The Brandeis Hoot 01/10/20

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Volume 17 Issue 1

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe”

January 10, 2020

Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper · Waltham, Mass.

Prof. arrested, charges dropped


By Rachel Saal

By Sabrina Chow



Professor Sabine von Mering (GRALL/ENVS/WGS) was one of 12 people arrested in Ayer, MA for blocking a freight train delivering coal to a New Hampshire power plant on Dec. 8. The charges against von Mering and the other protesters were dropped “based on the facts and circumstances,” a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office wrote in an email, according to an article by The Lowell Sun. “The judge and the district attorney agreed that it should be a civil infraction and not a criminal infraction because we hadn’t done any harm or damage and we had already spent

Participation in extracurricular activities is among the top five factors that affect individual academic performance at Brandeis, a survey conducted through the American College Health Association (ACHA) in fall 2018 found. Leah Berkenwald ’07, the Wellness Program Manager for the Health and Wellness Promotion (HAWP), told The Hoot that she was not surprised that “participation in extracurricular activities” was in the top five factors affecting academic performance at Brandeis. “I’ve worked at a handful of schools and I’ve never seen it

See PROTEST , page 3

academic performance


activists stand on the tracks blocking a coal freight train.

See SURVEY, page 4


Senator Warren misquotes IASP study in Democratic debate By Victoria Morrongiello editor

During the fifth Democratic Presidential Debate held on Nov. 20, Senator Elizabeth Warren misquoted a study from the Institute of Assets and Social Policy (IASP) in the Heller School at

Brandeis regarding the statistics on the amount of debt needed to be paid back by minority groups, according to an article by Politifact. Although Warren’s statement presents the same idea as the study—that minority groups are put at a disadvantage when paying off their student loans— her statement does not match

the information in the study. The IASP released a study in Sept. 2019 called “Stalling Dreams: How Student Debt is Disrupting Life Chances and Widening the Racial Wealth Gap.” The study was led by Tom Shapiro (HS), who worked with his colleagues and co-authors for about nine months to put the study to-

gether, Shapiro wrote in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. The study discusses the racial disparities regarding the accumulation of student loan debt and the ability to pay it off. The study shows that minority groups have greater difficulty paying off their student debt than “white borrowers.” The study states, “Twenty years

after starting college, the median debt of white borrowing students has been reduced by 94%—with almost half holding no student debt—whereas black borrowers at the median still owe 95% of their cumulative borrowing total.” Warren quoted this portion of See WARREN, page 2

Brandeis first American univ. to prohibit caste discrimination By Rachel Saal editor

President Ron Liebowitz announced on Dec. 17 that Brandeis now expressly prohibits discrimination based on caste, making it the first American university to do so, according to a WGHB article. Caste discrimination will be included in Brandeis’ non-discrimination policy “just as dis-

Inside This Issue:

crimination based on race, color, ancestry, religious creed, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, genetic information, disability, military or veteran status, or any other category protected by law is prohibited,” according to Liebowitz’s email to the Brandeis community. The caste system is “an institution that perpetuates socio-ecoSee CASTE, page 3

News: Stein to include vegan options. Ops: A taste of winter. Features: BOLLI celebrates 20 years. Sports: Track and field opens season. Editorial: A look into the past, hopes for future.


J-Caste celebrated individuals on their research on caste systems.

Thrift store

Page 4 Page 14 Exchange cool clothes at the SEA thrift store. Page 12 Page 7 FEATURES: PAGE 12 Page 10

‘Cats’ The big-budget, all-star adaptation of ‘Cats’ isn’t as bad as you’ve heard. It’s worse. ARTS: PAGE 18



2 The Brandeis Hoot

Director of Accessibility Support candidates seek to increase accessibility By Victoria Morrongiello and Sabrina Chow editors

The University hosted three finalists for the new Director of Accessibility Support for Student Accessibility Services, after the retirement of the previous director, Beth Rodgers-Kay. The search committee, led by Dean of Academic Services Erika J. Smith, narrowed down the total number of applicants to three final candidates: Catherine Dugan, Christopher “Chip” Kennedy and Andrea Vassar. Vassar has since withdrawn her application for the Director position, according to an email sent to The Brandeis Hoot. The three finalists had the opportunity to interact with students and members of the Brandeis community at three separate meet and greets held on Nov. 26, Dec. 4 and Dec 9. Each candidate was given a meet and greet day where members of the Brandeis community were able to ask the candidates questions about accessibility. Dugan has been the Director of The Department of Disability Access and Advising at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) since 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile. Prior to becoming director, Dugan had worked in the Advising and Testing Center at IUP since 1986. If she comes to Brandeis, Dugan’s top priorities will be to “determine institutional, divisional and student priorities,” she wrote in an email to The Hoot. She suggested that the university complete a formal ADA audit and survey in partnership with the facilities department. Dugan also hopes to work not only on the physical accessibility of the university’s campus, but also the culture. “Students should not be confronted by either ableism or be defined by disability,” she wrote to The Hoot. “In the ‘ideal world’ of universal design, changes are not needed because environments are responsive to all learners.”

She said she hopes that all graduate students on campus are also fully included, not just undergraduates. “At the time of [Brandeis’] origin, persons with disabilities were not really perceived as even a ‘group,’ let alone underrepresented,” Dugan wrote. “Ironically, it is the group that cuts across all others and to which, it is said, we will all become members, if not already. It should, therefore, be in ALL our interests to ensure full inclusion. If the university is substantially committed to this, I am excited.” In 2010, Dugan was published in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability for an article she co-wrote with fellow IUP colleagues titled, “Barriers to College Student Use of Disability Services and Accommodations,” according to an IUP article. In the article, Dugan and her colleagues discussed how the majority of post-secondary learning institutions are federally required to provide accommodations to students with disabilities—however, the article says that students rarely utilize the services provided by the institutions. The article goes on to highlight the ways in which institutions can break down barriers to better help students with disabilities. Kennedy was The Director of Student Disability Services at Curry College for over six years, serving as the primary disability consultant “responsible for providing innovative services and support to undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students with a diagnosed disability or impairment,” according to his LinkedIn profile. He also helped manage the departmental budget, collaborated with departments on campus to remove physical barriers for individuals with various disabilities and trained faculty members “to address course modification alternatives and the integration of universal instructional design principles to reduce the need for exceptional aids and services,” according to his LinkedIn profile. Kennedy also served as the Assistant Director of the Center for

Disability Services at the College of Charleston and the President of the New England Association on Higher Education And Disability (NE AHEAD), an organization that works to “strengthen the professionalism, knowledge and expertise of personnel working with postsecondary students through the design and growth of a regional communications network,” according to its website. He is currently an Accessibility Consultant at Harvard University. “I’m excited to meet the new director and welcome a fresh perspective. I hope the director will continue to prioritize the work SAS has been doing to increase its effectiveness and incorporate accessibility into campus culture,” said Anna Cass ’21, a SAS Fellow, in an interview with The Hoot. SAS fellows are trained by the SAS department to help empower students by being a more personable and direct source for students with disabilities, according to an earlier Hoot article. The search for a new director began after Rodgers-Kay announced her retirement in September 2019, according to an earlier Hoot article. The article further states that Rodgers-Kay’s retirement comes after an increased number of students on campus advocating for increased accessibility on the university’s physical campus and also through academic, living and transportation-related accessibility. The current Interim Director is Scott Lapinski, who has worked at SAS since 2018, the new director will take over from Lapinski once a decision has been made. According to the job description posted on WorkDay, the director is responsible for overseeing all student accessibility accommodations for, “over 500 qualified students with documented learning, perceptual, sensory, physical and psychological disabilities,” attending the university. The director position requires a candidate to be able to collaborate with other campus services, supervise and provide leadership to the SAS unit and oversee the requests for accommodations for students.

January 10, 2020

IN THE SENATE: Dec. 18, 2019 •

The Senate heard requests for recognition and chartering from five clubs. Model United Nations, the Men of Color Alliance, Deis 3D and Students for Fair Housing were all unanimously recognized and chartered by acclamation vote. The Board Game Club was also recognized and chartered by acclamation vote, although Senator Joseph Coles ‘22, chair of the Club Support Committee, abstained from both votes. The Senate chose Senator Scott Halper ‘20 to be the next Executive Senator. The two candidates were Halper and Senator Krupa Sourigian ‘23. Both candidates were questioned about whether or not they intended to attend all Senate and Executive Board meetings; Halper said that he would likely miss one Senate meeting for mock trial, but that he expected to attend all Executive Board meetings, while Sourigian said that she did not anticipate missing any Senate meetings, but that she did not intend to attend any Executive Board meetings. The Brandeis Hoot was unable to obtain the vote tallies. Vice President Kendall Chapman ‘22 told all of the senators to be present for the State of the Union on Dec. 10, adding that attendance was mandatory, and that “this is the only time all semester that we’re fully transparent.” Coles announced that organizations which are “auditions dependant” will now be able to receive Club Support Committee funding. Senator Allison Liebowitz ’22 announced a logistics issue with the t-shirts for the Midnight Buffet had been resolved, and that more candy had been acquired for the event. Senator Trevor Filseth ’20 announced that he had received permission from the Department of Campus Life to see how many people were interested in removing the locks from the bathrooms in East Quad, and thus that he would be sending out a petition. The Senate spent approximately 45 minutes in an Executive Session deciding how many excused and unexcused absences would be appropriate for senators next semester. After the session, Chapman announced that rather than allow unlimited excused absences, she would excuse a maximum of three absences. Those who objected argued that this was too harsh, and that they ought to be allowed more absences. In addition to objections, senators questioned what would or would not constitute cause for an excusable absence.

-Tim Dillon

Warren misquotes statistic from Brandeis study WARREN, from page 1

the study during the democratic debate incorrectly. Warren said, “Today in America—a new study came out—20 years out, whites who borrowed money, 94 percent of them have paid off their student loan debt; five percent of African Americans have paid it off.” The error made by Warren was in reference to what the statistics of the study are representing. The statistics from IASP are referring to the amount borrowed, whereas Warren made the statistics represent the percentage of borrowers. The first error Warren made suggests that 94 percent of white borrowers have paid off their student debt within 20 years of graduating, however, the study’s statistics say that the median debt had been decreased by 94 percent. The second error Warren made was that five percent of African American borrowers had paid off their


debt in the same time frame, however, the study says in that time frame only five percent of debt had decreased for African Americans. The United States has fallen into a crisis with student loan debts; the amount of debt accumulated

has reached nearly $1.5 trillion, according to a study released in August 2019 by the Federal Bank Reserve of New York. In the study released by IASP, statistics show that student loans are the highest form of non-housing debt in

the U.S., which means student debt has surpassed the debt accumulated by credit cards and auto loans, according to the study. The increase of student loan debt, according to the study, comes concomitantly with the price

of higher education increasing. As a Senator, Warren attempted to combat the student loan debt crisis in July 2019 through a bill proposal which would cancel debt for 95 percent of borrowers, according to the plan. With this legislation, it is predicted that 45 million Americans with student loan debt will see a decrease in that amount. In an email to The Hoot, Shapiro wrote that the main idea of the study is to highlight the relationship between race and student debt. Although Warren did misquote the study, she is “on mark about the issue,” said Shapiro. Warren’s policy position is in line with the message of the study, Shapiro said, and the issue of the study is being overlooked by “trivial issues.” Editor’s Note: News Editor Rachel Saal has contributed to Warren’s campaign and did not contribute to this article.

January 10, 2020


The Brandeis Hoot

Professor arrested after protesting coal plant, charges dropped PROTEST, from page 1

six hours in jail and five hours in court,” von Mering told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. Von Mering and the other protesters were protesting as a part of a larger campaign by 350 Mass Action, “No Coal, No Gas,” which has the ultimate goal of shutting down the Merrimack Generating Station and ending the use of fossil fuels in New Hampshire, according to the group’s website. The station is the largest of the three coal-fired power plants left on the New England grid, according to an article by New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR). The article said that within its sector, Merrimack contributed roughly one percent of the region’s emissions from electric generation in 2018, releasing 722,000 tons of carbon. “I was absolutely shocked to learn that we’re still burning coal in New England and that there’s not a shutdown date for the coal plant—they don’t even have a plan to shut it down,” von Mering told The Hoot. “Here in New England, we claim to be progressive and care about issues, but this is the opposite of leadership. To not have a shutdown date for a coal plant is medieval.” Von Mering said that the coal plant is “completely superfluous” and that the coal is no longer needed. She pointed to research done by Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson that shows that Massachusetts can be 100 percent renewably powered. “[The plant] is owned by investors from Connecticut who are collecting subsidies by ratepayers,” said von Mering. “So, we’re all paying for this coal plant that we don’t need because we have enough electricity. It’s a completely criminal situation. You can’t negotiate with physics. The temperatures are rising and we have a short period to prevent climate chaos and we know ex-


actly what we need to be doing. We’re funding our own demise.” The president of Granite Shore Power, LLC, the station’s parent company, Jim Andrews, said that the market will dictate when the station shuts down, according to the NPHR article. In an article for NH Business Review, Andrews said that the plant is “driving nearly $50 million into our broader economy.” Jacobson said, however, that “there are no technical or economic barriers, there are social and political barriers,” according to an article by WCAI. The Dec. 8 protest was not von Mering’s first time being arrested. On Aug. 16, 2016, von Mering was also one of over 200 people who were arrested at a West Roxbury, protesting a pipeline that was being expanded through a residential area, according to von Mering. She said that it was one of the biggest acts of civil disobedience of its kind, especially because there

was agreement among all politicians that it was a “bad idea.” Von Mering said that she plans on continuing to protest and she is aware that she may be arrested again. In fact, von Mering protested again in West Boylston just over a week later on Dec. 16, in Worcester on Dec. 28 and in Harvard on Jan. 3. But unlike the other protests, on Dec. 16, even after following safety protocols, the train did not stop when von Mering and the other protesters stood on the tracks, according to von Mering. Von Mering and the other protesters eventually jumped off of the tracks before the train reached any of them. “[The protest organizers] did the same thing and flagged them and told them they must stop the train if there’s protestors theoretically—we could’ve been chained to something,” said von Mering to The Hoot. “The conductor said that he wasn’t going to stop


and he barrelled at us. We could not believe that they wouldn’t stop—that the person driving that train would risk killing someone. We know that the freight train has dirt on their hands. Lives are being lost all the time because of coal mining and coal burning. In a way, maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised. That was just infuriating and upsetting.” Von Mering said that after a Fox News article covered the Dec. 16 protest, she read many comments criticizing her and the other protesters. “You realize how much hatred people have,” said von Mering. “We’re doing this for everyone. We’re doing this out of love for the planet. We’re doing this because we want to save lives on the planet Earth. Several people received threatening phone calls afterwards.” Von Mering said, however, that she has enjoyed seeing people

come together to fight climate change. When she was arrested in 2016, she met a Brandeis alumnus while sitting in a police car, according to von Mering. “It’s really awesome to see people come out of the woodwork and I’m meeting fantastic people who are willing to spend hours and hours on this,” said von Mering. “There needs to be a push from everyone [to stop the use of fossil fuels]. The University of California made a full commitment, we now see that the banks are waking up—it’s happening. It’s a question of how quickly everyone gets their acts together. Everyone is hoping to make an extra buck before jumping off that train.” Von Mering said that she still hopes to see a push at Brandeis for more climate action. She is one of the co-chairs for President Ron Liebowitz’s Campus Sustainability Task Force that was announced on Dec. 2.


Brandeis prohibits caste discrimination CASTE, from page 1

nomic inequalities and limits human functions,” according to a paper by Hari Bapuji and Chrispal Snehanjali. “Brandeis believes that since caste identity is so intertwined with many of the legally recognized and protected characteristics, discrimination based on a person’s caste is effectively the same,” said Liebowitz’s email. “Going forward, the Office of Equal

Opportunity will oversee issues and complaints of discrimination related to caste brought forward by members of the Brandeis community, just as it does for other types of discrimination.” CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, or J-CASTE, Brandeis’ journal that assesses “systems in South Asia and beyond and considers the marginalization and inter-generational oppression of religious, racial and cultural minorities throughout

the world” and ‘intolerance in multi-faith democracies,” according to its website, came out with its first issue in March 2019. The Dalai Lama congratulated J-CASTE in February for its launch. “At the fundamental level we are the same, whether rich or poor, easterner or westerner. We all share the same potential for positive and negative emotions,” said the Dalai Lama in a letter. “I am therefore pleased to know

that this journal, CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, of Brandeis University is being launched to advance the study of caste and social policies. The caste system, from what I know of its prevalence in any place is really outdated; I feel it is a vestige of feudalism. Through education, as your journal aspires to do, we can promote a sense of the oneness of the seven billion human beings.” According to an earlier article

by The Brandeis Hoot, J-CASTE recognized three people in October for their work researching caste systems. Vivek V. Narayan, Ph.D. from Stanford University, and Maya Pramod, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Calicut, India were each awarded the Rising Scholar Award. Philip Martin from WGBH Boston was also awarded the Special J-CASTE Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.


