BRANDEIS REPLIES

The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

As one of those (Class of '53) identified at least generically with the "hardy, pioneer stereotype which characterized the first few classes" I found Jack Rosenthal's article on Brandeis (CRIMSON, May 10) interesting and perceptive, but somewhat unfair in its criticisms.

Mr. Rosenthal measures several instances, against a profession of non-sectarian principle, and concludes that Brandeis is guilty of "sincerity bred hypocrisy." The three chapels, he points out, appear equal in size but in fact differ in capacity, the Jewish chapel holding twice as many as the others. It is alleged that Brandeis also violates its ideals "negatively" by luring non-Jewish students with scholarships.

I think these criticisms could stand further reflection. Brandeis is first of all a university--a school founded by the Jewish community "as a corporate contribution to American higher education." If, as a school, it has sought also to exemplify the more commendable aspects of "Americanism" but has not done so with stringent purity or absolute success I see no reason to interpret its efforts as hypocrisy. It may be wishful thinking for Brandeis to build a 2-1-1 chapel arrangement for a school with a present 12-1-1 religious ratio but it strikes me as anything but hypocritical. The painfully simple fact remains that Brandeis, so far as I know alone among universities, has provided campus facilities for worship by its students without either excluding some of them or forcing them to worship as guests in an uncongenial atmosphere. Nor is the solicitation of non-Jewish students either unprecedented in principle or unreasonable. I have a strong suspicion that Harvard offers inducements of one kind or another to students from beyond the Appalachians and from other foreign pastures--and for that matter, from the city of Cambridge. Is it also hypocritical for Harvard to introduce into its admissions policy the factor of promoting understanding among people of different backgrounds?

That Brandeis students are cynical does not surprize me--they are assigned more Nietzsche than Locke; but that they too are hypocritical is an observation which (sirrah!) the record does not support. The student who told Mr. Rosenthal that she gives a higher figure for non-Jewish enrollment because it "sounds good" is just a patriot turned inside-dopester. . . .

The Brandeis administration has learned, at times with difficulty, that neither its students nor its faculty will take a departure from the school's ideals lightly. The chapels, athletic policy, oversized Gen. Ed. classes, attempts to impose "gracious living," even the destruction of an apple orchard in the name of what is known at Brandeis as the "edifice complex" have met vigorous debate which has often resulted in policy modifications. But just as I would not advise evaluating Harvard on the basis of the Omnibus account, so do I hope that the value of the energy and devotion which have gone into Brandeis will not be adjudged solely by what is done to make the school socially acceptable and financially stable. Sanford A. Lakoff,   Teaching Fellow in Government