Game of Knights: Dissecting The Pipe-Bursting Saga of 2016

Image courtesy of: newburgh.wikimapia.org and msmc.edu

by: Mike Reistetter

“There were about five holes with water pouring in (to my hallway), similar to the climatic scene in “Titanic,” as the water began building up and rising to knee-deep levels,” Mount Saint Mary sophomore, Michael Lowe, recollected.

Lowe and his fellow College Court 20 (CC20) residents were the second batch of Mount Saint Mary students abruptly displaced from their dormitories  this past week.

The semi-epidemic unfolding originally commenced last Sunday, Feb. 14, in the all-female building, College Courts 12 (CC12).

“I first realized there was a problem when there was a fire alarm going off for about a half-an-hour,” said junior Rose Linehan, a resident of CC12 who has since been temporarily displaced and relocated to graduate housing in CC9. “Then I walked into the building. It was pitch back, and rain was falling down on me.”

Upon evacuation, the students of CC12 were advised to re-enter their building, gather their essential belongings, and report to the Hudson Conference Room outside the Residential Life Office. They were subsequently given their new room assignments and keys, while assistance arrived at the scene of the perilous floods.

“Maintenance trucks, outside companies, and the fire department were here to fix the problems almost immediately,” said junior Marissa Pino, roommate of Linehan, who was also moved to CC9 on a temporary basis.

With the proper protocol being enacted, it seemed as if the unfortunate events of Valentine’s Day were the conclusion of a minor bleak in an otherwise shockingly chaos-free winter.

That is, until the following morning, when CC20 suffered the same fate as CC12.

With more assistance on the way, the use of more residential housing on campus to provide “refuge” expanded. According to Residence Life, approximately 100 students were displaced from CC12 and CC20 altogether. While CC12 divided its discharged troops to house such as CC21, CC9, CC16, Sakac Hall, and the Garden Apartments, generally designated for athletic equipment storage, CC20’s extended its residents unto winter athlete housing at CC392, and even as far as freshman men’s housing at Guzman Hall.

If the victims of the pipe-bursting phenomena were not discouraged yet, they certainly had become so after scattering to new buildings with inherent safety and technical concerns of their own.

According to another displaced resident of CC12, junior Alicia Walker, for a third time in two days, a residential building on Mount Saint Mary Campus experienced a considerably threatening leakage.

“We had a leak in CC16 on the night of the 15th, and it scared all of us,” exclaimed Walker. “Maintenance and security were trying to fix it, but they were also telling us that we might have to be displaced somewhere else, and they didn’t know where they would have to put us. Luckily, they capped the leak, and all was fixed, so we could stay here and not have to move again.”

Amidst the pandemonium directly related to the events of Feb 14-15, rumors began circulating around campus that if more buildings were to be afflicted with the seemingly contagious Pipe-bursting “bug,” displaced residents would be relegated to the likes of the non-dormitory, multi-purpose building Hudson Hall, or The Ramada, a local hotel in Newburgh. Such rumours were subsequently debunked at last Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting.

“A bursting pipe, just like if it happened in your home, would be considered an unexpected situation,” said Colin Seifrit, MSMC Area Coordinator and Resident Director of College Courts. “(Therefore) the college has an emergency response plan in place to accommodate students when these situations arise.”

Despite Seifrit and Residence Life’s assertions, quite a few of the students forced into temporary new housing continue to express their dismay with how the residential movement procedure took place.

“I think MSMC should have done a lot more with communicating to the students who were affected,” said junior Megan McCarthy, also displaced from CC12. “While I’m very thankful to be living in the Garden Apartments, a building I believe to be in much better condition than my former building (CC12), I believe a better emergency plan should exist for when future disasters like this occur.”

McCarthy added that to ensure apt preparation in the event of another pipe-burst, more residential buildings should be insulated, heaters should be fixed, and an overall more sufficient plan for students should be instilled.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened on campus, and I am doubtful it will be the last.”

Lowe, who was moved from CC20 all the way across campus to Guzman Hall, corroborated McCarthy’s account, saying “from my own carpentry experience, they (MSMC) could easily send in a team of five-to-six knowledgeable men to fix the sheetrock and pipe damage within three-to-four days, rather than prolonging the moderate-to-severe inconveniences we are experiencing in an effort to save money.”

McCarthy, Walker, and Walker’s twin sister and roommate, Brittany Walker, all agreed that the day of the initial pipe-burst turned a typical day of rest and studying for exams into a day filled with unwanted stress and anxiety.

While CC12 residents have been assured their building will be completely repaired and safe for re-entry this coming Tuesday, the significant damage done at CC20 has its re-opening categorized as a “to-be-determined,” unguaranteed date within the next couple of weeks.

Linehan and Pino used a “glass half full” approach in reflecting upon their brief stay in a previously unfamiliar residence, summarizing as a whole, the situation they and many of their fellow classmates have had to endure through recently.

“Despite having to contact security every time we needed to get into our new building when our swipes stopped working, we can see security and all of the MSMC staff in charge have been working hard everyday to try to fix this problem, so I appreciate it,” said Linehan. “RD Colin deserves a medal!”

Pino added, “From the outside looking in, it seems like they (MSMC) are doing everything in their power, but who really knows but them? All I know is, I can’t worry about it. I have a bed to sleep in, and a bathroom to use—that’s all I really need.”