The Brandeis Hoot

January 10, 2020

Survey shows extracurricular participation affects academic performance SURVEY, from page 1

[participation in extracurricular activities] in the top five before,” Berkenwald explained. “And I think it speaks to the culture at Brandeis. While we believe in the value of extracurricular involvement, we need to figure out how to balance it with our well-being… I do see how seriously students take their extracurricular responsibilities and while I admire that, I wish they didn’t put so much pressure on themselves.” The national survey data showed that the top five factors impacting individual academic performance in fall 2018 were: stress (34.1 percent), anxiety (27.4 percent), sleep difficulties (22.1 percent), depression (18.2 percent) and cold/ flu/sore throat (14.4 percent). The Brandeis-specific data found that the top factors in fall 2018 were: stress (35.6 percent), anxiety (27.4 percent), sleep difficulties (22.3 percent), depression (17.6 percent) and participation in extracurricular activities (15.8 percent). Participation in extracurricular activities ranked eighth in the national data, while cold/flu/sore throat ranked sixth for Brandeis-specific data. Since 2014, the percentage of students reporting “participation in extracurricular activities” as a factor of stress has gone down steadily at Brandeis. In 2014, 22.7 percent of students at Brandeis that completed the survey marked “participation in extracurricular activities” as


an academic stressor. It was the fourth highest factor that year. In 2016, “participation in extracurricular activities” was also the fourth highest factor, with 18.4 percent of students checking the box. The survey, the National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA), is conducted every semester to member institutions across the country. The university has conducted the ACHA-NCHA surveys on campus since fall 2014, completing it every other year, with the most recent survey conducted in fall 2018. As part of the survey, students had the opportunity to report on

which factors affected their individual academic performance in school. The survey defines this as “receiv[ing] a lower grade on an exam, or an important project; receiv[ing] a lower grade in the course; receiv[ing] an incomplete or dropp[ing] the course; or experienc[ing] a significant disruption in thesis, dissertation, research, or practicum work,” according to the survey results. Students were given a list of 31 different factors and were asked to select all that applied to them. Berkenwald told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview that she was not on campus when the university decided to start par-

ticipating in the survey, but noted that a lot of schools in New England also partake. “It is a great way to track trends over time and do benchmarking against the national averages,” Berkenwald said. The ACHA is an organization that has served as the voice for student health and wellness since 1920, according to its website. “Through advocacy, research and education, ACHA stands at the forefront of issues that impact the health and wellness of our college students,” it states. There are over one thousand institutions of higher education that are part of the

ACHA, totalling over 10 million college students reached. “The ACHA-NCHA is a nationally recognized research survey that can assist you in collecting precise data about your students’ health habits, behaviors, and perceptions,” according to its website. The survey asks questions on a wide range of health issues including: alcohol, tobacco, drug use, sexual health, weight, nutrition, mental health and personal safety and violence. The ACHA-NCHA is currently on its second iteration. This is the first part in a series analyzing data from the ACHA-NCHA survey.

Dining committee sends out Request for Proposal, Stein menu to include diet-sensitive options By Rachel Saal editor

The Stein menu is being redesigned for this semester and will include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as well as more allergen labeling, according to the Chair of Dining Committee and Senator-at-Large Nancy Zhai ’22. Zhai said that this semester, the Senate Dining Committee’s focus has been on four main pillars: dietary representation, extensive outreach, the Request for Proposals (RFP) and daily operation logistics. The RFP, the official request for

dining vendors to issue proposals to the university for the administration of the dining program, was finalized during the last steering committee meeting in late November and sent out to the vendors who are interested on Dec. 4. Vendors will have until February to send in their proposals. Seven companies have expressed interest so far and they will be able to send in proposals, according to Zhai. The steering committee will then narrow the options down to five or six companies. In March, once there are three or four finalists, there will be another open forum for the community. Members of the community are invited to ask the potential vendors ques-

tions. Zhai serves on the RFP Steering Committee and has been working with Ted Meyer, project lead consultant and president of TM Consulting Group LLC. She said that she has made an extensive effort to include students in the RFP process and has wanted to hear people’s concerns. “What we do is very flexible because we work for students,” Zhai told The Hoot in an interview. “We literally work off of student feedback. We have an annual Sodexo survey that showed a two percent satisfaction increase.” The Brandeis Labor Coalition (BLC) has vocalized their desire for workers to be retained in the



RFP. On Nov. 22, over 20 members of the group went to President Ron Liebowitz’s office to ask that Brandeis guarantee the retention of current dining workers, according to an earlier Hoot article. “The awarded bidder is expected to make every effort to retain current dining employees, as long as the employees are covered by the union, UNITE HERE Local 26,” said Zhai. Zhai said that jobs cannot be guaranteed for employees that are not a part of the union. However, at the dining forum in October, Mayer said that he couldn’t “think of a situation where they haven’t” taken on most employees that are already employed through the university. Zhai said that she feels like peo-

ple knew a lot more about the Dining Committee this year. “I’ve learned that dining is more than just food,” said Zhai. “It’s more about building connections with students to hear about the real needs to make tangible improvements.” Zhai also said that people complained that the pricing labeling was inconsistent with the actual costs of goods in the C-Store, so she and the Dining Committee worked to improve that this semester. She said that there were also inconsistencies between Einstein’s online menu and what the actual prices were in the campus location. They also organized a training for Einstein workers to “limit the number of wrong orders.”

January 10, 2020


The Brandeis Hoot

Board of Trustees update highlights infrastructure condition, campus climate survey By Sabrina Chow editor

The Brandeis Campus Operations team and outside consultants are currently assessing the physical condition of more than 100 campus buildings and the ability for those buildings to meet the university’s needs, according to President Ron Liebowitz in an email to the community on Dec. 9 2019. Dick Reynolds, the former interim vice president for campus operations, presented the Board of Trustees with the findings from the Framework’s Task Force on Focused Physical Planning. The main areas of focus for the assessments were to ensure buildings were accessible all around campus and that sustainability measures were met in conjunction with Brandeis’ Climate Action Plan. There is also a focus on expanding buildings in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and the International Business School (IBS) to increase academic collaboration between disciplines and an innovation hub within IBS. Improvements to art studios and offices, performance spaces and residence halls were also discussed. Liebowitz also said that he anticipates releasing the Framework report during the spring semester,


with the Board of Trustees looking to approve the report in early 2020. The reports produced by the task forces within the framework will also be made available to the public on the Framework’s website in early 2020. The Board of Trustees was also updated on the most recent Campus Climate Survey, which looks at issues of sexual harassment and assault on campus, factors contributing to feelings of alienation

by students and what is being done to improve the climate on campus, according to the email. The university has increased support resources for students, staff and faculty members through the Ombuds Office, the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Intercultural Center. The creation of the Office of Equal Opportunity, led by Dr. Sonia Jurado, handles the investigation and resolution of any reports of discrim-

ination, harassment and sexual misconduct, according to an earlier Hoot article. The university is also working towards updating the “Support at Brandeis” webpage which provides “a singular source of support resource information,” according to the email. In a listening session hosted by the administration after the release of the survey, a student expressed concerns for the “study’s failure to assess the

trends in sexual violence among students with disabilities,” according to an earlier Hoot article. Elizabeth Johnson, the CEO of SimpsonScarborough, presented findings from a study that aimed to “establish benchmarks of Brandeis’ brand strength, to identify marketing challenges and opportunities, to assess the brand narrative developed for the university in the last year, and to support the development of even more effective marketing, recruiting, and fundraising strategies.” 5000 prospective students, alumni, parents, philanthropists, friends of the university and leaders of peer institutions were surveyed as part of the study. The university provides “students with [a] liberal arts foundation that fosters their intellectual growth and skills development,” according to the email. The university is also an institution that is shaped by “rigorous inquiry and critical thinking” and “produces important, daring, and consequential knowledge and research.” The university was also praised for having students, graduates and faculty members who are able to apply their talents to improve the world around them. SimpsonScarborough is a “national leader in higher education research, marketing, and branding,” according to their website.

Union reports on 2019 initiatives, looks ahead to a new decade By Celia Young editor

Brandeis Student Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21 and other Union representatives reported on their progress on various Union initiatives—including diversity training for Union officials and campus accessibility—in the student government’s State of the Union report on Dec. 10. Diversity Union Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Nakul Srinivas ’21 spoke about his efforts to reach out to the Intercultural Center (ICC) to support clubs on campus and an Instagram campaign with Racial Minority Senator Joyce Huang ’22 to share the stories of students of color on the Brandeis campus. He said he hoped to hold the Union accountable in the upcoming semester and work with a newly formed multicultural council, which will meet with cultural clubs and advisors, to create safer spaces on campus. But Allocations Board Co-chair Rebecca Shaar ’21 said that the Union needed to step up its efforts to offer diversity training. The Union-wide diversity, equity and inclusion training offered in October was cancelled last year due to a lack of attendance by Union members, according to an earlier article by The Brandeis Hoot, and Srinivas did not schedule a replacement training after the allocations board gave their availability, said Shaar. “The Diversity training that happened in the beginning of the year was a failure,” said Shaar. “But that failure was not solved … There was no further follow up on

diversity training,” she continued. “Diversity training is incredibly important to the Allocations Board…We need to have all the training possible in order to make sure we’re not having any biases in the decisions we’re making,” Shaar said. “Diversity training in the Union needs to be stepped up.” Shaar also spoke about the Allocations Board, which handles all Brandeis student club funding. The Allocations Board helped small clubs fund big events, said Shaar, and transitioned clubs to a new website to request funding, called Slate. Shaar said the Allocations Board plans to reach out to more clubs to collect and implement feedback to the new system. “We’re the ones using the system so if we’re not listening this whole process is pointless,” said Shaar. Shaar said that looking forward, she hopes the Allocations Board and the Union can work together with mutual respect. The Allocations Board needs to be included in the decision making process of Brandeis’ administration, said Shaar, and the two groups’ relationship should improve next semester. Though she did not give an example, Shaar said that the administration made decisions and then informed the Allocations Board, which hurt the board’s ability to function as a team. Shaar also announced that Marshall Smith ’21 and Aria Pradham ’21 have been elected internally by the Allocations Board to lead the group for the spring semester, as she is resigning and her co-chair will not run again for the position. Housing and Accessibility


The Director of Accessibility and Advocacy Sasha Manus ’21 spoke about her efforts to improve the housing accommodation process to make sure student needs are being met and allowing students to take courses outside of Brandeis for university credit if Brandeis courses fail to accommodate student accessibility needs. Students have also raised concerns over the housing options and housing selection process, said Senior Representative to the Board of Trustees Zosia Buse ’20, who reported on potential renovations to the Brandeis campus, including moving the campus bookstore to Usdan Student Center and tearing down Kutz hall and replacing it with a residence hall and dining hall. Buse also said she worked with the board to give more assistance to Greek life and other students pursuing off-campus housing. Student Life Director of Academic Affairs

Jacob Diaz ’20 said he worked to help students transition to the new curriculum requirements, which affect students entering Brandeis during or after the Fall 2019 semester. He wants to open more study spaces for students during finals and implemented a program to help international students get credit for two semesters, or 16 credits, rather than the previous eight, when studying at Brandeis. Five new clubs were chartered in Fall 2019, said Vice President Kendall Chapman ’22, who reported on the Union Senate. The Senate worked to clarify voting rules and senator responsibilities, put permanent condom dispensers in residence halls across campus and work to create a new bylaw to allow a capella clubs to get funding for on campus performances.The Senate also improved allergen labeling in dining halls after students complained of mislabeling-caused illnesses in the spring. Union Chief of Staff Zachary

Wilkes ’20 reported that he was planning a campaign to encourage Brandeis students to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. “Brandeis is a social justice school,” Wilkes said. “How better to do that than to push for getting all of us at the ballot box?” Tatuskar spoke about several transportation-related efforts, including the subsidized Thanksgiving break shuttles to New York nicknamed the “Turkey Shuttles,” a discount on Lyft rides for students traveling late at night and the commuter rail subsidy, which helps provide transportation costs to students with internships in Boston. She is also working on her own Community Engagement and Enhancement Fund (CEEF) project which would install more covered bike racks and help sell students bikes in the spring semester. Tatuskar said she was incredibly grateful for the semester and thanked the rest of the Union for their work.


6 The Brandeis Hoot

Janurary 10, 2020

Team IMPACT player signs with men’s basketball By Sophie Trachtenberg editor

Just before winter break, the Brandeis men’s basketball team added another player to the roster for the season. The team boosted their squad with the addition of Jack Dollar, an 11-year-old native of Newton, Massachusetts who is living with epilepsy. Dollar was able to join the Judges via an organization, Team IMPACT, which is a “national nonprofit that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes,” according to the organization’s website. The men’s basketball program formally drafted Dollar, a student at the Campus School at Boston College, and hosted a signing ceremony to welcome him to the team. The Judges, as well as Dollar’s family, friends and teachers gathered around to watch him sign his national letter of intent, which officially marks his commitment to the team. The ceremony was led by assistant coach LJ Harrington, with introductions from Athletic Director Lauren Haynie. Haynie opened the reception by greeting Dollar and spoke on behalf of the Brandeis community. “Welcome to our family. Not just to the men’s basketball family, but to our entire athletics family. We look forward to seeing you, your family, and your friends [here at Brandeis],” she said. Coach Harrington then informed the audience about how the relationship between the



The men’s basketball team signed on Jack Dollar in December.

Judges and Dollar came to be. Harrington shared an anecdote from June 2019, saying that he, his wife and head coach Jean Bain attended the organization’s annual gala event. When Harrington’s wife noted that their own program was lacking an IMPACT player, this prompted Harrington himself to reach out and begin the recruiting process. It was only about a month ago that the Judges received a call from the organization, noting that they might have found a potential player that would be a good fit for the program. When asked by di-

rectors at Team IMPACT what the Judges were looking for in their recruits, Harrington told The Brandeis Hoot in an email, “what we really need to add is a good teammate, and someone who can help us in multiple ways…This kid needs to bring it.” “[Jack] is social, loves people and does not complain. He will be a leader by example and just wants to be coached,” Men’s basketball player Nolan Hagerty ’22 said about Dollar in an interview with The Hoot. “Jack has been a great addition to the team and brings a lot of energy and positiv-

ity around us. It is fun to see him engage with everyone and he always lifts our spirits.” At Brandeis, the men’s basketball team is not the only one to have a partnership with Team IMPACT. In addition to the signing of Dollar, both men’s and women’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and volleyball currently have IMPACT players as part of their teams as well. For women’s basketball, Sara Berman of Newton North High School has been a part of the program for many years. Berman is living with a traumatic brain injury that has resulted in epilepsy and various learning disabilities. She loves coming to games, being in the locker room with the team, participating in practices throughout the season and is a big fan of head coach Carol Simon. Berman also plays basketball herself through the Unified Basketball program, which allows for those with and without learning disabilities to play basketball together on the same court. That being said, members of the women’s basketball team have gotten the chance to see Sara live in action, playing the sport they both know and love. Julia St. Amand ’20, captain of the women’s basketball team, enjoys having Sara around, commenting that “Sara brings the team and I so much joy. When she runs onto the court her smile instantly brightens my day. It is so fulfilling knowing how happy coming to practice makes her.” Team IMPACT is a nation-wide nonprofit with roots in Boston, MA. The organization was founded in 2011, and since has matched almost 1900 kids to more than 500 colleges and universities across 48 states. The children involved in the program range from ages five

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to 16 and have been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness that requires treatment with lengthy hospital stays. This consequently affects a child’s social relationships outside of this obstacle, which can be combated through the support of an athletic team. Participating teams come from all NCAA divisions, as well as the NAIA, and must be within close proximity of an eligible child. Over the past nine years, 55,000 student athletes have come into contact with IMPACT players, spreading their passion and joy for their own sports with the kids who are matched, according to Team Impact’s website. The program itself states that their goals for the child are mainly “increased optimism, growth in confidence, and a fostered sense of belonging.” Along with that, it is intended that “college athletes gain an increased empathy for other people as a result of participating in the program, and see the world as much larger than themselves,” according to the program website. These values have certainly been perpetuated within the Brandeis athletics community, as the influence of kids like Dollar and Berman have had significant effects on all of those involved. The organization is called Team IMPACT for a reason, as the meshing of two communities has long lasting outcomes for the kids, players, and coaches. Whether it is on the court, in the locker room, or out in the community, the relationships and bonds formed through Team IMPACT are priceless. Editor’s note: Sports Editor Sophie Trachtenberg is a member of the women’s basketball team.

