Speaking out; Concerns about anonymous forums

July 24, 2020

To the Brandeis Community,

As we prepare for what will surely be a very different fall semester, we want to take a moment to talk about some values that are more enduring: Speaking out effectively and fairly. 

It is an integral and important part of being a Brandeisian to speak out for equity and justice. We have a long history at this university of protest, petition, and voicing criticism. The university supports and respects students’ right to have their voices heard on issues that are important to them. This is true, even when we share stories anonymously. Sometimes, we know that deeply painful experiences and perspectives require us to balance shining a light and maintaining privacy. We encourage all of you to continue speaking out to improve Brandeis. 

Addressing behavior that is unacceptable can lead to important dialogue and change. Though naming an individual in an anonymous online forum raises awareness of an experience or concern, it also inadvertently reinforces the notion that direct, honest communication or engagement is not possible or even desirable. It certainly leaves the named person without a way to meaningfully respond, defend themselves, or engage in any form of restorative resolution. Several members of our community have already been identified in these forums which are not prepared or designed to promote resolution or reconciliation. In order for injured parties to have their experiences meaningfully addressed, we would like to suggest that these personal accounts need to be raised in a setting that includes evidence and a fair process to all involved. We also would like to convey that there are existing avenues to creating the desired change at the university. Brandeis has multiple places to report misconduct, including the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Ombuds, or the Dean of Students Office. Students may also use the Report It! webpage. Faculty and staff may contact Human Resources. As a university, we do not, and cannot, take action based solely on anonymous statements as that would violate basic procedural fairness. 

We take your concerns seriously. If you speak out or press a complaint, we will listen and respond appropriately. It’s important for all students to be aware of the resources developed over the years to address student concerns.

We feel that these resources and the mechanisms that have been established are an effective way for the university to address concerns. Please visit the Support at Brandeis website for a comprehensive list of University resources.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to either of us or anyone in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or Division of Student Affairs. We look forward to facing this challenging semester together with all of you.

Mark Brimhall-Vargas
Raymond Lu-Ming Ou