Students, Staff Respond to Water Damage in Harvey, Humidity Issues in Aviat

Originally published in Issue 2, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (September 22, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

On Aug. 10, at 5:30 a.m. Wes Strickland phoned the DeSales police department to report water damage to his villa 1B of Harvey. Water soaked through half of the kitchen ceiling due to a pipe connection failure on the third floor, which was most likely caused by the connection working itself loose over time.

By 6:45 a.m., maintenance was on the scene and already began to rip out carpeting and drywall.


All the water damage has been successfully removed from Harvey. Photo by Kellie Dietrich.

“All three floors had varying degrees of water damage to flooring, walls, electrical and insulation,” said Mike Duffy, director of campus environment. All damaged light fixtures, insulation, walls and ceilings, floorcoverings and paint were replaced.

The tenants from the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival left Harvey two days before the leak was discovered, so it is unknown how long the water ran for.

Stickland and his roommate were studying for finals and preferred not to move while preparing for them, and were granted permission to stay in Harvey while the kitchen was being reconstructed.

“With athletes and others returning to campus and having 60 beds suddenly made unavailable put the school in a very tough situation,” said Strickland. “I think it’s a small miracle that they had the building ready in time, and it goes to show how much hard work was put in by everyone involved to make sure that people had some place to stay when they got back.”

While Harvey was ready for students on move-in day Aug. 22, it was not ready for students arriving early to campus.

According to Jonathon Osborne, associate director of residence life for housing operations, facilities and ResLife worked hard to ensure all early arrivals had a place to stay on campus.

“It was an unfortunate situation that came up and the students impacted were wonderful and patient as we worked to get Harvey open for them,” said Osborne.

To prepare for freshman orientation, peer mentor Chris Murray arrived Aug.14, knowing Harvey had water damage, and stayed in Finnegan until he was able to move in on Aug. 20.

While Strickland is now in the Heights for graduate housing and is not sure of Harvey’s current state, Murray said his villa was perfectly fine when he moved in.

“I think they handled it the best they could. I was just happy to move in before classes started,” said Murray.

Other students on campus were not as lucky on move-in day. Freshman Leah McKenney quickly realized her room in Aviat had a moisture problem. Each day after pre-orientation, her dorm’s walls were wet so posters could not stick to them, and her and her roommate’s bedding and clothes were damp.

Once their suitemates arrived on Aug. 21, they noticed green mold growing on their suitemate’s bathroom door, and thought the bad humidity and mold may be coming from the leaking air conditioner unit. They notified maintenance who replaced the air conditioner, but they still had a humidity issue. They then asked maintenance for a dehumidifier, but they replaced the air conditioner again and added a large dehumidifier in their wing of Aviat.

In this situation, McKenney believes maintenance did the bare minimum. Although her suite was the only one in Aviat with mold problems, other dorms are suffering from humidity as well.

“If there is a humidity problem in the dorms bad enough to grow mold, they should offer dehumidifiers because it is just uncomfortable and gross. I specifically requested a dehumidifier but they just kept replacing the A/C, which didn’t really make much sense to me.”

McKenney said maintenance removed the mold with a special cleaner and it has not grown back; however, her and her roommates still can’t get any posters to stick to the walls and their A/C occasionally leaks so they avoid using it. Additionally, they bought a dehumidifier for their room in hopes to solve the humidity issue themselves.


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