John eating a boat-load of ice cream

PHOTO BY EMMA LICHTENSTIEN/HOOT

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

QUEEN’S VISIT-

Pebbles visits Brandeis.

DOUBLE RAINBOW Blessing

PHOTO BY JOHN FORNAGIEL/THE HOOT

PHOTO BY VICTORIA MORRONGIELLO/THE HOOT

Love you biggest, mostest and toastest mama bear

PHOTO BY SASHA SKARBOVIYCHUK/THE HOOT

October 1, 2021

us before midterm season

PHOTO BY EMMA LICHTENSTEIN/THE HOOT


FEATURES

October 1, 2021

The Brandeis Hoot 9

Brandeis attends climate change rally By Emma Lichtenstein editor

On Friday, Sep. 24, Brandeis filled two buses of students and attended the climate rally in Boston, protesting for action against climate change. Professor Sabine on Mering (ENVS, GER) organized the trip with the help of student organizers, including Maggie Del Re ’23. Though the rally did not go completely as planned, Del Re believes that the activists were able to get their voice heard. “It [the rally] was good,” said Del Re. “It was mostly organized by a group of high schoolers, so I found myself being very proud of them and their good work.” The protest took place at the Boston

Public Gardens, but the attendees marched around the area. Del Re said that many had signs at the rally—hers read “If you breathe air, you should care.” Chants were also yelled at the event, with Del Re saying their favorite was “no more coal, no more oil, keep our carbon in the soil!” Some attendees gave speeches to the crowd, said Del Re. “The organizers made a really good point of centering Black, Indigenous People of Color. I liked the speeches a lot. I think they chose some really good stories to share—both personal experiences and more broad opinions.” The event wasn’t without issue, though. A group of anti-mask protestors was also in the area, and Del Re said this counter protest caused disruptions to the flow

of the rally. “There was a counter protest. It was a counter protest for anti maskers … saying that making children wear masks is child abuse.” Del Re said she didn’t appreciate this interruption, especially because the climate rally was organized by high schoolers, who are children, and because “if we don’t stop climate change, there won’t be any more children.” She said the organizers of the event handled the situation very well, and did not allow it to ruin the day. Though these anti-mask protestors took part of the route, Del Re said that the organizers of the climate protest were able to reroute and still have a successful meeting. Climate change is an important issue for Del Re, as they said they got into sustainability at a young

age. “I think it’s important [to protest climate change] because though there are individual actions we can—and should—take to reduce our carbon footprints and live more sustainably; much of the problems we’re facing are on a larger scale than the individual. In order to make the kind of changes we need to see, we need to be targeting the people in power that can actually restrict the giant companies that are actually making the emissions.” According to Del Re, there is usually a climate rally every September. She said that while there was not one last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two years ago Brandeis had strong attendance at the rally. To learn more about the fight against climate change and how

to get involved, Del Re suggests checking out Brandeis Climate Justice. They are a campus club working towards divestment from fossil fuels on campus and other climate sustainability initiatives. Brandeis also recently launched a new Climate Justice, Science and Policy Minor that seeks to “prepare students to address the issues of climate change and social justice.” Del Re encourages anyone interested in joining the fight against climate change to get involved in any way they can. “There are things we can do to prevent the most disastrous consequences of climate change,” she says. “We can’t fix everything [about the change of the climate], but there are things we can prevent.”

Misuse of Brandeis compost bins could lead to consequences By Emma Lichtenstein editor

If the Brandeis community doesn’t start respecting the compost bins, they will be removed next month. Associate Director of the Office of Sustainability Mary Fischer spoke to The Brandeis Hoot about the current misuse of compost bins by people on campus. Due to the issues created by the misuse of the bins, the compost program is at risk. “We will be removing compost bins from residence halls if the contamination and rejections do not stop by Oct. 25. We cannot justify the continued waste of resources,” said Fischer. She explained that last year, students were able to properly use the compost bins after the first few weeks, as there was a “learning curve.” According to the Office of Sustainability website, Brandeis composted 19 percent of all waste in 2020, and 12 percent of waste in 2021 was composted. This was an increase from previ-

ous years, with 2015 having a 3 percent compost rate. Composting on campus is possible through the bright green cans around campus. They can be found in areas like Upper Usdan, the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) and behind the Ziv Quad. Brandeis collaborates with Black Earth Compost in this sustainability effort. “We specifically selected Black Earth because they actually do break down the certified compostable items in their process, whereas some other composters do not,” wrote Fischer in an email to The Hoot. Black Earth picks up the compost from Brandeis to handle the waste for the school, says Fischer. However, as documented on the Office of Sustainability Instagram page, items have been placed in the compost bins that are not eligible for composting, leading to some issues with the composting program.“Compost from residence halls and academic areas gets picked up on Saturdays. Black Earth’s driver does a visual inspection of each bin before loading it into

the compost truck. If he sees trash in the compost bin, he will NOT load it, and instead will send me a rejection notice with a photo of what was in the bin,” wrote Fischer. “Then I have to notify Facilities Services that Brandeis employees now have to go empty those bins into the trash, using our already understaffed grounds team, who will then drive the Brandeis trash truck to each site to empty the bins.” This year’s misuse has led to many difficulties in this process. According to Fischer, the community has successfully used the compost bins 5 percent of the time this year. “Since the beginning of the school year, out of 14 residence hall compost areas that each have multiple bins, over several Saturday pickups of each area, totalling over 40 pickups, only two pickups have been successful.” Fischer also urges people on campus to be more careful when discarding all types of waste. “Students also need to stop putting trash and recycling outside of the dumpsters on the ground.

This creates the same problem for our grounds staff and custodians.” She says that people need to put trash in the dumpsters, either by lifting the lid in the front or placing it in the side door. “Our custodians and grounds team should not have to be cleaning up after students in this way. Students are responsible for taking their own waste outside to the dumpster areas and putting them in the correct bins. This is a basic life skill that they will be required to use after they graduate and move into their own housing.” Outside of Brandeis, composting has benefits for the entire planet, explained Fischer. “Compost preserves vital nutrients and returns them to the soil. Composting also sequesters carbon and reduces landfill methane emissions.” She also said that Massachusetts is at capacity for waste disposal, so the state has to export waste to other states, and that all organizations generating more than one ton of food waste—which includes Brandeis—are required to have

composting available. So how can you help? Make sure you’re only putting allowed materials in the compost bins. The Black Earth website lists acceptable materials: “dairy products, meats and bones, coffee grounds, filters and tea bags, seafood and shells, fruit and vegetables, paper napkins and towels and certified compostable serviceware,” with serviceware being products like utensils and plates. Any other products put in the bins will lead to them being left behind by Black Earth Compost. To learn more about composting and other types of waste disposal at Brandeis, visit the Office of Sustainability website or the Black Earth Compost website. The Office of Sustainability has created a Waste Diversion training on Qualtrics explaining more about the importance of properly disposing waste and the environmental benefits of recycling and composting. If you’re interested in preserving the compost bins on campus, the training is a good place to start.

Student Perspectives: Daniel Parker ‘22 on Brandeis’accessibility By Anya Lance-Chacko editor

Daniel Parker ’22 is a senior at Brandeis who shared his frustrations over the constant lack of accountability Brandeis has had in regards to addressing student concerns about accessibility. He described how the administration opened an open forum to provide a space for student concerns in January 2019, after students wrote a letter voicing concerns. Parker described his frustration with the forum due to the time spent on bonding activities and little time spent addressing student concerns. In fact, The Hoot wrote about these various accessibility forums and actions over the past four years. He described how in the fall of 2020 a group of students wrote an open letter to the administration regarding the acessibility issues on campus. Students additionally worked with a

lawyer who was involved with the American Disabilities Act on a 30 page letter to the Brandeis administration, to which Brandeis responded with a couple paragraphs encouraging the students to sign up for the committee addressing accessibility that was in the process of being created. Parker noted as a senior how very little necessary change has happened over the years, despite students advocating for change. He expressed how concerned he is that this will continue: “someone else might have to go through what we went through. Someone else is going to start a movement, the administration is going to laugh them off. They’ll be directed to the committee and not see any real change happen and be disenchanted like I am. They’ll have really terrible semesters because they are not getting the accommodations they need … I feel like if I don’t keep fighting this fight, someone else is going to have to do it.”

