Throwing a towel down in front of her door on Sunday morning to stop what she thought was dirty water seeping into her room from the bathroom, sophomore Kristen McGowan realized soon after that it was not water leaking into her room; it was raw sewage.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, the facilities department was notified that there was “effluent overflowing in the basement bathroom of Sullivan House,” Howard Holden, the director of facilities, said.
According to George Stroud, the director of residence life, the construction workers working on the West Residence Hall damaged a sewer pipe leading to the house. He said that there were still two functioning bathrooms in the house that students could use that day and a plumber would be there on Friday to fix the problem.
When the plumbing company arrived the next day, they discovered a collapsed sewage line, which meant they needed to dig up the front yard of the house. Since they were not prepared to do that on Friday, it was agreed that they would come back on Monday to fix it.
“I was never informed at all about what exactly was happening with the sewage and the bathrooms,” McGowan said. “I know that on Thursday something happened, and by Sunday it got worse, and finally by Monday they decided to do something about it. When something was leaking out from the bathroom on my side of the hallway, I immediately e-mailed facilities with my concern and how I was nervous about it seeping into my room and being toxic. I never heard back.”
Holden said that some of the residents ignored the signs posted on the out of order bathrooms and used them anyway, which caused the overflow again later that weekend in the basement. “Facilities then shut the water off to the entire house, and residence life evacuated the building,” Holden said.
“The only thing that was done to notify the residents was a sign placed on the broken bathroom that said, ‘broken’ and ‘will be back to fix tomorrow, Jan. 27,’ which meant Friday, but no one showed up,” McGowan said.
“It’s unsanitary and I am not living there this week,” Angela Pappano, a junior English and communication major, said. “I felt like they rushed us out and I think that it’s unfair that they expected us to find a place to stay.”
Residence life went door to door Sunday saying that the residents were to immediately evacuate the house and to either find a friend to stay with or they would temporarily place them in rooms throughout campus that had vacancies.
McGowan and Pappano both expressed their concerns for the health risks this raw sewage posed to the residents. According to www.biotank.co.uk, exposure to raw sewage can cause gastroenteritis, hepatitis A, asthma and infection of the skin or eyes. These can be contracted by just breathing them in or by contact with open cuts on the skin.
As of Monday Holden said, “The evacuation has taken place, a repair is being made to allow residents to return to the building tonight [Monday] and housekeeping is sanitizing the building.” He also said that it has been determined by the location of the collapse that the resident’s practice of parking their cars on the lawn next to House 7 is the reason for the sewer line collapsed.
One of the subcontractors working for PipeShark, the company hired to fix the broken sewage line, said that, “whoever put it [sewage pipe] in there did it wrong and when the ground settled it cracked the pipe.” He also said that people driving on that part of the lawn would also cause the ground to move which also caused the pipe to crack.
“I think for the amount of money it costs to go here we shouldn’t have to be living in houses or residences like House 7,” McGowan said. As of 5:30 p.m. she said that she has not heard whether or not she is allowed back into the house. “I think that residence life owes us residents of House 7 an apology for the inconvenience and also if there are any health risks at hand.”
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Posted to the web by Shane Evans