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WALTHAM

Brandeis newspaper delays publication

In the wake of the uproar over a racial remark published in its last edition and the resignation of top editors, the next issue of Brandeis University's student newspaper has been delayed until tomorrow.

The staff at the Justice "decided to take their time and look at this, to give students enough time to have input, and not rush an issue out while things are evolving," said Dennis Nealon, a spokesman for the Waltham college. The paper normally comes out Tuesdays.

The controversy triggered the resignations of writers and editors, and has brought race relations to the forefront of discussion at this suburban campus, home to the country's only Jewish-sponsored nonsectarian university.

Tomorrow's issue of the Justice will be the last under editor-in-chief Stephen Heyman, one of six staffers to quit the weekly paper following the publication of the offensive remark in the Oct. 21 baseball column penned by sophomore sportswriter Daniel Passner.

"The administration has made it clear they will not have me as editor-in-chief," Heyman said in a telephone interview Monday night. "I will be stepping down after this issue."

The Justice is an independent newspaper published weekly by the students at Brandeis, and is not under the authority of the school administration, Nealon said.

In his Oct. 21 sports column, Passner criticized Dusty Baker, the black Chicago Cubs manager who generated racial controversy himself when he commented in July that minority baseball players adapted to the heat better than their white counterparts.

Passner ended his column with: "As I often like to do, I will end with a quote. This one comes from noted campus civil rights activist Joseph Shmulewitz '06. I cannot endorse it, but I find it fitting. In response to the praise being heaped on the skills of Dusty Baker, Shmulewitz responded, `The only thing Baker has a Ph.D. in is something that starts with an N and rhymes with Tigger, the cheerful scamp who stole all of our hearts in the Winnie the Pooh series.' "

Immediately after the paper came out, Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz e-mailed a memo to the university's staff and students stating, "I expect the highest level of student journalism and commentary from our paper, and knowing that at least three student editors found no concern with the offensive lines presented by the author stuns me."

According to Heyman, a copy editor in training had flagged the comment on proof, but no other editor looked at the story before publication.

The university's Black Student Organization presented a list of demands to the staff of the Justice, calling for a public apology and the resignations of Passner and his editor. On Oct. 23, the organization staged a peaceful walkout at a public forum held by the Justice because its demands had not yet been met.

The Student Union Senate passed a resolution calling for the resignation of the editors responsible for the column and for the paper to take steps to make sure such an incident does not occur again.

The Justice's sports editor, Brandeis senior Rob Siegel, has since resigned, as have senior editor Matthew Bettinger, features editor Yana Litovsky, and associate editor Scott Koenig.

As of Tuesday, the Black Student Organization said its demands had been met.

Reinharz issued another statement to the Brandeis community Tuesday, commending the actions of the students.

"Acting very responsibly in the aftermath of this unfortunate and unusual lapse in editorial judgment, the Justice is planning to issue a formal apology to the campus community in general and BBSO in particular," the president's memo stated. "There is important work still to be done to renew our valued sense of community, to heighten sensitivity and the quality of discourse on campus, and to explore how the administration can more effectively support student organizations while permitting appropriate levels of autonomy and self-governance."

Shmulewitz declined to comment, and Passner did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Siegel said he decided to resign from the paper's editorial board after meeting with Reinharz on Friday.

"I've been with the paper three and a half years, and this is the first time anything blatantly racist has slipped through the cracks," said Siegel. "It's an awful situation. It was a horrible breakdown in the editorial process. If I had seen the remark for a second, there's no way on earth it would have ended up in the paper."

Siegel said he will continue to write for the sports section because the section is understaffed.

"I've been here a while, I've never really experienced any segregational attitude on campus. Brandeis is predominantly Jewish, and I think Jews know what it's like to be persecuted. The last thing they'll do is pick on another group," said Siegel, who described last week's public forum as "a circus."

This is not the first time racial tensions have surfaced at Brandeis through the student media. In fall 2001, a controversial radio talk show called "The Men's Room" was pulled off the campus radio station, WBRS-FM, after its hosts made derogatory references to Asian women on the air. Reinharz then established a special committee to ensure diversity and inclusion on the campus.

Minorities represent approximately 16 percent of the 4,800 students at Brandeis.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com.

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