Janurary 10, 2020


The Brandeis Hoot

Greed, heliocentrism and the future of the NBA By Jacob Schireson staff

As children we are taught certain values. Sharing, compassion and cooperation. This is exemplified in the childhood rhymes we all remember like “sharing is caring.” However, it is these exact American social values of sharing and cooperation that are deliberately being ignored by some of the best and smartest basketball teams on the planet. Welcome to heliocentric basketball. The term “heliocentric basketball” was coined by Seth Partnow of The Athletic. The term intends to reflect the modern style of play we have seen some teams adapt in which a team’s offense revolves largely and/or entirely around their star. The idea has existed in the NBA as long as it has been around, but has not been accepted widely until recently. For a large part

of NBA history, offensive philosophies have been built around a pass first, pass often style of offense in which teams could generate easy baskets through teamwork and efficient passing. However, the three point revolution as well as tweaks to how the game is officiated have led to an increased efficiency in the average player playing “hero ball.” Teams with established superstars have used heliocentric offenses (when the star player usage rate is over 35 percent) and seen their offenses flourish. The Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets have been using this system this season and currently hold the top three offenses in the NBA (based on offensive rating). Each team’s “star player” carries with them a different style of play, but one thing has been consistent throughout all three: it’s incredibly efficient. Giannis Antetokuonmpo, the league’s reigning MVP and favorite to win this year, dominates

defenders with his sheer size and athleticism. His freakishly long arms, giant strides and quick jumping ability make him nearly impossible to stop in isolation, but the Bucks’ array of three point shooters mean that defenders are often unable to play help defense until it’s too late. For Luka Doncic and James Harden, it is a little different. They shake defenders with a variety of crossovers and hesitations before deciding to either drive towards the basket or step back for a three. Their strength and touch around the basket, as well as their ability to draw fouls (9.2 and 12.3 free throw attempts per game respectively) are so efficient that they permit them to launch threes at a historic rate, without the need to be historically efficient. The heliocentric style can be seen even on less successful teams. The Washington Wizards, the 26th best team by record, hold the seventh best offense (by offen-



sive rating) in the league. Their offense revolves around their star guard Bradley Beal playing in a high paced system surrounded by shooters. Due to Beal’s ability in the isolation, Washington has scraped together a top offense, despite the lack of offensive talent to surround Beal. The heliocentric offense is revolutionizing how we think about

offense, and how we think about sharing. Throughout the early 2000s, players who thrived at scoring in isolation like Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson were maligned as “ball hogs” for their score first, pass later playstyles. Perhaps for the new era of basketball, talented ball hogs should not be maligned, but rather celebrated.

Women’s basketball on a roll headed into second half of season By Jesse Lieberman staff

Senior forward Hannah Nicholson ’20 is having a career season. In 11 games thus far, Nicholson is averaging 13.5 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game, both career highs. Furthermore, Nicholson leads the University Athletic Association (UAA) in rebounds per game and field goal percentage. “I went into this season with the mentality that I didn’t want any regrets,” Nicholson said in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. Since Dec. 5, the Judges concluded their non-league schedule by going 5-0. The Judges have won seven straight games since their lone loss of the season to Tufts, the top ranked team in the country, on Nov. 23. After scoring just six points in the opener and zero points in the following game, Nicholson has scored at least ten points in nine straight games. She has five double-doubles in that span. Nicholson’s scoring and relentless rebounding has led the Judges to a 10-1 record as they head into conference play next week. This is the Judges’ best start since the 2008-2009 season, in which they reached the Elite Eight or National Quarterfinal.

Judges 74 – Clark 63 After a back and forth first half, the Judges had a nine point lead in the third, which the Cougars cut to five to close the third quarter 61-56. The Judges opened the fourth period on a 6-0 run, putting the game out of reach as the Cougars would never get within nine points. Guard Camila Casanueva ’21 paced the Judges with 20 points, including ten in the third quarter, and added six assists as well. Casanueva also led the Judges with two steals. Nicholson notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds and junior forward Jillian Petrie scored ten points on five of 11 shooting. The Judges dominated the glass, outrebounding the Cougars 55-32, which included 15 offensive rebounds.

Judges 83 – Johnson & Wales 55 The Judges outscored the Wildcats in the second quarter 23-12 to enter the half with a 14 point lead. The Judges cruised through the second half, as the Wildcats never lowered the deficit below 12. The Judges thoroughly dominated the game. The Judges won the rebound battle 44-31, while scoring 46 points in the paint to the Wildcats’ 24. The Judges shot 30 of 60 from the field, while tripling the Wildcats in bench scoring 39-13.

Nicholson led the Judges with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was the lone starter in double figures. Senior guard Lauren Rubenstein scored 12 points and junior forward Samira Abdelrehim added ten points. Judges 65 – Becker 40 In the first meeting between the schools and the final contest before the break, the Judges outscored the Hawks 17-7 in the first quarter. Eight different players scored for the Judges, who shot 7-of-12 in the period. The Judges poured it on in the second quarter, outscoring the Hawks 23-5, putting the game out of reach. The Hawks shot 20 percent in the first half and could not establish any rhythm offensively. Casanueva scored 13 points, all of which came in the first half. Freshman forward Emma Reavis ’23 filled the stat sheet, leading the Judges with six assists and five steals. Nicholson had another double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Petrie and Abdelrehim each had 10 points in the blowout victory. Judges 67 - Gordon 52 Judges returned from the break and ended 2019 on a high note. After the Fighting Scots cut the Judges lead to 51-49 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Judges closed the game on a 16-3 run. The Judges forced the Fighting Scots into 20 turnovers, while the Judges turned the ball over only eight times, the Judges lowest total of the season. Nicholson scored 20 points, including eight in the final five minutes. Freshman sharpshooter Francesca Marchese was the only other Judge in double figures, as she scored 10 points, her first career game in double figures. The Judges moved the ball well, notching 10 more assists than Gordon. Casanueva led the Judges with seven assists while Reavis had six. In her first game of the season as a starter, Rubenstein scored eight points and added four assists. Judges 68 – Regis 50 The Judges outscored Regis in every quarter and never trailed in


the game. The Judges dominated the glass, outrebounding Regis 47-35. The Judges shot 44 percent on three pointers and the Judges bench outscored the Regis bench 25-5. Nicholson led the Judges with another double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Reavis had seven assists, tying a season high. Marchese had season highs in both points scored and three pointers made, with 12 and four respectively. Marchese is shooting 45 percent from long distance and has made at least one three pointer in 10 of 11 games. Junior Courtney Thrun added seven points off the bench. Only winning seven games a season ago, the Judges have emerged as a legitimate contender heading into league play. In the NCAA’s most recent rankings, the Judges received 25 voting points. “I think we’ve done a really nice job in becoming close as a unit first off the court, which then crosses over on the court,” Nicholson said. The Judges are a tremendous offensive team. According to the NCAA, the Judges rank 21st with 77 points per game as of Jan. 7. “This season specifically we put a lot of emphasis on shot selection. Instead of focusing on the outcome of our shots, we have been celebrating the quality of them,”

said Nicholson. Additionally, the Judges rank seventh in the nation shooting 38.8 percent on threes. “Our threes come from our mentality of sharing the ball, creating more movement with our passes and getting the ball in the paint a lot as well,” Nicholson continued. Another key to the Judges’ success thus far has been their depth. Coach Carol Simon regularly plays 11 or 12 in a game, whereas most teams usually play only eight or nine. “I think we have been so successful because we don’t rely on one or two people, we rely on everyone to bring their best in practices and in our games,” Nicholson added. Conference play in the UAA won’t be easy. The UAA features 16th ranked Chicago and returning champion Washington University. “We all know that the games will become more competitive, but it’s something we’re all excited for and have been preparing for,” Nicholson said. The Judges open up league play at 10-1 New York University on Jan. 11, where they will face UAA leading scorer Janean Cuffee. “We are going to focus on playing Brandeis basketball no matter who we play home or away,” Nicholson added. Editor’s Note: Camila Casanueva and Francesca Marchese are staff members of The Hoot and did not contribute to this article.


The Brandeis Hoot

January 9, 2020

Brandeis swimming finishes 10th at Gompei Invitational By Emerson White staff

The Brandeis swimming and diving team finished 10th place in the three-day Gompei Invitational, hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Despite their 10th place finish, the Judges showed the impressive depth of their team and were competing against Division I and Division II teams. Brandeis finished with 555.5 points on the first day, 1161 points on the second, and 1645 points on the final day. The Judges displayed the size of their team in the invitational with 29 different swimmers competing. Tamir Zitelny ’20 led the Judges throughout the weekend gaining a first place finish in the men’s 100-yard freestyle event, giving the Judges a sole podium finish on day one. He finished the weekend with over 350 points for the Judges. For the women’s team, Bailey Gold ’23 led the team with 126 points on day one, 125 on day two and 109 on day three, finishing as the Judges’ leading scorer on all three days. On day one, James Barno ’23 finished with the second most points for the men’s team, with 138. Barno and Zitelny were joined by Brendon Lu ’22 and Daniel Wohl ’21 in the men’s 200yard medley relay and finished in ninth place. Lu also finished seventh in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke event. Richard Selznick ’21 had an individual top-ten finish securing seventh place in the men’s 1650-yard freestyle race. Gold contributed in multiple relay races as well as a sixth place finish in the women’s 100yard butterfly event. Ema Rennie ‘23 also had an impressive day one with a seventh place finish in the women’s 50-yard freestyle event. Audrey Kim ’21 and Oliv-



ia Stebbins ‘22 as well as Rennie and Gold finished ninth in the 200-yard medley relay. Overall, the Judges ended day one in 10th place. On day two of the Gompei Invitational, the Judges remained in 10th place at the end of competition. Yet again, Zitelny and Gold led the team with impressive finishes. On the women’s side Gold, Kim, Rennie and Uajda Musaku ’21 placed eighth in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The women’s team also finished 10th in the 400-yard medley comprised of Kim, Stebbins, Gold and Musaku. For the men’s team, Selznick

and Lu both had impressive finishes in the 400-yard individual medley, finishing fifth and eighth respectively. The men’s team also boasted two top-ten finishes in their relay teams. Marcelo Ohno-Machado ’21, Tom Alger ’20, Wohl and Zitelny finished in sixth place in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Barno, Zitelny, Lu and Wohl teamed up to earn a seventh place finish in the 400-yard medley relay. Finally, on day three of competition, Gold again led the team by earning an impressive third place finish in the 200-yard butterfly. Natalya Wozab ’20 also earned

a top-ten finish, finishing ninth in the 100-yard medley. Stebbins came in tenth in the 50-yard backstroke. The women also had an eighth place finish in the 400yard freestyle relay which was swam by, Musaku, Kim, Gold and Rennie. On the men’s side, Wohl was the leader on day three with 100 points. He finished ninth in the 100-yard freestyle and 13th in the 500-yard freestyle. Selznick also finished 14th in the 500yard freestyle. Barno also had an impressive fifth place finish in the 200-yard backstroke. Finally the men’s relay team, consisting


of Wohl, Selznick, Zitelny and Ohno-Machado, finished eighth in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Despite their 10th place finish, the Judges boasted impressive personal records. Gold secured two new records with a time of 24.57 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle and a time of 58.18 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly. Zitelny also set new records in the 50yard butterfly with a time of 22.94 seconds. Finally, Rennie set a new record with a time of 26.81 seconds in the 50-yard butterfly. The Judges will face Trinity College at home on Saturday, Jan. 11, in the Linsey Pool.

Brandeis Judges pre-season As the rest of campus enjoys the rest of their winter break, members of various sports teams are back on campus for pre-season, preparing for upcoming matches and meets for the semester. Here are a collection of photos from their pre-seasons. Are they working hard or hardly working? We’ll never know.






January 10, 2020


The Brandeis Hoot

Track and field opens season at Emmanuel College Invitational By Francesca Marchese and Sabrina Chow staff and editor

The Brandeis University indoor track and field team opened its 2019-2020 season at the Emmanuel College Invitational at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, MA on Dec. 7 2019. Devin Hiltunen ’22 secured one win during the meet and Jack Allan ’20 had two top-two finishes. In the 200-meter dash, Hiltunen crossed the finish line in 26.41 seconds, winning her heat by three-tenths of a second over an opponent from Rhode Island College. Anna Touitou ’22 finished the race in 12th with a time of 27.28 seconds. Hiltunen also placed fourth overall in the 400 meter dash with a time of 1:01.76. The top three placing individuals in the race were all from Division II schools (Southern New Hampshire University and Saint Rose University). Rookie Sydney D’Ammadio ’23 placed seventh in the race with a time of 1:03.45, but third among all Division III competitors. Rookie Yahni Lapa ‘23 proved victorious in the 500-meter dash with a time of 1:23.97, nearly half a second ahead of the second place finisher. Women’s track and field captain Andrea Bolduc ’21 showcased her talent, winning the mile race with a time of 5:22.53. Running her first collegiate mile, Leinni Valdez ‘21 finished fourth with a time of 5:33.29. Rookie Bridget Pickard ’23 finished in 15th with a time of 5:50.86. Rookie Victoria Morrongiello ’23 placed sixth in the 800-me-


ter dash, completing the race in 2:30.41 and finishing third among all Division III runners. Teammate Elizabeth Dunphy ’22 finished in seventh and fourth among Division III competitors, with a time of 2:34.09. Taylor Kane ’22 finished in 12th with a time of 2:40.63. The Judges were successful in the 4x400-meter relay, placing second with a time of 4:08.89. The relay team comprised of Lapa, D’Amaddio, Valdez and Hiltunen came up short against the Division II team from Southern New Hampshire University. Senior Willa Moen ’20 proved successful in the field events, placing third in the pole vault with a height of 2.74 meters. She also placed 10th in the high jump, leaping 1.45 meters. Moen finished ninth in the 60 meter hurdles preliminaries with a time of

9.90 seconds, just one place away from qualifying for finals. On the men’s side, Allan placed second in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.68 seconds, just one-tenth of a second behind first place Dimetri Morris ’23 from Bridgewater State University. Teammate Aaron Baublis ’21 finished in fifth with a time of 8.80 seconds. Dionysus Morris-Evans ’22 finished 11th in the preliminaries with a time of 9.29 seconds, just missing the cut-off for the finals. Allan also finished second in the long jump with a distance of 6.55 meters, more than half a meter further than the third place finisher. Morris-Evans finished eighth in the long jump with 6.29 meters. Morris-Evans also placed third in the high jump with a height of 1.95 meters, just five centimeters behind the second

place finisher. Allan secured fifth, clearing a height of 1.85 meters. Also in field events, Breylen Ammen ’21 finished third in the pole vault with a height of 4.0 meters. The Judges excelled on the track, as Aaron Portman ’22 placed second in the 800-meter dash with a time of 1:59.95, falling short of first place by just over one-tenth of a second. Jacob Grant ’22 placed fifth in the same event with a time of 2:02.39. Rookie Siva Annadorai ’23 finished in ninth place with a time of 2:05.36. Lorenzo Maddox ’20 placed 13th in the preliminaries for the 60 meter dash, just five-hundredths of a second away from qualifying for the finals. Patrick Quinlan ’21 placed 10th in the 200 meter dash with a time of 23.50, just one-hundredth of a second faster than rookie Dean Campbell ’23. Jamie O’Neil ’22

finished ninth in the 400 meter dash with a time of 53.47. Seniors Alec Rodgers ’20 and Dan Curley ’20 placed third and seventh, respectively, in the mile run, with times of 4:37.25 and 4:40.10, respectively. In the 3000 meter run, Josh Lombardo ’21, secured fourth place with a time just over nine minutes at 9:00.98. Rookie Casey Brackett ’23 finished in 18th with a time of 9:36.10. In the 4x400 meter relay, Portman, O’Neil, Campbell, Quinlan secured third place with a time of 3:31:54. The Judges were edged out by two Division II teams, Saint Rose University and Merrimack College. Coming into the 2020 track season, the Judges are led by All-American sprinter Hiltunen and school record holder hurdler Sonali Anderson ’22 on the women’s side. The team also returns miler Bolduc, Danielle Bertaux ’20 and Niamh Kenney ’21 in the 3000 meter run and Valdez in the 400 meter and 800 meter. On the men’s side, the Judges are led by multi-event athlete Allan, school record-holder pole vaulter Ammen, Lombardo in the mile and Churchill Perry ’20, arguably one of the best long and triple jumpers in all the University Athletic Association (UAA). The Judges are back in action on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, when they will host the annual Reggie Poyau Memorial Invitational at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. Editor’s Note: Victoria Morrongiello is a member of the women’s track and field team and is the Deputy News Editor of The Hoot.

