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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Communication fails after tragedy

Published: October 22, 2010
Section: Editorials

Last week we were all deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of former Heller Professor Jim Callahan. Callahan was a man who dedicated his life to improving the state’s mental health and elderly care services.

Yet we were greatly disappointed with the university’s communications office. Callahan was killed when an MBTA train struck him last Tuesday. The university did not issue a statement or press release until Friday, the same day that The Hoot published a story about Callahan’s death.

The role of the communications office is to inform members of the Brandeis community about all happenings. Callahan was a man who had a profound impact on many members of this community. He epitomized the ideals of social justice that this university stands for. It is irresponsible that we were not informed of his death shortly after, especially considering how tragic and sudden it was.

The university was aware of the death before Friday and it had a duty to notify us. We understand that a communications office has many roles and responsibilities, but there is no excuse for failing to deliver the news of Callahan’s death in a timely manner. It is one thing to have poor communications about a budget issue or academic announcement, but this is unacceptable.

Had The Hoot not published a story about Callahan, we question whether the university would have notified the community.

As we understand, the role of the media is to inform people about all news, and most importantly the news that directly impacts their lives. This university should know better.