The aspects of Brandeis that are inaccessible that he described are more than unacceptable, they are also illegal. In 1993 the American Disabilities Act laid down rules on accessibility compliance, and some of Brandeis’ new construction is in direct violation of the law. Parker described how the student committee can make smaller changes in campus culture, but Brandeis should be responsible enough to bring an architect to survey the property. He explained how he’s seen changes in campus culture and how professors have responded to accommodations, but there are so many larger issues out of students’ hands, and things that should be non-issues. Parker explained how “this year there was a huge problem because many disabled students were not made aware of the deadline for the separate process for requesting accommodations for housing. So then the housing went to people who applied for it and wasn’t

saved up for disabled people. Disabled people had to live East or Village where they had to walk up a huge hill or staircases without an elevator. There is no accessible freshman space …. This is not new, it’s always been like this.” Parker went on to describe how ironic this is due to how Brandeis markets itself. “The student body is social justice oriented and I’m glad that I went here for that reason, but Brandeis saying that is a marketing tactic … It’s a school that was named for a guy who stood up for oppressed people, but we’re not going to honor that legacy at all. Brandeis is not ahead of its time, it’s behind. Brandeis markets itself in this way but doesn’t prioritize in its budget making sure its campus aligns with that mission. Liebowitz wanted a million dollar raise … before you do that, why don’t you make your buildings accessible?” He even added how Brandeis houses The Lurie Institute for Disability Pol-

icy, yet the campus remains inaccessible. Parker described how he has had friends who have had conflicts with Brandeis Accessibility after they were condescending towards students with mental illness or were silenced for speaking about legal issues, as they were told Brandeis accessibility would lose funding. He explained how maybe this would be appropriate if they weren’t going to do the work. He described how, “There is a culture of trying to silence things, and it’s still very much there. Not so much among the students, but among the administrators.” There is still so much change necessary in order to make Brandeis a safe and livable place for everyone. Parker concluded by saying, “Things have not gotten much better, despite committees we’re still in the situation we were three years ago … Hey Brandeis you saw that letter the lawyer sent you so get your sh*t together.”


10 The Brandeis Hoot

OPINIONS

October 1, 2021

City on a hill By Eli Issokson special to the hoot

“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.” These are the tired words of John Winthrop in his famous “City upon a Hill” speech where he holds up Massachusetts as a model for all societies throughout the world. Good Christians were meant to turn the untamed, savage Americas into a land of prosperity, hard work and piety for all Christians. “The city upon a hill” quickly became a metaphor for the entire United States, and the focus on piety and serving God shifted to holding up America as the exemplar of liberty and democracy throughout the world. Everybody reading this is smart enough to know that the idea of the “city upon a hill” and the belief system it plays into, that of American exceptionalism, is not a very accurate or historically-based vision of the United States. While there are certainly things that make the U.S. exceptional as a nation, few have to do with the total liberty enjoyed by all its citizens. Just in the past six months, the United States has seen laws specifically designed to disenfranchise large portions of the electorate for no credible reason, and to call the U.S. a shining beacon of democracy has always been a stretch. In describing the United States’ democracy, I’d like to turn to Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator and author of the first essay of the 1619 Project, who essentially argues there have only been two real periods of American democracy: the early phases of Reconstruction, and the period after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Hannah-Jones’ version of democracy is clearly a participatory one with a large electorate able to express their interests through the vote without significant barriers to political action. According to her interpretation of America’s

supposed founding ideals, the United States’ democracy requires extension of the franchise, and the U.S. should prioritize keeping the franchise extended as one of its primary goals. This is what the U.S. must do in order to maintain some semblance of being the shining city on a hill. The mismatch between the ideals the U.S. was founded on and its political development as a state has created and continues to create much of the friction in American politics. Now this is not to say that other nations have not had colossal mismatches between their professed ideals and the realities in their nations. The current Chinese state certainly doesn’t honor many of the rights it claims to extend to its citizens, nor did European colonizers conquer swathes of Africa so they could merely “civilize” the natives. In the case of the United States though, Enlightenment era thought proved to be the justification for the new state. The Enlightenment stressed the importance of religious toleration, reason, freedom of speech and rationalization of laws, and these ideals provided the ideological justification for the revolt of a largely bourgeois class in the U.S. Discontent over taxation, tariffs, free trade, and representation quickly turned into calls for the U.S. to be freed from its slavery to the U.K. It is precisely because of this rhetoric that the United States’ ultimately conservative settlement after the Revolution seems so jarring and blatantly unexceptional. For all the rhetoric about the uniqueness of the United States, much of its early history plays out like a standard case of a coalition of liberals splitting in victory. Despite the practical hero worship of the founding fathers, there were also another group of founding fathers that stood in direct opposition to the principles the revolution was supposedly fought for. Very few of the elite class that ended up forming the earliest congresses of the U.S. were interested in letting commoners vote, much less women or slaves. The early state proved to express egalitarian ideals while establishing a heavily elitist democracy which stubbornly guarded prop-

erty rights as a prerequisite for political participation in fear of the mob. The claim of American exceptionalism stands on nothing. There is no “city upon a hill” in terms of moral superiority, political flexibility, social mobility or any number of metrics. How can there be a city upon a hill when any substantial number of people, in recent years as high as 30 percent, continue to claim that states’ rights was the main cause of the Civil War? How can there be a city upon a hill when our political system is purposefully set up to mitigate the people’s impact on their own government? How can there be a city upon a hill in a state that only removed a legalized second-class status for millions of citizens 70 years ago? I probably sound angry in this piece—and I am. There’s no denying that. The U.S. and large

amounts of its citizenry love to preach American exceptionalism, and I’ve grown tired of it. We are not that special. We live in one of many states in the world. That state has failed to uphold its guiding principles, and I am tired of conservatives and many liberals acting like the history of this country is something worth being a nationalist over. You do not have to feel shame at this nation’s history, but the blind pride that American exceptionalism drills into people is dangerous. Surely institutional racism doesn’t exist because how could it in the city upon a hill? There’s no way the city upon a hill committed mass genocide repeatedly and refusing to acknowledge that these events happened, preventing historians and normal citizens from investigating them in a critical manner. In effect, we are trying to have a debate while American excep-

tionalism keeps creating its own facts. When I think of American exceptionalism, I am reminded of Voltaire’s novella “Candide” ( a wonderful, short read, incidentally). In it, the optimistic Dr. Pangloss consistently claims he lives in the best of all possible worlds while his disciple Candide ends up being enslaved, captured, stranded and robbed before finally returning to his home. When Candide arrives back home with his lover disfigured, he does not quite address the “best of all possible worlds” remark, instead exhorting that “we must cultivate our garden.” Perhaps now, with vigilance and political awareness, those of us who care about this nation’s history can cultivate our own garden. One that will overgrow the city upon the hill. own garden. One that will overgrow the city upon the hill.

PHOTO FROM NEWSDAY.COM

Save the compost! By Maggie Del Re special to the hoot

By this time last year, Brandeis students had correctly sorted three and a half thousand pounds of compost into the green bins outside residence halls, according to associate director of Sustainability Programs Mary Fischer. That’s three and a half thousand pounds of food waste and certified compostable items that didn’t end up in a landfill; instead, it made the journey to Black Earth Compost’s facility to decompose into fertile compost that can be added to soil to help plants grow. But as of Sep. 29, this year our residence halls have only contributed about 400 pounds of compost to Black Earth’s collection: 31 hundred pounds less than we had collected by this time last year. This apparent discrepancy is not because the compost bins ar-

en’t being used: it’s because they aren’t being used correctly. When students put non-compostable items into the compost toters, the entire bin is considered contaminated. Not only is it gross and unethical to ask custodians and waste-collectors to pick through the bins to remove non-compostable items, it’s also unsafe. Because of that, when students toss items that can’t be composted into the compost bins, those items and all of the compostable items in the bins have to be thrown away into the trash. The problem has gotten so bad that between 14 resident halls and four collection attempts at each one, there have only been two successful compost collections from resident halls so far this year. That’s about a 0.36 percent success rate for our compost collection; all of the other attempted collections have been contaminated with non-compostable goods,

and consequently, that waste goes to the dumpster to be brought to the landfill. Boo! All of these failed attempts to collect compost not only waste time, money and energy, but they also waste diesel used to fuel the compost-collecting trucks and they unnecessarily spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because of the unnecessary transportation between Black Earth’s composting facility in Gloucester and Brandeis. Because of this, if the compost contamination doesn’t come to an end by Oct. 25, 2021, the compost toters outside residence halls will be removed, and all students will have no choice but to dispose of compostable items from their dorms in the dumpsters. Even in 2020 when we composted correctly more often, Brandeis accumulated a whopping 1,366 tons of trash, according to the waste diversion dashboard. Com-

posting gives us an easy, alternative way to dispose of food waste and certified compostable items so we can reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills, where they take much longer to decompose and create methane due to a lack of oxygen, forcing them to take up more space for longer periods of time, instead of becoming useful compost that can be used to nurture new plant growth. According to the EPA, landfills also emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and account for 17 percent of methane emissions in the U.S. Methane is 80 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Keeping compostable items out of landfills is a good way to reduce your ecological footprint. We only have one earth, and we should all make a greater effort to keep it clean and free of unnecessary waste. Please, for the love of compost, do not throw anything except for food waste or certified

compostable items into the green compost toters outside residence halls (or anywhere else on camps, for that matter). This includes plastic trash bags! If you are ever unsure whether something can be composted, it’s better to throw it in the dumpster than it is to risk contaminating an entire batch of compost. If you find yourself inspired to take even more steps to save the compost, then please spread the word about this issue! Urge your friends and other fellow Brandeis community members to do their part by using the green bins only for food waste and certified compostable items, otherwise we risk losing our opportunity to compost at all. Last academic year, we composted 61.4 tons of waste in the toters outside residence halls alone; let’s protect our compost and keep it up!


