Brandeis Administration provides updates following Nov. 19 bus accident
The Justice has compiled a summary of the updates Brandeis Administration has provided to the community over the last two weeks.
On the afternoon of Nov. 20, Univ. President Ron Liebowitz wrote an email to the grieving Brandeis community about the fatal Nov. 19 shuttle accident. “Adding to the difficulty of absorbing such painful news is the fact that we all have many unanswered questions at this time,” he said. Liebowitz went on to express that as more information became available, Brandeis administration would update the community. Since the evening of Nov. 19 when news of the accident first emerged, Liebowitz and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Andrea Dine have sent a collective total of nine emails addressing the Brandeis community. These emails primarily share available resources for students to process the incident. The university has not provided any new details regarding the cause of the accident or the status of injured students since Nov. 22. An investigation is being conducted by the Middlesex District Attorney's office.
In a Nov. 28 email to the Brandeis community, Liebowitz explained that since the summer, there has been a general transportation study being conducted. “We will be making changes based on that study, the accident, and the results of the investigation by outside agencies, once it’s been completed,” Liebowitz said.
Two days later, Dine announced that the Boston/Cambridge Shuttle service would be suspended for the rest of the semester. She encouraged students who would experience financial hardship as a result of this decision to apply for the Undergraduate Transportation Fund, especially those who depended on the shuttle for travel to internships, jobs, interviews, and other academic purposes. The shuttle service offered on campus and to Waltham will continue to run, though they are also operated by Joseph’s Transportation.
To support students healing from the aftermath of the shuttle crash, the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion has adapted “Stressbuster” events that were originally planned to help students cope with finals-related stress to also include resources for those in mourning. The Stressbuster events will be offered every day throughout the end of the semester for students seeking support and comfort. In an email to the Justice, Director of Health Promotion and Wellness Initiatives Leah Berkenwald ’07 wrote, “Wherever students are right now is valid, and our goal is to offer programming and support for everyone.”
While Brandeis community members were aware that a student had passed away in the accident on the night of Nov. 19, it wasn’t until the afternoon of Nov. 20 that it was announced the student was undergraduate Vanessa Mark. An event was held by the Center for Spiritual Life on Nov. 21 to come together and recognize Vanessa and the other students injured in the accident. During the event, the Center for Spiritual Life expressed that more events would be held as students returned to campus following the Thanksgiving break.
On Dec. 2, Dine informed community members in an email that a memorial service will be held for Vanessa today, Dec. 6, from 12 pm to 12:30 pm in the Sherman Function Hall, Hassenfeld Conference Center. “The service will be an opportunity to remember Vanessa and come together as a community to honor her memory, and support one another,” Dine wrote. Community members unable to physically attend will be able to live stream the event as long as they register in advance.
The Office of the President and Assistant Vice President of Communications Julie Jette did not respond to the Justice’s request for comment, and Dean of Students Monique Gnanaratnam was unavailable to comment before press time. Dean of Academic Support and Advising Lori Tesner declined to comment.