Recently, there has been a wave of events occurring throughout campus that threaten the safety of the student body in the long-term. These issues include mold in the dorm rooms that can lead to medical complications over long periods of time and mislabeled food in the dining hall that could potentially lead to allergic reactions, among many others. Additionally, the health of students with specific allergies and dietary restrictions is ignored as the dining halls usually do not give students with allergies sufficient and well-rounded meal options.
One of the most egregious issues that have been pervasive throughout campus is the spreading of mold throughout the dormitories. The board is aware of several people on campus that have respiratory symptoms and complications that have been traced back to the mold. These respiratory symptoms have not only been occurring in students who have not had medical conditions in the past, but many of these students are athletes who have had difficulty performing due to the onset of these medical conditions.
We have also noticed that many of the outside stairs around campus need to be repaired and maintained properly. For example, the stairs in East Quad and the many stairs outside of Charles River seem to be crumbling apart, and this provides a hazard for students who have to walk through them several times per day. In the winter, these steps become increasingly more dangerous with the addition of ice and snow on top of the already crumbling concrete.
Campus is also really not well lit; even in the places that do have street lights, those street lights are very weak: there are desk lamps that provide more light. The Light of Reason is the only well-lit place on campus; unfortunately, no one goes through it anyway. Why can’t all lights at Brandeis be that strong? With Brandeis holding classes in person as late as 8 p.m. (which will then end at 9:30 p.m.), this presents a safety concern for the students, who need to walk around campus. Even if students were to take the BranVan, in the case of the International Business School (IBS), they would still have to walk through the Theatre Lot and the IBS hill, which is deserted and has very few street lights. This is especially concerning with the stabbing of two Brandeis students still fresh on our minds.
We have also noticed that in Schwartz, the gutters drip water outside of one of the entrances. In the winter, these manifest into large icicles that hang over the entrance. Considering that in the United States alone, 15 people die per year due to icicle-related incidents, we feel that this is an unnecessary hazard and is almost an accident that is waiting to happen.
Despite all of this, we do want to give credit where credit is due to the university. Recently there has been implementation of resources to help better student life on campus. Academic Services announced via email a new resource for students in quarantine and isolation where they can receive assistance with tests and quizzes. The Brandeis Community Contact Tracer will reach out to students when they are placed in quarantine/ isolation and ask if they want assistance with arranging for exams and quizzes. From there Student Academic Services will reach out to the course instructor to help coordinate the exam schedule for students. This is an extremely helpful resource, as some of our editors have taken exams in quarantine housing and it impacted the quality of their work.
Raymond Ou, Vice President of Student Affairs and David M. Fryson, Interim Chief Diversity Office and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion also recently sent an email to the student body highlighting confidential resources available to students. While none of these programs are new, it can be very useful to students to have a condensed list of resources and information on how to contact or use them. Many students on campus are not aware of the resources they have available to them; therefore these resources go unused not out of students not needing them but simply because they are unaware they are there.
We also recognize all the university has done for us through the COVID-19 pandemic. The university was able to bring students back to campus last fall semester, avoiding having to lock down the entire campus like other universities like UMass Amherst and Binghamton University. With the university’s testing and tracing system, there have never been more than 11 students testing positive in one week, which is a feat in and of itself and we are grateful to be at a university that takes the pandemic seriously.
We appreciate the efforts that Brandeis has done to keep students safe in the pandemic, and we hope to see that rigor applied to other situations around campus.