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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Changes with a new semester

Published: January 17, 2014
Section: Front Page, News

Returning and new students were greeted this semester with several new features to Brandeis campus life, including a new LATTE website and eduroam, a singular wifi service in place of the old brandeis_open and brandeis_secure. Another significant change is the near-complete overhaul of the Bran Van service.

New LATTE is a much more streamlined service than the original, with easier and more functional access to streaming video, as well as the ability to personalize email notifications for class forums and edit one’s student profile. Students can also send direct emails to professors more easily and quickly. The former website has been relabeled as “Legacy LATTE” and is still accessible to students who took classes in prior semesters. The transition for most classes has seemed smooth, although some have required additional support from LTS on transferring videos and files from the former LATTE website.

Eduroam, described by LTS as “fast, secure and encrypted” is a generalized wifi service used by over 100 colleges and universities, including Harvard. Brandeis’ use of it signifies the joining of a “large, world-wide wireless hotspot.” Eduroam is also designed for travel, and Brandeis students’ devices will automatically configure to any institution, including those overseas, that utilizes the network. So far, the network has proven to be quite fast, though it is still in development in North America.

In a welcome-back email to the student body, Student Union President Ricky Rosen ’14 outlined the central change in making reservations for the Bran Van, adding an online component and hoping for a “start of a more efficient Bran Van service on campus.” This has decreased the need for students to call escort services in order to make a reservation, though calling is still necessary to reserve return trips.

The new Bran Van website ( is rather straightforward, with tabs for making and editing reservations, basic information and submitting feedback. The instructions are extremely basic, centering on the steps needed to make reservations (click “make a reservation” then enter necessary information) both online and by phone.

Also included is comprehensive information on the time and routes of the Bran Vans, with a complete list of on- and off-campus stops and time intervals for the service. Perhaps the most useful feature is the “edit reservations” option, which allows students to change times, number of passengers and pickup/dropoff points quickly and much more easily than constantly calling escort services back and attempting to change reservations over the phone.

While escort services were unable to comment on the new changes, and this is only the first in what may be several new measures, several issues with the Bran Van service have already been solved. Namely, the frustrations of unresponsive escort services is reduced by online capabilities. The new website’s options for editing reservations bring more fluidity to the service, something much needed to make the Bran Van service easier to access for students and to operate for escort services.

However, issues still remain, such as Vans failing to pick up students and students boarding vans without reservations. Such problems may not be solved easily, nor will they be solved with only a new website. But the new changes may be important first steps towards a more efficient system, one that may create a higher standard for Bran Van service.