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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A little less talk, and a lot more action

Published: October 24, 2008
Section: Features

Imagine this: You didn’t show up to your first three weeks of classes this past semester or do any of the required reading for them, study for the tests, or introduce yourself to the professor. After the first midterms and papers, it is clear that you will most likely not receive a passing grade in your courses. Calmly, you tell one of your professors that you expect them to put up with your shenanigans and that, since you are still officially enrolled in the course, you will take any complaints that they have about your performance into consideration. Nevertheless, you say, you expect them to write you flattering letters of recommendation in the future.

Now, imagine a slightly different scenario. You are a university. You have not placed recycling bins around campus by the beginning of the start of fall semester, as promised. Nor did you deliver toilet paper the first three weeks of school to the residents on campus who have been promised a weekly delivery. One of the new campus dining establishments is now dated to be approximately one month behind schedule. In order to build it, you halved the size of the student game room, built by student vote with student money. Another campus dining establishment decreased its available services substantially and without warning. Rumor is floating around campus that the dining services as a whole have been downgraded to the lowest level of quality food offered by the provider. In addition, a bikes-on-campus program, a program through your university that will allow students to rent a bicycle for $15 a semester, has now been put on hold indefinitely. You calmly tell the students enrolled at your university that if they have complaints then you will take them into consideration, and you look forward to receiving their generous donations after graduation.

Welcome to Brandeis. Though a professor can fail a student who does not live up to course expectations, students are powerless to “fail” a university for its failure to live up to its commitments. Once students and their parents have signed a contract with a university, Brandeis in particular, tuition must be paid in full (by the family or a scholarship or alternative source) regardless of whether all services paid for are delivered as promised. Is there any accountability at all?

Now look at the same situation from a different light. Different services are provided by different establishments. Food related issues, not including private establishments on campus such as Einstein Bagels, are controlled by Aramark. The Student Union is in charge of programs such as bikes on campus and the new weight room. Maintenance is run by the Facilities department. It’s time to cut to the chase- to address the complaints students have about Brandeis not living up to its promises and the responses from the accused parties. It’s time to find out which complaints are valid, which ones are not, and which ones deserve action.



“Often, I’ll go to Usdan on Sunday nights and there won’t be like anything,” said Ben Bar ’10. “Like nothing. Smoothies, milk, chicken, fruit., for example.” “I went to the Home Zone (Lower Usdan) the other night for dinner and they din’t even have two sides to go with my main course, so I had to get a lot of rice,” said Steve Sasmor ’10.

Other students have noticed long-term outages as well. One of the workers at the Mexican Stand, Tortia Fresca in Lower Usdan noted that there have not been any Churros since the beginning of the school year, though they are listed on the menu, and that the odds of there being guacamole on a particular day are iffy.

“This is news to me,” stated Newmark. “Thank you for bringing it to my attention.” According to Newmark, every station, seven days a week, should be stocked. “I’ll work with my team to ensure that.”

According to Newmark this is something that needs to be addressed right away. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep up,” he said. “Volume shifts each meal period, we don’t always know exactly how many students to expect.” Nevertheless, “don’t go home hungry. If something is out, contact me. Ask a manager first, but if there’s a problem you can always come to me.” Newmark can be contacted via E-mail at


“The hours are crappy on the weekends,” stated Kristina Dunn ’10. “Lower Usdan could be open later on Saturday nights,” added Susan Landau ’10.

“We go by demand,” stated Newmark. “We try to adjust to students’ needs.” Newmark noted that between all of the dining establishments on campus, food is available to students 600 hours each week. “In the past few years, we’ve only expanded our hours of operation,” Newmark continued. “And now with places open like Quiznos, Ollie’s Eatery and an exanded meal program at the Pod, students should feel that there is food available to them whenever.”


At the beginning of the semester, SEA noticed that recycling bins were absent from much of campus. Ziv Quad residents can attest that no toilet paper deliveries were made for the first three weeks. In addition, certain students noted that facilities repair times were longer than those promised on the Brandeis website. All three of these responsibilities belong to Facilities, run by head of University Services Mark Collins.

“No toilet paper? Inexcusable,” Collins said. “I don’t want anyone going without toilet paper than an hour.” Collins said that much of the toilet paper is stored just a few hundred feet away from Ziv Quad. “Whether the toilet paper is a few hundred feet away in the garage or outside your door, we have it.” Collins added that until The Hoot mentioned the problem, he hadn’t known that it existed.

Regarding recycling bins around campus, Collins emphasized that Facilities has more responsibilities to cover over the course of a summer than time physically allows them to fulfill. “The beginning of the year is a hectic time,” he stated, based on “the sheer magnitude of what has to get done. We have to get much as done as possible. If all we’ve forgotten are recycling bins, we’re okay.” Collins added that someone must have mentioned the problem because by the time of our interview it had already been rectified.

If repairs take a longer time then promised, it’s not for a lack of trying. “Are we perfect? No,” said Collins. “But we have put a good foot forward. We do as much as we can.”

Collins noted that students can track the progress of their work orders by calling x68500. If a student truly feels that facilities has neglected something important, Collins can be contacted directly via

Student Union

Do you remember that time when you tried voting in a student union election, but couldn’t because the server was down? Andrew Brooks ’09 does. He believes such a failure may have partially been responsible for his losing the election for Vice President of the Student Union earlier this semester. “It may have cost me the election,” he groaned.

The Student Union website is run by LTS. Student Union Secretary Tia Chatterjee wrote in an E-mail “as I said in the VP election, there is NOTHING we can do. I contacted the maintainers of our server as well as LTS and they did what they could. Try… when not as many people are logging in at once.”

In addition, students may remember that an issue of the Stall Street Journal, a Student Union run publication posted in bathroom stalls throughout campus, promised a bikes on campus program where students could rent bikes for just $15 a semester. The program has not come to fruition.

“[Michael] Kerns was in charge of that,” explained Jason Gray ’10, President of the Student Union. “Since then, nothing has happened. It’s still in idea form.” Paul Balik ’10 said that he is working on the program, but could use help. In the mean time, there is no expected arrival time for the program.

The idea of such a program was started by Kevin Montgomery ’07, author of the article “Yellow Bikes for ‘Deis” in the Oct. 28, 2005 edition of The Hoot.


Do you have problems that need to be addressed? If you feel that you have a valid complaint that needs attention, contact the person in charge! After all, if the responsible party is not aware of your problem, chances are that nothing will be done about it.


Michael Newmark

Student Union:

Jason Gray


Mark Collins

Work order forms can be filled out on the Brandeis website at