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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Univ should take preventative measures rather than wait for crisis

Published: February 28, 2014
Section: Editorials

With the upcoming housing selection and the movement of the housing lottery online, Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment, has admitted that this is an improvement long overdue. “Brandeis is unusual in lacking a robust housing data system,” he said in an interview with The Hoot this week. Yes, Brandeis is outdated in many ways that could make campus life less stressful for students if updated. And it seems to take an incredibly long amount of time for the necessary changes to be made.

There is a general lack of urgency from the administration when it comes to responding and finding solutions to problems that plague the campus. These are typically things that are recognized as problems, but more effort is placed into dealing with the situation from a public relations standpoint than looking for a preventative, positive solution that would benefit everyone.

A persistent issue is with dining. After incessant complaints from the student body on the lack of quality provided from Aramark, the change to Sodexo was implemented this past year, with more dining changes overall to happen in the near future. Administrators point to the fact that a number of surveys were needed to accurately take a picture of student desires, but it does not take long to realize that there is a problem with food quality, quantity and price on this campus. And while Brandeis has now rolled out an extensive, four-year dining plan (including renovating the Stein, Lower Usdan and Sherman) the changes are still too late in the eyes of many students who have protested the poor quality of food for years.

Another example of Brandeis’ tendency to delay an active response is related to the South Street crosswalks. Multiple accidents have occurred at these crosswalks for years. In the past, these events were met with a simple email reminding students to look both ways and make sure to press the button to signal that they’re crossing. We are not children who need to be told what to do, and there is no need to blame the victim. Three students were hit and injured by one car before the university was prompted to make serious renovations to the crosswalk and converse with Waltham police. Frankly, there should not have even been one accident before making sure that the crosswalk was safe for pedestrians. Both Brandeis and the city of Waltham are at fault here, and the administration needs to be more forthright in making sure this does not happen again.

A final problem was the issue of executive compensation. Someone must have realized that, when Jehuda Reinharz’s salary for working part-time was reported, there would be an eventual backlash. Yet Brandeis endured extensive media coverage, including a large expose by The Boston Globe, and a petition with student and alumni signatures before making any changes to executive compensation. Brandeis students even staged a protest in recent weeks.

Brandeis needs to address problems before they reach a tipping point, before they become unavoidable. The university cannot ignore issues it knows affect students on a daily basis, be it our food, living space, money or safety. Brandeis needs to make preventative choices, not wait for student uproar to take action.