Over the previous week, resident students in the North and South Claeys Halls woke up to find no water from their faucets, and no email concerning the event
By Ally Sullivan
Saint Mary's Public Safety Department operates to maintain that all SMC faculty, staff and students can conduct themselves safely within the premises of the school and facilities. As the incident management staff, they concern themselves with relaying information through email about current issues and maintenance updates such as fire warnings, air quality alerts, and power shutoffs. However, in the last week, some students awoke to an empty inbox and a dry faucet.
Students in the Claeys found themselves with no water in the morning. This reality means no way to brush your teeth, shower, or take care of basic human hygiene in preparation for a full day of classes. One student expressed that he remembered waking up, trying to turn on the faucet, and being shocked that the faucet would not turn on. Unfortunately, even at a prestigious college such as Saint Mary’s, nothing seems to be guaranteed.
The most concerning part for students was the lack of communication from the Public Safety Department in regards to the water shutoff. In the moments after finding out that their water had been shut off, one student recalled: “I was mad at the moment because I didn't know how long it would last.”
How long would it last? Students contemplated that for the remainder of the day, wondering if they would be able to grab a glass of water in their own room. The problem does not stem from the water being shut off, but rather that it was not communicated to those that were affected in a timely manner. On behalf of the Saint Mary’s community, these students would like to express that although it was a minuscule inconvenience, they expect better communication from their trusted university.
Author's Note: Thank you to all the students who contributed information to this article
An overview of the US presence in Afghanistan, and what’s happening now
By Benjamin Noel
August 30, 2021 marked the last day of American military presence in Afghanistan. President George W. Bush signed a Joint Resolution “to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States” one week after the September 11 attacks in 2001. The subjects of this resolution encompassed not only Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but any nation or government who “he [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” This document gave President Bush the grounds to invade Afghanistan, set up the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and conduct surveillance on US citizens without court orders (Council on Foreign Relations).
In the early days of the occupation, the US mainly held bombing runs, while anti-Taliban Afghan Pashtuns fought the Taliban on the ground. And after two years of combat, and establishing a government awaiting proper democratic elections, the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield claimed that “major combat” had ended in the region (CFR). Just prior to this, the US began to shift its focus to Saddam’s Iraq as a potential terror threat.
Over 15 years after establishing military presence in both these countries, the far-too-broad mission of reconstructing democratically-elected governments, eliminating terror threats, and stabilizing the regions had not been sufficiently met, not for lack of trying. The unification of Afghanistan is a near-impossible feat. Given its mountainous terrain, even under a democratically elected President, Kabul only had so much reach, as remote areas were still under regional rule or even Taliban rule. Additionally, the training of the Afghan National Army was a core piece of the mission, but opioid addictions and better pay from the Taliban caused ANA soldiers to get stoned mid-battle, and even siphon off their own supplies to sell to the enemy. One of the only successes of the US training of Afghans was the Afghan Commando unit, a small well-trained and well-equipped specialized force that saw combat alongside US Special Operations Forces. However, the cost of American armed forces’ lives, allied Afghan fighters, and Afghan civilians started to substantially outweigh the positive change being introduced into the countries.
Obama pulled out a significant amount of troops in 2014, leaving around 9,000 to perform operations to quell a Taliban resurgence. Trump also vowed to end America’s “forever wars,” and in 2019, intra-Afghan peace talks made significant progress while American numbers were continuing to decrease in Afghanistan. However, these talks came to a stalemate after continued Taliban attacks on both US and Afghan forces. Then-Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani refused to participate in peace talks with the Taliban due to continued attacks on Afghan security forces.
In April this year, President Joseph Biden declared to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. President Biden stated that this move will be made regardless of the state of Afghan-Taliban peace talks. Biden’s bold move had been talked about since the Obama administration, and with the state in no better condition than before, the book was to be closed on this “forever war.” Three weeks before the last troops were to be pulled out, the Taliban overtook province after province, facing little to no resistance, and captured the capital of Kabul while top government officials fled.
