On March 21, one of the three buses driving back from Panama City, Fla. caught fire, became engulfed in flames and burned to the ground.
While the bus and tour companies were slow and clumsy in responding to the situation, the college rose to the occasion and had the foresight to address students' concerns before they were even aware of them.
Although the school did contract with EF Breakaway tours, and has contracted with them for the past five years, they were under no obligation to step up and take care of the students involved with the bus fire. But they did. Students on the bus did not expect the generosity of the entire faculty and staff from the campus in aiding them.
After returning to campus, students on Bus 2 were e-mailed in the morning from Dean Leonard Sancilio. In the e-mail, Sancilio presented a list of ways in which the school was aiding students through this matter. This e-mail was the first sigh of relief that many students on the bus experienced.
A meeting was held that Monday upon return to Geneseo. Sancilio, Assistant Vice President for alumni relations Rose Anderson and Assistant Director for alumni relations Tracy Gagnier patiently listened to the students' accounts of the traumatic experience that had occurred. As students continued to speak, shock and respect filled their faces. The meeting concluded with them telling the students how proud they were for the way the students handled the situation. After being completely disrespected and overlooked by the bus company both during and after the fire, hearing the reassuring words of the administration had an intangible, reassuring impact.
Professors have also been extremely empathetic throughout the entire ordeal. Students involved in the bus fire could not have asked for more support from the campus of Geneseo. As small as this town is, the tight-knit community feeling is priceless when it comes to knowing the administration is backing its students out of the kindness of their hearts.