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Brandeis president doesn’t meet all demands of protesters

Acting Brandeis University President Lisa M. Lynch is pushing for changes she hopes will increase diversity in the student body and staff — but she won’t do it on a timetable set by student protesters.

Lynch, with the backing of the Waltham school’s board of trustees, sent a multipage letter to the campus community this weekend after meeting with students who have occupied the Bernstein-Marcus Administrative Center — which includes Lynch’s office. According to social media postings, the occupation was continuing Monday.

“The atmosphere described by our students is painful to hear and calls on all of us to address these issues,’’ Lynch wrote.


Brandeis University students, including Tremaine Smith, marched Monday toward the school’s administration building.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

In her letter, Lynch aligned herself broadly with the goal of increasing diversity at all levels of the university, from support staff workers who earn a minimum of $15.05 an hour, to the undergraduate and graduate students, and to the ranks of professors and instructors.

“We recognize that we must go further to fulfill our founding ideals,’’ Lynch wrote. “However, reacting to immediate timetables and ultimata is not something that is productive or does justice to the work that needs to be done.’’

Lynch provided an account of the school’s recent efforts to boost diversity, including creating the new post of vice president of diversity and inclusion as of July 2016.

Setting a specific timeline for action, Lynch wrote, could prove counterproductive because “it does not allow for engagement of all members of our community. This deep engagement is critical to ensure that the course we follow takes account of the many important interests that are involved or implicated in any initiative and has broad support.’’

Student Union president Nyah Macklin told the Globe that students were still occupying the building Monday. She said the group received a response from the administration but “that sadly does not get to the issues at hand.”


The student movement was further lauded by Chad Williams, chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

“It’s clear that Brandeis has made some progress on several fronts [since the 1969 student movement], but there is still more work that needs to be done,” Williams said. “We hope their concerns will be taken seriously.”

Christian Nunez spoke to the student protesters.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Jan Ransom can be reached at jan.ransom@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jan_Ransom. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.