Letter to the Editor: Students locked out of safety

By: Scott Fogel – Senior, Political Science

Oh no, a tornado warning! Time to hide in my basement … oh wait, it’s locked.

Time to hide in the RecPlex! … what’s that, random RecPlex employee? You want me to go home? But I don’t have a
basement. Hide on my first floor where there are no windows? My entire first floor is windows. You’re sure I’ll be fine?

Well based on that, random RecPlex employee, I do feel better.

Why is it that when I look to the university to keep me safe from the possibility of a tornado, I’m treated like a clown and told to walk home? Walk home to my house where the basement is securely locked, apparently for my own safety?

Well, let’s talk about what I’m sure will one day be a class-action lawsuit against UD. When this happens you, oh humble reader, can use this article of my opinion to show that there was ample warning and signs that the student neighborhood was in no way ready or prepared to withstand a tornado without the loss of student life. Ultimately, the university is undoubtedly responsible and accountable for this oversight.

You see, unlike the privately owned homes and landlord houses in Dayton, university-owned homes do not have basements or have their basements locked up tight without a way for students to get in.

The reasons for locking the basements are varied, from students being at risk in the case of a fire, to students being at risk because they drink and hold parties there, to students dying after the floor above collapses on them, to the basements flooding and the students not having a way out.

The last reason would be the primary answer as for why the basements are locked: the basements have one entrance/exit, and if students were to take cover there during a tornado they could become trapped inside.

Smooth logic, until you consider the fact that UD is making no effort to build secondary exits, and in the new houses they are refusing to build basements at all. Thus, it is clear that secondary exits are not the only concern of the university and neither is student safety during a tornado.

Another defense the university might throw at the inquiring mind (imagine that, inquiring minds at a university) is that Dayton hasn’t seen a tornado since 1974 and is a low risk.

Well that’s just wonderful, we used to say the same thing about hurricanes on Long Island, except it was more than 50 years of no hurricanes and then we got Irene and Sandy one after the other, the second worse than the first.

The tornado warning we had Sunday was a wake-up call for the University of Dayton: open up the basements, build secondary exits and have a plan. Have a place where the students in the neighborhoods can evacuate to when they hear the siren. By having a realistic and achievable plan like this, the university could save a lot of lives. If that’s not an attractive notion, then think of the money you’ll save on lawsuits.