October 1, 2021

OPINIONS 11

The Brandeis Hoot

My thoughts on the Nintendo Direct By Cooper Gottfried special to the hoot

Nintendo had their third “Nintendo Direct” of the year last week, and I left with very mixed opinions. There was a lot covered in this 40-minute broadcast, so I’ll focus on the more important reveals. Nintendo opened the presentation by announcing a DLC pack for “Monster Hunter Rise,” titled the “Sunbreak Expansion Pack.” This minute-long teaser didn’t tell us much, but we now know that there will be a new medieval ruins environment as well as a new wyvern-type monster. Capcom described the expansion, which will release in 2022, as “a new, ominous chapter” in the Monster Hunter universe. It’s tough to have an opinion on this, as we don’t really know much yet, but it looks to be a huge update to a game that was released just six months ago. Then, a new “Mario Party” game will be making its way to the Switch. The second game from the franchise on Nintendo’s newest console, “Mario Party Superstars,” features maps from past games, a few new maps that can randomly transform and even minigame-only game modes.

By Julian Flesch special to the hoot

As we all know, this past month marked 20 years since the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, in which nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children were murdered by terrorists in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. It is only thanks to the heroism of the passengers and crew of Flight 93, as well as the countless first responders, that more were not lost and that our government was not thrown into perhaps irrevocable crisis, given the possibility of that fourth plane crashing into the Capitol or the White House. I was a little more than a year old on that day, at a doctor’s office just outside of Boston, when the towers collapsed. It is harrowing to think, knowing what happened, about scheduling an appointment for “the 11th” 20 years

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

A little over 18 months later and the pandemic is still happening. Remember when we were like “oh it’ll be like being grounded for two weeks” and then suddenly it turned into a year? Me too. But life is finally returning back to something that is somewhat normal. We are having classes in person, people are commuting into work, concerts and movie theaters are back up and running. It’s what we all dreamed of happening for the past year and a half! So why do I feel so anxious? I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way, so know if you’re hesitant about jumping back into life as it was pre-pandemic you aren’t alone. I mean, how do you

This seems to be the most innovative title in this series in years. It features online play for all modes (which “Super Mario Party” lacked) and that alone makes this title, which comes out in about a month, likely to be the best selling Mario Party game of all time. “Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity” had its newest Expansion Pass content shown off in this direct, and it seems to be pretty cool. More Zelda content is always nice, but like most people I’m just holding out for “Breath of the Wild 2” at this point. This paid add-on to “Hyrule Warriors” launches next month. After that, the masterpiece that everyone has been waiting for was announced: “Chocobo GP!” I’m joking, this game looks ridiculous. It’s “Mario Kart” but with “Final Fantasy” characters, and I honestly don’t see why this game was created. It’s a competitor to the most successful racing game of all time, and it’s even being released on the same platform. I don’t see this game selling many copies at all when it releases next year. Nintendo then revealed the reveal of the next “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” character, which will take place on Oct. 5. My prediction is Crash Bandicoot, but

like everyone else I’m completely in the dark on who the next fighter will be. A new Kirby game was unveiled next, titled “Kirby and the Forgotten Land.” This looks like a standard Nintendo-produced 3D platformer, hopefully similar to “Mario Odyssey.” This is Kirby’s first 3D title, and I have high expectations. Nintendo has many faults as a company (don’t worry, we’ll get there), but they do 3D games right. This game comes out in spring 2022 and I’m very excited to see how charming a 3D Kirby game can be. We also got more information on “Metroid Dread,” primarily focused on its story. This game just seems cool to me, and even though I’ve never played a Metroid title, I’m inclined to pick this one up. The game seems to include cool mechanics and looks great, so I’ll probably pick up a copy when it comes out in a little over a week. More details on “Splatoon 3” were released. We now know that the single-player campaign will be focused on the “Return of the Mammalians,” and that there will be new primary and special weapons in the “Turf War” online-multiplayer mode. We don’t know much about this game, but

the third installment in this comical third-person shooter releases next year. “Bayonetta 3” was also finally unveiled. First announced in 2017, this combo-heavy action game now features the ability to control demons, and looks like a ton of fun. I’m not sure if this game will be worth the five-year wait when it releases in 2022, but at least we’re finally getting our hands on it. There’s also a Mario movie coming from Illumination, the studio famous for “Despicable Me.” The cast is a bit strange, with Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. We don’t have much more information on the film, but I will absolutely be seeing it. This movie is either going to be hilarious or a complete flop, and I’m here for it either way. Nintendo also revealed a new tier of their online service that will include content from the N64 and the SEGA Genesis. The premium

ago, believing that day to be no different from any other. I do not remember being there, but I know that I was there. I was not aware of what was happening, or at least do not remember being aware of what was happening, but I know that it happened. My lack of individual memory notwithstanding, I am an American, and so that day is forever seared in my memory as a part of our national memory. Although I am one of many who at times sees the past through a rosy window, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to think of how our country has changed over the course of 20 years and to think of recent events and say “this is not the America I grew up in.” I am in my early twenties, and I have lived nearly my whole life in the shadow of Sep. 11. That is the America that I grew up in (in fact I am still growing up, as are we all. We are never too old.) Nevertheless, I get a sense that in recent years

we have lost the civic virtue that makes us different from any other nation on earth, and therefore we have lost sight of the common bond that we all share as Americans. Sep. 11 made us remember who we were, it made us take our lives and those of our loved ones more seriously. Today, I would hope that sooner, rather than later, we can all take part in a revival, not of any scriptural religion, but of the civil one that defines our country—the republican spirit (with a small r of course). We must remember that, as Thomas Jefferson said, “it is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor,” and, I might add, a republican vigor. Accordingly, we must remember that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. On that day 20 years ago, Al-Qaeda did not represent any religion. Instead, Al-Qaeda represented a force that has manifested itself for as long as

our country has existed, but also for as long as any free people have existed. We must guard against that force, for it is ever present. As we unified in the aftermath of Sep. 11, Osama Bin Laden, and the force he represents, failed, at least in that way. But that force, that side of human nature, still exists. In the words of George Washington, we must “express [our] utmost horror and detestation of the Man who wishes, under any specious pretences, to overturn the liberties of our Country, and who wickedly attempts to open the flood Gates of Civil discord, and deluge our rising Empire in Blood.” With that in mind, we must remember just how precious life and freedom are, how dear they are to us. A few weeks ago, when visiting the site of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, we heard a ranger dressed in Union Army garb playing the

character of a soldier in the Army of the James, talking about his experiences and the magnanimity displayed by Lincoln and Grant towards the Confederacy. As he concluded his talk, the ranger/ soldier urged us to reflect, and “to be grateful to live and to wake up every day in a country that is free.” Today, I urge us all to heed that counsel. But in spite of the concern I express for the direction of our country and the remedies I propose, I believe it is just as essential to remember the words of our national anthem. In the rubble of Ground Zero twenty years ago, and at the time it was written, “our flag was still there.” Today, in spite of everything, those words hold true. Our flag, and the republic for which it stands, is still there. Never forget.

reprogram yourself not to care about who touched the door handle before you or stop yourself from wondering if that party your friend went to last weekend will turn out to be a super-spreader event? Even being vaccinated hasn’t stopped intrusive thoughts from arising. Going back into the dining hall was a huge culture shock. Having to fight for seats in Sherman because of how crowded it is took me back to my freshman year, when there was only mono to worry about. It creeps up on you then, this anxious feeling, not knowing if the person sitting behind you could be spreading it to you. It’s especially hard in the dining hall, after being told for a year you shouldn’t be crowded indoors without a mask on, and yet here we are eating every day at 6:30 p.m. like none of that was ever said.

Do you remember what the dining hall was last year? It was a ghost town. Only the brave ate inside and that wasn’t until restrictions had been lifted. Initially, we weren’t even allowed to eat inside. And that was only a year ago. That is absolutely mind-blowing to think about how we’ve done a complete 180. Then there’s the problem of everyone else being so eager to return to normal but you’re still hesitant. You feel like you’re being pushed towards normal against your will but you have to move with the current otherwise you’re left alone. You want to get dinner with your friends but, oh no, one of them just came back from a wedding. Or you want to go to that party, but it’s indoors and there are going to be more than 20 people there. The real conundrum is that I have the desire to do all the nor-

mal things: socialize, have fun, all that jazz. I’m just skeptical over whether we should be having all these normal things when we are far from out of the woods with COVID-19. I don’t think I could thoroughly enjoy a movie without feeling anxious about my next test result from the Broad Institute. And I can’t help but feel guilty for having gone to a wedding and then worry about potentially spreading it to my friends. In theory, I want to do all of these things again, but then I remember what is still going on and the risk factor suddenly diminishes the joy I used to find in doing social things. Like, for example, I am so excited to race again. But the idea of being in a race with over 50 girls packed onto the starting line and then breathing on each other for a 6k is terrifying to me. I don’t know where any of those girls have been and I just

have to trust that I’ll be okay. It does make me happy to see the campus come back to life; it really reminds me of freshman year. In one way, it makes me a little sad to think of all we missed out on, and in another, I’m also a bit jealous of there being a time when you didn’t have to worry about the pandemic and could just enjoy the company of others. I’m trying though, to put myself back out there. I go to Sherman every night and pretend like it isn’t bothering me. I go to class in person and make sure I sit on the ends. That way I reduce the chances of someone sitting next to me. I go for runs with my team, but I still can’t commit to running in a large group. It’ll be a process for sure, getting back to normal. But hopefully one day this hesitance will be gone and everything will be fine.

plan will include all elements of the base Nintendo online plan, and the extra cost will go towards access to more retro games. We don’t have pricing information on the “Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack,” but it feels scummy to me. Nintendo’s current online service is flat-out awful, with users complaining about frequent disconnects and horrible lag. Nintendo simply refuses to invest money into the online portion of Nintendo Switch Online, and now they’re asking for more money. This is a blatant cash grab, and I do not like it. All told, this broadcast was one of the more exciting ones in recent memory. We got information on a lot of exciting new games, some of which are releasing in just a few weeks. There were highlights (Kirby and the Mario movie) and lowlights (Chocobo and the new online tier), but overall I really enjoyed this Nintendo Direct.