Now Afghanistan has returned to its pre-American invasion state, the Taliban controls the majority of the government. Journalists, activists, especially women who vocally spoke out against Sharia law. But new to the mix of endangered demographics are translators and US-military aides who fought alongside American forces against the Taliban. These brave Afghans were promised citizenship in exchange for their service, but many found themselves stranded in Kabul, with no guarantee of getting out.
In regards to the number of translators that have been successfully evacuated, “the administration has evacuated less than one percent of the more than 80,000 Afghans who have sought U.S. visas” (Yahoo). This failure comes as a result of no significant military presence in the more remote areas of Afghanistan. Some US soldiers, including Green Beret Tim Kennedy, have gone into Afghanistan as private citizens to help evacuation efforts, ensuring the safety of as many at-risk people as possible (Stars and Stripes).
In a stunning turn of diplomacy, the Taliban held a perimeter around the airport, allowing evacuation flights to resume freely until the US pull-out deadline of August 31. The terror attack in the Kabul airport that killed 13 American service members and over 150 Afghan civilians was executed at the hands of ISIS-K (the eastern-Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State) (USA Today). ISIS-K seems to be more extreme in their Islamist views, and with a force over 2,000 strong, will pose a significant threat to the Taliban government.
As far as America’s relationship with Afghanistan, diplomatic talks are being held to get the last 300 Americans still stuck in remote areas of the country back home. The US significantly gutted al-Qaeda and affiliated terror groups, capturing and killing leaders, as well as the planners of the 9/11 attacks. However, the American attempt at nation-building in a region not hospitable for centralized government greatly failed. The US left the country as it found it, a land formed of different ethnic tribes, some of whom pose a danger to the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of others.
Secretary of state Anthony Blinken said, "The military mission is over and the diplomatic mission has begun."
After the discovery of cardboard in a student’s meals at the Oliver Dining Hall, many question whether the food they were putting into their bodies provided by Saint Mary’s is, in fact, sanitary
By Kamryn Sobel
On September 14th, a student received a meal at Oliver Hall during the dinner time hours and came across a small object, that of which was not food. This item was found to be a piece of cardboard, presumably from the packaging the food was delivered in. Executive Chef Gabe Kinney describes that “food is delivered in many different styles of containers. They may be plastic, paper, cardboard, or a combination of them.” In response to this finding, the Executive Chef refunded the meal for the student, however, many question the food that they are putting into their bodies provided by the school.
The surrounding students at the time of the discovery noted the situation as “alarming” and “concerning.” Sophomore Gaby Silva, witness, described the event as, “shocking. I didn’t expect something other than food to be found in a meal here, especially by my roommate. I think it’s concerning that the safety and sanitation of our food are, seemingly, not being looked at closely enough.”
Although the pandemic shut down a fully functioning dining hall during the 2020-21 school year, this year it has opened to the entire school community with COVID-19 protocols, in hopes to keep not only those dining at the hall safe but to ensure the food is as sanitary as possible. Following the Contra Costa Health Services guidelines, all who enter the building are to wear face masks unless eating or drinking, and all employees are to remain masked at all times. However, with having the kitchen running to its full capacity once again, even if there may be restrictions, the question of food sanitation still lingers.
In relation to these protocols, on the Saint Mary’s website, it states that “Sodexo food services, the contracted food service provider for Saint Mary’s, is partnering with College personnel to develop and modify existing dining services and facilities. Meal plans will be adjusted to best serve student needs. Dining facilities will be modified to promote physical distancing and ‘grab & go’ options will be increased.”
In an interview with the Executive Chef on the precautions taken in terms of sanitation and how the food is handled, Kinney states that “Sodexo uses an interactive Food Safety Management program to ensure products are handled in a safe manner from the time they arrive in the kitchen until [the meal] is served. This program consists of several food safety walk-throughs and audits, that are done on a regular frequent basis,” said Kinney. “We also use several different sanitizing agents to reduce and minimize the amount of bacteria on food production equipment and surfaces. Sodexo uses antimicrobial soap as well as hand sanitizing stations within the kitchen and disposable gloves to help ensure cross-contamination is minimized.”
