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Class of 2021 takes its place at Brandeis

The newest members of the Brandeis family came to campus from across the country and the world for Move-in Day and to kick off their Brandeis careers.

brandeis beginnings convocationPhoto/Mike Lovett

Members of the Class of 2021 and their families gathered on Chapels Field on Sunday afternoon Aug. 27 for Brandeis Beginnings, the university's convocation ceremony.

The 866 members of the Class of 2021 made themselves at home at Brandeis on Sunday as they participated in Move-in Day and the start of New Undergraduate Student Orientation.

With the sun shining and the campus buzzing, first years and transfer students – who come from 41 states and 21 countries around the globe – settled into their residence halls and kicked off their Brandeis careers in perfect weather.

Orientation Leaders (OLs), clad in matching bright blue t-shirts, spread energy and good cheer by enthusiastically welcoming their new classmates. Together with staff and community advisors, the OLs gave directions, offered insight, and helped carry an endless parade of lamps, luggage, electronics and room décor out of cars, up stairs and into rooms in the Massell and North residence quads.

“My room looks great and I’m so excited to be here,” said Emma Wolters ’21 from Boulder, Colorado. “The OLs were really helpful, they just grabbed all my bags and took them into my room. They were so quick and took care of so much for us. It’s just really nice to be here finally and meet everyone.”

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Speech: President Ron Liebowitz addresses Class of 2021 at convocation

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Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz formally welcomed the Class of 2021 and their families at the Brandeis Beginnings convocation. In his remarks, Liebowitz offered students some advice: that they learn about and live out the university’s history and reason for its founding; that they strive for openness and free debate; and that they pursue tikkun olam – using one’s gifts to make the world a better place.

“After just a short time on this campus, one cannot help but feel a deep commitment to justice, something that our namesake Louis Brandeis believed in strongly and wrote about extensively a century ago. Many universities have recently come to promote social justice as an important part of their institution’s culture, yet, it was an important part of Brandeis from its beginning,” Liebowitz said.

Liebowitz also acknowledged the contentious climate on campuses across the country, particularly with regard to free speech and expression, and noted that the protests in Charlottesville two weeks ago are a reminder of why open and civil discourse is necessary today.

“As we try to make sense of the hate spewed in Charlottesville, I have to believe the narrow-mindedness we observed was in large part due to individuals having never taken an opportunity or risk to engage those with different views and perspectives on the most basic human issues,” he said. “They chose instead to live their lives in the safety of their own protective echo chambers.”

“A liberal arts education – and especially a Brandeis liberal arts education – will challenge you to confront long held views and see other perspectives and invite disagreement, debate, and discomfort,” Liebowitz added. “If that isn’t your experience by the time you graduate, we will have failed you.”

After sunset, first-years gathered underneath the Light of Reason sculpture in front of Rose Art Museum for a candlelight vigil called “Light up the Night.” With the entirety of the Class of 2021 gathered, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel urged first-years to be a light in the world and not to give into divisiveness or fear.

“Tonight, our candles, and these lights, beat back the darkness – as they do, I hope all feel as I do,” Flagel said. “We are Brandeis and this is our house. Hate has no home here. Welcome home.”

As Flagel concluded his remarks and again wished the Class of 2021 well, the Light of Reason lit up and the crowd cheered.

Orientation continues until classes begin. The remainder of ‘Deis Week is still packed with a number of campus events and fun activities aimed at helping new students learn more about Brandeis and adjust to campus life.

“I’m looking forward to orientation, but I’m also glad the whole class is here together finally,” said Matthew Rotzenberg of Maplewood, New Jersey. “I’m excited to get started with classes and meeting everyone.”

Categories: General, Student Life

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