Men’s basketball picks up two wins and one loss By Camila Casanueva staff

The Brandeis University men’s basketball team took on Tufts University in the opening round of the New England Big Four Challenge. Despite a big night from Chandler Jones ’21 with 25 points, tying his career high, the Judges’ three-game winning streak would come to an end as they fell 68-61 to the Jumbos. Tufts established their lead in the first half through hot shooting, a total of 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from a three point range, while the Judges shot just 31 percent and 20 percent, respectively. However, Brandeis got back into the game just four minutes into the second half as they outscored Tufts 13-4. Jones scored the final nine points of that run, with two trifectas and a traditional three point play. Both teams hit a cold stretch offensively, with not a single point being scored for nearly two and a half minutes. Lawrence Sabir ’21 ended the drought with a lay-up, stole the ball to feed Jones for a layup which got the Judges within one point at 53-52 with 7:24 remaining. The lead continued to change hands before Collin Sawyer ’20 gave the Judges their largest lead, 61-58 with around three minutes remaining. Unfortunately, this would be the last time the Judges

would score, as Tufts held them to 0-3, forcing two turnovers the rest of the way. Jones led all players with 25 points on 10-22 shooting from the field, 3-6 from the three point range and 2-3 from the free throw line. Sabir and Nolan Hagerty ’22 each finished with 10. Hagerty also added five rebounds and a team-high four assists. In their next contest in the New England Big Four Challenge, the Judges defeated Salem State University. Brandeis was led once again by a terrific performance by Jones, who was able to eclipse his career high with 26 points, hitting 10-12 overall. Jones also pulled down seven rebounds, not to mention dished out a game-high and career-high seven assists. His performances were recognized as Jones earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. Also reaching double figures in scoring were a pair of reserve sharpshooters in Eric D’Aguanno ’20 and Austin Clamage ’21. D’Aguanno scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, when he hit 5-7 from beyond the arc. With his six three pointers for the contest, D’Aguanno is now in sole possession of second place on the Judges’ career list with 218 trifectas, 13 behind all-time leader Derek Retos ’14. Clamage netted 15 of his 17 in the final 20 minutes, connecting 5-6 from downtown. Hagerty led the Judges with 10 rebounds, finishing one basket shy of a dou-

ble-double with eight points. He also tied his career high in assists with six. In their first game of 2020, the Judges picked up a road win over Bowdoin College, 65-62. The Judges scored 15 straight points early on, then held off a couple late charges to come away with the win, improving their record to 7-3 for the second season in a row. After the Polar Bears scored the first two baskets of the game, coach Jean Bain called a quick timeout. The Judges responded by holding Bowdoin scoreless over the next five minutes, while hitting six of their next nine shots to take a 15-4 lead at the 13:38 mark. The Judges led by as many as 16 points before taking a 42-39 lead into the half. Bowdoin made their run in the second half, scoring 11 unanswered points on three pointers over the next three and a half minutes to cut the Brandeis lead 52-50 with 6:32 remaining. The Judges responded with a small run of their own, scoring the next two buckets to push it back to a two-possession game, 56-50, on another hoop by Jones. A three-pointer from Dylan Lien ’23 and Jones basket would give the Judges a 63-54 lead with 2:47 to go. But the Polar Bears would not go away, scoring the next eight points, making it a 63-62 game with just 31 seconds left. Bowdoin would commit a pair of fouls to send Brandeis to the line for a


one-and-one. The Judges missed, but Jones was there to secure the rebound as Bowdoin fouled again and the same scenario played out. Brandeis missed another front end with Jones cleaning up the offensive glass. He drew the foul as he went back up for the put-back, hitting one of two from the line to make it a two point game, 64-62, with 22 seconds remaining. Bowdoin still had a chance to tie or take the lead, but a Sabir steal put the game away as he was fouled, sending him to the line where he would also hit one of two, for the


final score of 65-62. Brandeis put four players in double figures in scoring led by Jones with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Sawyer and D’Aguanno each scored 11 points. Sawyer had nine in the first half, while D’Aguanno, who had 11, came off the bench and outscored the entire Bowdoin reserves. Hagerty, playing in front of a hometown crowd, notched his second career double-double with 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Sabir led all players with five assists.

10 The Brandeis Hoot


“To acquire wisdom, one must observe.” Editors-in-Chief Candace Ng Polina Potochevska Managing Editor Emily Botto Copy Editor Jennifer Cook Deputy Copy Editor Madeline Rousell News Editor Rachel Saal Deputy News Editor Tim Dillon Victoria Morrongiello Arts Editor Jonah Koslofsky Deputy Arts Editor Emma Lichtenstein Opinions Editor Sasha Skarboviychuk Features Editor Shruthi Manjunath Sports Editor Sophie Trachtenberg Deputy Photos Editor Grace Zhou Layout Editor Sabrina Chow Editors-at-Large Natalie Fritzson Celia Young

Volume 17 • Issue 1 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma

Founded By Leslie Pazan, Igor Pedan and Daniel Silverman


Medjine Barionette, Emma Belkin, Camila Casanueva, Chris DeMena, James Feltner, Sam Finbury, John Fornagiel, Lucy Frenkel, Madeline Herrup, Stewart Huang, Gunnar Johnson, Joey Kornman, Alex Kougasian, Aaron LaFauci, Dane Leoniak, Jesse Lieberman, Josh Lannon, Francesca Marchese, Zach Newman, Thomas Pickering, Lucy Pugh-Sellers, Jacob Schierson, Zachary Sosland, Courtney Thrun, Emerson White, Nicole Zador

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

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January 10, 2020

Looking back on the past decade and forward into 2020

he past decade has been a time of great change on the Brandeis campus and in the world at large. We, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot, would like to take a moment to focus on our university—both the achievements our community has made in the past ten years and the areas Brandeis needs to work on in the ten years to come. Brandeis has made its mark this decade with major architectural improvements including the construction of the Mandel Center of the Humanities in 2010 and Skyline Residence Hall in the 2018-2019 school year. While the Usen Castle was a quintessential landmark on our campus, the partial demolition allowed for a bigger, accessible, more eco-friendly building, and we, as students, appreciate the change and the increase in on-campus housing options. In the future, we look forward to increased maintenance and construction as our student body continues to grow and flourish, especially in first-year and sophomore residence halls. Additionally, faculty have been awarded various prizes and recognitions in the past ten years. To name just a few, in 2017 Professors Michael Rosbach (NBIO) and Jeffrey Hall (BIOL) won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in 2016 Professor Eve Marder (NEURO) was awarded the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience and Brandeis alumni Jack Davis Ph.D. ’94, David Kertzer Ph.D. ’74 and Alan Taylor Ph.D. ’86 won Pulitzer Prizes in 2017, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Our university also gained a new president in 2016, when Ronald D. Liebowitz became Brandeis University’s ninth president. The student body has also made many positive strides in the past decade. Many student groups and departments celebrated important anniversaries, such as the Waltham Group celebrating 50 year anniversary in 2016, Culture X’s 20th anniversary and the 50 year anniversary of the African and African American Studies (AAAS) department in 2019. The university as a whole also created a new logo in the process of rebranding in 2019, prompting design changes all over campus to start the decade fresh, and created new graduation requirements with the Brandeis Core. Today on campus, we are starting to see the results from actions taken by our peers and alumni before us. Brandeis students have represented the university’s focus on social justice by protesting—often

against the actions of the Brandeis administration. During Ford Hall 2015—a protest which alluded to Ford Hall 1969, which established AAAS—students took part in a sit-in outside of then-interim university President Lisa Lynch’s office in the Bernstein-Marcus administration building. Students stood in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault after the now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh hearings during #BrandeisBelievesSurvivors. And finally, student activists demanded and established a department of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Studies. Brandeis students have been involved in many more protests— including against U.S Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and climate change—and will continue to engage in many forms of activism in the fight for social justice. Due to the efforts of our fellow students, the university has been made aware of our concerns, and we have seen the ways in which it seeks to make changes to improve campus life. We commend President Liebowitz for his work on the Framework for Our Future and the task forces put into place to make Brandeis a better place for all members of the community, and commend Brandeis as a whole for being the first American university to prohibit discrimination on the basis of caste. Going into the new decade, The Hoot will continue to bring the Brandeis community accurate, relevant news and we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve the Brandeis campus and the support we receive, particularly after our paper was at risk of being de-chartered in April 2019. In the beginning of the decade, The Hoot covered various important topics taking place on campus, such as Brandeis changing its policies on sexual assault in response to new Title IX guidance in 2011, the implementation of a rape crisis center in 2014 and one professor’s response to being underpaid in 2016. These stories, and more, contributed to The Hoot receiving the “New England College Newspaper of the Year, First Runner-Up” in 2012 and the “New England College Newspaper of the Year, Honorable Mention” in 2014. In 2017, The Hoot covered the lack of transparency surrounding “Buyer Beware,” a controversial play set on the Brandeis campus, which was eventually cancelled. Local and national outlets used some

of The Hoot’s coverage to report on the story. In 2018 and 2019, The Hoot reported on the many changes in Brandeis staff as results of investigations and lawsuits; the most notable ones include the termination of men’s basketball coach Brian Meehan and Human Resources employee Robin Nelson-Bailey’s lawsuit against the university for over $2 million on three claims of discrimination based on her race, color, age, sex and decision to retaliate against mistreatment. This year and beyond, we remain committed to being a newspaper written about, for and by the Brandeis community, sharing the most accurate, current and relevant information possible in a timely manner. The many occurances of the past decade can be seen as either positive and negative, but it is important to note that there are always opportunities to learn new things and grow from these experiences. Looking into 2020 and the next decade, we, the editorial board of The Hoot, hope that the university will continue to strive to be the Brandeis that we, as students, hoped for when we first arrived, and a university that lives up to its ideals. While there have been myriad improvements at Brandeis over this last decade, there are also aspects of campus that still require advancements and rebuilding. In the coming years, we hope to see continued improvements to campus. In particular, while we can see the beginnings of conversations and actions being taken to improve the accessibility of campus for all students, we hope to see more change in this area, both in physical ways and otherwise. We also hope for increased university resources in the Brandeis Counseling Center and the Health Center so that more students can receive the care they need, when they need it. We hope that in the coming decade, Brandeis can continue to push for better professor and worker retention, making this campus a great place not only for its students but for faculty and staff, as well. We look forward to these improvements and those made by the Student Union, which is always striving for more efficient ways to help the student body and its organizations. We hope students can continue treating each other with respect and listen with open minds, to push for knowledge and truth, even unto its innermost parts. 2020, here’s to you. We eagerly look forward to the opportunities ahead.

January 10, 2020


Harper’s face is blocking the almost 100 dumplings that we made. He didn’t make a single one. He did wash dishes though #renaissanceman. DUMPLINGS

No animals were hurt in the taking of this photo. JOJO


Ever heard of tennis soccer?





Taylor Swift who?!

This was taken in Texas. It was way too warm for winter.



This is not a cat.

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12 The Brandeis Hoot

January 10 , 2020

SEA thrift store offers alternative shopping opportunity on campus By Shruthi Manjunath editor

The Students for Environmental Action (SEA) Thrift Store was started in fall 2019 in an attempt to make students more aware of the environmental footprint that the fashion industry has left on the world. As the second-largest polluter in the world, the fashion industry has a large environmental footprint, created from an excess of water consumption, pollution caused by dyes, greenhouse gas emissions and many more, according to a non-profit organization, Sustain Your Style. Furthermore, fast fashion—inexpensive clothing produced by mass-market retailers to keep up with fashion trends—encourages wearers to discard items after a single-use. Because of this, millions of tons of clothing are sent to landfills each year. The SEA Thrift Store was originally an idea created by the SEA’s president, Sophie Edelman ’21. Eventually, the thrift store turned into a club initiative through the work of Linzy Rosen ’22, Jeremy Goodsnyder ’21 and Eleanor Kelman ’20. Rosen, the treasurer of the SEA, believes that “our clothing, while necessary, carries the burden of environmental degra-

dation,” she wrote in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. At the store, students are able to drop off their clothes and pick up clothes from other students for free, without the waste that is normally created. In addition, students can obtain clothes in a gender-neutral space, as it is marked by size and not by gender, according to a SEA Facebook post. In order to accumulate attention for this store, SEA conducted a thrift clothes photoshoot and a fashion show with The Student Committee for the Rose Art Museum (SCRAM) and the Brandeis Photography Club. According to Rosen, SCRAM has been extremely helpful in creating the Thrift Store Initiative. Located on the second floor of Kutz Hall in the Kutz Food Pantry, the store offers jeans, skirts, shirts, sweaters, bras and shoes as well as towels, blankets and fitted sheets. All items present in the store, including the hangers, were donated by Brandeis community members, whether that be from students, staff or faculty. All are welcome to stop by the SEA Thrift Store any time during regular business hours when Kutz Hall is open. “Our goal is to serve student needs while not compromising


Members of SEA pose with donated clothes.

the environment,” Rosen wrote to The Hoot. “Having a permanent store enables students to pick up what they need in a fun, new way without leaving campus.” She also wrote almost all of the donated winter coats were picked up quickly after the store was created last semester, highlighting the importance of supporting students at Brandeis who are unable to afford warm clothing during the winter. In the future, the creators will be publicizing about “exciting items” so that students will be more enthusiastic about coming to the store. The creators also hope that

students provide them with feedback about the store so that they can grow, become more successful and reach more students. The creators of the SEA Thrift Store have established partnerships with the Office of Sustainability and other student environmental organizations in order to create more publicity for this store, and will continue to spread awareness at the involvement fairs, through social media campaigns and events held by SEA. SEA is a chartered environmental action advocacy group on-campus founded on “the idea that every Brandeis student wants


to do their part to help the environment but needs an accessible path to achieve that,” according to the club’s Presence page. Committed to encourage students to take little steps to make their lives more sustainable, the club is made up of groups to work on different initiatives both on and off-campus, per an earlier Hoot article. The club also educates the community to ensure all students have the opportunity to—and know how to—be more sustainable. The club meets weekly on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center, room 333.

BOLLI celebrates its 20th anniversary at Brandeis By Polina Potochevska editor

Brandeis University is a wellknown research institution that offers educational opportunities to undergraduate students, graduate students as well as students pursuing higher levels of education. However, what may not be as well-known to students on campus is that adults aged 50 and above are also given the opportunity to expand their knowledge in a variety of subjects here at Brandeis. This is possible through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis (BOLLI), located at 60 Turner Street. For someone who might only just now be hearing about BOLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis is a “vibrant

year-round community of intellectually curious adults who enjoy exploring a wide ranging curriculum” including topics such as art, economics, film, language, science and more, wrote Megan Curtis, Associate Director of BOLLI, in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. Curtis has been working at the institute for seven years since starting as Program Administrator. In her current role, she “manage[s] BOLLI operations and logistics including information and financial systems, program and facility and marketing and communications logistics,” she wrote in an email to The Hoot. “Basically if it needs to happen in order for the program to run, I make sure it happens.” This could include operations management, scheduling of courses, classroom technology set-up, volunteer assignments and more.

Curtis also oversees the “admissions and enrollment processes, advises students in person, by phone and by email about course schedules, requirements, and request for exceptions” and serves as Communications Manager. BOLLI hosts multiple forms of learning opportunities for its members. For example, members of BOLLI can attend lecture series every semester, seminars offered by Brandeis faculty, book discussions, literary salons, social events, readings and more. There are also courses led by Brandeis staff, faculty and graduate students. According to the BOLLI website, there are also “intergenerational events especially designed to bring BOLLI members and traditional Brandeis students together in learning.” As an example, Curtis mentioned a class held by BOLLI in

Fall 2019 called “Youth, Aging and the Human Connection.” The class met in Skyline Residence Hall. During the class, twelve undergraduate students were paired with twelve members of BOLLI to interview each other. “Each partner interviewed the other, delving into similarities and differences in life experience, and expectations. The students and BOLLI members enjoyed a rare level of dialogue and formed enduring connections as a result,” wrote Curtis. Members of BOLLI also have the ability to lead study groups. “Our Study Group Leaders are from all walks of life - former professors, teachers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, etc.,” Curtis wrote. BOLLI also has Special Interest Groups, that operate similarly to student clubs, as they are designed and led by members themselves.

According to the BOLLI website, some of the groups include a Writers Guild, a Poetry Circle and BOLLI Waltham Matters, among others. BOLLI is celebrating its 20 year anniversary in 2020. Notably, this year BOLLI will also be expanding outside of 60 Turner Street to include spaces such as the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall at the Women’s Studies Research Center and also the Waltham Senior Center. “We’re excited to expand our horizons and be able to reach more older adults with our programming,” wrote Curtis. For Curtis, her favorite part about being involved with BOLLI is the community. “I love helping older adults find meaningful connections with one another in a learning environment. It’s rewarding work!”

Why I stayed: Sarah Lupis MA/PhD ’16 By Sabrina Chow editor

Since Brandeis opened its doors in 1948, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Brandeisians have come to complete their education. But after they graduate, Brandeis is oftentimes just a distant memory, an alma mater that they’ll donate to and where they’ll go to reunions every few years. However, there are a select few individuals that choose to either stay, or come back to Brandeis, after graduation. This new series will tell the story of Brandeis alumni who decided to stay, or come back. Growing up in the Boston area, Sarah Lupis MA/PhD ’16 always knew about Brandeis’s research

potential and didn’t utilize it until after she finished her undergraduate career at Boston University. Lupis had always been passionate about psychology and wanted to go into research when she realized that the clinical track was not the best fit for her, she wrote in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. Combining the strong research at Brandeis with the university’s commitment to social justice, Lupis knew it was the perfect fit. A meeting with her then-potential advisor, Jutta Wolf (PSYC) and a tour of campus had her sold. After finishing her degree, Lupis spent a year doing adjunct-teaching at several local colleges, including Brandeis, she wrote. Lupis, however, quickly realized the difficulty of adjuncting. She explained that on some

days she would drive to three campuses all over Massachusetts and did not have any job security or benefits. Part-time faculty members are unionized at Brandeis, but this is not the case at most other schools, wrote Lupis. So when her current job position opened up, Lupis immediately applied to be involved with Brandeis on a different level. “Being a coordinator allows me to teach part-time and have a more secure lifestyle,” she wrote, “it’s actually been a great balance.” Lupis currently serves as the coordinator for the undergraduate and graduate psychology department for just over two years and has also taught part-time since 2015, she told The Hoot in an email. Being staff and faculty, Lupis does not do as much research as

she used to. However, while working on her graduate degrees, she did research looking at an individual’s emotional response to stress and how it affects health. “I also looked at cross-cultural differences, contributions of body image, and how the stress-emotion link is moderated by puberty,” she wrote. Lupis’ favorite part about campus is the students, she told The Hoot in an email. “They never cease to amaze me in terms of their maturity, ambition, and intellectual curiosity,” she wrote. “I like to say that they are good ‘citizens of the world.’” She also spoke highly of the staff and faculty members for their flexibility, support and collaborative attitude. She told The Hoot that she personally did not find the transition from student to faculty to

be that difficult. “I was lucky to receive tremendous support from my department during the transition,” she explained. “Though the faculty are obviously impressive from a research perspective, they also have a strong commitment to being excellent teachers, and I had many great role models in this regard.” Lupis’ involvement in the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program was another supportive community that helped her with the transition. “Having taught at several different schools, I know that Brandeis is really a unique place,” Lupis wrote in an email to The Hoot. “Its students leave well-equipped to navigate a diverse and rapidly-changing world. It’s been a pleasure to study, work, and teach here.”