PHOTO FROM GAMERANT.COM


12 OPINIONS

The Brandeis Hoot

October 1, 2021

American railroads, in need of a deadweight loss By Thomas Pickering editor

What is the single easiest Christmas or birthday present for a toddler? Whatever you are thinking is wrong because it without a doubt has to be Thomas the Tank Engine toys. If you happened to guess Thomas the Tank Engine toys then good for you, but everyone else, work on yourself a little. Thomas the Tank Engine were the toys I admired as a little one; always asking for more tracks to create more elaborate tracks or new cars to make my train longer. I had so much track that my lines became impossible for me to follow at times. I had so many trains as well that it became hard for me to find my favorites and I ended up losing interest in the whole thing. But from these humble and wooden beginnings came my love for railroad infrastructure. I upgraded my wooden Thomas tracks for electric model trains as I exchanged my pull ups for boxers. Watching those electric trains whiz by me as I lay down next to the tracks had me curious about the real deal. My search history soon after was filled with videos of Amtrak trains going by and brochures on where they go. What stood out in those videos was how large and boxy the Amtrak trains are; they seemed to be living relics of past decades and I was confused where the new rail technology was. I understood that Europe, China and Japan had newer technology in the form of bullet and maglev trains but could not fathom how the United States, a fully industrialized nation, could be decades behind on any kind of technology. Since high school I have been,

admittedly, way too invested in rail infrastructure and the inner business of Amtrak. Although I am no expert on this subject it is clear to any untrained eye that Amtrak is in dire need of a revamp and there are some clear solutions. To understand where solutions need to be made it is important to first highlight what makes a high speed railroad successful. The first ingredient for a profitable high speed rail network derives from geography in relation to population. Rail networks which connect cities that are close in proximity are the ideal location for said networks. When built there they can move large amounts of people between massive economic centers avoiding major problems that other forms of transit face such as traffic from cars and proximity to home such as airports (which are required to be so far from city centers to prevent low flying planes from crashing). Trains serve as a cost-effective option for city hoppers who need to make it from one city to another to conduct business or see family. This becomes increasingly important as more Americans and people around the world move into cities and urban centers and are victim to gridlock traffic and the high cost of plane tickets and gasoline. The second factor that is important in building an efficient high speed railroad is in the direction of the tracks. Tracks which consist of many twists and turns force trains to reduce their speed to greatly lower the chance of tipping over and passenger discomfort. Thus, tracks which are built as straight as possible between the destination and the point of departure are going to maximize the efficiency of the train line. They reduce operation costs because

repairing straight lines of track is far easier than replacing a curved segment and it takes the trains less energy to maintain speed than to constantly be slowing down and accelerating every few minutes. The third and final ingredient is actually beneath the rails that the trains run on: the ties. Ties are laid underneath the rails and ensure that the rails do not drift too far apart or too close. Traditionally they are wooden and riddled with problems of upkeep. The wood frequently splits due to the pressure the weight of the trains exerts on them and to replace them you have to dig up all the rocks under the ties to slide them out and then insert the new one. To allow for heavier trains to run faster, efficient railroads are now built with concrete ties which last longer and far easier and more sustainable to produce. For a high speed rail line to be profitable and well-run the train line requires proximity to major economic centers, straight lines of track and the usage of concrete railroad ties. The best example of this in practice in the United States can be found in the “Northeast corridor” which unites the cities of Boston and Washington D.C. and all major hubs in between such as New York City and Philadelphia. This line runs between a plethora of major economic hubs, uses modern railroad ties and runs trains as fast as the lines can handle to move people efficiently. The issue with Amtrak is that the rest of their lines do not follow this pattern. Most of Amtrak’s mileage comes from their long-distance train lines which run between small cities out west which are great distances from each other and not up to date on newer infrastructure technologies. These

lines are barely profitable, if they make any profit at all, and are rarely a traveler’s first choice for transit. Those trains run slowly on their old tracks and can be costly for travelers as operating costs for conductors, engineers, fuel and food can become rather expensive. In favor of cheaper options most travelers prefer to fly or drive those distances. Unfortunately, it ends up costing Amtrak more money as they continue to provide those long distance trains despite the low and continuously decreasing ridership. To compensate for the losses on long distance rail lines Amtrak raises prices on the lines which drive a serious profit; such as the Northeast corridor due to its efficiency in moving people and filling seats on the train. But the solution for Amtrak is not to raise ticket prices on those lines with high ridership to ensure service for the long distance trains with virtually no ridership; the solution is to cut off the dead weight. Amtrak inherited large amounts of track from the fallout of the private train sector in the mid twentieth century but they now need to be let loose in order for the corporation to stay in the green. Long distance lines bring in no profit and Amtrak should not center its attention on lacking lines, rather Amtrak should use the profit from the Northeast corridor to continue to improve service on the lines that keep the business alive. This improvement could come in the form of newer trains, as Amtrak just did with the introduction of the Avelia Liberty into the Northeast corridor, or in the tilting of curved tracks to allow trains to turn at higher speeds. One of the flaws currently with the Northeast corridor is the old

lines the trains run on. They were built with less technology, so to affordably build lines the railroads had to go around hills and valleys rather than through them. Thus, the current line is very twisted with many curves and forces trains to continuously be slowing down and speeding up. Tilting the tracks would allow trains to maintain their high speed as their momentum would not shift causing a possible tip. These improvements, although minor maybe, will bring down train ticket costs and travel times making it a far more competitive method of transit compared to flying from Logan to LaGuardia for example. With higher ridership Amtrak can build more high-speed lines between cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco and then between Miami and Orlando. Plans to build lines between those cities have been proposed and construction has begun but with Amtrak behind those projects they could be accomplished far sooner and far better. In focusing solely on highspeed rail which has the three characteristics I mentioned above, Amtrak could effectively build itself a new foundation for their profit. When this is accomplished then long-distance rail lines can be re-established but until then Amtrak simply needs the profit to make the necessary updates to compete with train corporations such as the ones in Europe, China and Japan. Amtrak is facing the same issue I did with my Thomas trains, they have too much track and too many trains distracting them from the ones that really matter—it’s time to cut the dead weight off to make Amtrak trains known around the world.

Classify world regions by their histories, not geography By Alex Williams staff

Any undergraduate who studies history is understandably obligated to examine many corners of the world. Globalization first makes this necessary by having successfully amalgamated the individual threads of history into a holistic tapestry. The world now contains a unified history that affects the context of all countries within. Regional histories also lend relevance in themselves. The past is patterned; events independently resurface throughout the world. Such inter-civilizational echoes provide new dimensions through which to understand separate currents of history. The great interplay of nations casts many subtle influences, often difficult to perceive unless one is versed in the diverse histories of various regions. Which, of course, indicates the importance of determining where one region ends and another begins. The breadth of the world’s cultural diversity is determinable only by dividing the earth into its distinctive civilizational spheres. Without consideration of these spheres and their subdivisions, the independent development of language and tradition over thousands of years is neglected in favor of more artificial categorizations of populations around the world.

