“If we don’t get it, shut it down”
Brandeis University becomes the latest school to receive a set of demands from a student protest group… or else.
The group, calling itself Concerned Students 2015, made the following demands, according to an all-campus email from Brandeis Interim President Lisa Lynch forwarding an email she had received:
Dear President Lynch,
“The university that carries the name of the justice who stood for the rights of individuals must be distinguished by academic excellence, by truth pursued wherever it may lead and by awareness of the power and responsibilities that come with knowledge.”
– Last paragraph of Brandeis University’s Mission
We, the concerned students of Brandeis University, take pride in being Brandeis students. We care deeply about the future and progress of this university and want this university to continue to attract and produce the world’s greatest and most critical minds. This is why we are dedicated to the needs of our fellow students and believe we must hold this beloved university to its mission.
As a University we have failed. We have failed our Black students. We have failed our Black professors. We have failed our Black staff members. We have failed our Black community. We, as a university, must not continue to claim ignorance of said failures. Black students across the nation are standing up against racial injustice on their campuses. We, as concerned students, need our university to stand with us and to work with us on addressing issues of injustice, as they unfold on our own campus. The only way for this institution to move forward is to address these failures directly. This is what we, as concerned student leaders of Brandeis University, have done.
Attached to this letter you will find a list of demands, which we feel will resolve a few of the most pressing issues Brandeis students, faculty, and administration face today. We write these demands as we reflect on the social justice values upon which Brandeis University was founded upon in 1948. This list is a call for action This is a call for Brandeis to acknowledge its failures and to correct them as soon as possible. You have twenty-four hours to devise and publicly issue a plan that will address the demands we have presented to you.
We are moving our people towards a liberation that has long been denied. This is a liberation that those of all races can understand. By uplifting one facet of our community that has been kept down or simply ignored, we uplift us all. Therefore, we ask that our brothers and sisters from all backgrounds stand with us, as Black students are granted the rights they have been denied for far too long at this institution.
“The proof that one truly believes is in action.” – Bayard Rustin
Interim President Lynch issued this preliminary response in her all-campus email:
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Yesterday afternoon I received the following cover letter and list of demands from a group of Brandeis students. I understand the motivation for this letter and that the list of demands comes from a deep concern and growing frustration about the current state of our university. I agree with the letter writers that we must hold our university to its mission. This mission includes academic excellence, truth pursued wherever it may lead, and awareness of the power and responsibilities that come with knowledge.
But our mission statement recognizes that excellence and truth can only be achieved when we have an academic community whose members have diverse cultures, backgrounds and life experiences. As our mission statement makes clear, we must recognize the need to analyze and address the ways in which social, cultural and economic inequalities affect power and privilege in the larger society and at Brandeis itself. In order to do this, we must foster a just and inclusive campus culture that embraces the diversity of the larger society. In spite of having such a well-defined university mission statement, it is clear that we have not yet achieved the aspirations of that vision.
Before I respond with a more detailed statement to the letter from concerned students, I plan to attend today’s rally on the Rabb steps at 1:30 to hear directly from our community on their concerns. I will then follow up with a more detailed response that will focus on the systemic changes that we must make to achieve our mission.
We have significant work to do. But as I have said before, I know our community’s commitment to addressing these issues honestly and passionately will make a significant and positive change on our campus and in our society.
The protest event included a rally and “occupation” of part of Ford Hall [Featured Image]:
— Ben Kreider (@ben_kreider) November 20, 2015
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