Boston experiences the coldest weather in decades
Brandeis students played in the cold and dealt with the impacts of the freezing temperatures.
With the weather this week having daily highs in the 50s and even 60s, it’s shocking to imagine that just the Saturday before last, the temperature was minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of minus 36 degrees. That Saturday was the coldest day in Boston since 1957 and the second coldest wind chill in Boston ever. The conditions brought both joy and frustration to Brandeis students.
Despite the lack of snow, Brandeis students were able to engage in the winter pastime of ice-skating and walking on Massell Pond which had frozen over. “I always thought it would be really cool to go skating on Massell Pond, but I never thought it would be possible,” Aaron Klein ’26 said. Typically, at this point in the year ponds and lakes are already frozen over, however, due to this year’s unusually high temperatures, this was the first time this school year that the ice was thick enough to stand on let alone ice skate.
Klein, who had grown up playing hockey, went out and skated on the pond with several friends before the Brandeis Police eventually showed up and asked them to get off the ice. According to Klein, because parts of the pond were not completely frozen over and water was still running, Brandeis Police couldn’t allow students to be on the ice due to unsafe conditions. While Klein at the time respected the Brandeis Police’s decisions, he went back the next morning at 7 a.m. and skated again. “It was a really liberating, freeing feeling. I was a bit tired in the morning, but just to be out there by yourself,” Klein recalled.
Klein wasn’t the only one on the ice. Throughout the weekend he would be joined by other skaters and students, all of whom shared his same fascination with the typically runoff filled pool. Over the course of the weekend, students threw rocks, sticks and cones on the ice. Some even went as far as to put a table and bench in the middle of the pond.
The cold weather wasn’t all fun and games, though. On Feb. 2, the Department of Community Living sent an email to Brandeis students instructing them to close all windows in order to avoid pipes freezing and bursting. The temperature in buildings was increased and facilities services staff walked throughout the buildings in order to look for problems. Although preventative measures were taken problems still arose.
On Saturday, Feb. 4 at 2 a.m. a sprinkler head burst in the Feldberg lounge, a room right above the Sherman Dining Hall. In addition to the water that leaked into the dining hall, the water had run through a crawlspace that connected to the Shapiro Residence Hall. Truman Walker ‘26 had been first alerted of the burst pipe by his roommate. Eventually, there was a pool of water underneath his bed. A Facilities Service staff member initially tried to help Walker clean up the water, but they were unable to. With the promise of coming back with a bigger vacuum, they left and didn’t return for the rest of the evening. Over the next few nights, Walker found himself trying to sleep in his friends’ rooms. “I barely got sleep those three days. I couldn't really do much work because I was dealing with telling facilities about it [the water in his room],” Walker said.
The following Sunday afternoon, Walker sent an email to DCL asking for a temporary room accommodation until the pipe had been repaired. In the email, Walker stated “it smells almost like sewage, which is giving me concern that I could get sick if I stay in the room. I am concerned for my roommate and my safety if we continue to stay in a room which potentially has sewage, or hazardous water leaking in through the wall.” Walker never received a response from DCL, however, Brandeis Facilities Services staff were able to repair the pipe.
Unfortunately, the Shapiro Basement was not the only Brandeis facility impacted by the cold weather. Around 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, a HVAC coil burst causing water to leak out of the vents in the entrance to the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. The water had a bright blue color so that it could be monitored, which initially caused beliefs that the liquid was either coolant or antifreeze. Maya Ollagnon ’25 who was working as a building manager at the time, was instructed to report the incident to Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps, who then dispatched Brandeis Facilities Services staff and the Brandeis Police. “I was kind of freaking out a little bit because it was pretty dramatic looking,” Ollagnon said. BEMCO informed Ollagnon that leaks like the one in Gosman were happening across campus.
For the remainder of the day, the main entrance to Gosman was closed. Instead, students, faculty, and visitors entered through the Joseph M. Linsey Sports Center, which is typically used as an exit only. There is still a blue stain in the Gosman entrance, but the leak was fixed by the next day.
“Facilities Services staff did a great job, and if it wasn’t for their detailed preparation and quick response, more problems would have occurred” Vice President for Campus Planning and Operations Lois Stanley stated in an email to the Justice. Brandeis President Ron Leibowitz emailed the Facilities Services staff and thanked them for their work to help the campus in extreme weather conditions.