Supporting One Another

Oct. 9, 2018

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Recent events in Washington have underscored deep divisions in our nation. As a university, we should not take a stand on partisan issues, but we can and will do everything possible to provide a supportive environment that protects all members of our community and educates us all about the profound and important issues we struggle with as a society.

So I am asking everyone in our community to use this moment as a time for reflection and learning. I want to remind students, faculty, and staff of the resources available to them here on campus. And I want to encourage all of us to make our voices heard beyond our campus.

For those who have faced sexual violence or who are feeling especially vulnerable, please remember this: Brandeis cares. Professional resources here on campus can provide you with compassionate and timely assistance. They include the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as these confidential services:

For a comprehensive list of resources available to students, faculty, and staff, please visit the Support at Brandeis website.

As the university’s Title IX website underscores, Brandeis is committed to providing students, faculty, and staff with an environment conducive to learning and working, one where people are treated with respect and dignity. If you have experienced, witnessed, or become aware of discrimination or sexual misconduct, you have rights and options. Brandeis offices can help you seek support and report the incident to university officials and/or local law enforcement. The university is committed to responding promptly and effectively once notified of any form of discrimination based on sex and forbids retaliation against an individual who has filed a complaint.

All of us also have a role to play in the political process. Justice Louis Brandeis, our namesake, observed that “the most important political office is that of the private citizen.” These words call on us to exercise our civic responsibility to be engaged citizens — to participate in our democratic institutions in order to keep them strong and functioning.  

If you have not registered to vote or have not yet applied for an absentee ballot, there is still time to have your voice heard by having your vote counted. University students can register to vote either in their home state or in the state in which they are enrolled. Please see these sites for relevant information:

To register to vote

To obtain an absentee ballot

On Thursday, October 11, at noon, a voter registration drive will be held in the Shapiro Campus Center, offering additional assistance and information.

Provost Lisa Lynch has written to deans and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies faculty, encouraging faculty members with relevant coursework to build in time for discussions about sexual assault, the recent U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, and, more broadly, the state of civil rights in the United States.

The university is engaged in the exploration of these and other issues. Last week, we hosted Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, the former president of Spelman College, who delivered an inspiring Gittler Prize lecture, “Closing the Empathy Gap: Community Building Through Dialogue.” University Professor Anita Hill recently spoke to a gathering of students enrolled in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. And on Sunday, October 14, University of Michigan professor Catharine MacKinnon will deliver her Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights, titled “Sexual Harassment: The Law, the Politics, and the Movement,” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center; the event is free and open to the public.

There will be many other opportunities for us to learn from and listen to one another as a caring community.

For now, I want you to know that, while the university must and will remain politically nonpartisan, we stand compassionately by any members of our community who feel anguish. We will use this opportunity and others like it to listen more attentively and intentionally to one another, and to strengthen our resolve as Brandeisians to do all we can to advance both truth and justice.


Ron Liebowitz