Water damage in residence halls forces dozens of students to relocate

Media Credit: Keegan Mullen | Senior Staff Photographer

A pipe leak in Guthridge Hall forced 20 students to move out of their residence hall rooms last month.

Updated: Oct. 11, 2018 at 11:07 a.m.

Water issues have plagued residence halls and displaced students from their rooms on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses since the start of the academic year.

Residents in at least seven residence halls said flooding, pipe damage and ceiling leaks have forced them to temporarily relocate, manage property damage and take showers in freezing cold water. University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said the University worked with the students to either relocate them or complete repairs while they were away from their rooms.

Csellar said a pipe in Guthridge Hall leaked because of a failed pipe fitting, affecting 20 residents during the third week of September. Sixteen of the residents moved to The Aston, a graduate residence hall on New Hampshire Avenue, while four moved off campus.

She said the broken HVAC pipe was repaired the same day, but officials relocated the residents because they weren’t sure how long it would take to address the water damage. Csellar said the University offered to work with each student individually about moving back in before winter break as repairs in each room are finished.

“This option provides a student the opportunity to determine which option would result in the least disruption to their classes and/or work during the fall semester,” she said in an email.

Csellar said several students were also affected in Amsterdam Hall last month after a clogged HVAC drain line caused water damage in a “small number of rooms,” but the pipe was repaired the same day and air conditioning was restored to the building.

She added that GW temporarily relocated residents from one room in Thurston Hall to another room on campus for “a couple of days” to fix a ceiling leak caused by extended rain in September, but the residents had access to their room and belongings during repairs.

“Maintenance issues do occur; often unexpectedly and sometimes at inconvenient times,” she said in an email. “When maintenance issues happen, established routines for how a student spends their day getting to and from class, work or internships can be altered and we understand that it can be a disruption for a student.”

In interviews with 20 students, residents said flooding and water damage in Thurston, Guthridge, Mitchell and Clark halls have forced them to move their belongings and take freezing showers throughout the semester. Nine students said they were satisfied with the University’s response to their water issues, but 11 said they encountered poor communication or a slow response from FixIt.

Paola Morales, a former resident of Guthridge Hall, said a pipe that burst on the fifth floor two weeks ago flooded her third-floor residence hall room. She said she stayed in a hotel for a week before the University moved her to The Aston for the rest of the semester.

Morales said she and her roommates cannot recover their personal items until the room is cleared of potential health hazards, like mold. She added that the University reimbursed them with housing credit for laundry, groceries and other expenses, like new bed sheets.

“We have been provided with anything that we might need during the week,” she said. “Although it was stressful, their reaction could have been worse and not helpful at all.”

Alisa Kingsbury, a fifth-floor Thurston Hall resident, said a tub on the sixth floor leaked through her ceiling after just two weeks in her room. Kingsbury said FixIt removed the tub, which left a large unattended hole in her bathroom ceiling.

Kingsbury said she and her roommates couldn’t use their bathroom for a day and were relocated to The Aston after they notified housing about their leak.

“I had to keep walking from Aston to Thurston to get clothes, and that’s a 20-minute walk,” Kingsbury said.

Elizabeth Hayman, a seventh-floor Mitchell Hall resident, said the ceiling outside of her door was bulging and on the verge of collapse due to water damage three weeks ago. Hayman and other students said they saw discoloration from water damage and mold on the walls, pipes and tiles.

Hayman said FixIt replaced the ceiling tiles on Sept. 14 but did not repair the pipes, and the new ceiling tiles were bulging again by the following week.

“They haven’t fixed the core problem, which is some sort of leak,” Hayman said. “It probably will continue to be a problem.”

Thomas Regnante, a sophomore living in Amsterdam Hall, said consistent water damage has inconvenienced students attempting to do laundry on the first floor. The University began repairing two leaks in Amsterdam Hall last month that affected the first floor and several residents’ rooms.

“There’s only one laundry room in the whole building,” Regnante said. “Your shoes get absolutely soaked passing through this little corridor, that’s completely wet, to go do laundry. So it’s a complete nuisance to your day.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that students were relocated from Amsterdam Hall after a leak last month. No students were relocated. We regret this error.

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