Stevenson, what is going on?

Megan Keane, Columnist

Imagine this: you’re in a deep, deep, dreamless slumber. It’s peaceful and mindless and you’re thankful even if you’re not conscious about your thankfulness. You’re warm, you’re comfortable and your mind is blank for what feels like one holy minute.

And, then, wailing sirens break through that blackhole of sleep, disturbing you so much your heart picks up right away, as if you’ve been running a one-minute mile. The combination of adrenaline and fear freezes you momentarily while you’re left trying to decipher what year it is, what day it is, what time it is and what’s going on.

It’s the fire alarm, of course. Of course, the fire alarm would go off while you napped. What else would you expect, truly?

Disoriented, you try not to trip down the twelve flights of stairs. Disoriented, you stand in the freezing cold, your body already pre-disposed to being extra cold because of the whole previously-being-wrapped-in-a-blanket thing. You’re shaking. There’s a lot of firetrucks—like three, and some ambulances, and you wonder, what is going on?

This was my Tuesday evening at Stevenson Hall. I’d laid down for a nap after a long sleepless night and a rewarding but draining day, only to be woken into a panic. We weren’t ever told what happened, really. Was there a fire? Did someone burn popcorn? False alarm? We got no information.

And, then, 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, the fire alarm wakes me up. Are residents starting little fires? Did someone leave their curling iron on the carpet? Is someone burning candles? Incense? Smoking? We’re left, yet again, groggy and uninformed.

We were told that, in both cases, it was not a drill. That’s good to know—so, we should be expecting at least one more fire alarm soon. But, do we not have a right to know that everything’s safe? There was an incident? Or, maybe the two consecutive alarms are a symptom of a system error?

I understand the protection of the identity of whoever is causing the fire alarm—you don’t want the other residents to give them a hard time, or, if it was a very personal manner, you simply don’t want them to know. But, shouldn’t we be told something?

I’d rather hear, “Everyone’s okay; there was a little smoke from some burnt popcorn,” rather than receiving a shrug in response. Let us know if it was a system error, let us know if it was a false alarm—most importantly, let us know if there were fires. I don’t think it’s right to leave a building of students completely in the dark and baffled.

What’s the harm in emailing the students affected by the fire alarms and letting them know that everything’s good? There should be an update notification system in place for when stuff like this happens. Let me reiterate, it wouldn’t have to disclose any personal information, it would just let us know that things are okay.

Megan Keane is a senior psychology and English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].