According to a Friday email from East Quad Department of Community Living staff, an “incident with a sprinkler head” on the fifth floor of Hassenfeld Hall led to water rushing into up to 72 rooms — the number of rooms on the fourth and fifth floors of Hassenfeld — and two hallways on Thursday evening. According to the same email, University Police are still investigating the cause of the incident and asked students to offer any information that they had on the matter. This board applauds the University’s efforts to quickly defuse the situation but urges it to conduct a thorough investigation into the root cause of the flooding and find a way to prevent similar incidents in the future. It is also imperative that the University remain transparent and communicative throughout this process.

Returning to East Quad on Thursday evening, residents of the fifth and even fourth floors of Hassenfeld found puddles covering the hallway floors and the floors of some rooms as well. Ben Wolfe ’20, a Hassenfeld resident who lives on the fifth floor, told the Justice that his floor was flooded, along with many other rooms on his floor. His “hamper was on the floor during the flood so some of [his] clothes got soaked and discolored,” and he had notebook paper that “became unusable after the incident.” Wolfe said he viewed these as minor inconveniences and told the Justice that DCL helped students as needed, including offering to help them find temporary housing.

This board would like to commend the University’s Facilities workers for their prompt action in draining the water from the hallways and student rooms so that students could return to their rooms and deal with other possible inconveniences that may have occurred. Furthermore, Director of Community Living Timothy Touchette confirmed in an email to the Justice that the University has and will continue to monetarily aid East Quad residents with laundry services and advocate for students with the University’s insurance company regarding replacing student belongings. This board applauds the steps the University has taken thus far to remedy the situation and encourages continued efforts to minimize any repercussions from the flood.

However, more must be done to prevent future incidents. As of press time, the University had not found a cause for Thursday’s flooding. In a Sunday email to the Justice, Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan still did not have an answer as to why the incident took place, although he wrote that it is “probably attributed to human involvement.” 

In his email to the Justice, Touchette confirmed that the exact cause of the flooding is unknown but wrote that “hall sports, and any other activities that involve jumping and or throwing objects within the residence halls are extremely dangerous and as such are not allowed. These activities are restricted because they often result in sprinkler heads being compromised similar to the way the sprinkler system in East was damaged.”

This board encourages students to be careful not to damage sprinklers. Furthermore, we urge the University to explore the level of disrepair of the Hassenfeld ceilings. Ceilings in Hassenfeld are in such poor shape that the residents of the fourth floor of Hassenfeld had to deal with leaks caused by a fifth-floor sprinkler incident. Moving forward, the University must assess the condition of Hassenfeld and all University buildings to ensure that any future plumbing problems are not compounded by infrastructural neglect. 

Overall, this board commends the University for prompt attention to alleviating the consequences of the flood. However, although these problems are hard to prevent in their entirety, it is imperative that the University create a plan to prevent future sprinkler floods of this magnitude.