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Univ. needs to clean up Massell Pond

Univ. needs to clean up Massell Pond

By Zach Phil Schwartz

Section: Opinions

April 17, 2015

With a harsh winter over and Admitted Students Day just around the corner, the university has been hard at work patching up the grounds to make campus safer and more appealing. The steps by Sherman are on the mend, grounds crews are hard at work refurbishing the campus vegetation and repairs are in short order for the borderline-condemnable Usen Castle. With all of this refurbishing going on, it makes you wonder why Massell Pond is so disgusting.

Presumably the byproduct of being a low point on a campus where there’s a lot of water to run off to, Massell Pond is essentially a storm basin that can house a large volume of water so that other parts of campus don’t flood. Whether this was the pond’s original purpose or if it originated as an effort to get rid of what would’ve been a swampy and oft flooded area is unclear, but its disgusting nature is beyond doubt.

Nowadays, you can walk around the pond and observe what lies below, given it’s an adequate day for water quality, and even that doesn’t happen much. At the end where storm drainage enters and by Sherman, you can see fish (where did they come from?) in the muddy water with some litter thrown in here and there along with a strange orange area where microbes surround a patch of hot water releasing a slightly disturbing plume of steam unto the quad. You may see a dog hopping in to cool down. On a good day, the running fountain and the constant inflow of drainage keeps that half of the pond relatively clean, but as the water moves towards Deroy Hall, it stagnates and for all intents and purposes, putrifies.

On the Deroy half of the pond, the water haltingly makes its way towards an underground waterway that flows towards H Lot and off campus, where it collects grime, dumped objects and layer upon layer of beyond-putrid stuff. If you look closely, you can see at least five dead glowsticks caught near the waterway below the discolored layer of stuff. Needless to say, Massell Pond is filthy and needs cleaning, but strangely the university isn’t doing anything about this glaring problem.

As the weather gets warmer, the prevalence of insects is going to increase significantly, especially in Massell Quad due to its proximity to both Massell and Chapels Pond. The prospect for insects only increases further in stagnant and nutrient-rich waters, which are positively correlated. Unfortunately, mosquitoes also reproduce in these conditions, and the possibility for insect bites and related illnesses only increases with Brandeis’ indifference to the issue.

The risk of illness associated with the water is unnecessary, especially given that the propagation of insects and proliferation of pathogens is so easily preventable with a simple cleaning and an attempt to keep the water from stagnating, perhaps with a more central, stronger or even another fountain.

Massell Pond is currently an eyesore, especially to those living in the quad. Perhaps this is a reason why campus tour guides sidestep the pond by showing off Usen Hall after Sherman before proceeding towards Chapels Field, keeping prospective students’ eyes off of more than 75 percent of the quad.

It could, however, be a strong point for tours with just a little maintenance and cleanup. It wouldn’t take much to fix the stagnation problem causing the waste build-up as well as the general trash cleanup. Instead of a disgusting pool students often berate, the pond could be a crown jewel of lower campus, something for the campus tour guides to show off to prospective students. Instead, the university pretends it doesn’t exist while the risks associated with its continued deterioration continue to rise.

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