(Mis)handle with care

As Tropical Storm Katrina churned toward South Florida with the speed of an Astrovan stuck in neutral, hundreds of doe-eyed freshmen braced for the worst.

They would be stuck in the dorms.

To which my only response would be: Thank the powers that be that I’m not an RA again this year.

Because, if I had to be a resident assistant at Hecht-or any of the other residential colleges, for that matter-I would be given, to put mildly, the not-so-enviable task of maintaining sanity amongst a hodgepodge of teenagers, few of whom: a) have experienced a hurricane b) wanted to be locked up during their first week on campus, and c) were sober.

Freshmen, thank your lucky stars that these resident assistants were working ’round the clock, at a little less than $30 a week, to ensure the collective tranquility of our student body. To better appreciate their hard work, look no further than other facets of our community to see how exactly a storm of this magnitude could be mishandled.

Take, for example, MTV. While many of us struggled to find ice, air conditioning or light, the folks over at Music Television decided that the show must go on for their annual-or is it monthly?-Music-or is it Movie?-Awards, enlisting the help, or harm, of local police officers. And, thanks to a combination of stupidity and someone shooting Suge Knight in the leg, (which, so long as Suge knows who shot him, can also be classified as stupidity) dozens of Miami’s finest barricaded I-95 and every downtown street to ensure that no one un-famous could prevent Green Day from getting the seven awards they surely deserved.

But I won’t let MTV take all the blame…just the majority. Hell, maybe I’m just mad that I didn’t have cable so I couldn’t watch the damn show. I’ll blame that on BellSouth, which on Saturday reconnected cable to about 21,000 homes, according to the Miami Herald (compared to FP&L reconnecting power to about 300,000-plus homes). It’s that kind of snail-like pace that reminds you why it takes 11 weeks to get your cable fixed when there isn’t a hurricane.

Lastly, let us not forget the school’s administration, including President Shalala, whose ability to keep us uninformed throughout the process has made for an especially hectic acclimation to the school year. The school’s decision to send out an email at 5:37 p.m. on Monday night announcing the school’s re-opening for the following day, knowing well that many students living off campus had few options in checking their accounts so late in the afternoon, seemed in stark contrast with President Shalala’s heartfelt promise sent just seven hours prior: “For the future, we will find a way to remain nimble in our decision-making as weather forecasts and conditions change. We…will always think of your safety first.”

Sure thing, President Shalala. Starting now?

Ben Minkus can be contacted at b.minkus@umiami.edu.