DEIS Impact puts social justice on the agenda

Organizers hope weeklong series of events will become tradition

Photo/Mike Lovett

Herbie Rosen '12

Brandeis’ commitment to social justice will be on full display this week in a wide-ranging program of events that make up the inaugural DEIS Impact.

DEIS Impact’s organizers are calling it a “festival of social justice” designed to illuminate what social justice means to people with different perspectives and backgrounds, and to celebrate the many ways Brandeis students, faculty and staff contribute to society.

The program kicked off on Monday, Feb. 5, and the schedule of events will continue all week. All events are free and open to the public.

“What is exciting about DEIS Impact is that it capitalized on an enormous amount of student energy, and connects it to faculty and staff initiatives,” says Marci McPhee, associate director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. “The Student Union was responsible for the publicity and awareness and spreading enthusiasm on campus, while the Ethics Center provided the expertise and experience needed to set up these big initiatives."

Student Union President Herbie Rosen ‘12 was an early champion of the event and sits on the steering committee.

In the summer of 2011, Rosen began talking with McPhee about a collaboration between the Student Union and the Ethics Center.

“We were inspired by the Festival of Arts, an event which is so uniquely Brandeisian, and wanted to create something similar which would allow students to understand what exactly social justice is,” says Rosen.

According to McPhee, the idea of DEIS Impact quickly gained momentum, and soon more than 32 different clubs and organizations had partnered to create more than 28 events on campus. The event also received generous funding from the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice.

Rosen says he hopes students will take time out of their busy schedule to attend at least a few events that interest them.

The highlight event of the week will be the keynote address by Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service. Since its inception 25 years ago, AJWS has worked to empower marginalized people around the world. She is coming to campus to lead a discussion on how the Brandeis community can individually effect a positive global change, says Rosen. The talk will be held Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Hassenfeld Conference Center.

Rosen has high hopes for the success of DEIS Impact, and hopes it will continue to grow in years to come.

“As an alumnus, I want to hear about how DEIS Impact is doing, how it has grown,” he says. “I want it to become a hallmark of the Brandeis Community.”

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