As seen by all who enter the kitchen, there are multiple employees distributing food to students on a daily basis. “Generally, someone, or possibly two individuals, put the food away in the proper refrigerator, freezer, or dry store-room. Another staff member will pull out the proper predesignated amounts to produce a scaled recipe. That same person may serve the item that was prepared or they could have an assistant serving with them,” said Kinney. “There are also the many different business pieces such as packers, warehouse workers, drivers, and delivery personnel that come into contact with food items.”
At this time, both the contracted food service provider, Sodexo, and Saint Mary’s have implemented numerous strategies to ensure that the safety and sanitation of the supplied food is a top priority.
Simone Biles and other Olympians Expose the Delay in Action from Officials
By Annika Henthorn
After countless allegations, former U.S gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced 40 to 175 years in prison for a number of sex crimes in 2018. His trial brought over 150 women to testify against him and the atrocious crimes he committed, according to The New York Times. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who proceeded over this case, had attracted a lot of media attention, undoubtedly backing the women who had the courage to share their story in front of the world. Once she had revealed his sentence, Judge Aquilina had famously said “I just signed your death warrant.”
In 2017, he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and sexual crimes against athletes at Michigan State University, furthering his sentence (AP News). Hundreds of victims alongside USA Gymnastics have filed a joint settlement proposal of $425 million to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis last month (AP News).
Recently, Simone Biles has exposed the FBI and USA Gymnastic Official’s failure to properly address allegations that surfaced in 2015. According to AP News, FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed his remorse saying he was “deeply and profoundly sorry.” However, his apology cannot remedy the trauma and devastation of the women impacted by Nassar’s abuse. Although the disgusting behavior was attributed to Nassar, Biles blames both Nassar and “an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” AP News reveals. Biles has also addressed USA Gymnastics and Paralympics’ knowledge of the abuse and their little regard for the athletes’ well-being.
The delay from both USA Gymnastics the FBI in response to such serious allegations allowed Nassar to continue his sex crimes despite their awareness of the situation. McKayla Maroney, a member of the USA Olympic gymnastics team in 2012, has admitted that “for so long all of us questioned, just because someone else wasn’t fully validating us, that we doubted what happened to us”(AP News). Without the clear backing and support from both of these sources, many athletes assumed their trauma was illegitimate. Aly Raisman, another Olympic gymnast, was also disgusted by the lack of urgency conveyed in the investigation. Countless women could have been spared the trauma if the accusations were dealt with promptly; however, the delay allowed Nassar extended time to continue his abuse.
Raisman has called for an investigation into USA Gymnastics, Olympic Officials, and the FBI, according to AP News. After experiencing, first-hand, the disregard of these serious allegations, she believes there could still be people in a position of power that shouldn’t be. Larry Nassar held an esteemed position within the gymnastics community before the trial, and without the testimonies of the brave women, he still would have maintained that power. If someone like Nassar was able to mask his horrific actions, then Raisman suspects there are others that also need to be held accountable.
Though many precautions have been implemented into daily life on campus to address the pandemic, multiple positive cases have surfaced amongst the Saint Mary’s community.
By Kamryn Sobel
With the 2021-22 school year just beginning and the community trying to get back to normalcy after a year of being online, is it possible that we are heading back in that direction? As of September 15th, and specifically within the last 14 days, there have been 11 new reported cases of COVID-19 in the Saint Mary’s community as well as 16 cases over the course of the Fall Semester so far. With an initial plan to keep COVID-19 away from campus, this virus has crept its way into the College.
