Students should be able to depend on UR to inform them of potential dangers and offer advice when an emergency occurs. When the water supply was polluted with a rust inhibitor on Friday, many students were poorly notified, if at all. Administration also failed to notice the contaminant until Saturday evening, an entire day after the valve broke and the rust inhibitor entered the water supply.
The problem was fixed rapidly once it was recognized, an action for which facilities should be commended. However, the fact that an entire day passed before it was noticed is a problem. Although the contaminant was later found to be harmless, if UR had been dealing with a toxic substance, many more problems would have resulted.
The communication system used in this semi-emergency lacks both clarity and effectiveness. The entire Fraternity Quad was not even informed of the contaminated water by either UR Facilities or UR Security. In some cases, RAs were merely left messages on phones or not informed at all. This indicates yet another breakdown in the system that led many students to still drink, bathe and generally use the water up until Sunday. Students living off campus, who may have been on campus Saturday, also had no way of knowing about the water.
A system should be created where one individual, or one group of UR representatives, directly notify students in the event of an emergency — whether it be a major or minor issue. Fortunately this time the problem was minor, but had it been serious, students would have been in danger. Mass e-mails, phone calls and direct communication are necessary in order to keep the campus informed of hazards that affect students. These notices should be sent from a specific emergency account as to ensure that all of the UR community would be informed. Although UR is a small campus, an organized system of informing students is still key to ensure the safety of students on campus and off campus.