This is precisely the problem of history departments throughout the United States and abroad. An undergraduate history major must ordinarily choose to study at least three of numerous regions, which at Brandeis encompass Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States, the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Europe and Russia, or a transregional combination thereof. Now, the importance of such broad historical literacy is indisputable; where the modern American university fails is its division of the world. The world is made a mockery of on a civilizational level. While it is perhaps excusable for American universities to reserve a region for America, nearly all the remaining regions are demarcated with reckless inanity. Why, for instance, is the Middle East attached to all of Africa? In what manner do Persians, Arabs, Turks and Kurds of Asia Minor align with ethnic Damara, Bantu, Swazi and Tsonga of southern Africa? While certainly Arab-Berber North Africa constitutes an incontestable extension of the Middle East, the inclusion of all of Africa is an absurdity, and to some extent an insult to the cultural distinctiveness of Sub-Saharan Africa. To ascribe an entire region to “Asia” is equally mad. I have taken history courses on both India and China, and yet I need only to have taken one in order to acquire credit for a continent which contains

60 percent of the world’s population. India and China, which emerged independently from pristine civilizations, respectively delivered Indic and Sinic civilization to life and preserved their distinctiveness up to the present day. Their unnatural fusion into a single region deprives students of a valuable opportunity to receive separate credit for studying both, in recognition of the distinguishable civilizations that they are. In this ignorant game of pretending that civilizations can be substituted by continents, “Europe” too denotes a false concept. Europe was never a unified civilizational entity; what comprises the European continental landmass are actually two distinctive cultural spheres: That which emerged from the fallen Western Roman Empire, and that which arose from the long-lived Eastern Roman Empire and its gradual Grecization into the Byzantine Empire. The former exhibits the legacy of the latter-day Western Roman Empire in myriad ways, from its Latin script to its historical Roman Catholicism (or, after the 95 Theses, Protestantism) to its organic adoption of Roman architecture centuries after Rome fell. The East, by contrast, employs the Greek-descended Cyrillic script, is predominantly Eastern Orthodox and established itself upon the architecture of Constantinople. Notwithstanding the influence of the Latin script

and classical architecture from Romania to Turkey, the lesson of the Great Schism is clear: Any attempt to pretend that Europe is a single entity is doomed to collide with a sharply divergent civilizational ancestry. Smoke and mirrors may help to conceal the irreconcilable dissimilitude between Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Bulgaria on one side and England, France, Italy and Portugal on the other, but the rigorous standards of American universities should know better. The problem is that “geographic regions’’ are geographically determined. Universities crudely arrange the avenues of world history by continent rather than civilization, gambling whether a continental boundary aligns with a cultural sphere of influence. This perhaps works for Latin America, which is delineable as both a continent and united cultural entity; India and China, conversely, share the misfortune of occupying the same mighty continent, and so their histories must be squeezed together to match the estimation of American history departments. I hesitate to relate this to the arbitrary colonial borders blighting Africa and the Middle East, or the poor penmanship with which the British Raj was partitioned, but the similarities overrule omission. When distinct cultures are mapped by geographic rather than historical means, the unnatural combinations which

result are fraught with sectarianism and cultural tension. It might be convenient for American academia to simplify “Europe” into a unified construct, or to entertain delusions that the Middle East and Africa belong together as one faceless throng, or to encourage the misconception that Indian and Chinese civilizations are wedded by some fictitious sense of shared “Asianness.” Yet history cannot reassemble itself to accommodate the conceits of modern times, whose propensity to plan contradicts the organic development of civilizations. Modernity is for this reason averse to the notion of heritage, which originated outside the designs of central planners, and its eminent influence upon history. History cannot be treated with tools of other disciplines. History departments must respect the logic of history, without corruption by modern prejudice and ideology, and redraw the world accordingly. Should Brandeis resolve to perceive history unto its innermost parts, the world’s many threads of heritage would be rendered clear before their living descendants. Each successive generation will encounter the cultural strands out of which the West and all its brethren civilizations were born.


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‘Free Guy’ is pretty good without the guy By Stewart Huang editor

Directed by Shawn Levy, “Free Guy” is a film of two interconnected plots. On one hand, you have a coming-of-age story of Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a non-playable character (NPC) in the video game “Free City” who gains free will and awareness after falling in love with Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer), a player character. On the other hand, you have a detective romcom that tells the tale of Keys and Millie (Joe Keery and Jodie Comer), estranged game-dev partners who go undercover—both ingame and in real life—to expose a conspiracy in “Free City.” One story is better than the other, and it’s not the one with Ryan Reynolds. You probably already know partly why. The actor always plays what seems to be some version of himself: this smug guy with an insufferable yet endearing sense of humor. He is a perfect fit for Deadpool, but not Guy, even when the archetype is already massively toned down. The acting still feels much too glib for a supposedly generic NPC. And Guy remains overly cheerful with a smile that inappropriately hints at a care-free, unexamined life, despite the obvious trajectory of his character arc. I think Reynolds tries to add a few drops of naivete and innocence into his formula to fit his character, but instead ends up looking and sounding secretly sarcastic somehow. The recurring shot of him greeting his pet gold-

fish in the morning with a creepy smile never ceased to disturb me. The character itself is devoid of drama. Despite being an infant AI who had just gained so much agency and intelligence, Guy spends most of his time simply leveling up in-game, trying to win over the heart of Molotov Girl. There’s surprisingly little curiosity in him to explore the nature of his reality or existence, even when the plot gives him every reason to do so, and hence there’s little humanity in this character (the most obvious, effective way to write a good AI character is to make them the most human in some way at some point). Guy comes off as just going along for the ride, and it’s hard to care about a story with such a protagonist. One redeeming quality for him, though, is the way he goes about leveling up. The power he gains does not corrupt him. He rejects the game world’s social norms of robbing banks and casually committing acts of violence, and decides to level up by being a pacifist hero, helping the poor NPC’s who receive so much abuse from players. It is strange how he’s able to level up so quickly in this fashion since the game’s clearly not designed to be played that way. In contrast to Guy’s story, Keys and Millie’s adventure is a real highlight with its somewhat complicated but intriguing character dynamics and goals. Keys works for the cartoonishly evil Antoine (Taika Waititi), owner of “Free City.” Whereas Millie is suing Antoine for stealing the duo’s indie game code and putting it in-game,

and she seeks her ex-partner’s help in getting that evidence. Keys reluctantly provides tech support for Millie’s playable character, Molotov Girl. Meanwhile, he can’t help but show his gentle affection for Millie, which he has long possessed but has always gone unnoticed. Yet there’s the obstacle of a peculiar love triangle: Guy likes Molotov Girl, controlled by Millie. Thinking Guy is a real player, Millie also finds herself drawn to his witty charm and unique play style. But what about Keys? This romantic tension leads to a clever, satisfying pay-off. I actually didn’t realize all the tension at first and was pleasantly surprised with the ending. The pair’s story was thor-

oughly enjoyable and heartwarming. …Which is why I think the film should have had Millie as the protagonist instead and call itself “Free Girl” or something, since she is the most interesting and important character, who is actually two characters. Jodie Comer, who plays both, absolutely stole the spotlight, though her co-star Joe Keery was quite good too, and their on-screen chemistry was a joy to watch. I also found Taika Waititi’s Antoine extremely likeable despite being an irredeemable jerk and an accurate representation, save for his sense of fashion and humor perhaps, of toxic, money-hungry game

company executives. All three actors outshone Ryan Reynolds and should have gotten way more screen time. I should also mention that I find the premise of “game-dev relationships and office politics plus battle for intellectual property” way more interesting than some generic sandbox video game setting. The former remains unexplored and we need to see more like this. Anyway, I will now proceed to watch “Killing Eve” because I have developed a huge celebrity crush on Jodie Comer. Don’t tell my girlfriend.

PHOTO FROM EXPRESS.CO.UK

‘Midnight Mass:’ the horrors of self-righteous faith By Sam Finbury staff

What is the purpose of faith? What are we supposed to receive from our dedication to a higher power? Are we supposed to receive anything at all or is that a selfish minimization of the point of belief? The societal role of religion, the lofty virtues and corrosive tendencies of fervent faith, has always been a favorite forte of genre fiction, specifically horror. Humanity’s relationship with the extraordinary unknown is part and parcel of supernatural horror and the stresses such narratives impose on their casts of characters often illuminate underlying social truths about religion. Protagonists rediscovering their faith after undergoing a long trial of terrors is a worn out cliché by this point, as is the old chestnut of a faction uniting under a charismatic religious leader during a time of crisis, their obsession and desperation turning them into the real monsters. However, for a horror story to probe the purpose and perils of religion directly is stickier territory. No matter what questions the author asks or answers they find, somebody will be insulted. As such, religion is more often the backdrop or accessory to the horror rather than the central topic of discussion, never allowing the writer to stretch and explore the subject in all its ramifications and extremes. Often it is just that “oh, demons exist,” or “welp, hell is a place,” and no further examination is presented. But when a writer decides to jump on that bull of a subject, hold it tight and ride that beast, it is a

marvelous and unique spectacle. That’s what director Mike Flannigan created in his miniseries “Midnight Mass”—a marvelous and unique spectacle of religious horror. It’s no secret that Mike Flannigan occupies the upper echelon of modern horror filmmakers. From his bone-chilling mainstream debut with 2013’s “Oculus” to “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” which miraculously salvaged the joke premise of the movie’s failing franchise, to his underrated exercises in adapting Stephen King’s work in “Gerald’s Game” and “Doctor Sleep,” Flannigan hollowed out a comfortable little niche for himself in the horror genre. Most will recognize his trademark dusky color grading and meticulously-set shots from his work for Netflix, though, for whom he spearheaded the popular “The Haunting of Hill House’’ and “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” “Midnight Mass” is his third Netflix horror series, the only one not based on a pre-existing work and undoubtedly the best of the bunch. The show chronicles the arrival of the mysterious priest, Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater) to the isolated close-knit Christain community of Crockett Island. While Father Hill’s charisma and religious zeal energize the desperate townsfolk, after the priest performs a series of inexplicable and unnerving miracles, interest turns to obsession, and the island transforms into a divided cultish hellscape. The series is an enrapturing descent into perdition, rife with body horror, fantastic mystery, tragic death and a novel twist on a classic monster. It is, however, a

