Why the East Closet needs some TLC

February 28, 2020

It seems to be well-known that Brandeis does not have a lot of storage space, especially for things as large and bulky as club equipment. As a campus of over 250 clubs and growing every year, there’s a lot of stuff to keep track and take care of. For some clubs, however, Brandeis offers the East Closet as a safe haven for costumes, speakers, art supplies and more.

Speaking as the president of the Brandeis Ballet Club, the East Closet is a saving grace that allows our club to store its many, many boxes of tutus and costumes, along with major props like the fake presents and Christmas tree that you see on stage during our annual performance of “The Nutcracker.” As an Editor-in-Chief of The Brandeis Hoot, we are lucky to share an office space (the Brandeis Media Coalition) with plenty of drawers and tables to store whatever we need. However, the Ballet Club does not have its own office and needs to rely on communal spaces such as the East Closet to keep our items together and safe. As convenient as it is to have a space where these large boxes can stay, the East Closet itself is in need of some serious tender loving care.

Located in—you guessed it—East Quad, or more specifically, the basement of Pomerantz right by the laundry room, the East Closet is in a bit of an awkward location, far from the Shapiro Student Center (SCC) and a steep hill’s distance from the Usdan Student Center, two locations where we often hold our performances and events. For my club, it means either taking 10 trips carrying large boxes of tutus to either location, or begging someone with a car for help. 

To access the East Closet, club members need to sign in at the Intercultural Center (ICC), which is right across the way and pretty convenient. But if the ICC is closed or holding meetings, students need to either walk to the Department of Community Living (DCL) office in Usdan, or even the Department of Student Activities (DSA) office all the way in the SCC to get the key. The worst part is that there is no way to figure this out online, so there have been multiple times where I have made the trek from where I live in Ziv Quad to East, only to discover that I need to walk back to the SCC to get the key to the Closet, and then had to walk to East and back again to the SCC to return the key. There should be a more accessible and convenient system to find out where to get the key to unlock the Closet.

The East Closet, since it is close to the laundry room and possibly the boiler room as well, is extremely hot. The temperature in the closet is always stifling, and makes it difficult to spend more than 10 minutes in there, which can be difficult when taking inventory for example, or searching for a specific item. While this cannot necessarily be avoided, the pipes in the closet that drip on club’s items and get them either wet, moldy or completely destroyed, is an avoidable problem that just hasn’t been given attention yet. And it should be, immediately.

I want to thank the DSA for beginning the process of organizing all of the clubs and items within the East Closet, and hope that in the coming years it will appear more organized, with fewer random art supplies and flyers strewn across its cement floors. There are many cubbies filled with seemingly random and disorganized items that are not accounted for, taking up space for clubs that actually need to use the space and use it often. I also hope that the problematic pipes will be fixed and the entire space will be cleaned so that students can feel secure that their A-Board funded items will be kept safe and unharmed. 

My one additional major qualm to the East Closet is the matter of the bicycles. Currently in the East Closet, there are probably over 30 bikes laying against cubbies, on the floor, up against the light switches and blocking walkways. Earlier this semester, the Ballet Club’s cubby was completely blocked off by these bikes, and we needed five of our club members to help rearrange the bikes so that we could access our items. This is unacceptable. 

The bikes are blocking the way to get further inside the Closet, thus making them a major safety hazard, as the Closet is extremely dark and you typically need to walk in the dark to reach the light switch for the previous section of the Closet that you walk through. I was able to climb over the bicycles to reach light switches and move them around to clear a path for my own cubby, but I am cognizant of the fact that this is not true for everyone. 

These bikes, also known as ‘Deis Bikes, were purchased using the Brandeis Sustainability Fund in 2011, according to a BrandeisNow brief. ‘Deis Bikes was a bicycle-sharing and rental program that actually began in 2009, but what was meant to be a sustainability project, according to the article, turned into a huge waste of space in the basement of a sophomore residence hall. I think this program is a great idea, and I am sure there are many students who would be interested in using or renting these bikes to use around the Brandeis campus nowadays. 

To me, it seems like a waste of resources. I cannot imagine that it was a low cost to purchase these bicycles, and they could be much better utilized outside than in the East Closet, getting covered in dust and blocking other clubs from accessing their important items. If we are not going to use them for the purpose that Brandeis purchased them for, then they shouldn’t be in the East Closet. Best case scenario, they could be rented out by students again, like they were meant to be in the first place. If for some reason that isn’t possible, perhaps they could be donated to a group that would appreciate having them.

For many clubs, the East Closet is a necessity, but it can be very annoying to make use of the space, given the barriers in sometimes accessing the key, being able to keep items safe from leaky pipes and accessibility when items such as bicycles are in the way of cubbies. I hope that the DSA can make the East Closet one of its priorities, as many clubs rely on the East Closet and consider it a priority to keep items there. And let’s get rid of those bikes and put them to use on campus!

Editor’s note: Deputy Copyeditor Madeline Rousell is a member of Brandeis Ballet Club and did not contribute to the editing of this article.

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