For weeks, a foul smell interrupted the lives of South Hall residents. On Oct. 31, Facilities Services had identified the source of the strong odor. A pipe had broken, and sewage had been leaking beneath the building.
Residents were given the option to relocate as the problem was dealt with over the next few days. Water to the building was turned off twice in the days following the announcement of the problem. An email from Residential Life on Nov. 3 told students living in South that their rooms were now safe and inhabitable, though the persistent odor has kept students from moving back in.
Wanda Olson, associate director of Residential Life, reported that of the 118 residents in South, only 44 came to Residential Life to be relocated and that some of those students have now returned to their rooms. She also reports that the situation is under control and that a similar problem arising again in the near future is unlikely.
“Members of Facilities Services and independent contractors have assured us that this issue has been resolved. That being said, should additional situations arise, we have a crisis management plan that ensures preparedness for situations such as this — including relocation of students, as necessary,” Olson wrote in an email.
Shannon Grover is a junior resident of the first floor of South, which was hit the hardest.
“The hall had started smelling worse and worse in the couple weeks leading up to Facilities Services’ discovery of the broken pipe,” Grover said. “The stairwell closest to Thomas third was the worst and we pretty much had to hold our breath to walk through. The day we got the notice from Facilities Services, the smell had reached almost unbearable levels, and most of us relocated to either our friends’ rooms or temporary rooms. Now that the leak is fixed, the smell is slowly fading, but not nearly fast enough.”
Grover believes that the situation was completely mishandled by Facilities Services, employees of which were unavailable to comment.
“The complaints of the odor were ignored for weeks beforehand and not enough is being done now to remedy the leftover odor,” Grover said.
Houston Holmes, a junior communication major, is a resident of the third floor of South.
“I was lucky enough to not have sewage coming out of the bathroom faucets like some people on lower floors did,” Holmes said.
He disagreed with Grover’s assertion that Facilities Services did a poor job.
“While the water being out for a few hours was inconvenient, I think facilities services were really on top of it. Considering there were rumors that we might not have water for a week, things turned out alright,” Holmes said.
But for Grover, this situation was symptomatic of Facilities Services’ past inadequacies.
“There seem to be a lot of complaints lately about Facilities Services. The broken locks on the entry doors in Myrtle and Susannah not getting fixed for over a week, the elevators in Thomas left broken for days with students having to walk to the eighth floor and the many dorm issues students have called in about since the beginning of the year with no reply,” Grover said.
Despite these complaints, Olson wanted to thank students for their patience as the problem was dealt with.
“We are thankful for the continued understanding of our South residents. They have exemplified immense patience and flexibility throughout this time,” Olson said.