slow burn, the evil at the heart of the tale only glimpsed in passing for the first half of the show, a precarious sense of dread sustained throughout. The audience is held over by the ensemble cast of characters, all lovingly detailed and brought to life by career-defining performances. Of most note are Samantha Sloyan’s Bev Keane, an overbearing religious harpy whose smile drips with self-righteous hate, and Rahul Kohli’s Muslim Sherrif Hassan, who, despite the English actor’s inability to nail an American accent, is still played with an endearing everyman frustration. Linklater’s stint as Father Paul Hill deserves special commendation as he plays the priest with both endearing empathy and enigmatic deceitfulness, forcing the audience to like and half-trust him throughout the whole show, even after bathtubs of blood are spilled on his behalf. Under all the murder, madness, gore and fire that make up “Midnight Mass’s” perpetually shocking horror, Flannigan remains focused on his thesis, using the deadly supernatural chaos to lay it out for the audience. To spoil as little about the twists and turns of “Midnight Mass” as possible, almost every character seeks to use Father Hill and his miracles to get something out of their faith in God, whether it be forgiveness, stability, health, wealth or eternal life. For many, religion is something selfish and transactional, a free ticket to superiority and paradise that can be lorded over others, a virtue prized and forced upon others to justify itself like a disease. This consumptive, greedy, holier-than-thou obses-

sion is what tears apart Crockett Island and its denizens. The beliefs that ultimately save or at least salvage some of the characters are ones of simple comfort and unity. To Flannigan, religion is meant to guide and console, to teach people how to be good to themselves and others rather than instantly making one good by the repetition of specific rituals or

prayers. In the end, religious belief in pursuit of reward or returns is self destructive to the believer. It’s a simple message, but a priceless and personal one, especially in a modern America where the tendency for religion to be used as a free pass for violent hate and reactionary retrograde policy is becoming more pronounced than ever before.

PHOTO FROM ROGEREBERT.COM


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should have heard of By Tim Dillon editor

The exact number is up for debate, and the reasons behind it are myriad, but the fact of the matter is that readers in the English speaking world read an exceptionally low number of books in translation—approximately 2 or 3 percent, according to an article by the BBC. Now, English is one of the world’s most widely spoken languages, and is the official language of countries on all six populated continents, so there is certainly a wealth of English language literature. But many many great works are written in other languages, and so translation provides an under travelled bridge to some truly amazing writing. One such writer is the Polish author Stanisław Lem. Lem, who was most active in the 1960s and on the other side of the Iron Curtain, wrote stories and novels which simultaneously explored humanity’s relationships with itself and with the frequently mystifying universe, and how they relate to each other. Some of his works are comedic, others more serious. Some are set in the far future, some are set in the world next door. Some feature an entirely human cast, oth-

ers are populated with aliens and robots. But all of them are deeply imaginative, intensely philosophical and thought provoking. And what’s more, line to line they’re beautifully written. Some writers have a tendency to present their best ideas through a haze of adequate prose, but not Lem. Even filtered through someone else’s translations, his talent and sheer delight in writing and imagining shines through. If any of this has convinced you to give Lem’s work a try, allow me to recommend a few of his better titles. This is by no means a complete list, or even an attempt to select the best of Lem—just a few books that I’ve read which you might like to read too. First up is “The Investigation.” This particular novel is one of Lem’s more grounded works, but “grounded” here is neither a synonym for “ordinary” nor “dull.” Retracing the faint prints of a mystery novel, the story follows a Scotland Yard inspector who is forced to grapple with a pattern of events which increasingly strains the age-old process of eliminating the impossible, and asks just how improbable a remainder human minds are willing to accept. The novel is set in London, but a sort of mythic London that takes at least

as much inspiration from G.K. Chesterton, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson as from the real city. If you read this one just for the atmosphere, you wouldn’t be disappointed, and the excellent story only adds more to the bargain. If you’re looking for more humorous fare, you might want to start out with “The Cyberiad,” a collection of linked short stories with a comedic bent. They’re about a pair of robots who set out trying to create various types of life, and the hijinks that ensue. As is his wont, Lem manages to weave witty humor with deeper meaning, for an all around enjoyable read. Finally, if you want something dense that you can really dive into, look no farther than “His Master’s Voice.” This is probably the closest thing to a magnum opus among his body of work, and it hits many of the core themes of his repertoire. It focuses on a military sponsored research project that was aimed at deciphering what may or may not have been a communication from extraterrestrial life. I won’t spoil any of the plot, but at the thematic core of the story are questions about exploring the limits of human knowledge in a universe that may be far more

PHOTO FROM NYTIMES.COM

complicated than we are, and the search for meaning that must carry on all the same. All of this is carried out through the eyes of one of the more distinctive and opinionated narrators in fiction. So if any of this has peaked your

attention, then by all means, give Lem a try. Some of his works are easier to find than others, but I was able to find all of the ones I mentioned with minimal work at used book stores or websites. Happy reading.

Chris Pratt is Mario and I want to scream By Viridia Weiss special to the hoot

Last Thursday, Nintendo livestreamed its semi-semi-annual Nintendo Direct, a 40-minute long marketing presentation featuring reveals of new video games for their Nintendo Switch system, trailers for games the public already knew about, and, for the first time since 1993, information about an upcoming feature film about the Mario Brothers. Unlike their previous foray into the theatrical market, Nintendo decided to forgo the live-action route with their newest attempt at bringing Mario to the big screen, instead opting to have a fully animated feature. The film is set to be created by Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Despicable Me,” produced in close collaboration with creator of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto. Last Thursday, Miyamoto proudly presented the voice cast. Chris Pratt is Mario and I could not believe my goddamn eyes. The star-studded cast, including the aforementioned “Jurassic Park” star in the lead role, features Charlie Day of “Always Sunny” fame as Luigi—Mario’s timid brother—Anya Taylor-Joy of Netflix’s “Queen’s Gambit” as Princess Peach and Jack Black as Bowser. Seth Rogen is Donkey Kong. Other roles include Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong and Sebastian Maniscalo as Foreman Spike. One thing unites almost all of these actors—they are not voice actors by trade. The Mario franchise specifically has a long history with voice acting, ever since the jump to 3D in the mid-90s. Charles Martinet, for example, has voiced Mario for over 30 years, defining the character’s voice and personality. Samantha Kelly has voiced Princess Peach for over a decade. (Nintendo was quick to

assure fans that Martinet’s voice would cameo in the film, though this did not exactly quell the immediate tide of memes flooding the internet.) Celebrity voice casts are nothing new. While there is no trailer footage of the new voice cast in their roles, leading to speculation running rampant, there are countless examples of celebrity voices impacting the quality of their films. The trend can be said to have begun with Robin Williams’s role as Genie in “Aladdin” back in 1992. Williams had, at the time, brokered an agreement with Disney for them to not use his image primarily to promote the film—he wanted the character to stand on its own, not to be used to “sell anything—as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff.” Of course, for a massive media company like Disney, the draw of using a celebrity as advertising was like a gaping black hole, sucking the corporation directly in, agreements be damned—and the resulting marketing explosion, one that violated Williams’s desires and permanently put a rift between them, setting the stage for the celebrity voice cast boom to come. Dreamworks was a huge early adopter. Its films began using celebrities for certain voice roles, sometimes to great effect, such as Eddie Murphy in “Shrek.” This became more blatant as a marketing scheme as time went on, peaking in the horrifying “Shark Tale,” which featured celebrities as… themselves, but fish. (It was as bad as it sounds.) A more recent, and more troubling, example, can be found in Warner Bros.’ “Space Jam 2: A New Legacy.” While the voice cast was mostly made up of the same actors that had been playing the Toons for years (Bugs Bunny was played by Jeff Bergman, the actor who had played him since the death of the legendary Mel Blanc), many commercials didn’t showcase the names of the voice talent. Instead, they showed off

PHOTO FROM NINTENDOLIFE.COM

a movie featuring Lebron James, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Zendaya—a slap in the face to those loyal voice actors. Meanwhile, Zendaya, who voiced Lola Bunny in the film (and by many accounts did a bit of a poor job in comparison to contemporary portrayals of the character by actresses such as Kristen Wiig), got to have her name in the marketing. The blatant disrespect shown towards these talented voice actors, legacy or no legacy, is undeniable. As the last week of September progressed, reactions online shifted from simple incredulity to, in some cases, outrage, mostly at the casting of Chris Pratt, as documented in articles and videos across the web and even on national television. Chris Pratt’s portrayal is contentious for two main reasons: the aforementioned sudden replacement of Charles Martinet, and, as has been coming to light, Pratt’s political affiliations. According to Queerty, Pratt

is a member of a noted anti-gay church, follows many homophobic people and organizations on social media and has been photographed wearing symbols associated with a far-right militia called the Three Percenters in a post on Twitter. Members of this group were arrested in June for their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, according to MSN. All in all, the general attitude has levelled out into one of disappointment, once the raw initial excitement and awe over the bizarre casting choices faded. While many are sure that everyone in the cast can provide a decent performance, and that the movie will likely be very entertaining to its target audience of children, fans of Nintendo (such as myself) have spent decades dreaming up a return to cinema for the Mario Brothers, wishing to hear the same voices they’ve grown up hearing to finally have a place on the big screen. Others sim-

ply wish that actual voice actors, rather than celebrities known for other talents, got first pick at these roles. Others still simply wish Mario just wasn’t Chris Pratt. Personally, I would’ve wanted a film that doesn’t just feel so… cashgrab-y. Illumination is known for being a studio that takes ideas, churns them up and spits out whatever form of that idea would make enough money, and the simple truth is that I don’t trust them to make this film as good as it can be. The original “Super Mario Bros.” movie from 1993, while an incomprehensible mess, is one with a lot of originality and heart, making it eminently watchable, authenticity to the games or not. Only time will tell what kind of movie this new film will be remembered as. The “Super Mario Bros.” movie by Illumination Entertainment and Nintendo will be premiering in the holiday season of 2022.


