By Bre’Anna Coleman
Sometimes in the middle of a crisis, people can forget that those in authority might not have the answers.
Graduate student Walter Johnson has been at Millsaps for four years as a residential assistant. He is originally from Kenner, Louisiana.
“Prior to moving to Jackson to attend Millsaps, I had no knowledge of the water issues,” said Johnson.
Johnson observed that being a resident assistant at an institution forces one to put aside their own issues as they seamlessly attack others’ issues. Johnson mentioned how he would be attacked with questions that he had no answer to.
“If I wasn’t an RA, I probably would’ve gone home. But I couldn’t give up because people were looking to me for help,” said Johnson.
Johnson noticed how people don’t check on resident assistants’ mental health or well-being and how the water crisis made that more prominent. Johnson began experiencing water problems his first year.
Some undergraduate students were allowed days out of class but the school required Johnson to attend his three hour long graduate class regardless of the water crisis.
“My teachers were nice enough to cancel them due to the fact that no one could use the restroom,” recalled Johnson.
Many freshmen had to adjust from never experiencing something as drastic as having no water to having to use portable showers or resorting to water bottles.
“I remember my first year we weren’t prepared at all. Some people would take water bottles, pour it into a bowl, warm it up in the microwave, and use it to wash up in their dorm rooms,” said Johnson.
During the first water crisis, Johnson shared how the school wasn’t prepared at all. Students are now equipped with portable showers and supplies of water in case of an emergency.
“It seemed like a first-time experience for everyone,” said Johnson.
Jackson’s water issue isn’t new to its residents or people surrounding the area. Even though the boil water notice has lifted, Johnson and many other students don’t trust the water. He also voiced how the issue is far from fixed since the root of the issue is so large.
“On top of being located near one of the worst neighborhoods in Jackson, we have to experience water and sometimes even electricity issues. Sometimes we hear gunshots in the middle of the night. This is normal for us,” said Johnson, referring to the streets near Millsaps.
Citizens are now faced with issues with the water system and violence in their community. Johnson expressed that the water crisis was more extreme than previous water issues but the residents were more prepared. Even though there has been a lot of suffering, the water crisis provided Johnson with many opportunities and connections.
Now whenever residents ask, “What’s going on with the water?” Johnson responds.“ The City of Jackson can’t even answer that question so how am I supposed to.”