Stop deferred maintenance, invest in long-term solutions

UPDATED: 2/5 9:15 p.m.

We, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot, understand that running a university requires a lot of money, and it’s not always feasible to give students everything they want. However, we do ask, considering how much money we pay for this school and will continue to pay after we graduate, that the university provides us with basic needs, comfort and security. We feel that, in light of the issues that have occurred in the past week and the issues that seem to pop up around campus in every residence quad, there are some expenses that are necessary to run a university that Brandeis is not spending enough on.

This week, the university faced two major problems, including a cyberattack that left students without internet connection and a water leak in upper campus. As an R1 research university, it is concerning that WiFi connectivity issues continue to be a weekly occurrence for students. In the past, the Internet has crashed during finals week, leaving many students frustrated and unable to get work done. Also, although the water break was quickly solved, for which we are grateful to Facilities Services, only a clamp was placed over the pipe as a solution to perhaps a greater problem: The Brandeis campus is aging and may face problems that require more permanent solutions and greater investments long-term.

As many have said in opinions pieces and editorials of the past, the residence halls at Brandeis need maintenance and repairs. Not only that, but there is a space issue involving three people living in a space meant for two, though it is important to note that it is less expensive to live in a lofted triple. Now, these have always existed at Brandeis (at least as long as any of our seniors have been here), but they are becoming increasingly common, as more students are enrolling at the university while the school’s maximum capacity has not increased. Yes, Brandeis built Skyline, and yes, it is a very nice building. But it only added 60 beds, and if more first-year and mid-year students are enrolling than ever before, the housing lottery will become even more ruthless, leaving juniors and seniors who depend on scholarships limited to on-campus living in a difficult situation. Beyond the lack of beds, many facilities are either unable to handle the frequency of use or meet residents’ needs. For example, East and Massell residents have had to deal with leaking ceilings for weeks or months on end. 

In addition to infrastructure issues, the laundry machines leave much to be desired. Most quads do not have enough machines to comfortably accommodate the residents. Too often, clothes are tossed out of a washer or dryer because someone else needs to use it. Not to mention many quads only have machines in one of the residence halls, forcing many residents to walk across the quad carrying all their clothes. Such an issue is exacerbated by the fact that laundry machines are regularly out of order: Pomerantz Hall in East Quad, for example, has five washers and five dryers, but residents are lucky if three of each work. Imagine walking across your quad with all your clothes to do laundry, and every machine is either occupied or broken. 

In the past, when laundry cost a fee, this was a greater issue, as students would purposely manipulate the machines to get free laundry, breaking them as a result. We are thankful for the positive change that includes free laundry for Brandeis students, but we acknowledge that there is still more to be desired in terms of laundry maintenance. Brandeis’ laundry machines are contracted by CSCServiceworks, and with this contract, the company comes in every time a work order is submitted to repair the machines. The university is reliant on Community Advisors and students to submit these work orders, an added burden for residents when they are trying to do a load of laundry.

What’s more, the buildings in Ziv Quad have no public bathrooms, so if a student is in the area, they have to head to Ridgewood Commons, Village or the Shapiro Campus Center for a toilet. Ziv does not have water fountains either, and all the residents in East Quad share two water fountains. As the university begins to emphasize using reusable water bottles instead of purchasing plastic water bottles for sustainability reasons, it is important that water fountains are made readily available for students. 

We are hopeful for President Liebowitz’s Framework for the Future and the improvements it will bring to the physical campus. However, we worry about what improvements mean. Will we put a clamp on it, or will we replace the pipe?

Editor’s note: Editors Sabrina Chow, Rachel Saal, Victoria Morrongiello and Tim Dillon did not contribute to this editorial. Editor-in-Chief Candace Ng works for the Department of Community Living and is a Head Community Advisor.

Correction: An earlier version of this editorial falsely stated that the repair to the water main was a temporary fix. The repair was permanent. An earlier editorial of this article also stated that the university has been admitting more students. The university is not trying to increase class sizes—the target size of less than 850 students hasn’t changed in recent years—but rather, more students have accepted the university’s offer of admission than the models suggested.  

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