Prior to the school year, students were sent an email regarding the vaccination and COVID-19 testing requirements for those planning on residing on campus or attending in-person classes. In an attempt to combat this virus, the College also requires that masks be worn in all indoor settings and to maintain physical distance if possible. Students, faculty, and staff alike who have been accepted to be exempted from the vaccination requirement are also to submit to weekly testing.
Unfortunately, with not being able to eliminate all possible risks, Saint Mary’s made a statement in the COVID-19 News & Resources that, “In cases where a student or employee fails to disclose to the College that they have tested positive, the College will have no way of knowing and communicating that information.” Even though the College has implemented many restrictions and modifications to campus life, there is still a possibility that students or employees can purposely avoid many of the mandates by both Contra Costa County Health Services and the College, leading to uncertainty of how many true cases there are on campus at this time.
Saint Mary’s College has also established a Contact Tracing Team in order to help further protect students by notifying them of exposure to prevent outbreaks and spreading the virus. The College states, “Contact Tracers will communicate with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to determine their close contact on campus during the time they may have been infectious.”
In the classroom setting for example, although it cannot be confirmed by a source at this time, it has been rumored that there have been 3 cases alone reported in the classes of one faculty member. In regards to student reactions on the topic of how many cases there are so early in the school year, sophomore Sofia Kakleas states, “The fact that there have been 16 COVID cases in less than a month of being on campus is definitely worrisome and makes me concerned. I feel as if we need to be better informed about these cases as I have not even heard about them until now. Although I love how open the campus is compared to last year, I worry that it became too open too fast.”
According to Saint Mary’s in a recent Instagram story post, they shared that the vaccination rates include 95% of faculty, 94% of staff, 97% of undergraduate students, and 89% of graduate students. With a highly vaccinated community on campus, or herd immunity, the CDC explains, “Population immunity makes it hard for a disease to spread from person to person.” Despite the fact that the College reached this milestone, the COVID-19 virus has already infected multiple people on campus in a short period of time. Having a smaller population of students that attend the College puts into perspective how fast infection can spread.
For more information on how the College is maintaining COVID-19 and how students or employees can contribute healthy practices for themselves and the community, visit COVID-19 News & Resources on the Saint Mary’s College website.
President Plumb experiences dorm life temporarily while Sienna hall is under renovation.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Several weeks have passed since move-in day and for many students this time has been an adjustment period for mingling and meeting new neighbors. Residents in the Lower Townhouses may be surprised to learn that Saint Mary’s President Richard Plumb and his wife Mary are temporarily living in Freitas Hall.
Plumb became the 30th president of Saint Mary’s in July of 2021, and although he is new to Saint Mary’s, he says that his face may be familiar to students and staff.
“I’m at a severe disadvantage. I think everybody on campus knows who I am at this point,” said Plumb. “I walk around campus and they still have those magazines with my face plastered on the cover. And everywhere I go, there they are.”
Despite the “disadvantage” of a minor celebrity status from his front-page photo, Plumb describes the atmosphere of Saint Mary’s as being extremely welcoming. After driving over 30 hours and 2000 miles from St. Paul Minnesota to Moraga, he was immediately invited to a barbeque with the brothers on campus, an act that he says made him feel immediately welcomed into the Saint Mary’s community. Saint Mary’s is smaller than the past universities that he has worked at in the past, which he believes makes it more relational.
“Everyone knows everyone and that's good. And you can tell when somebody is having a good day and you can tell when somebody is having a bad day,” said Plumb. “I like this environment. It's a warm, cozy, comfortable environment here and it feels safe.”
Plumb is getting to know what student life is like first hand by living in an on-campus residence hall, an experience he never had as an undergraduate student.
“It is definitely overrated well at my age, let me rephrase that in my age, when you've had your own house and you're raised your own family, living in a dorm can feel overrated, '' Plumb said. “But Mary and I actually are getting a kick out of it.”
The Plumbs’ stay in Freitas is temporary while their more permanent accommodations in Sienna Hall are under construction. The building is being renovated from its previous purpose as student housing to the residence of the president and space for hosting events.
