All around the Liberal Arts

By Alex Park

University of California San DiegoThink it’s been a little warm for October in this part of the world? Well, you’re not the only one. But if you think it’s warm here, you should have been in San Diego last week, where a few sparks took advantage of the unusually dry grass there, giving way to vast and uncontrollable wildfires that decimated everything for miles around. Unable to contain the inferno, safety officials decided to concentrate their efforts on moving people out of its way, letting the blaze make its way to the sea unabated. Half a million San Diego County residents evacuated, including a full third of the UCSD student body.

On campus, a council of university administrators and safety personnel monitored the situation and considered the appropriate measures the Institution should take towards minimizing damage and ensuring the safety of students and staff in case the blaze headed in their direction. Weary of the situation, the council made a recommendation to cancel class for the week, and encourage non-essential staff not to show up to work until the situation changed. In rationalizing the decision, one council member had this to say to the Guardian, UCSD’s student newspaper:

“Due to the extremely poor air quality, the high number of evacuations causing severe traffic congestion, the personal situation that students, staff and faculty might be facing with their own families and homes and the potential threat to the campus due to the proximity of the fire . [the council] provided a recommendation to the chancellor that canceling classes would be the most prudent and healthy decision.”

Clearly, they thought that one through.
Lucky for all of them, the fire left the university unscathed. But with a significant portion of the student body either living off-campus, hailing from the area originally, or both, the damage goes well beyond the campus itself. Exactly how many students lost their homes remains to be seen.

Brigham Young University – Hawaii

Disaster was hardly what was on the minds of students at this Laie, HI institution, despite recent reminders that they live in the one state in the union most prone to subjugation from rivers of molten lava, exploding mountains, and hails of ash falling from the sky. According to an impromptu poll recently conducted and reported on by the Student News Lab, BYU-H’s student news source, only one in six students there were aware that the island of Jabal al-Tair off the coast of Yemen had been obliterated by a volcano last month.

The eruption killed four people. Nonetheless, BYU-H students remain unfazed. According to the Student News Lab, many students say they worry more about tsunamis rocking their campus than volcanoes, and so rarely think about the it the few times a year that it does incite damage in various parts of the world. Then again, maybe they just don’t usually pay any attention to minor news incidents that occur on small islands off the Arabian coast.