January 10, 2020


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Why am I here? Traveling during breaks and going off campus By Thomas Pickering staff

Over breaks, such as the winter one we were all on or perhaps for weekend getaways to get off campus, many students use Airbnb to find cheap places to stay. While Airbnb is a wonderful service, I can’t help but be confused by some of the long and confusing things hosts include in their guides. I swear, they could write these on their rules and guides page for a house in the Catskill Mountain: 1) Your GPS may not work in the mountains, so when you get off state Route 212, take a right onto the narrow dirt road at the body of the dead deer and drive eight miles, more or less. (Make sure that’s a dead female deer. Taking the turn at the dead male deer will take you to Pennsylvania.) Our house is the white shingled farmhouse with bright yellow shutters. It is not the white shingled farmhouse with the faded sunflower yellow shutters. Do not attempt to enter the house with the faded sunflower yellow shutters. If the owner is outdoors and sees you, say you are Cindy’s cousin. 2) The front door key is in a white envelope under the geranium pot next to the porch. If you see a little green snake, do not be alarmed: It’s a garter snake, and it’s harmless. The one with the coppery red head and bands across its body is another story. The snakebite kit is in a shoe box on the top shelf of the closet of the bedroom with the yellow comforter. Or maybe the room with the old typewriter. Our suggestion: If you are part of a large group, tell the most annoying member to get the key.

3) Once inside the house, you’ll find a line of light switches to the right of the door. The first is for the porch, the second is for the kitchen, the third is merely to confuse you and the fourth, which we have not taken the trouble to mark in any way, should not be touched or something horrible will happen. We’re not going to tell you what. Think about it when you can’t sleep because the man next door has had a few drinks and is blasting “Who Let the Dogs Out” from his front porch because he hates Airbnb and hates city people and knows you are not Cindy’s cousin. 4) We are a shoe-free house, so we ask that you wear thick socks or slippers when indoors. The house slippers should be previously unworn and have felt soles. Brand is unimportant. 5) The kitchen is fully equipped and ready for your enjoyment. We do ask that when you use the dishwasher, you open the cabinet door beside it, find the drain hose, and hold it aloft during the rinse cycle. Do not overload the dishwasher, or it will flood and ruin the floor. Will our homeowner’s insurance cover this, or is it something for which we will hold you responsible? That’s something else to think about when you can’t sleep because the crackpot next door has put beer bottles on the tree stumps in front of his house and decides 11 p.m. is a good time for target practice. 6) Please do not touch the wine and liquor in the cabinet in the living room. Especially the Maker’s. We have drawn lines in ink visible to our eyes only on the bottles and we’ll know. 7) You’ll find firewood, kindling and matches beside the fireplace. These, however, cannot be used by guests and are just there to taunt you. 8) This is an old house with old

plumbing, so we ask you not to flush hygiene products, condoms or much of anything down the toilet. You’re in the country––go outside and squat. Nobody will see you but that raving whack job next door, and, as you may have noticed, he’s an erratic shot. 9) There’s a grill on the back patio. You’re welcome to enjoy it. We do ask that, after each use, you disassemble and clean it, making sure the grill box is free of food debris and the burner tubes are not clogged. The steel brushes are in the basement, behind the workbench, under Jack’s antique scythe collection. The basement light does not work, so just feel your way around. 10) In case you break a wine glass, no problem. It happens, and

we have your credit card. 11) Garbage: We recycle, so separate glass, plastic, metal and the stuff that looks like metal but is really tin over paper and put it in the containers under the sink. Food waste goes in the tall garbage can in the kitchen. There is a private garbage pickup service in the area whose trucks you may have seen. We do not use it. Would we be renting our house and staying with Jack’s mother if we could afford a $60-a-month garbage service? At the end of your stay, double bag trash and take it to the town dump, which is an easy 20-mile ride from the house on a former logging road. If you’ve brought along a pickup truck, this is the time to use it. Drive slowly; the road is rutted

and there are no guard rails. 12) The town dump is open to residents only, so you’ll need our dump permit, which we keep under the Mr. Coffee. But it was a nice ride, wasn’t it? 13) Checkout time is noon. Before leaving the house, unplug the appliances, and make sure the windows and doors are closed and locked. Button your camouflage jacket to the collar, stay low to the ground and run. And if you make it back to the city, be sure to remember to write a review. We know it will be glowing. We gave your address to the guy next door. I hope your new year is filled with tons of wild Airbnb adventures like this. Editor’s Note: This is the fourth part in the “Why am I here” series.


Professors want papers, students want letters By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

At the end of every semester comes this tedious time when you find out what your semester’s efforts resulted in: grades are released. Usually the registrar sets a date when you should have all your grades on Sage—finally professors have a deadline for a change—usually a week after the last final exam. Which, you know

By John Fornagiel staff

When it comes to grades, I’m a bit of a neurotic freak. Naturally, when grades are supposed to— according to the registrar—go on Sage, over the course of a few weeks prior to Dec. 27, I’m checking it at least daily for my grades in my classes. However, for some odd reason, by Dec. 31, I still didn’t have all my grades in, which is quite interesting, isn’t it? I thought that grades were due on Dec. 27. You know, I would have let it slide the first day or two, but after three and

is reasonable; while you want to know your final grade as soon as possible, professors need time to grade various assessments. What is no longer reasonable is when you are still missing grades days after the deadline. Not only is that ironic, particularly from professors who are very strict about deadlines, but also borderline hypocritical. If I were to submit an assignment three days late, I would lose at least a third of a letter grade per day. So, perhaps, my grade could be raised

by a third of a letter grade for each day my grade is late? This is just my wishful thinking—though it would be really nice—but honestly I’d just be happy with my real grade on time. Most people I know would email their professor if they are missing a grade past the deadline. Thus far I have been successful at resisting the temptation to email my professors, but I’m only three semesters in. The rational part of me reminds me that professors know that grades are due, and

four, something seemed to be seriously wrong. It got to the point where my friends and I would bet on whether I would get my grades the next day or not. Being the optimist I am, I lost about $3 in this bet because of my professors. The Brandeis parents’ Facebook group—my guilty form of entertainment—had multiple discussions about other students not having all their grades in. At least I’m not alone. Of what I read in some of the posts, the missing grades could also have negative consequences for students hoping to get financial aid, which is really worrisome, because it is not something students have any con-

trol over. These grades could quite literally impact whether some students would be able to come to Brandeis in the future or not because of financial reasons. For me, thankfully, this is about my own curiosity and wanting to know how I did, so there is significantly less pressure. But in general, I think the entire Brandeis community would benefit from more people being able to follow deadlines. From students and professors alike, if we were all able to follow deadlines more closely, we could avoid some of these very critical issues and not even have to deal with them in the first place. Happy working!

responding to my email will just delay them putting them in. Also, do professors really want to hear from me during break? They have spent a semester dealing with hundreds of students and they just got rid of me. Do I really want to do that to them? Well, not yet. Other people say that professors are people too and that they need time with their families. So when those same professors assign three hundred things to do over Thanksgiving, are students not people? We don’t need

to spend time with our families that we haven’t seen all semester because Thanksgiving is our only break in the fall semester? What I have gathered is that spending time with family over Thanksgiving is not a good excuse to miss a deadline for students, but for professors putting in grades a week later, that’s a perfectly valid excuse. Hello, double standards. Dear professors, you understand how annoying it is to get assignments submitted late. Please don’t do the same to us with our grades.



The Brandeis Hoot

January 10, 2020

The Hoot’s winter…in the States By John Fornagiel staff

Gaming Tournament When you think of winter break, what activities come to mind? Most people probably think of things such as spending time with family and old friends, decorating the Christmas tree, building a snowman or going on a ski trip. However, if you were to ask me how my break went, I’d pitifully say that the climax of my winter break was a gaming tournament involving me and four other friends. If you’re wondering what game I’m talking about specifically, it’s called “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO). The 10 fateful days before the tournament, I was practicing with my friends for the tournament, which would later prove to be very effective. We knew we had this tournament in the bag. Great, fast forward, now it’s game day. We are all responsible young men, so we decided to leave very early to make sure we definitely weren’t late: a whole 40 minutes early for a 35 minute drive! My friends made a terrible mistake in deciding that I should be the one driving. “You drive an ambulance, what’s driving a car?” Well, let me tell you that it is very hard to get somewhere when the person telling you where to go does not know the difference

By Tim Dillion editor

Massachusetts One of several things that I enjoy about living in New England is that I get to experience all four seasons, including winter. Though perhaps the most often maligned of all the seasons, I happen to enjoy winter and would like to write a few words to make a case for it. First of all, snow is a wonderful thing. Yes, it looks nice on the ground; there are few things more beautiful than a freshly blanketed landscape, against which colors are all the more vivid, but there’s more to it than that. Whether it comes down meanderingly or in

between left and right, let’s call him Dave for privacy reasons. So instead of turning off the highway into whatever is south of the airport, we ended up in Logan Airport. Logan Airport for a gaming tournament. The only thing I wanted to do at that moment was to get on a plane and leave those dumb*sses. After confiscating the maps from Dave, I quizzed my next guide on his lefts and rights (he shockingly got five out of six correct). Miraculously, we somehow arrived at the tournament in one piece. We walked into the place, got all set up and ready and began to warm up for the big match (for some reason Dave decided to do push ups). We hopped in the match, waiting for our opponents to enter the lobby, positive of the fact that we were significantly better than the team on the other side of the room. This was it: We were about to show that through teamwork, cooperation and raw skill, we were a force to be reckoned with. We had only been playing for four minutes, when Dave decided that it was time to have his super ultra mega-beefy protein powder lunch and accidentally turned off half the team’s computers. Long story short, we got dead last. I’m inclined to blame Dave, but I was thinking, maybe it could have also been the fact that we kept shooting each other at the beginning because we were so mad for being an hour late? Still debating that one.

By Emma Lichtenstein editor

Florida Ah, winter, my favorite time of year! It’s the time of year that I break out my flip flops and shorts that have been sitting in my closet since September, just waiting for me to go back home to Florida. I step out of the airport and am immediately hit with temperatures above 75 degrees and humidity

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

New York City Winter in New York City is truly something special. Sure, we don’t usually get a white Christmas or have a quaint, Hallmark Channel-inspired, small town celebration, but we do have some pretty spectacular sights. There are the Rockettes, the Rockefeller Christmas tree (and ice skating rink), the department store display windows, the Botanical Garden Train show, the Lantern Festival and the giant red Christmas ornaments. All of which are iconic. The best part by far of a winter in New York City are the light displays. Everyone from the Department of Parks and Recreation to department stores to entire neighborhoods go all in with their light

above 75 percent. It’s good to be back. Now, I know I wrote an entire article about why I think the beach is overrated back in September, but I do like to go once or twice while I’m home. I usually stay far away from the sand, choosing to eat an overpriced and bland brunch, enjoying the view of the water and the smell of the sea. Despite my best efforts, I usually still end up with sand on my feet. I guess it’s a small price to pay,

all things considered. Usually Florida will get one or two cold fronts during the winter, bringing the most beautiful weather and the strangest outfits. A Florida cold front is in the low 60s during the peak of the day, getting down to maybe the high 40s in the middle of the night. This chill is the one time of year that Floridians can break out their boots, scarves and other winter apparel, so expect to see a lot of them! It’ll be like you never left Massachusetts.

displays. The NYC Lantern Festival, held at Snug Harbor, has over 40 different light displays with some as fall as 30 feet. The festival welcomes over 150,000 guests over the two month span which it’s open for. Then there’s Saks off 5th Avenue, which covers the exterior of its building in over 225,000 lights to create its winter castle light display. Let’s not forget about neighborhoods like Dyker Heights, which are known for their elaborate displays. Dyker Heights has been dubbed the most festive neighborhood in New York City. In this neighborhood, people go as far as to synchronize the color changes of their lights with Christmas music radio stations, so that the lights change with the beats of the music. It is really nothing short of spectacular; the lights in front of you dazzle as

they shine in the dark. But perhaps the best take away from all of this is the sense of community the holidays create for everyone. New Yorkers aren’t known for their friendliness; however, there is something about the holidays that brings everyone together. I mean there are entire neighborhoods who come together and decorate their houses for others’ enjoyment. Yes, the lights are pretty to look at, but the meaning behind them is even more magnificent. So come to New York City during the winter some time, I’m sure you won’t fuhgeddaboudit*. *“Fuhgeddaboudit” is what appears on the sign as you leave Brooklyn. Translated into normal speak it means “forget about it.” This is very funny to me, however, I understand this may not be amusing to other people.

rapid flurries, snowfall has a gentle, silent beauty unique among natural phenomena. These sensations are joined by the crisp crunch of snow underfoot, bright starry skies and appealingly brisk temperatures.Against this backdrop and no other, all sorts of activities are possible: snow alone can be thrown, shaped and traversed. Hiking and camping take on new dimensions during wintertime. Even shoveling snow, while occasionally tedious, has a relaxing and pleasant quality to it. Of course some, myself assuredly included, might prefer most of all to settle ourselves in a comfortable perch with a good book. However you chose to spend it, enjoy your winter.


Generation consternation By Joey Kornman staff

Hello, loyal fanbase. I have crawled out of my cave to once again bring you the content you so desire. Seeing as how we have just entered a new decade and changing and aging are on our minds, I will aim to settle a classic argument, leaving it behind forevermore. I like to think of myself as a hip, cool and in-touch youth—I keep up with (some) internet trends. One that has intrigued me is the rapid growth of the phrase “OK, boomer.” Intergenerational warfare is nothing new, but it arose so quickly and with so much vigor at the end of 2019 that it became impossible to avoid. So, who is actually worse: irreverent boomers or snowflake millennials? For that matter, what about those from the silent generation (silos) or Gen Xers or zoomers or little kids— who is the least tolerable?

“What are your credentials?” you may ask. Well, I am a zoomer, my parents are boomers, my siblings are millennials and I work with little kids. (Silos, while existent, will not really be talked about here, as their generational traits are linked almost entirely to their age, meaning every generation will be like that when older. Little kids, like silos, are almost entirely defined by their age rather than their attributes as a generation. I looked it up, and apparently people born after 2010 are called “Generation Alpha,” but that’s probably the most annoying thing about them). So, I will display a seeded tournament I ran to decide once and for all which generation is the worst, then I shall discuss the results. The first round pitted zoomers against boomers. While this might seem like a close competition, I feel that the mere fact that zoomers are usually forgotten about in generational discussions as a whole speaks volumes. Even

the nickname, zoomer, is derived from boomer. These terms are almost never endearing, so it should be pretty clear that zoomers, while pretty irrelevant, are, as a result, pretty tolerable. Zoomers are just suffering through middle school and high school and college, and we don’t really have time to launch a crusade against our elders (yet). The second round pitted the Gen Xers against millennials. Gen Xers are probably the least offensive group due to their awkward placement between two much more culturally defined generations. Maybe they are worse than zoomers, but they don’t even compare to millenials, so the winner of this round was easy to decide. So, here comes the controversial part. You all basically knew that it would be boomers against millennials in the finals. Boomers seem so blissfully ignorant of the seemingly irreparable damage they have inflicted onto the planet. A subspecies of boomer, “Facebook moms,” relentlessly

poke fun at millenials for their thin skin and Internet addiction. “Boomer humor” has basically come to encompass any joke that makes sense but isn’t funny. Despite all of these things that make boomers so intolerable, in comparison to millenials, they might as well take the name “greatest generation.” It is crucial to put this debate into perspective: What were boomers like when they were 20 or 30? Boomers were born into the Cold War, facing constant threats of worldwide destruction. They lived through and fought in the Vietnam War. And all that time, throughout the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s, they fought against powerful institutions like the government and the school systems and the media instead of turning on their predecessors. You never hear about boomers looking to their grandparents or parents and going “OK, greaties” or “OK, silos” because they realized that instead of starting an intergenerational conversation, it is just a

cringey way of dismissing differences in opinion. Millennials face different, yet similarly, threatening global crises, but they blame an unfair amount of it on boomers—that’s what makes them so annoying. Sure, they can be overly-sensitive or belligerent at times, but when the subject that they are invested in matters, this is okay. What isn’t okay is dismissing a generation’s opinion when what you really hate are the institutions that just happen to be full of members of that generation. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re reading this article and thinking “OK, zoomer.” That’s actually pretty funny and serves as a clever, cogent retort to my argument. I guess if I had to sum up my point, I would say that every generation sucks. We all suck. Just try not to lump people together based on factors outside of their control—that’s what makes you truly annoying.