“My wife, Mary and I are fortunate enough to be the first occupants of the renovated building, but it's not our house, and it will be our home while we're here.”
The private wing for the President will consist of a bedroom, living space, and a “man cave” where Plumb will keep his television and audio system. While these spaces are built, Plumb has been staying in his sparsely decorated room while his belongings are in storage, which he describes as challenging.
“All of our belongings are in storage at the Rheem campus. So I have access to about five polos and three button-down shirts. So one of the reasons that I'm wearing polos all the time is that I don't have my clothes there. They're in storage somewhere.”
Despite the lack of belongings and the noise, “I just wish the guys upstairs were a little more quiet. I swear to god it’s like they’re dancing or something up there.” Plumb says that his time in Freitas hall has given him invaluable insight into student life at Saint Mary’s
“It's just being part of the community and being present. So by us living on campus, we’re able to mingle with students,” said Plumb. “I know who the early risers are and at night time, I get to just walk around, see people, and engage with them. It’s just been so much fun for us and so welcoming. We've been very grateful for the reception we've received.”
Outcry over Dr. Bazian’s alleged anti-Semitic social media retweets cause school to postpone event
By Benjamin Noel
Last week, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) had to indefinitely postpone an event with a guest speaker, Dr. Hatem Bazian, slated to speak on the topic of Islamaphobia. He planned to detail his research on the matter as well as inform the Muslim community how to address and report incidents. The MSA had to postpone the event, awaiting the school’s final say, because the school “received some additional communication from staff and faculty who were concerned about the speaker.” The outcry stems from Dr. Bazian retweeting cartoons deemed antisemitic.
On September 2, Dr. Bazian retweeted a cartoon image of an IDF soldier holding a Palestinean man’s heart, which the San Francisco branch of the ADL retweeted and judged as antisemitic, claiming it invoked blood libel. Dr. Bazian defended his retweet with multiple sources on Israeli organ harvesting of Palestinians, backed with work from Nancy Scheper-Hughes, director of the UC Berkeley doctoral program of Critical Studies in Medicine, Science, and the Body, as well as numerous reports including an interview with the former head of an Israeli forensic laboratory. One of his linked sources states: “Israel harvested organs from bodies in the 1990s without permission of family members, the former head of a state-run forensic laboratory said in a newly released interview” (CNN).
While the school must take into account the whole picture of a man before allowing him to speak freely to students in any capacity, be it inside the classroom or at a public event on campus, the claims against the professor aren’t substantive enough on their own to rule him and his speech unfit for Saint Mary’s students. Additionally, Dr. Bazian was set to speak on the topic of Islamophobia, not the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Dr. Bazian’s talk on Islamophobia comes at a crucial time, 20 years after the attacks on the Twin Towers. Post-9/11, Islamaphobia saw an exponential increase as “anti-Muslim hate crime incidents spiked after September 11th, 2001, jumping from 28 incidents in 2000 to 481 in 2001” (NBC). This 1600% jump in anti-Muslim hate crimes has since decreased, but to this day has never reached pre-9/11 lows. And with the Israel-Palestine conflict breaking news again earlier in the year, tensions are high, and it is important people are well educated not only on the conflict, but the effect charged rhetoric can have on innocent civilians.
While Dr. Bazian was not planning to speak on the Israel-Palestine conflict, concerns about his character were what unfolded a series of meetings, and the indefinite postponing of his talk. The initial meeting to discuss the concerns around the speaker involved President Plumb, Interim Provost Corey Cook, VP of Mission Francis Sweeny, Senior Diversity Officer Kathy Littles, VP of Student Life Life Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht, and a representative from campus communications. Now, administrators are discussing the specific speaker, as well as creating policy for future “controversial speakers.”
The results of these conversations, as of this writing, seem to be inconclusive one way or the other. Administrators no doubt have a tough decision on their hands. On one hand, giving Dr. Bazian a platform can give way to an unsavory reaction from students, not to mention concerned parents. But conversely, introducing a controversial speaker into the mix of otherwise relatively tame conversation may be a fruitful endeavor in heightening the quality of discourse held amongst students.
