Earlier this semester, we discussed how uneventfully it began: it seemed abnormally quiet for Brandeis. Evidently, we spoke too soon. From the plague that was the black mold in Village to the roof issues in Usdan to the lead in the water fountains, the structural issues at Brandeis know no end.
Although all of these things can be explained separately, when they are happening all at the same time, it shows a larger issue with this campus: it is falling apart. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), black mold can “lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin,” though in some people it can lead to even more serious health issues. This is not an environment anyone wants to live in, especially when students pay upwards of $10,000 to live here.
Lead in the water is also concerning, particularly since the university did not notify all students, but only chemistry students and people who are regularly in the building, according to a Hoot article. People who do not belong to either of these groups could have also been drinking this water, yet that did not appear to concern Brandeis. It is also not fair to put the responsibility of spreading information onto the individuals: a campus-wide email would have been significantly more appropriate.
Having only one dining hall open (with Usdan being closed due to ceiling issues, according to an email sent out to the Brandeis community on Oct. 14), has put additional strain on both dining staff and students. Long lines in dining halls are nothing new to Brandeis, but these lines are insane. Finding a space to sit has been like the Hunger Games, with people leaving as soon as they’re done eating in order to free up space for others. Although Brandeis made an effort to reduce the load with opening Levin Ballroom as a dining space, it does not solve the issues. We do hope that during these times students remember that the Sodexo workers are trying their best, and it is not their fault that Usdan has structural issues.
Even non-fatal issues are causing inconveniences. The stairs next to Sherman Dining Hall that lead to Massell Quad have been blocked off this entire week, with no notice of when they’ll be open again. There is construction happening near the Admissions building and Spingold Theater. It is noisy and displeasing to the eye, and students remain in the dark about what the construction team is working on.
The most frustrating part of all this is the slow pace at which problems can be fixed. This is not a hit on facilities; we are just aware that the volume of problems on campus is significantly higher than it typically is. More requests mean more competition for fighting for an appointment to get the situation taken care of.
All of these issues also seem to have come to light right before Family Weekend. To the parents who are visiting their kids for the first time here at Brandeis: it’s not usually this bad. Brandeis is not perfect by any means, but it’s usually not this bad.
We hope that the Brandeis administration pays attention to these issues and doesn’t just sweep them under the rug. These are not issues that you can put a band-aid on: this needs major structural change. Students should not be living in mold-infested dorms or drinking lead water.