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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hurricane response leaves us wanting more

Published: November 2, 2012
Section: Editorials

The university demonstrated its preparedness for Hurricane Sandy this week, with many staff working overtime to provide students with a wide range of dining options, quickly restored power and facilities and public safety officials were to help through every hour of the storm.

Facilities staff and administrators under the leadership of Senior Vice President for Administration Mark Collins worked collaboratively with NStar to restore power by Tuesday morning to all buildings that lost it the previous evening.

While there are few major problems to critique when a university prepares well for a storm that caused minimal damage to our campus, we do have three significant concerns to voice.

First, administrators should reevaluate campus dining options during a severe storm, such as this one. Is it truly necessary to keep all dining locations open and require workers, many of whom live far away, to drive and come to work, or stay overnight during the storm? Can students go one day without a quesadilla from Usdan? We think they can. Consolidating dining options and developing a plan that relies almost extensively on student workers will ease the burden for staff who must leave their families and travel far distances in inclement weather so that students can enjoy the luxuries of everyday food with which they are accustomed. We can survive with fewer options and more buffet style dining for a day or two.

Second, President Fred Lawrence should clarify the communication in his emails. On Sunday afternoon, he announced that classes would likely be held, before reversing the decision just five hours later with a new email in the evening. True, the switch came after a request from Governor Deval Patrick, but university officials should recognize that once a state of emergency had been declared earlier in the day, announcing that classes would likely be held made little sense. It would have been better to wait until the evening and send just one email.

Third, we greatly appreciate the email from the deans of student life on Thursday, reaching out to the student body, regarding families struggling after the impact of the storm in New York and New Jersey. Yet, such communication should have come on Monday and Tuesday, not on Thursday.

The next time around, implementing these changes will ensure better communication with students and more respect and appreciation for staff in the dining halls.