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February 22, 2024

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    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
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    Lauren Slater crafts diligent, depictive metaphors in narrative, and I hate her writing, simultaneously. Should there be lying in memoir? In her book, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir (2000), Slater crafts lies from epilepsy to nunneries to doctor visits and proposed peer reviewed theses to AA meetings. However, within these lies, she allows us to question […]
Spring Housing Guide

Why didn’t I know what had happened?

I first noticed something was awry when I came back from winter break. I was looking forward to actual hot water pressure without a long wait (something that is impossible at my house), and I returned to find that the water was nothing more than lukewarm, or downright frigid, in the showers and sinks.

As a result, I wasn’t particularly surprised to find out about Monday night’s water main break, because I knew something was amiss with the water for a while.

What was frustrating was the fact that my floormates and I had little knowledge beyond the fact that we did not have water. We did not receive any e-mail communication from the school with more information about how long we were to be without water, or information on where we could go to use the restroom and shower. A PA announcement was made in my dorm, and we were told that we would be informed when water was restored (which we weren’t).

Groups of students from Harshman ended up walking in the snowy and cold conditions to nearby businesses on Wooster Street in order to use the bathrooms that evening (such as McDonald’s) because we did not know what buildings on campus had water. Luckily water pressure was semi-functional by 1 a.m.; I was not in the mood to walk all the way down to Tim Hortons to use the restroom before I went to bed.

I was told incorrect information from many people who were just as confused as I was, and I felt that it would have been nice to hear from the school itself. Rather than listening to hearsay about what buildings had water and how long until they closed, I would have liked concrete information. Also, as a subscriber to the BG Alert text message system, I thought that this situation would constitute an appropriate use of the technology.

Media Relations Director Teri Sharp told me that the information was on the University Web site’s home page (I checked multiple times throughout the evening, but I may have missed it), and that the PA announcement I heard in my dorm was used by the Marketing and Communications department to let students know of the situation.

“Every situation is a little bit different and we try to assess information, and we do discuss what the best way to get information about the students would be,” Sharp said.

In regards to the BG Alert system, Sharp explained that, “The question was raised, ‘should we text message students?’ but since more students live off than on-campus and weren’t affected, the decision was made not to send out messages.”

Instead, she noted, the 37-ALERT and 372-SNOW numbers were updated, so students could call these automated numbers or campus police to find out about the current conditions on campus and should do so in future situations.

I did not think to call for information about the circumstances (I was unaware of the automated numbers as well), and assumed that a message would be in my inbox about updates. In my eyes, it would have been easier to send a mass e-mail to all students, where non-affected students could simply delete the message, and the campus police number would not be inundated with calls.

As my neighbor, Freshman Amanda Hawkey, said, “I heard through multiple e-mails about a fire truck going into a building [that wasn’t my own]; I’d like to know about something that affects myself and more students.”

So I knew that the school had made a decision not to send out mass communications, but why wasn’t I made aware that the water had been restored in a more timely fashion?

Harshman Chapman-Dunbar Hall Director Amanda Stump told me, “We were made aware around 11 p.m., which was too late to make an announcement over the PA.” This is understandable, however, signs alerting students of the situation remained on bathroom doors long past the return of water, and the inactivity signaled to me that the restroom wasn’t functioning.

Information should have been more streamlined and detailed, although I am not trying to place blame on any person or department in particular. To quote the film “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate!” There were many issues with the way information was transmitted.

Sharp told me that student feedback is important in the way that they conduct business, and I am glad to see that they take the concerns of students seriously. That way, when a similar situation happens, the relay of information can be more effective.

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