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‘Star Wars: Visions’ is an authentic love letter to all the best parts of ‘Star Wars’ By Caroline O editor

Being an Asian-American fan of the “Star Wars” franchise often comes with some serious mental and ethical gymnastics. On the one hand, lots of Asian-American fans like myself can enjoy the storytelling, character dynamics and overall aesthetic of the “Star Wars” universe—but on the other, those same fans feel a bit of discomfort at knowing how for a long while, this very same universe appropriates East Asian and South Asian culture. Now, it’s a very human experience to encounter new things and feel moved enough to want to create art around such subjects. However, that becomes much more complicated when appreciation turns into appropriation, which is exactly what “Star Wars” and many other science fiction/ fantasy franchises made by white people are guilty of. It’s one thing for someone like George Lucas to use Asian names (ie. Ahsoka, Padme), Asian clothes (ie. the Jedi garb being based off Chinese hanfu, some of Padme’s costumes based off Mongolian royalty garb) and even Asian-originating religions (ie. Buddhism, which has been explicitly referenced by George Lucas in creating the famous Jedi Code of the universe). That one thing turns into an uglier thing when Lucas and company use these aspects of Asian culture and slap them on white characters, all the while completely neglecting Asian characters and actors themselves (Kelly Marie Tran and the racism towards her character Rose, anyone?). All of these complicated forms of ‘representation,’ combined with many white fans’ blatant ignorance or insistence that Asian people don’t actually belong in the “Star Wars” universe makes for a frustrating experience, to say the least. Perhaps it’s because of all of these frustrations among particularly Asian and Asian-American fans that makes “Star Wars: Visions” so much more enjoyable—because perhaps for one of the first times, the East Asian influence in particular is actually handled with the respect and love that it deserves. For those

who don’t know, the recently released Disney+ series “Star Wars: Visions’’ is the beautifully crafted animated anthology in which LucasFilms partnered with a number of Japanese studios, such as Trigger, Kamikaze Douga and Kinema Citrus. Each studio brought a distinctly different episode, each with their own animation styles and, what personally thrilled me, much more obvious references to East Asian—and specifically Japanese—culture. This is obviously due in part to the fact that the episodes are literally created by Japanese animation studios, and for that reason, the actual incorporation of Japanese elements feels real and respectful, rather than the often ornamental-like feel that other “Star Wars” series often have in terms of East Asian influence. Some personal favorite episodes from “Visions” that truly capture this realness include “The Duel,” “The Village Bride” and “Lop and Ochō.” Each of these episodes follows a different protagonist, true to the anthology style—but each of them feature such beautiful details to authentic Japanese culture. In the instance of “The Duel,” we follow a narrative reminiscent of old samurai movies: a lone warrior defends a village from the dark Sith. The costumes, the impressive shot of our hero appearing with the wind, the dramatic drop of our villain wielding a wasaga (i.e. a Japanese paper umbrella) as a weapon. All of these individual elements together create a still compelling “Star Wars” story, all the while keeping true to its very Japanese aesthetic and visuals. “The Village Bride,” while not explicitly a samurai-esque episode in the way “The Duel” is, still explores yet another facet of Japanese culture, more specifically spirituality, perhaps most closely analogous to Shintoism and the belief in a connection to the natural world. In this episode, we follow a young exiled Jedi who observes an old ritual to simultaneously keep a planet in balance as well as appease the threat of the Empire. The worldbuilding itself is intriguing and nods to a familiar kind of East Asian spiritual belief without making it seem silly or overbearingly supersti-

PHOTO FROM DENOFGEEK.COM

tious. More than that, however, is the attention that the episode finally draws to our Jedi protagonist, who remains mostly passive throughout the story until the end. In another twist that is reminiscent of samurai and other historical East Asian action-genre media, our Jedi makes the decision to defend the others against this Imperial force. Perhaps on a more personal level, though, there is also something incredibly powerful about seeing a female Asian Jedi say the iconic “I am a Jedi” line after deciding to step up to the challenge. It brings me back to my own childhood, back when I was playing with sticks and yelling about how I, too, was a Jedi even if I didn’t have Jedi characters who looked like me. But speaking of characters that didn’t always look like me, this brings us to the last episode of focus, “Lop and Ochō.” This time around, we follow Lop, a bunny-humanoid alien who has been

adopted into a family now trying to protect themselves from the Empire. This episode is all about family and familial duties, another running theme in both “Star Wars” and many Asian-centered stories—however, whereas I feel that many of these kinds of stories emphasize that birth family is the most important, this episode says otherwise. Rather, this episode emphasizes just how much the adopted family counts as real family, which takes form in how it is Lop who inherits the ‘ancestral sword’—or the iconic Jedi lightsaber. The tradition of a family heirloom being passed down to another is hardly new, but the recollection of this particular tale is told through a moving sequence of images reminiscent of ancient Japanese paintings. This, combined with even the fashion of the lightsaber and the ultimate duel that occurs between Lop and her foster sister Ochō literally proceeds against a cherry blossom

backdrop, feeling like a genuine nod to the culture that inspired and executed this story. So in the end, this wholehearted execution of “Visions” feels like a love letter to all the things that the “Star Wars” franchise has often overlooked in terms of explicit credit to and representation of the very cultures that helped shape this universe. It masterfully weaves together the cultures that inspired the whole universe, and it’s done with the grace and magic that reminded me how “Star Wars” can actually be good again. It’s a shame that Disney overlords won’t make the material of this series canon (that’s a whole other conversation), but for now, I wholeheartedly thank the creators and contributors of “Visions” for making me once again believe in a galaxy far, far away.

24 hour musical review 432 hours later By Victoria Morrongiello editor

After much time and deliberation, I am here to review this year’s 24-hour musical, with my totally qualified background of reviewing live musical theater. Let me tell you: the 24-hour musical will always amaze me because, every year, by the time I realize it’s happening, it’s basically over, which I guess is kinda the point, but still. In fact, it took more time to write this review than for the cast and crew of 24-hour to put their production together. So good job to everyone who partook in it. I’m proud of you and so are Emma Lichtenstein’s parents for “trying something new.” Before I get into the greatness that is 24-hour I have a serious question: why was the musical called “Camp Rock” if it followed the plot of “Camp Rock 2: The Fi-

nal Jam?” Do you know how confused I was the first, like, 10 minutes? I mean, I still love “Camp Rock 2,” it was just a misleading title. Second, who knew there was a Camp Rock Musical?!? I shouldn’t be too surprised because my sister did “High School Musical: The Musical” back in high school (wow that sentence was something else) but still, the more you know! I also loved the choice of musical, it really brought me back to 2008. Who needs “Hadestown” or “Les Miserables” when you have “Camp Rock.” Anyway, let’s break this down. Favorite scene, hands down no questions asked, was “Introducing Me.” No question. You had the people who played trees (a really nice touch might I add), dare I say the real stars of the scene (and quite possibly the entire production). It may have taken a while to realize they were trees but once you got it they really stood out.

Then you had Diego Robles playing Nate (played by Nick Jonas in the movie), and despite having forgotten half of the words to the song because of what a massive tongue twister it is, the audience stepped right in and sang along because you already know every girl memorized that song at eight years old and never forgot it because of Nick Jonas. It was a truly iconic scene that I looked forward to and boy oh boy did it not disappoint. Also, the 24-hour musical this year was just flat out relatable, because if you grew up watching Disney Channel and knew the “Camp Rock” franchise you could recognize the songs. You might not know all the words by heart, but you definitely would know the chorus, and that showed in nearly every group number. There was a noticeable difference in volume between the verses and the chorus, and I even found myself

laughing because I would be singing along over Zoom to the chorus and then go silent when the verse came up. Huge shoutout to Cierra Boutin, the girl who played Tess, she literally had all of her lines memorized and that did not go unnoticed. I was completely impressed to see her without a binder and not stutter over any lines, which made it seem like you had more than 24 hours to prepare which is awesome! Though I should note everyone did a fantastic job; the entire cast really made a quick turnaround of a production. I enjoyed the entire production and found myself smiling and laughing the whole time. It is amazing that students are able to put the time and dedication into putting a production like this together in 24 hours. Putting on a show can take months of planning and coordinating and, mind you, while it may not be on

the same caliber, it still requires a lot of effort from the entire cast and crew. The production as a whole was a bop (I mean this in the best way possible). I loved the enthusiasm, the dance numbers, the trees. It was also nice just to see that sense of community again. The 24-hour musical is a community-building event, there is no doubt about that: you don’t just stay up all night with a bunch of practically-strangers to work on a collective project and not build some sense of camaraderie. And to not have the musical last year, despite being for everyone’s health and safety, was still disappointing. I was very happy the university could resume this tradition and maintain proper safety measures for students to enjoy the experience in a semi “normal” way.


