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Editorial | University’s handling of water emergency laudable

Published: Monday, May 3, 2010

Updated: Monday, May 3, 2010 06:05

This weekend's water main break in Weston couldn't have come at a worse time for many Tufts students. Not only did Saturday's Spring Fling leave worn−out Jumbos feeling thirsty after the concert, but the warm weather of the last few days has made it particularly difficult for students on and off campus to cope with the lack of clean water.

While the lack of drinkable water has so far been anything but a pleasant experience, the administration at Tufts has been handling the situation in the most responsible and orderly fashion possible. Immediately upon learning of the water crisis and the potential dangers that it could pose to students, the Department of Public Safety put to perfect use its safety alert system, telling students about the "boil−water" order. Although the original text message may have been confusing — as it was difficult to explain the entire situation in the length of a text message — it referred students to e−mails with far more specific details on the situation. While the safety alert system has been used many times since its inception, Saturday's two alerts showed the student body how useful the system can actually be and ensured students confidence that the administration was taking care of the emergency.

In addition to warning students about the emergency and telling them the best ways to handle the situation without risking their health, the university has also done a commendable job of providing water and resources to students. Tufts has been providing water to those who live on campus and allowing students to take boiled water out of the dining halls provided they bring their own containers. Bottled water is also available for sale at both the Mayer Campus Center and Tower Café, though students who live off campus are encouraged to boil their own water at home. An emergency management group, led by Senior Director of Public and Environmental Safety John King, has also been holding regular meetings to coordinate the university's response and ensure student safety.

The university has also set up a website, emergency.tufts.edu/water, through which students can access updated information about the crisis and learn of any updates. They are also encouraged to give feedback and ask any questions through a link on the website. This type of interaction and communication is particularly commendable, partially because it will help keep students safe and also because the constant flow of information will prevent students from panicking.

It is very difficult for the university to prepare for a large−scale emergency, especially one that is as unpredictable as the current water crisis. There is really no way that Public Safety could have specifically prepared for this catastrophe, but the university took a difficult situation and handled it extremely well. While students remain frustrated by the inconvenience, Tufts has done everything in its power to ensure that frustration is the greatest of our troubles, and that our health is not in jeopardy.

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