When someone attends a university, they expect a few things: that they will have safe housing, reliable internet, and decent food. These are simple mandates of a modern society. So, when one of those expectations is not met, in an emergency situation nonetheless, it is disturbing and causes me to question the safety of myself and other students. This was my experience when, after a powerful and violent storm ripped through the West Chester area, myself and other students found ourselves locked out of the East Village apartments.
After we lost power on campus, I went out with some people to get food and wait for the power to come back. We returned late, to find that the power was still not on in Tyson Hall, where I am staying for the summer session. So, we decided to go down and see if the power was on in the South Campus buildings, where the East Village is located. It was not, but we figured we may as well go inside anyway, as we had nowhere else to go.
Despite the fact that the power was out, we figured there had to be at least emergency power that would keep the doors functional. We were wrong. For those who are unaware, dormitories and apartments at WCU require students to swipe in to them with our ID cards. I should point out that I could have returned to Tyson Hall; the doors there had been propped open. However, that would be of zero help to the people who were now stranded outside of their buildings. To make matters worse, our phones were dead, and we had no way to charge them.
We were in luck, however, as another resident came by who had a charged phone. We asked him if we could use it to call a friend to see if we could stay at his apartment off-campus, and he said sure, but he wanted to call Public Safety first. He was hoping that there would be a way for them to help us, or to at least let us into the building. After explaining who he was and what was happening, the official on the line responded “yeah?” Confused, the student asked if there was anything Public Safety could do, to which he received a curt “no,” and was then asked if he had anyone to stay with. He responded yes, he had friends in one of the North Campus dorms that did have power. They told him that’s where he would be staying, and then hung up.
We were all shocked. There was no mention of help, no suggestions as to where the rest of us should go. Granted, I and the people I was with had a plan, but we could see a number of other students pacing outside, or sitting in their cars, waiting for help that, apparently, wasn’t coming. It was pitch black, no streetlights, not even any emergency lights. Anything could happen, and nobody would be the wiser. People were in danger, and the one campus-affiliated group that should have kept us safe, or offered help, had not.
We contacted our friend and shortly after left, but as we were leaving, I watched out the car window as we drove past a troubling amount of people, still in their cars, huddling in groups, or even just lying in the grass, with no idea what to do. It was surreal, and should not have happened on a modern college campus. I understand that there were emergencies everywhere, but I didn’t see a single campus officer the entire time we were out, nobody helping anyone, and not even a single officer to direct traffic at the numerous dead traffic lights. Where was Public Safety? I don’t know.[pullquote align=”right”]Where was Public Safety? I don’t know.[/pullquote]
Thomas Abramouski is a fourth-year student double-majoring in English and communications. He can be reached at TA778104@wcupa.edu.
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: For an explanation of what was happening behind the scenes, please read this article: http://www.wcuquad.com/6003636/news/breaking-students-of-east-village-unable-to-access-apartments-after-severe-storm-hits-west-chester-area/.