Given the underlying hot button topic, the school did its best to avoid conflict within the student body. Throughout this process, communications with the student body have been vague, leaving most students scratching their heads at administrators’ emails regarding an unnamed speaker. As of now, students’ voices do not have a large role in the process for vetting guest speakers, something that may start to change soon. Vice President of Student Life, Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht believes in “including student voices in this conversation, including things like reviewing and finalizing the guest speaker policy.” More student involvement in these matters would call for a high level of responsibility, civility, and maturity from the student body, but may ultimately lead to a higher quality of conversation on controversial topics.
“We at Saint Mary’s adamantly support academic freedom, the freedom of faculty, students, and College personnel and programs to pursue knowledge without undue or unreasonable interference.” -President Plumb
While the school has chosen to err on the side of caution, the current speaker policy states, “As a Catholic, Lasallian institution, our mission challenges us to pursue truth wherever it can be found.” The quest for a worthwhile truth necessitates the desire to have controversial yet critical conversations; for a belief unquestioned is not worth much.
This is a developing story.
A Look into the New Orleans Disaster Relief January Term
By Annika Henthorn
For what seemed like centuries, Saint Mary’s became a desolate reminder of what used to be, a symbol of everything we had before we lost it to COVID-19. As students inch their way back to normalcy, so are the programs being offered again. One of the hallmarks of Saint Mary’s, January Term or Jan Term, was always an awaited month for Saint Mary’s students. Students could explore all their interests and passions without the constraints of class schedules and requirements. For one month, students were able to delve into any interests they might have, whether that be cooking, Scifi, or martial arts. Saint Mary’s had it all. Unfortunately, during the transition to online learning, a lot of the magic of January Term was lost behind the screen. Interactions, connections, and a lot of what made Jan Term so exciting vanished as students became weary of Zoom.
However, the light at the end of this seemingly infinite tunnel seems to shine a little brighter as travel January Terms make a reappearance. The school has high hopes of returning to their usual January Term trips, whether that be to Greece, Italy, or even closer, New Orleans. Students have expressed great interest in applying for these opportunities.
Because of the pandemic, students have developed a newfound appreciation for traveling. As exciting as it is, these classes also have a deeper goal in mind, each varying with the class. For the New Orleans JanTerm, the purpose of the class is to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters. Students get an opportunity to collaborate with the local community and provide much-needed resources to aid in recovery. The focal point of the class is DIRT (dismantle, immerse, reflect, transform). These principles guide the class through challenging relaties and help understand the needs of the communities they are working with.
Although the school expects to assist New Orleans following a likely difficult hurricane season, the location remains open to assist communities of dire need locally or abroad. Students embarking on this January Term will participate in extensive training to prepare them for January and teach them about “conscientious collaboration.” Their responsibilities will include mostly manual labor like building and constructing to offset the damage inflicted upon that specific region. Jan Term is an exciting part of Saint Mary’s experience, but it can also be a rewarding one. This specific Jan Term course pushes students beyond their boundaries to work with local communities in finding solutions to disastrous problems. It provides students with an opportunity to deepen their experiences and offer a new perspective during college that many other courses might not be able to provide.
Saint Mary’s Action Response Team created to streamline emergency response at SMC.
By: Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Fire danger signs are a familiar sight driving around Moraga and the surrounding areas. Though familiar, the current risk severity of extremely high is a reminder of the dangers of SMC’s beautiful, albeit dry and grassy, setting. With fire season in full swing, emergency preparedness may be on the top of many students' minds. In an effort to streamline emergency response protocols, SMC’s Action and Response Team (SMART) was created last month, putting a heightened amount of attention on emergency management for the SMC community.