16 ARTS

The Brandeis Hoot

October 1, 2021

‘Star Wars: Visions:’ moving away from canon By Josh Lannon staff

The most recent addition to Disney +’s “Star Wars” content is not actually an addition to the greater “Star Wars” galaxy, and that’s a good thing. “Star Wars: Visions” is an animated anthology series of nine episodes from nine different Japanese animation studios. Each of the nine episodes is a standalone story, and each has its own unique animation style. Officially, each of the nine vignettes are not connected to the greater “Star Wars” canon, yet each still has core themes of any “Star Wars” story. While there are no direct connections to a particular “Star Wars” film, the themes in each story are clearly reminiscent of the Skywalker Saga beyond just the use of lightsabers. The episode “T0-B1” which follows a droid (Masako Nozawa) who wants to be a Jedi is a great example of deviating from the canon but maintaining a “Star Wars” narrative. While in “Star Wars” canon a Droid could never be a Jedi because they cannot use the force, this episode ignores the established canon and shows the titular T0-B1s journey to becoming a Jedi. Professor Mitaka (Tsutomu Isobe), T0-B1’s creator, was a former Jedi and serves as the droid’s mentor until he is killed by a Sith Inquisitor. T0-B1 later becomes a true Jedi knight and fights the Inquisitor. This storyline is clearly similar to that of Obi-Wan and Luke, with a Jedi mentor dying by the hand of a Sith and his student becoming a

Jedi Knight and later facing the one who killed his mentor. There may be no “I am your father” moment or a death star, but T0-B1’s story still has similar elements to the traditional “Star Wars” narrative. Another episode “Akariri” clearly resembles another theme of “Star Wars,” falling to the Dark side. This episode involves the Jedi Tsubaki (Henry Golding) returning to his forbidden love Misa (Jamie Chung) in order to help her defeat her world’s Sith ruler, Masago (Lorraine Toussaint). From a basic knowledge of the Star Wars prequels, the audience would be aware that attachment, specifically romantic attachments, are forbidden for Jedi. Much like how Anakin’s love for Padme eventually leads him to fall to the Dark side, Tsubaki’s need to save Misa eventually leads him down a dark path that ends with him becoming a Sith Apprentice in a similar way to how Darth Sideous gets Anakin to become Darth Vader. There are also little details that connect each episode to “Star Wars” films. In “T0-B1,” there is a mural in the background depicting the events of the original trilogy and what looks like a Jedi fighting a four armed opponent most likely Obi-Wan fighting Grievous. Other episodes are able to put their story in familiar timelines, but not necessarily connect them to a particular film. For example, “The Village Bridge” is about a Jedi known as F (Karen Fukuhara), who hides her appearance and Force abilities, but reveals them when fighting a group of bandits that took over abandoned

Separatist battle droids. The use of battle droids and F’s reluctance to reveal herself clearly sets this story somewhere after Order 66 and the events of “Revenge of the Sith.” The overall story does not directly connect to any part of the Skywalker Saga, yet still places the events within a familiar timeline. Other episodes make reference to things like Order 66 or place the Empire as the main villains that give the audience a familiar setting within the “Star Wars” universe without having to rely on or adhere to canon. This way, the episode still feels like it’s “Star Wars,” but has enough freedom to tell new stories. However, while each episode brings something new and exciting to watch, there are a few minor flaws in certain episodes. One episode in particular, “The Twins,” is a perfect example of trying too hard. The plot involves a duel between genetically engineered Force sensitive twins over a planet destroying weapon in a classic Dark side versus Light side clash. The animation by Studio

Trigger is stunning and beautiful, but it’s also a lot. The Darkside twin Am (Ryôko Shiraishi) uses her six lightsaber whips to fight with her Light side brother Karre (Junya Enoki) in a visually spectacular fight sequence. However, rather than having the impact of an epic confrontation the episode as a whole feels rushed. Unlike some of the more simpler stories, “The Twins” tries to do too much “Star Wars” at once. It wants to have an epic lightsaber duel and destroy the planet-killing weapon all at the same time, and it’s just too much for one 18-minute episode. Meanwhile, episodes like “The Elder” focus less on spectacle and more on atmosphere. “The Elder” follows a Jedi and his Padawan as they face an elderly Dark side user. Despite the relative simplicity of this episode’s narrative, it is by far the most suspenseful and well crafted episode among the nine. Ironically, this episode was also produced by Studio Trigger, but has a completely different visual style to that of “The Twins.”

The lack of a rushed overly complex narrative results in a much more calm and focused episode that builds up tension before the final fight with the titular Elder. The final confrontation is similarly simple yet fluidly animated in a way that “The Twins” could just not achieve. “Star Wars: Visions” is an amazing addition to “Star Wars” as a whole. Its departure from the “Star Wars” canon is perhaps its greatest strength because it permits unique stories without adhering to an established continuity. Even still, each vignette is clearly crafted with great reverence to the “Star Wars” universe and maintains core aspects of “Star Wars” narratives but presents them in new and exciting ways. In a world where the most popular film franchises like “Star Wars” and the MCU require a vast interconnected canon, “Star Wars:Visions” shows that you don’t need to connect to a greater universe in order to tell a good “Star Wars” story.

PHOTO FROM STARWARS.COM

‘MONTERO’ lives up to its name By Brandon Wu special to the hoot

Since the release of his debut song, “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X has faced his lion’s share of backlash and criticism. He’s been criticized on everything from his cowboy boots to his sexuality, by both those raised in the industry and those raised by bigotry, sometimes at the same time. But instead of affecting him, it seems to have brought him to bigger heights. Every single, every teaser and every music video is pure unfiltered pop chaos. While he acknowledges the often nonsensical stupidity that spouts from the mouths of his hardcore haters, he builds off of the impact, riding the resulting waves, sky-high (and hell-low). “MONTERO,” I’m glad to report, is no exception. Lil Nas X makes his presence known immediately with the title track,

“MONTERO,” a triumphant tribute to a past teenage fling. Highlights of this lusty song include getting jet lag from “f*ckin’ and flyin’,” as well as sinning in the Garden of Eden. Lil Nas X’s voice booms on this track, aided by some absolutely awesome production on both his voice and the instrumental backing. Despite being released six months ago and blasted from every source imaginable “MONTERO ‘’ may be the most re-listenable song on the record. The aggressive humming after each chorus does wonders to my ears, keeping them hostage far after the song is over. “THAT’S WHAT I WANT” sees Lil Nas X in his feelings, singing his heart out to the strumming of a guitar. It’s the prototypical love song, with a small amount of Lil Nas X pepper in. The guitar line replaces Lil Nas X’s humming in this song, but also a lot of the charisma that came with it. The same

three repetitive chords just aren’t enough to pull me into the song and often just pull down Lil Nas X’s voice. The chorus sounds uncannily familiar, inducing a token sense of nostalgia, but that same muddled identity makes the song boring. “MONTERO” is not without its share of star features. Lil Nas X is joined by several big names: Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion and even Elton John all make appearances halfway through the album (the latter appears in a piano solo on “LOST IN THE CITADEL”). However, they are mostly non-offensive and give Lil Nas X the spotlight. They’re not very memorable, but they’re enjoyable in the grand scheme of the album. The album’s first sad jam, “TALES OF DOMINICA ‘’ is the turning point of the album for me. While not as mainstream as a love song, Lil Nas X’s lyrics speak right into the heart, acting as a much

needed reprieve for a largely high octane album. He sings about two homes, one broken and predictable, the other he can’t go back to, because he can’t “face her face.” Although the song’s depressing lyrics and muted instrumental are rightfully sad, they are emotional fireworks when paired with Lil Nas X’s deep and low vocals. Contrary to the title, “VOID” is an airy, almost psychedelic track that meshes well with the longing and pained lyrics. Lil Nas X writes directly to his younger self in the song, expressing his misgivings about his musical career. He describes it as a “world where there’s so much to prove, every win gives you so much to lose”. All he wants is somebody to love, but his focus on continuously one-upping his criticisms has led him to feel empty, like a void. The record comes to a bittersweet end in “AM I DREAMING,” a lullaby reminiscent of what you

‘Campus Life’ Comic

might hear at the end of a Western where the good guys lose. Miley Cyrus’ powerhouse voice accompanies Lil Nas X as they come to terms with their own fleeting significance, pleading with the listener to “never forget [them].” For an album that at times overflowed with confidence and superiority over critics, the realization that his success may be as temporary as a dream is truly bittersweet. “MONTERO” is everything you’d expect from Lil Nas X. The singles are still bangers, and Lil Nas X is still in prime form. But it’s also much more than that. Each obnoxiously self-assured statement in the beginning of the album can be paired with a strikingly honest and thoughtful track on the latter half of the album. If there’s one reason Lil Nas X lives up to his larger than life name, it’s because he takes the time to strip back his persona and air out his insecurities.


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