January 10, 2019

The Brandeis Hoot


The Hoot’s winter...abroad By Candace Ng editor

Hong Kong It is currently “winter” in Hong Kong, or so people say. It is hard for me to refer to this as winter, especially coming from Boston. At 68 degrees Fahrenheit—or 20 degrees Celsius for Hong Kong

By Josh Aldwinckle-Povey special to the hoot

Britain Any Brit in New England, like me, might notice that the weather in and around Boston isn’t all that different from back home— there’s still the fair share of rain, and we don’t get snow like Bostonians do, but it certainly dips to the same kind of temperature!

natives—this is an especially mild winter. Yet the people on the streets are dressed like it is about to snow, breaking out their down jackets and leather boots, which I find absolutely absurd. I, in contrast, look out of place in a longsleeve tee and a sweatshirt or a cardigan. I even wore my Birkenstocks on one of the warmer days. Despite the warm weather, I

still got to enjoy all the “winter foods” in Hong Kong. Food brings people together, as they say. It’s a bonus that I love food, and Hong Kong has plenty. On winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, my extended family shared a meal together and had sesame glutinous rice dumplings for dessert. The dumplings, known as “tang yuan,” symbol-

ize family togetherness and are a must-have on winter solstice, as well as other Chinese festivals. Another winter favorite of mine is hot pot. Basically, you have a pot of broth or soup cooking over a portable gas stove or hot plate, and different ingredients are put in and cooked in the pot. My family always cooks thinly sliced beef, seafood, vegetables and noodles.

Besides the beef, the best part, in my opinion, is drinking the broth once everything has been cooked. The combination of meat and vegetables comes together beautifully, especially when we add the sweetness of corn to the mixture. There are restaurants that serve hot pot in the Boston area, and I highly recommend giving it a try this winter.

Yet, I knew what was going to be waiting for me on the other side of a plane ride back to London; not the weather but spirit. We Brits take this season very seriously. Christmas is the dominant celebration at this time of year, and it’s common to see towns and cities adorned and aglow with Christmas lights, with ceremonies complete with D-list celebrities to light the street lights. You’ll also find plenty of local theatres packed with families at pan-

tomimes—hard to describe, easy to love. Winter in Britain isn’t always picturesque. You don’t come to see us for snow-lined streets and whilst Birmingham puts up worthy competition, stick to Germany for the Christmas markets. But you’d be hard pressed to find people with higher spirits at this time of year—as well as people always just a little too underprepared for our famously sporadic weather!

By Sasha Skarboviychuk

problems: a welcome change from running. Also, it’s a great way to spend time with your family without awkward conversation, or any conversation at all. But, of course, nothing in life can be perfect, so there will always be some people that ruin the experience. You know who I’m talking about, the ones who can’t skate to save their lives but still insist on skating in the middle of the rink. Is it that hard to be polite and stay next to the edges, even just to have something to hold onto? But new year—new me, so I’m trying to focus on the positive. And, of course, the best thing to do afterwards, is to have a nice cup of peppermint hot chocolate. Christmas may be over, but it’s still the most wonderful time of the year!

By Sabrina Chow editor

Iceland Don’t get me wrong. I love being from the Midwest. The overly-polite stereotypes, flat lands and four lane highways are some of my favorite things to return to after being in Massachusetts all semester. But I also love to travel. Logically, people traveling during winter break would want to escape the cold and go somewhere warm, right? But where in the world did I go this time? Iceland. And it was great. And even though like 75 percent of the country is surrounded by ice, those 360,000 people that call Iceland their home really love their home, which made the trip even more enjoyable. And you would think that Iceland is just all ice, right? Nope. They have some of the largest, and still active, volcanoes in the world. I got the chance to go down into a lava


tube, channels of caves that are created from lava rivers, and it was pitch black and amazing. My tour guide jokingly said will be there in another 200 years when that volcano is supposed to erupt. But here’s Iceland in a nutshell. Was it cold? I mean, I guess it was. But it was in the mid-30s the entire time we were here. I think it


Ukraine When I come home for winter break, I really do not want to leave the house, so much so that I am pretty sure half of my high school friends weren’t even aware that I was home. I pretty much spent the entire break on the couch with my mother. There is one thing, however, that I was willing to leave the house for: ice skating. I’ll go as far as to say that ice skating is the best winter activity and—maybe with the exception of snow—is the best part of winter. You’re like a penguin slipping around in the sun—what could be better? The wind going through your hair as you skate away from all your


was colder in Waltham! Did you see the Northern Lights? You betcha! It only took me 10 hours, and I couldn’t see it without my camera, but I saw it and I have photo proof that they exist! Did you learn any fun Icelandic traditions? Yup. They have 13 Santas and eat horses.



The tortures of traveling By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

It’s that wonderful time of year where in a little under three weeks, I spend almost three days in various airports. To make things even better, it’s also the holiday season, and you know what that means? Holiday travelers. And holy sh*t are they annoying. Don’t get me wrong, traveling sucks in general. As someone who flies across the Atlantic Ocean at least four times a year, I’ve had more than my fair share of flying experience. Why would someone who hates traveling go to college across the ocean? That is a very good question, and maybe when I come up with a good answer I’ll write an article about it. For now, let’s just say I did not think about how much flying I would have to do. But let’s get back to how much traveling sucks. I’m a pretty paranoid person by nature, but when it comes to traveling, my paranoia seems to increase exponentially. Traveling is probably the only circumstance when I’ll willingly wear a fanny pack. Why? Because obviously the rest of the travelers are out to steal my passport and wallet. Also, I have to have cash in like seven different places throughout my stuff, because if I lose my

purse, only cash in one pocket will get lost. Do you know how hard it is to then find all the places I put cash into? I can’t keep track of them all, which makes me even more paranoid. You know what else paranoia causes? The need to arrive at the airport ridiculously early. Everyone’s heard that you should come two hours early for an international flight. But that’s what normal people do, my paranoid self is convinced that you should arrive at least three hours early, just to make sure. Upon arrival, you get to enjoy a pleasant stay in the check-in line, if your poor soul has to bring a suitcase, which is one of the main reasons why I choose to fly luggage-less. But lines are understandable. What irritates me beyond belief are the people whose suitcases are overweight, and people decide to unpack them right in front of the check-in desk. How rude and inconsiderate can someone be? Let me just start with this: the fact that you have to take off your shoes when going through security in the United States is disgusting. Especially because they don’t even give you disposable shoe covers to put over your socks (like they do in civilized countries), especially in the winter when the floors are wet and nasty. Once while flying during the summer I

forgot about the fact that they do that and I wasn’t wearing socks. I had to walk barefoot on that horrible floor. So gross, I cannot. Unfortunately, when going through security, I’m not only grossed out, but I’m also annoyed. There are so many people that have no clue what they are doing, even though there are posters everywhere that clearly tell you what to do. Coats, liquids and technology go out of the bag and into a bin. Everything else goes without a bin. It’s that simple; why are you there for forty seconds trying to figure out what to do? Like flying isn’t stressful enough on its own without the snails. Speaking of snails, people who walk slowly in airports and refuse to move over, are truly a special type of jerk. People are running around late for their flight or just not wanting to spend a year getting to their gate, and you are taking a cruise in the airport. What’s even more annoying than that is when the airport won’t release your gate until an hour before your flight. Like, I’m sorry I’m stressed running around with all my stuff and you can’t even tell me where I should be running to? Come on, you’re supposed to make this less stressful for me, not double my stress. And finally comes the holiday rush. One time I decided that the holiday rush is a good reason to

come to the airport four hours early. Ironically, there were like two people at the airport and I got through everything in around ten minutes. And then I had three and a half hours to kill. Thanks, paranoia. During the holidays, the usual annoyances of traveling increase proportionally to the increase in people traveling.

Flying pissed me off so much at this point that I looked into boat options. My research informed me that it would take around two weeks and would cost thousands of dollars. And then I remember that I get seasick so the boat might be a bad idea. But a few more experiences like this and I may reconsider. Happy traveling!



The Brandeis Hoot

Goodbye to UTI’s By John Fornagiel staff

Did you know that over 50 percent of women will contract a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point during their lifetime? In fact, it is the cause of over 8.1 million visits to healthcare providers every year. A UTI is an umbrella term for any infections inside of your urinary system, commonly affecting organs such as your kidneys, bladder and urethra. Although some men and many women can contract this during their life, some do not visit a doctor out of confusion and fear. However, delaying a doctor’s visit can lead to dangerous complications, especially if it contaminates and spreads to vital organs such as the kidneys. To first identify whether you have a UTI or not, it is important to become familiar with some of its common signs and symptoms. Each type of infection presents with their own unique set of symptoms, making it easy to distinguish between them. Cystitis, an infection in the bladder, can present with symptoms such as bloody urine and frequent urination. An infection of the urethra, urethritis, can present with symptoms such as a burning sensation during urination and a cloudy discharge. Neither cystitis nor urethritis are too serious. Pyelonephritis, a kidney infection, on the other hand is very serious, and can even be fatal. If the kidneys are not effective, blood cannot be filtered and waste products can build up in your bloodstream. This can lead to more serious symptoms such as chills, nausea, vomiting and a high fever. No matter what kind of UTI you have, it is recommended that you go to the doctor if you suspect that you have one. If it is swiftly treated, it will often not advance towards more serious complications. However, if not treated quickly and effectively, the infection can travel towards the kidneys and other organs of the body, causing serious complica-

tions. For example, if a woman is pregnant and has an untreated UTI, the child may be born premature or have a low birth weight. Moreover, permanent kidney damage can occur, which would hinder your body’s ability to filter its own blood. If your kidneys are damaged enough to the point where they do not effectively filter your blood, then you will either need a kidney transplant or dialysis. Dialysis is a treatment that requires frequent visits to the doctor to manually filter out your blood. The most disastrous and lethal of these complications, however, is sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that results from a serious infection in any part of your body. It can affect multiple organs and can lead to a condition known as shock, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Given the harsh consequences of an untreated UTI, it is essential to visit the doctor if you ever suspect that you have one. However, it is better to simply prevent one in the first place. The two general rules of thumb for prevention is to block bacteria from entering your body in the first place and, if they do, to expel them before they have a chance to cause complications. One way to routinely clean out the urethra is to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. This causes routine urination, and hence, routinely flushes out any stray bacteria. Another method to prevent UTI’s is to urinate shortly after intercourse. This flushes out bacteria that could have entered the urethra during coitus. Clearly, a UTI ranges widely in how it presents. From a small one that never causes any noticeable symptoms to possible death from sepsis, a UTI is extremely unpredictable. It is important to visit a doctor if you suspect that you have contracted one so that they can prescribe antibiotics and slow the progression of the contamination. Remember, if you have any doubts or concerns about your body, it never hurts to visit the doctor!


January 10, 2019

SSIS advice column By SSIS special to the hoot

Welcome back to the SSIS column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email ssis@ or leave a question in the Google Form link on the Student Sexuality Information Service Facebook page. Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid or weird questions! (Note: These answers are goodfaith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community, and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!) Why are there so many different types of condoms? This is a great question! Condoms come in a variety of shapes, materials and even colors. Each body is different and condom preferences will vary from person to person. The reason condoms can be so diverse is to suit the needs of any individual. To start, there are external and internal condoms. Both are intended for the prevention of STIs and pregnancy. External condoms are typically worn by a penis owner during sex, but can also be cut up and used as a dental dam. Internal condoms can be worn inside the vagina or the anus. Internal condoms have an outer ring that should remain outside the vagina or anus during sex. Below, we will break down some of the ways in which condoms can vary and why a person may choose one over the other! Material: At SSIS, we offer condoms that are latex, nitrile and polyurethane. The majority of condoms on the market today are latex, which is a material that can stretch up to 8 times its size. However, for those with a latex

allergy, these are not an ideal option. Polyurethane is a plastic material that is a great alternative to latex condoms. Condoms made with polyurethane are known for conducting heat better and being thinner, which could add to pleasure. Nitrile is also an alternative to latex, and is usually used to make internal condoms. All three of these materials are about equally effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs. Additionally, these condoms are all compatible to be used with silicone, water-based or hybrid lubricants! Fit: Condoms can be standard fit, roomy or snug. All penis-owners are not built the same, so neither are condoms! Finding the right fit of condom can increase pleasure and comfort. Standard fit condoms have a width of 1.75 to 2 inches. Snug condoms have a width of under 1.75 inches. Large condoms have a width over 2 inches. Some may find the tighter fit of a snug condom to be the most pleasurable, where others may find the best sensation using a roomy condom. Others still may find the most enjoyment out of a standard fit condom. SSIS recommends trying out a few different types to see what works best for your body! Shape: The shape of the condom is its contour or silhouette. The classic and most familiar condom shape is called “straight wall” with a reservoir tip at the end. At SSIS, you can also find dome-shaped and bulbous condoms, which have a base similar to a standard shape condom but have a bulge at the tip. This can be pleasurable for stimulating the frenulum or g zone! We also offer condoms that are ribbed or studded for extra pleasure and stimulation. However, it is not recommended to use studded condoms for anal sex as it could increase the risk of microtears, which make it easier for STIs to enter your body. But wait, there’s more! The fun doesn’t stop there! Condoms can also come in a variety of colors. Additionally, SSIS offers six different condom flavors, such as mint chocolate chip and strawberry.

If you would like guidance in finding the right condom for you for your partner, come by the SSIS office! We offer 20 different condoms and SSIS members are always happy to talk through all of the options. Is it okay to use porn and masturbation as a form of self care? We are so glad you asked this question! The answer is yes! Porn has a lot of great benefits. For example, it can help to increase sexual satisfaction. Additionally, porn is a form of safe sex—no need to worry about pregnancy or STIs when it’s just you and your computer! Porn can also help you to be more comfortable with yourself. One way in which porn can do so is by normalizing your desires. Additionally, exploring the world of porn allows you to find what does and does not turn you on. Taking the time to get to know your body, discover your desires and experience pleasure is fantastic self care! Porn also encourages masturbation, which is also excellent self care! Here are some health benefits of masturbation: healthier sperm, improved blood flow, naturally kills pain, no risk of STIs, and a self-esteem boost! While we are talking about all the positives of masturbation and pornography, let’s dispell a few myths! To start, it is not true that masturbation can desensitize people to sex. In fact, it is quite the opposite: familiarizing yourself with your body will allow you to better show your partner what you enjoy. Another myth is that if you masturbate, you are no longer a virgin. This fallacy likely stems from the idea of “popping your cherry” for vagina owners. However, virginity is a concept—not a physical object that can be lost. Masturbation and pornography are healthy activities and SSIS encourages incorporating them into your self care routine! The SSIS library on the third floor of the SCC has more resources on mastubation and pornography that may be helpful to you.



January 10, 2020

The Brandeis Hoot 17

Koslofsky’s Corner: top ten of 2019 By Jonah Koslofsky editor

Here we are: a presentation of the top ten movies of 2019! First things first: this was not a great year for blockbuster filmmaking. I’ve only got one franchise picture on my official list, and just about every sequel, soft-reboot or spin-off I saw in theaters was disappointing. As usual, the big studios need to do better, but looking ahead at the 2020 release slate, I can’t say I’m optimistic. Alas, there are also a few movies I wasn’t able to make time for this year. I’ll be catching up with “Waves,” “A Hidden Life,” “Gemini Man” and “1917” in the coming weeks—though I doubt any will unseat my number 10 pick (we’ll see though, I could wind up issuing a retraction of my own arbitrary rankings). I don’t quite feel I have the capacity to assess documentaries right now, so don’t expect to see any down below (although “Amazing Grace” rocks). And as always, I found myself enamored with more than just 10 movies this year. It seems wrong to omit a film as monumental and final as Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” from any best of the year list, so it’s an obvious honorable mention. The same goes for “Hustlers,” a raucous and all-together awesome, subversive take on weaponized femininity. Of equal, pure entertainment value is “Knives Out,” a forward thinking whodunit chock-full of great performances from its all-star cast, along with just being a blast. Oh boy, I probably should have just made a top 15. “Booksmart,” obviously, rules, but I’m also partial to Joanna Hogg’s coming-ofage piece “The Souvenir.” “Toy Story 4” was far more moving than it had any right being. Finally, “The Farewell” was a bittersweet exploration of what holding onto tradition actually looks like. If I had to narrow down to a single honorable mention, I’d pick Lulu Wang’s breakout, for sure. Anyway, onto the list! 10. “Little Women” Greta Gerwig’s radical retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s 150-yearold novel deftly examines the possibility of love in a stifling, patriarchal, capitalist society. Gerwig confidently rearranges her


Tom Mercier stars in ‘Synonyms.’

source material, cutting between time periods and continents with ease, trusting her viewers to keep up. Her ambition pays off: this adaptation succeeds, thanks in no small part to Gerwig’s performers. Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh shine as Jo and Amy March—this is arguably the most crowd-pleasing movie of the year. 9. “Us” I woke up at five a.m. the morning after I saw “Us.” Jordan Peele’s blatantly pessimistic follow-up to “Get Out” is alarming, its horror bleeding from its stubborn refusal to clarify many of its central mysteries. Instead, what’s clear is that Peele wants his viewers to take a good, hard look at themselves—as Jason (Evan Alex) puts it, “when you point a finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at you.” But “Us” is so much more than an introspective prompt, also the canvas for a spectacular performance from Lupita Nyong’o. Where does Jordan Peele go from here? 8. “Avengers: Endgame” In a year when multiple major geek tent-poles wrapped up massive storylines in disappointment (“Star Wars,” “Game of Thrones”), only one finale didn’t just satisfy, but actually exceeded expectations. With an enormous, three-hour runtime, “Avengers: Endgame” is a self-indulgent, and—between the many scenes of characters contemplating their failures—frequently hilarious conclusion to this phase of the Marvel meta-narrative. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good time heist, and watching Captain America pick up Thor’s hammer still gets my little nerd heart racing. 7. “Uncut Gems” “This is me. This is how I win.”



Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is so sleazy that you can practically feel his grease oozing off-of one of his many close-ups and onto the screen. “Uncut Gems” directors Josh and Benny Safdie are interested in stress, in people who just can’t quit (far after they should’ve), but here, their aesthetic reaches a new peak. This movie has such a sense of texture, bolstered in no small part by its quality ensemble. But the at the center—probably the cause—of all the chaos is the sandman himself, turning in his best performance in more than a decade. It won’t relax you, no, but “Uncut Gems” is a deliriously entertaining ode to jumping out of the frying pan, and into the fire. 6. “Marriage Story” There are moments in “Marriage Story” that will stick with me for years. The opening montages, in which writer/director Noah Baumbach efficiently captures the grand tragedy a breakup feels like in less than ten minutes. The argument to end all arguments. Charlie (Adam Driver), belting out “Being Alive.” Like my prior pick, it’s another intense look at a man who’s the architect of his own misery. But Baumbach’s empathy keeps proceedings humane, crafting a remarkable film in the process. 5. “Synonyms” This is toxic Jewish masculinity, dismantled from the inside out. Israeli writer/director Nadav Lapid makes no compromises in his third feature, the occasionally brutal, hyper-specific “Synonyms.” First-time actor Tom Mercier stars as Yoav, a young ex-pat, who migrates to Paris in an attempt to rewrite all he’s been taught. Lapid frames everything through Yoav’s (somewhat

narrow) perspective, in kinetic, focused takes. If we can accept who we are, can we also reject that person? “Synonyms” didn’t make it into many theaters, but you should seek it out when it’s released on streaming platforms early next year. 4. “Transit” I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but these days, the world is a bit sh*t. It frequently feels like instead of progressing forward, we’re stuck, facing ideologies and problems we should’ve moved past by now. Christian Petzold’s “Transit” makes this dissonance literal. Protagonist Georg (Franz Rogowski) stumbles through an occupied Europe, a period that looks all-too-similar to today. Facism, it seems, can separate those it targets from their country, their present and even themselves. But “Transit” never preaches at its viewers—rather, it stages a terrifying, daring, expressionist alternative to illustrate its pressing point. 3. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” Love is a vulnerable experience. To love is to really look. To be loved is to be seen. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” hasn’t really released yet—consider this an advance recommendation (distributor Neon is planning to put “Portrait” in theaters nationwide this coming Valentine’s Day, but the film ran in New York and L.A. for a week in December). It’s a slow burn, as we follow Marianne (Noemie Merlant), who’s been tasked with secretly painting Helouise (Adele Haenel), a rebellious noblewoman. A breathtaking look at romance under strangling circumstances, this perfectly-paced piece of cinema should be seen, just as it should be appreciated. Though fair warning: like any passionate

affair, I can’t promise it won’t hurt when it ends. Or, put it this way: this film will break your heart. 2. “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood” “Baby, baby, baby, you’re out of time.” “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood” is the type of movie I didn’t know Quentin Tarantino had in him. On paper, it follows the provocations the auteur has been spitting out for years: historical revisionism, anchored by big stars. Instead, “Hollywood” is a slow, mature exploration of an anxious guy past his prime (Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton), facing a brave new world in which he doesn’t belong. On the one hand, you need a certain level of investment in Tarantino to extract all the meaning from “Once Upon a Time.” But this is exactly the type of movie we should hope to see from our self-obsessed, “problematic” artists, one that reckons with itself, its legacy and its obsolescence. For the first time since “Inglorious Basterds,” Tarantino’s refusal to pander has yielded a truly valuable result. 1. “Parasite” “Parasite” lives its values: it’s got something for everyone. Director Bong Joon-Ho’s rollercoaster of class commentary transcends any and all genre boundaries and barriers, constantly mutating into a wild, unforgettable ride. This is the rare movie that’s as entertaining as it is provocative, an accessible explication of a system that gets everyone’s hands dirty. Bong’s impeccable staging (and the consistently quality performances of his actors) feed into something that’s totally unpredictable, yet wholly cohesive. We’ll be talking about it for years. To put it quite simply: if you haven’t seen “Parasite” yet, what are you doing?

Reasons to read ended too By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

This winter break, I decided that it was finally time to read a book that was not forced on me by a professor. After much deliberation, I settled on Yiyun Li’s “Where Reasons End,” which is not a book that one would normally find on my bookshelf: I’m not big on fiction. I’m not sure if I should’ve stepped out of my comfort zone for this book, but it was on Time’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019, so you’d think it would be good. It is not a light book by any means, as it touches on many delicate subjects despite its shortness. It takes the shape of an imagined conversation between a mother and her teenage son who died by suicide. Li wrote the book during the months after she lost a child to suicide, which made the im-

ages she created much more vivid. It is hard to give a brief summary of the book, since it is a conversation which unfolds with the turn of every page. The tone of the book was the first thing that surprised me. With a conversation about such a delicate subject, one would expect it to be very gentle. But it wasn’t. In fact, it was the exact opposite; you’d think you were reading a story about how much of a pain teenagers are. The mother and son go back and forth with each other, but that made the book so much more real to me: Even in such a dark book, there is the light of the humor. I also have to say, I really appreciate Li’s puns. Their conversations were a lot to unpack—some were worth the effort, others not so much. Other times it felt like there were just too many things going on to truly understand the underlying meaning of what the

characters were trying to say or even try to. The entire book felt like a massive puzzle you have to put together, but since you need the rest of the puzzle to understand the first piece, it’s frustrating and just straight up hard. Neither of those unexpected aspects were necessarily a bad thing. What I think really turned me away from the book were the characters themselves. I get that the mother and son are both brilliant, but it always felt like they were reassuring each other of their brilliance. Other than clever comments directed towards each other, they seem to utterly lack a connection. They are supposed to be mother and son, but they feel like longterm roommates who decide whether or not to like each other daily. I feel like even after reading the book I still do not know either of the characters––that is how closed off they are. Not only

were they closed off, but they were also incredibly static. Character development doesn’t seem to be a concept Li is aware of. If they went through at least some changes throughout the book, I may have tolerated them more. How can anyone like a book if the main characters are unlikeable? I understand that a large part of the book is how limiting language itself is, as demonstrated by the mother’s iconic line “there is no good language when it comes to the unspeakable.” That, however, does not warrant flat characters! You’d think that a book of such nature would make you sad or cry, but it just failed to touch me. I wanted to be sad because of the book, and I think I should’ve been saddened by it. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that this was written by a grieving mother was upsetting, but it just wasn’t enough. I really wanted to be touched by this book, but it just didn’t make



I do not know if it is me or the book, but this seems like a story with so much potential that failed to utilize any of it. I expected a touching story about love and loss and instead got a story about two pretentious people who seemed to despise each other.


The Brandeis Hoot

January 10, 2020

‘Cats’ reminded me why I’m a dog person By Emma Lichtenstein editor

How do you review a movie that was awful in every way? I went into “Cats” a hopeful Taylor Swift fan, excited to see her performance in the movie that she has been strongly promoting via Instagram stories to her fans. Leaving the theater, I had to wonder who ever decided that this was a good idea. The film was disappointing in every way. Somehow, director Tom Hooper was able to get a fantastic cast for “Cats.” Almost every name on the poster belongs to a heavily awarded and widely respected star: Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Rebel Wilson, Judi Dench. The plot of the movie is almost non-existent, staying true to the musical. Each cat sings a song about their life in the hopes that they will be chosen to be reborn into a new life. Dench’s character “Old Deuteronomy” picks which cat she deems worthiest to be reincarnated. That’s it. Dench made three facial expressions throughout the entire film. Most of the film she wears a blank stare, half the time with her mouth open, the other half with her mouth closed. When she wasn’t staring blankly, she was gazing lustfully at Sir Ian McKellen (“Gus the Theatre Cat”) or the audience. Dench was in the original London production of “Cats,” but whatever talent and love for the musical she had then has long since faded. The closing scene of the film was per-


Taylor Swift as Bombalurina in ‘Cats.’

haps the most horrifying moment of all. Dench gazes straight into the camera with a sly smile and, through song, lectures the audience on the proper way to treat a cat. Dench is also one of two cats that do not dance. Andy Blankenbuehler choreographed this adaptation, and wow did he do a terrible job! All anybody ever does is spin. I understand that spins and twirls are an essential part of ballet, but it should not be the only move. There were a few exceptions, spots where Blankenbuehler tried to do something new. With Jason Derulo (“Rum Tum Tugger”), Blankenbuehler went for a hip-hop vibe. I say “vibe” because I would not call it hip-hop dancing. The choreography was like what happens before someone busts out into an incredible dance sequence, they’re just hopping back and forth, crossing and uncrossing arms and legs. It’s like if a song had a huge build up, but then the beat never actually dropped. The one highlight of the choreography was in Steven McRae’s


(“Skimbleshanks”) tap sequence during “Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat.” In this song, Skimbleshanks does a delightful tap dance and then leads the rest of the Jellicle Cats, the name these cats choose to call themselves, in a dance. This is unsurprising, as McRae is the Principal Dancer of The Royal Ballet. He puts on the best overall performance in the entire film; even his singing is fairly nice. As for the rest of the sound, almost every cast member put on a subpar performance. Jennifer Hudson (“Grizabella”) choked through three different reprises of “Memory” throughout the film. Her only strong moment is during the iconic lines: “Touch me! It’s so easy to leave me, all alone with the memory of my days in the sun.” This is exceptionally disappointing because before the movie started, my theater showed a teaser trailer of Hudson playing Aretha Franklin—and perfectly belting out every single note. Why couldn’t we have just gotten that movie? This lack of quality singing is


Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella in ‘Cats.’

common for most of the cast. As a viewer, it was incredibly frustrating to hear the weak vocals from actors that were cast to be good singers. Juxtaposed with an absolutely stunning backing orchestra, the faults are highlighted even more. Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift (“Bombalurina”) were the only actors to put on a truly good vocal performance. Both Derulo and Swift are singers who have toured before, so this is expected. I will say that Swift put on a better vocal performance, not even sounding the slightest bit winded as she dove through complicated choreography. Derulo did not have nearly as much movement during his singing time. I came to the theater specifically for Swift, but she had about five minutes of screen time, despite being plastered all over the trailers and other promos. Swift is also the only cast member to retain almost all of her human elements in costume. Bombalurina is the only cat to have boobs. Her makeup also does not cover her entire face; she looks


more human than feline. Maybe this is for the best as some of the CGI fur and other makeup choices are truly horrifying. Each of the cats are covered in fur, with the exception of their hands and feet which remain bare. Outside of the cats, the other creatures in the movie also have human elements. Both the mice and the cockroaches are human faces photoshopped onto the body of the actual animal. This is somehow worse than the weird furry-like editing of the cats. The best part of the film was when the credits rolled, Swift’s cover of “Beautiful Ghosts” played, and the two teenage girls in front of me—the only other people in the theater—went “Ah! There’s the song!” “Beautiful Ghosts” is nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe awards, likely the only nomination “Cats” will receive. “Cats” is a strange musical at best, but this adaptation of it truly could not be worse. From the singing to dancing to design choices, not a single good decision was made with this film.

‘Little Women’ on the big screen should not be missed By Victoria Morrongiello editor

“Little Women” was written by Louisa May Alcott 150 years ago, and her novel has been passed down generation after generation due to its relevant themes and relatable characters. Now the story has been brought to life as a major motion picture, written and directed by Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”). The story follows the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—as they grow up and traverse society along their distinctly separate paths. The movie was everything I could’ve wanted and it should be known that I went in with the bar set pretty high—which is always a dangerous choice—but I was not in any way disappointed. I had a lot of hopes for this movie, the trailers looked great and the cast, including Meryl Streep and Emma Watson, is seriously

star-studded. So yes, I went in expecting to be dazzled and dazzled I was! My expectations were also heightened for more personal reasons, as I am one of four daughters and I truly wanted the movie to do the story of four sisters justice since it’s what I’ve known. And it does! The movie portrayed the relationship between sisters beautifully, as they fight fiercely with one another—like any group of siblings would—but more importantly love each other even more fiercely. This resonated with me because as any person with siblings knows, your siblings will be the ones to make you the most irate, yet they are also the ones you love the most, more than anything else in this world. The March sisters in the movie portrayed this complex relationship perfectly from comforting one another in one scene to wrestling one another to the ground in the next. The movie also tackled some


more serious themes, addressing problems that were prevalent 150 years ago and are still present today; for example, gender equality, specifically in the workplace. When Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) goes to sell her story to a newspaper, the publisher, Mr. Dashwood (Tracy Letts), says that typically they would pay anywhere from $25 to $30 for similar work, but for Jo’s story they would pay her $20. There was nothing different about the content of Jo’s work, an obvious dig at inequality in the workplace on the basis of sex. This is still a controversial topic today as women are still paid less than men for doing the same job. Of course, the movie portrayed the inequalities present in society due to gender in other more overt ways, like having Amy March (Florence Pugh) go off about how marriage for women is truly a financial agreement and not something to be glorified, or showing Jo lament about how society looks at women as objects only suited for marriage and having children. These scenes in the movie were so significant not only because the words hold so much truth but also because the actresses delivered their lines with such conviction and passion. Plus, these societal stereotypes about women haven’t been fully abolished even today. Yes, “Little Women” was written 150 years ago, but it has endured for so long because the issues remain prevalent, with the cause of the problems so tightly woven into our society’s culture. I’m a sucker for details, and this movie paid such close attention to the details I was stunned. If you didn’t know, Louisa May Alcott


actually wrote “Little Women” about her own life, with a few embellishments here and there. Earlier this year, I visited Louisa May Alcott’s house (which is not too far away from Brandeis) and it was clear from the film that the director, Greta Grewig, did her research when creating the set. The March’s house in the film was accurate to the house in which the Alcotts actually resided. Also, in the Alcotts house there were paintings and drawings by Amy March hung on the walls, and this decor was replicated in the set design of the March family house in the film. The acting was also stellar, the movie had me both laughing and in tears because you genuinely feel what the actors are trying to portray. I also loved the portrayal of Amy’s character because it differed from ways she is typically presented. Amy is the youngest of the March girls and she is the stereotype for everything that is awful about the youngest sibling. The movie kept Amy’s worst moments that prove she is a “typical” youngest sibling while not having that spoiled and bratty behavior encompass her entire character.

The movie shows Amy’s talent and maturity as she ages while also showing how she struggles to get out of the shadow of her older sister, Jo. You see Amy try desperately to be her own person and she fights to not be second to Jo. In the audience, you can understand Amy’s character better, even if it’s still not right. In other adaptations of this story, Amy is written off as the bratty youngest child, but that is not what you get in this movie. Amy’s and Jo’s characters are connected and the reason they butt heads so often is because of how similar they are, with the intensity of their passion and ambition— they just want different things in life. The choice to make this connection between Amy and Jo was an excellent choice in writing and its execution was perfect. Would I recommend this to a friend? Absolutely. There was not a single thing I disliked about this movie. The casting is spot on, the acting is authentic, the story is relevant, you get the romance, you get the sadness, you get all of this while also having the satisfaction of knowing that the movie paid attention to the details and story it adapted.

