With COVID-19, we are all under a tumultuous period during Brandeis history where communication and transparency is as important as ever. However, we have noticed that in recent times, Brandeis administration has not been communicating with the community as effectively as it could be.
There were communication issues as early as orientation. This year’s orientation was particularly tricky: the first back in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic has started and during a hurricane. Due to the bad weather, Brandeis had to change plans rather quickly in order to adapt to the storm. This is understandable; it would be unsafe to move in during such a storm. However, orientation leaders and staff only found out about these updates via emails from incoming first years. According to orientation leaders, changes were not discussed with the orientation team at all.
The most recent and ongoing example involves the timeline of Brandeis getting a new dining vendor. As of the time of writing, April 7, the timeline posted on the Brandeis website indicates that the award of the contract along with a letter of intent should have occurred in late March.
However, it is now early April creeping on to mid-April and this goal has yet to be reached. Although we understand that the timeline is dynamic and we should not expect the university to strictly follow it, we would still appreciate being periodically updated on the progress of the dining contracts. As of the time of writing, the last time that the Brandeis community was updated was on March 2. In the original timeline on the university’s webpage, it indicated that the university would be naming three finalists in mid-March and re-presenting to community members, according to a previous Brandeis Hoot article. This has since been removed from the university’s Dining Services Requests for Proposals (RFP) without any information provided to the community over why it was removed or if it will be rescheduled.
A second example comes from the rapid changes in COVID-19 policy without telling the appropriate staff before the greater Brandeis community. For example, over summer 2021, there were many changes to the testing policy (including the frequency that students and staff were getting tested). Of course, COVID-19 and our response to it is very flexible and changes from day to day, depending on the positivity rate on campus and the other conditions related to the pandemic. However, there were multiple cases where the Brandeis community was notified of changes in testing policy without the testing staff being notified, even when they did not have a manager in charge of the testing site.
We also still don’t know what coming back from spring break will look like. Should we be worried about another wave of COVID-19 on campus, would we go online if there is another spike on campus? With the new variant, it may spread quickly around campus with people
Overall, we think that all of these examples indicate that the Brandeis administration should be communicating with their students and student employees alike more effectively than they currently are. In our opinion, this would lead to a more close-knit and comfortable community, where we are able to adequately respond to the rapid changes occurring on campus during these times.