SMART was created by President Richard Plumb in August 2021. The committee is co-chaired by Chief of Public Safety Hampton Cantrell and Vice President for Student Life Anthony Garrison with additional members in Academic Affairs, Human Resources, Communications, Information Technology Services, and Facilities.
Chief Cantrell describes SMART as “a college-wide committee charged with overseeing the preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery of a major crisis that may impact the college as a whole or one of its major units.”
As a co-chair, Cantrell is responsible for the implementation of SMART initiatives with other team members. He says that in the event of a crisis, team members will review, come up with an appropriate plan of action, and recommend the action plan to the appropriate college officials.
“The campus has emergency plans for fire, earthquake, bomb threat, Active Shooter, unhealthy air quality, to name a few,” said Cantrell. “The role of SMART is to ensure these plans are updated regularly and communicated to the campus community.”
In response to high winds or severe weather in high fire danger areas, like parts of Lamorinda or Walnut Creek, PG&E may shut off power to help prevent wildfires.
According to the PG&E website, “wildfire conditions across California have intensified due to increased temperatures and dryness. The combination of dry vegetation and high winds can uproot trees, blow branches onto power lines or create sparks if power lines contact one another. These conditions call for Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).”
These Public Safety Power Shut-offs or PSPS are often forecasted several days in advance and community members are often warned of possible or planned outages 24 to 48 hours ahead of time.
Cantrell says that SMC is preparing for power outages by maintaining a generator to supply emergency power in case of a power outage. This generator has to be tested periodically.
According to Michael Beseda, the Vice Provost of Enrollment at Saint Mary’s, despite receiving emails about generator testing and repairs going on, students do not need to worry about broken generators. Beseda says that the tests and repairs are to fix a mechanism that automatically turns the generator on if power on campus is cut, but that the generators still work if turned on manually.
In the event of a power outage or fire, Saint Mary’s community members will be notified via the LiveSafe app. For community members looking for additional information about emergency preparedness, Cantrell offers himself as a resource, “as Chief of Public Safety, I am always available to discuss safety and security issues with students, faculty, and staff. It is an honor to work for such a fine institution.”
Chief Cantrell offers the following tips for students to be better prepared for emergencies:
Building specific evacuation plans can be found at the following link: Incident Management | Saint Mary's College (stmarys-ca.edu)
For more information about PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs including preparedness checklists and PSPS explanations: https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/outages/public-safety-power-shuttoff/learn-about-psps.page
Thousands of college students scattered along the east coast are again going online, however COVID-19 is not the culprit.
By: Ally Sullivan
Hurricane Ida made landfall on the coast of Louisiana on Sunday, August 30th, leaving universities in the area to deal with this unfortunate natural disaster. In hopes of being in a more personal post zoom world, educational processes will be stopped, and may not continue for several weeks. A statement from Tulane University in New Orleans was released stating that classes will be cancelled until September 12th, and be resumed online beginning the 13th.
With classes cancelled and power out, students are faced with the uncertainty of where they might go next. Lacking resources on campuses, some students have been transported to safer parts of Baton Rouge and neighboring areas. This does not impact the efforts to combat COVID-19. Research being done at Tulane University, has shown that when students are able to return to campus, efforts will be made to test the individuals coming in such as setting up proper quarantine rooms to ensure caution for all students.
Louisiana State University works toward cleaning up campus, and prepping for the oncoming of students in the next few days. First priority, as addressed by the administration, is allowing the students time to process and address the other difficulties that have arisen in their personal lives as a result of the hurricane.
Although all are well versed in online learning, problems arise out of the lack of power in many areas. Online learning would be possible if staff and students were able to get far enough away from the affected areas to towns and cities with power.
While scattering amongst students and staff continues, concerns circle around the potential dropout rate at many of the universities affected by the storms. This all being the result of possibly 6-8 weeks of no schooling at all. Elementary school districts have been providing families with $100 stipends to use for tarps for roofs, as well as gas for generators. This same concern has yet to be matched by college universities, however if problems persist, actions will have to be taken.
Ryan Ford '23,