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Univ. must follow through on sustainability

By Alex Friedman

Section: Opinions

September 25, 2015

I’m a Texan, born and raised. Where I come from, drought is the norm, and rain makes the front page. I have become familiar with the various colors of the Texas drought map, watching the deep red of “exceptional drought” creep into my neck of the woods and then turn the light yellow of “abnormally dry” when it finally rains. Everyone in my city keeps the water level of our lakes in the back of their mind. Our natural cycle is flood, then extended drought, then flood again, then extended drought, with rare 15-minute showers in between. All of this is to say that I have been raised my whole life to be sensitive to water usage, and I always assumed that other people were the same.

Fast-forward to my 10th grade confirmation trip to New York City. My tour group was walking along the sidewalk from a pizza joint to a synagogue when it happened. I smelled water. I heard water. I looked ahead, and there was a man with a high-powered hose, spraying the sidewalks clean. Rivulets of liquid ran into the street and down a drain. My jaw dropped, my heart raced, I could hardly breathe. Don’t they know how precious clean water is? This was my first indication that the relationship Northeasterners have with their water is different from my own.

Welcome to Brandeis. I’ve been here for a month now. I’ve survived the “first-year rumble” and getting my gavel going. My ears have been assaulted by exceptionally loud hip hop music. I thought that Brandeis had surprised me in as many ways as it could when it shocked me one more time. I was walking from Usdan to my room, and I saw something I hadn’t seen in years: It was a rainmaker, the kind that kids run through during the summer. It was attached to Usdan by a hose. The sprinkler rotated back and forth, creating a wall of water over a tiny corner of grass bordered on both sides by sidewalk.

It went to the right, contributing to the mud puddle that has overtaken what was grass. I navigated around the puddle and jumped over the river of wasted water. Over the summer, I had received email after email from Brandeis telling me about their “Turn It Off” initiative to help the environment and save costs. I thought, I hoped, that Brandeis saw itself as a green campus, but gallons of water now disagree. Gallons of water from a broken sprinkler shot 10 feet into the air two nights ago. Gallons of water I watched the watering system deliver to the grass while it was raining.

Brandeis, when it comes to protecting the environment, you need work. It’s all well and good to send emails encouraging people to turn off their fans on the hottest days of the year, even if that initiative has more to do with the cost of electricity than helping the earth, but when comes to water conservation, you are wasting water beyond belief. Perhaps you should hire a Texan.

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