January 10, 2020


The Brandeis Hoot

Ten years later, I’m still upset about ‘Inception’: an open letter to Christopher Nolan By Sabrina Chow editor

I will admit it: I’m not the biggest movie buff. I estimate that I step into a movie theater about once a year. But “Inception” is a film that I love to watch every few years, to get confused all over again. And as you can clearly tell from the headline of this article, the movie was written and directed by none other than Christopher Nolan, arguably one of the best movie directors that ever lived, but I have no opinions on this (talk to Arts Editor Jonah Koslofsky, if you want to fight about whatever an “auteur” is). Dreams are confusing. Most people forget them after they wake up in the morning, or just remember the tail end of what was happening right before they wake up. But did you know that you can actually have multiple dreams throughout the night, depending on your sleep cycle? And if you’re one of the lucky few, you might have the opportunity to have the elusive lucid dream, or perhaps you’re a chronic lucid dreamer like me. Lucid dreaming is the phenomenon where you know or are aware that you’re dreaming while in a dream. This gives the dreamer the ability to control certain parts of their dreams, which is super cool! For those who have never seen “Inception,” the film revolves around shared lucid dreams. Dominick Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the leader of a team

of individuals that utilize military technology to create shared dreams that they use to extract information on a subconscious level. This team of individuals comes to help Cobb design dreams and keep people asleep, among other things. Each member of the team has a specific task; for example, there is an architect that creates the landscape of the dream and a chemist that has drugs to keep people sedated while they’re dreaming. Within this technology, there is the ability to go deeper into dreams, creating dreams within dreams. The further down an individual goes, the harder it is for them to get out. A few hours in the real world may seem like decades in the dream world. And the further you go down, the slower time moves. At the lowest level, if a person dies within the dream, they move to limbo, a potentially endless dream state where an individual may age and forget that they are in a dream in the first place. Prior to the start of the movie, Cobb and his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), spent decades in limbo building an imaginary world for themselves. But spending too much time in a dream can alter your perception of reality, making it difficult to distinguish between what is a dream and what is reality. So when going into dreams, each member of the team has a specific momento to help them know if they are in the real world or a dream world. For Cobb, it is a spinning top that belonged to Mal. If he’s in reality, the top will eventually stop spin-

ning. If he’s in a dream, it will spin forever. The main story line of the film is a job that Cobb is tasked with: implanting an idea into someone else’s brain. And the price for the successful “inception” is the ability to return home to the United States and see his children. For the entirety of the movie besides the final scene, we only see the backs of the children because he hasn’t seen them in so long that he doesn’t know what they look like anymore. But I also think that it is because he only sees them while he’s dreaming. Cobb and his team succeeded. After getting off the plane and returning home, Cobb spins his top one last time, but runs off to his children before the top stops, or doesn’t stop spinning. The final seconds of the movie zoom in on the top and cuts to black, so as viewers we never know if the top actually stops spinning or continues to spin. After my most recent viewing of the film and a brief conversation with my dad, I found out that people have been arguing about the ending of the movie for a decade to no avail. In my opinion, Cobb is in reality and not in the dream state for two reasons. First, Cobb’s children turn around so he’s able to see their faces, which he was never able to do in the dreams. Second, right before the scene cuts to black, we see the top start to wobble slightly. Whenever he was in the dream state, the top was constantly spinning, without any signs of stopping. However, while researching for


this article, I found that apparently in the actual script of the film, it says “Behind [Cobb], on the table, the spinning top is STILL SPINNING,” according to an article by CinemaBlend. So, theoretically, according to the script, Cobb is still in a dream at the end of the movie. However, neither the cast members nor the audience knows if the top continues to spin or stops. Contrary to this, Michael Caine, who plays Cobb’s father-in-law in the film, was also confused by the script when he first received it and was told by Nolan that whenever Caine was in the film, they were in reality, according to an article by The National. So then he is in reality… right?I honestly think that Nolan purposely did this to not only confuse Caine, but to further confuse the audience. The ambiguity of the ending of the film is what makes it so interesting and keeps me coming back. I have the hope that maybe after a few years, I’ve gained some insight or gotten smarter to help me once and for all figure out if the ending is in reality or if the whole

movie is just a dream. I completely understand the appeal of cliffhanger endings. Bring the audience to a climax right at the end of the movie and leave the rest up to interpretation. I get it, I appreciate it. But the difference with other movies and books is they have a sequel that explains the cliffhanger! I don’t think there is even a remote chance that Christopher Nolan will make another “Inception” film, so we will never truly know what the ending is supposed to mean, it is all up to our interpretation. But I am a person that hates loose ends. I like to have all my eggs in a row and have finished a complete thought. However, Nolan has left me with one egg that will never be in my neat row. Just the sheer fact that the final shot leaves the viewer with so much freedom to interpret the ending is good cinematically, but it pains me internally because I just want to know how it ends. So please Christopher Nolan, set us all free and give us the “kick.” Is the whole movie just a dream or is Cobb really free from his past?

‘Harley Quinn’ is hyper active and hyper hilarious By Josh Lannon staff

In recent days, DC Comics has had a bit of a darker streak. The DC films directed by Zach Synder (“Man of Steel,” “Batman v. Superman” and sort-of “Justice League”) gave a gritty outlook on the beloved comic book characters in a manner that divided fans and critically flopped. All the gritty reinterpretations of DC superheroes frame these superheroes as the bad guys, leaving me with a nagging question: where are all the supervillains? Even the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) struggles to match its charismatic superheroes to worthy supervillains that are not eventually killed off. This results in many MCU movies having a villain that is a dark reflection of the hero, with the same powers, but just bland and evil. And when supervillains get their own films, they are sometimes objectively bad, like “Suicide Squad.” Even when the Joker,

one of the most well known supervillains of all time, gets a major motion picture, it still frames him as somewhat of an anti-hero, a protagonist who lacks common traits associated with a hero. As an avid comic book fan, I’m tired of anti-heroes, gritty reinterpretations and boring villains. In contrast to all these trends in live action superhero franchises, one animated supervillain show has reinvigorated my love for the superhero genre: “Harley Quinn.” DC’s newest addition to its long list of animated shows and films skips the gritty reboot and anti-hero persona for a colorful and hilarious show about Harley Quinn establishing herself as a big-time supervillain. Initially when I saw the trailers for the show, I was a bit skeptical, but the show proved to be everything I was looking for and everything that other superhero shows and films are missing. Harley Quinn first appeared as the Joker’s sidekick in “Batman the Animated Series,” which eventually explored her abusive relationship with the clown prince


of crime. In her new show, Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) breaks up with the Joker and establishes her own crew of supervillains. Over the course of the first few episodes, Harley Quinn and her newly assembled crew commit various crimes, ranging from robbing banks to staging prison breakouts. Many interpretations of Harley Quinn have her escaping her abusive relationship with the Joker and becoming a violent anti-hero. For example, in the video game “Injustice 2,” she becomes a Justice League member-in-training, and the upcoming “Birds of Prey” seems to follow a similar arc. But Harley Quinn is much more interesting as a villain. In her new show, she still breaks away from the Joker, but rather than becoming a hero, she decides to become a greater villain than her ex-boyfriend. Seeing the world of superheroes from a villain’s perspective is not something we always get to see. The most important thing the show does right is it remembers to actually be funny. Stellar vocal performances, a compelling cast and excellent writing makes this show stand out among the onslaught of other superhero shows. “Harley Quinn” is a comedy featuring violence, but does not use either as a crutch. Instead, the over-the-top violence is used sparingly to enhance the comedic elements of the show. Harley Quinn is also joined by a menagerie of misfit supervillains with excellent character dynamics and great vocal performances. For example, Harely’s best friend, Poison Ivy (Lake Bell), is a perfect foil to Quinn. Ivy’s dry per-

sonality perfectly contrasts with Harley’s hyperactive nature. Other notable performances include Alan Tudyk, who voices both the Joker and Clayface. Tudyk’s Joker is truly unhinged, but maintains a level of comedy in his performance that perfectly suits the tone of the show. Tudyk also has the most important characteristic necessary when playing the Joker: an excellent evil laugh. The great vocal performances are supported by excellent writing. Not many TV shows can pull off the plot of Harley Quinn crashing the Penguin’s nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, but this one does! The dialogue can be overly crass at times, but again, they’re supervillains—so of course they’re going to swear! In fact, one member of Harley’s crew is the foul-mouthed Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale), who only joined the crew to improve his image after calling his nemesis Wonder Woman (something I cannot write in this article). However, his fall from supervillain-dom also brings up another great aspect of the shows writing: its topical humor. Scenes like Doctor Psycho, a supervillain, appearing on a talk show to apologize for his comments or the Legion of Doom holding a press conference disavowing him for not representing their brand of evil, is both ridiculous and relevant. The show deals with relevant subject matter, while still presenting it in a comedic way. For example, one recurring theme is the idea of gender inequality in supervillain society. Quinn initially can’t form a crew partially because of her gender and her connection to the Joker. Her relationship with the Joker,

however, is a much darker subplot, as it is presented as abusive and codependent. Even though Harley breaks up with the Joker in the first episode, he continues to dominate her life in other ways, both mentally and physically, by obstructing her success. Several episodes are devoted to her trying to break his control over her, with Harley even going so far as to travel into her own subconscious to expunge his influence. Despite covering darker themes such as abusive relationships, the show maintains its inherently funny nature while not undermining the significance of the subject matter. The show also includes lesser known villains as major characters, like my personal favorite underrated Batman villain, KiteMan. Despite the ridiculous nature of the show and how it pokes fun at superheroes, it does so out of a deep love for the source material. Including obscure characters like King Shark and Queen of Fables shows just how well read the writers are in their DC comics. While you don’t need an advanced degree in DC comics’ history to enjoy this stuff, it is an absolute pleasure for longtime fans. Quinn first appeared in “Batman The Animated Series,” and her popularity grew so quickly that she got her own episodes, was included in movies, got her own comic book series and now she has come full circle with her own animated TV show. It’s funny, entertaining, full of action, and most importantly, it’s bright and colorful. In a world where DC properties thrive on being dark and moody, it’s great to see a quality comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously.


The Brandeis Hoot

January 10, 2020

‘Uncut Gems’ review: Sandman’s madman grand plan spans prostate glands and contraband By Isaac Ruben staff

Raise your hand if you’ve seen a movie in theaters this winter. Now keep it raised if, before any of these movies, you saw a trailer for “Uncut Gems.” You’re not sure? It’s got Adam Sandler with pomade-laden hair limping through Manhattan’s diamond district showing off a gem-encrusted Furby to Kevin Garnett (yeah, the real Kevin Garnett). Okay, now keep your hand raised if, upon seeing the trailer, you had any clue what “Uncut Gems” was about. No one? Let me help. The film follows Howard Ratner (Sandler), a total train wreck of a man. Howard has a very stressful life, you see. He has to balance his home life in the sub-

urbs with his McMansion, wife, Dinah (Idina Menzel), and kids; his city life with his midtown Manhattan apartment, mistress (Julia Fox), and parties with The Weeknd (yeah, he’s in this movie too), while dodging a whole host of skeevy and violent debt collectors, all of whom he genuinely owes. Howard’s a gambling addict, a compulsive liar and an unfaithful husband, and maybe the third most greedy character in the film. Despite his having the general personality and moral backbone of a half-full trash bag left outside an 8th Ave. strip club, we’re left with no choice but to root for him as he makes increasingly risky bets in the pursuit of bigger and bigger wins. In “Uncut Gems,” directorial brother-duo Josh and Benny Safdie have conjured up several


seemingly unthinkable cinematic achievements. First, they have molded Adam Sandler into an Oscar-buzz-worthy leading man. Second, they made a movie whose genuinely believable plot is entirely contingent upon Kevin Garnett (playing himself) really liking a shiny rock. And third, they made me utterly delighted to spend $16 (plus popcorn) to watch what is essentially a two hour and ten-minute panic attack. So often, good scripts are sullied by overacting and visibly intentional performance. However “Uncut Gems,” a film full of outrageous events and larger-thanlife characters, manages to somehow remain convincing. This is very impressive, yet sort of unsurprising, considering that many members of the cast are first-time actors. The main debt collector/ tough guy, Phil (Kieth Williams Richards), who spends the movie roughing up Howard every time he’s on screen, was an actual debt collector/tough guy in real life; this is his first acting credit. He doesn’t seem like an amateur on screen. He seems like he’s just doing what he does every day. Julia Fox, who plays Howard’s extra-marital girlfriend, also makes her screen debut in the film, and she’s a definite standout. With easily the most emotionally complex supporting role, Fox brings to life a character that is so much more than the objectified eye candy a lesser movie would’ve made


Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner in ‘Uncut Gems.’

the mistress role out to be: she’s a complex and three-dimensional character. The rest of the cast is rock solid too. Lakeith Stanfield is as great as he is in everything he does (dear Hollywood, please put Stanfield in every movie) and Idina Menzel, albeit in a smaller role than a talent of her caliber warrants, plays off Sandler perfectly as his completely exhausted, soon to be ex-wife. Kevin Garnett also gives a highly authentic performance as “2012 Kevin Garnett.” If a review mustn’t be glowing to be taken seriously, I might point out that “Uncut Gems” isn’t really about very much. Sure, it has some rather obvious things to say about wealth and greed. For one whole (brief) Garnett monologue, it even gives a cursory glance to global racism and


inequality, before Howard fiercely veers the conversation back to winning, wealth and greed. Some characters are slightly archetypal, and I can’t say I left the theater with any feelings or thoughts I didn’t previously possess when I entered. I don’t really care though. It’s impeccably crafted and utterly thrilling; there’s not a dull moment. The Safdie brothers keep you stress-eating your popcorn from the opening credits, which take place inside of a colonoscopy (seriously, inside), to the end of the film. Does anyone truly need to see “Uncut Gems?” No. Will you enjoy it? I sure did. Anyway, you’re going to be seeing a million ads for this film right up through Oscar season, so you might as well catch the real thing on the big screen. I think it’s worth the hype.

Pentatonix brought Christmas cheer to Boston By Polina Potochevska and Jennifer Cook editors

On Dec. 11, braving the cold and wind, Jennifer and I (Polina) traveled to Boston University’s Agganis Arena to see “A Pentatonix Christmas Tour 2019.” Pentatonix, often abbreviated as PTX, is a five-member American Grammy-Award-winning a cappella group that covers popular songs and also releases original music. Around the holidays, you can often hear PTX on the radio singing their famous covers of “Hallelujah,” “Winter Wonderland” featuring Tori Kelly and many more classic Christmas songs. Both Jennifer and I love the Christmas season and the many different carols and songs that are sung this time of the year. Pentatonix is one of our favorite groups and their collection of Christmas music does not disappoint, so we knew we had to see them live when they came to Boston for their annual holiday tour. And the best part? It was on our study day so we didn’t even have to skip any classes! The seats in Agganis Arena were packed with couples young and old, huge families with children of all ages and large groups of friends. The energy in the room was lively and everyone seemed excited for the show to begin from the moment they saw the red neon “Pentatonix” sign on stage. We saw many dressed in festive Christmas-inspired costumes, light-up necklaces and one person dressed in normal attire but wearing a headband with a large golden star on top. The opening act was a quartet of


Christmas carolers known as the Olde Towne Carolers, who delighted the crowd with some classic songs such as “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Frosty The Snowman.” Their talent was unquestionable, but the energy level was generally a bit low for the audience that was eagerly awaiting the headlining group. After another short break, the lights went down and the show was officially about to begin. An animated video began to play with the five members of Pentatonix—Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola and Matt Sallee—debating whether or not to release another Christmas album. Instead, they decided on a compilation of some of their best hits, with a few new surprises. That album, “The Best of Pentatonix Christmas,” was released on Oct. 25 and hit number seven on the U.S. Billboard 200 Chart, and we have been playing it on repeat all of fall semester. With that, Pentatonix came onto the stage and began to sing “Angels We Have Heard On High.” While the crowd erupted in cheers at their arrival, Jennifer and I both acknowledged the re-

spect of the audience throughout the entire concert. There weren’t constant cheers during all of the songs, so each of the singers’ voices could be heard well. The set featured tall white Christmas trees, neon light-up risers and a background screen that displayed different festive scenes to compliment every song. Some memorable moments included Pentatonix’s rendition of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” in which The Grinch himself snuck onto the stage wearing Santa’s suit and taunted each of the singers, and even stepped out into the audience to poke and prod at people. The choreography of the number was well done, and Sallee’s lead vocals were perfect. He led up to the song by stepping into the audience to ask people what the worst gift they ever received on Christmas was. The answer we remember was a “re-gifted toilet plunger.” Grassi also walked amongst the audience asking what everyone’s favorite Christmas movie was, before revealing his favorite: “Love, Actually.” This was the perfect lead into the next song which is featured in that movie, “God Only

Knows.” This was one of Polina’s favorite Pentatonix covers and the group nailed it on stage, sitting casually on the risers as they sang. Other fun songs included PTX’s rendition of “Sleigh Ride,” when the group actually slid a huge red sleigh onto the middle of the stage and sat in it during the song, the fast-paced “Jingle Bells” and their dramatic version of “Carol of the Bells.” A stand out performance for the both of us was Olusola’s solo “celloboxing” performance, so named by fellow member Hoying. As the rest of the group rested their voices for a moment, Olusola came on stage and played Bach’s Prelude No. 1 on the cello. He then began to beatbox along with the song in a stunning rhythm that resulted in roaring applause. Of course, this review would not be complete without mentioning the awe-inspiring performance of “Hallelujah,” originally by Leonard Cohen. This cover is incredible, and their five voices mesh together perfectly in this song in a way that left us all covered in goosebumps (and with a tear or two on our cheeks). We felt similarly during their cover

of “Imagine” by John Lennon, as the audience pulled out cell phone flashlights to light up the dark room. The very last song of the encore, “Joyful, Joyful,” featuring Jazmine Sullivan, had perhaps the most energy of all the other performances. We couldn’t help but stand up and dance along, and the rest of the audience, which had mainly been sitting down the entire time, followed suit. Members of Pentatonix also danced into the aisles of the audience as they sang, giving a great feeling of community and Christmas spirit as a way to end the concert. As members of the group said themselves during introductions to songs, it is incredible that such a large audience could gather to see an a cappella group perform live. However, when listening to their talented voices and perfect pitch, it is clear why Pentatonix has the fans that they do. It was refreshing to attend a concert that did not need to rely on flashing lights and backtracks to highlight the artist. Rather, it was just about their voices, and the lyrics. If they come back to Boston, you will definitely find us there.

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