New Hall is awash in frustration, water

Sprinklers flooded more than two dozen New Hall rooms Saturday for the second time in a week.

The incident left frustrated residents questioning the quality of the residence hall sprinkler system and the responsiveness of administrators.

The New Hall fire alarm sounded at 5:30 p.m., and residents evacuated the building to watch the now familiar sight of firemen rushing to turn off an activated sprinkler.

A resident of room 802 rushed out of his bedroom yelling for someone to turn off the sprinkler, which flooded rooms down to the first floor, his roommate said.

“All I can say is it was an accident,” said the resident, suspected of causing Saturday’s flood. He wished to remain anonymous.

“We’re probably the most hated people in the dorm right now,” said another resident of room 802.

The possibility that students started the flood angered neighboring residents, who experienced severe property damage from the accident. “Some jerk hung his clothes on the sprinkler, it’s his fault,” said seventh-floor resident Christine Kostos. “I say they should line him up and let us all kick him in the butt.”

Students in rooms affected by the activated sprinkler were shut out of their rooms for three hours while a maintenance crew vacuumed the rooms. Most residents said the wait was the worst part of the experience.

“It was torture, I was crying,” said New Hall resident Jeff Goldberg. “They told us that there was a foot of water in our rooms and then wouldn’t let us go see.”

“Being left in the dark was the worst thing,” Kostos said.

During the three-hour wait, University Police officers and New Hall community facilitators joked about the flood and provided little helpful information, said eighth-floor resident Nate Seagal.

Residents said they question the quality of the building’s sprinkler system, which has damaged property in nearly 25 rooms in the past week.

The New Hall sprinkler system can only be turned off by a University facilities worker, so it took nearly 20 minutes to shut the system off in both incidents.

“It seems logical not to tamper with the sprinkler, but it also seems logical to be able to turn off the water in the room sooner than that,” Kostos said.

“There is no cut-off switch, and I don’t feel comfortable with my stuff in here,” Goldberg said.

Residents said they have mixed feelings about the responsiveness of the University to the flood.

“Maintenance people did a really good job, but the school administration end of it is not responsive – no phone call, no housing personnel, no CFs,” Seagal said.

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