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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Reslife cites residents in East Quad

Published: February 10, 2006
Section: News

Over 60 of the 390 residents of East Quad were cited by Residence Life over break of various violations, according to several students who live in the quad.

Students were surprised to find notices on their doors, which named violations such as bag over smoke detector and dirty shot glass, according to students.

This is not just because I want to keep students safe, said Megan Drangstveit, the East Quad Director. I also live in this building. I want to know that the integrity of the fire safety is intact.

Drangstveit confirmed that there were a fair number of violations, leading to an optional, student-led fire safety meeting. The most typical offenses, said Drangstveit, were students placing items such as Christmas lights on exposed water pipes and placing plastic bags over smoke detectors. Rooms that had chalk drawings on their brick walls, however, were not given violation notices.

While those who attended the meeting and removed the offending articles had their violations considered resolved, offenders covering their smoke detectors were automatically referred through the Student Judiciary, whether or not they had attended the meeting. Instead of putting students through the judicial process, we figured wed make this an opportunity for education, said Drangstveit.

The fire safety meeting, which had over 60 students attending in Easts Airplane Lounge, gave statistics from other college campuses, such as MIT, in regards to fire deaths and damage.

Drangstveit was cautiously optimistic about the affair. Theres nothing thats 100 percent, she said, but I think that many students, even though they were required to come, learned something. They asked a lot of questions as to why the rules were the way they are.

There are still many East residents, however, who are upset at the notices, and view the circumstances as a draconian trend in the Department of Residence Lifes presence in their quad, as one anonymous East resident wrote to the Hoot. Another student, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, complained at their violation notice for a dirty shot glass: Since when is it [Residence Lifes] job to tell me to clean my cups? they said.

Mike Werner 08, was another student who was served a notice, for taping his television cable to his rooms exposed water pipe. I was obviously a little surprised that they would blow up such a little thing into a huge felony, Werner wrote to the Hoot. I was cited for duct taping a TV cable to the thick part of my rooms water pipes, about two feet away from the nearest sprinkler.

When asked about the potential dangers of a television cable taped to a water pipe, East Associate Quad Director Jeremy Leiferman replied that he was less concerned with the notoriously sensitive water sprinklers going off as he was uncertain as to the precise degree of performance a water sprinkler would have with a cable or wire attached.

Leiferman told the Hoot that he felt that wires could impede the water sprinklers to some degree, whether by bursting into flames or causing the water sprinklers to sag under the wires melted rubber insulation.

Werner also stated that the fire safety meeting left him feeling more than a little skeptical: It was a 15 minute discussion I learned that whereas it is an extreme violation to even touch our water pipes with the softest of silks, it is perfectly within our rights to hang 10 ton weights from our electricity pipes if we so desire.

Drangstveit and Leiferman concluded their interview with the Hoot by responding to the student claims of draconian measures: I dont think any response is necessary for promoting [student] safety, said Leiferman. Were not harassing students because its fun, but it is a safety situation that puts people and their property at risk.

Werner, however, ended his statement by posing an alternative view, with which many angry East residents are now agreeing: Brandeis needs some serious reform either in our fire safety code or in our Quad Director.