Inspectors evaluate condition of Lewis roof following student complaints

Caution tape blocks a stall in Stratton Hall where a sink has been pulled out of the wall on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Jeremy Caldwell / The Tufts Daily

Lewis Hall is undergoing inspection by Tufts Facilities for cracks in the dormitory’s roof, which will be replaced during the summer as a part of larger on-campus construction and renovation projects.

This week’s inspection, which started Tuesday and ends today, follows a previous inspection conducted by Facilities of top-floor rooms in Lewis Hall on Sept. 24, according to an email from the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) that was sent to Lewis Hall residents.

One of the rooms inspected and photographed by Facilities personnel earlier this semester belongs to first-year Clinton Hausman, who lives on the top floor of Lewis Hall.

Hausman said he first reported the cracks before arriving for Matriculation this fall using a Room Condition Report form — collected from all students who live on campus at the beginning of the year.  Hausman said he did not realize the crack was a problem until the first significant rainfall of the semester.

“The first time it started to actually rain pretty bad, [the crack] started leaking,” he said. “Not only was the crack leaking, [but the nearby] light started leaking. Another crack opened up above the light and then all of this black liquid was coming down onto [my] bed. It was really bad. It got everywhere.”

Hausman explained that he immediately contacted his Resident Advisor (RA), who brought in a representative from the university’s maintenance team to help with the situation.

The representative from Facilities told Hausman that there was nothing that could be done while it was still raining. As a result, Hausman’s bed was pushed next to his roommate’s bed on the other side of the room for two days, while Hausman‘s side of the room under the ceiling crack was filled with trash bags and buckets to catch dripping water.

Hausman said that the inspector who checked his room mentioned that some work has been done on the exterior portion of the Lewis roof, but he is otherwise unaware of whether or not anything is being done to address the situation.

“I wish we knew more of what would happen to the roof, like the status of how they’re going to repair it,” he said. “Every time it rains, I get scared that I have to run home and move my bed over before something happens.”

According to Senior Director of Facilities Services Steve Nasson, though roof inspections are conducted regularly, it is possible for inspectors to overlook small cracks or holes because of their size. This can create leakage issues elsewhere in the building, he explained.

“When it rains, water can seep in, and what it does is find the path of least resistance, such as a hairline crack in the slab or a pipe penetration,” he told the Daily in an email.

According to Nasson, Facilities has located a crack in Lewis Hall and filled it with a crack sealer.

“That seems to have done the trick in that area,” he wrote. “We will continue to vigilantly inspect the membrane and patch as necessary.”

Hausman said that he and his roommate are concerned about what will happen when it begins to snow on campus.

“What’s going to happen when all the snow comes? Is the roof going to cave in on us?” he said. “We literally watched the crack get bigger…as it was raining more and more. We could see it growing, a new crack was forming across the whole room.”

Students are also having issues with housing conditions in other residential facilities on campus. Senior Evelyn Kim, who lives on the third floor of Stratton House, said the bathroom on her floor has a broken shower door and a broken sink.

Earlier in the semester, the bathroom had two broken sinks, but one has since been fixed and the other is in the process of being fixed.

Kim said that she also experienced difficulties last year when living on the third floor of Carmichael Hall when a pipe burst in the building.

“There was a lot of snow on the roof and I think one of the pipes broke down, and water just started coming down,” she said. “My whole room got drenched… ResLife relocated us and brought cleaning equipment. They helped clean the floors and get rid of water and stuff. I requested to move to another room and thankfully I was able to.”

While Kim said that the repair process has been slow, she explained that her experience with ResLife has largely been positive, since ResLife has generally been responsive to housing problems.

“Whenever I’ve had a problem with my room, [ResLife has] been pretty cooperative,” she said.

According to ResLife Director Yolanda King, on-campus housing facilities are currently in acceptable shape.

“We have had no issues with assigning students to any of our current residence halls,” she explained. “If there were any immediate issues during move in, the Facilities staff did respond as appropriate.”

Nasson added that many residential buildings on campus have undergone significant renovations over the past three years.

Nasson explained that, since the summer of 2013, the bathrooms and common rooms of Wren Hall, Hodgdon Hall and Haskell Hall have been upgraded. Additionally, the Bush Hall roof was replaced, one wing of Latin Way had its carpeting replaced, Tilton Hall and Bush Hall underwent interior painting, Stratton Hall underwent Phase I of an exterior restoration project and exterior and interior restoration work was done at Richardson House, Carpenter House, 92 Professors Row, 42 Sawyer Ave. and Tousey House, according to Nasson.

He said that there are various planned construction projects for the summer of 2016, including the completion of Phase II of Stratton Hall’s exterior restoration and Lewis Hall’s roof replacement.

According to Nasson, the exterior envelope restoration and bathroom renovation work for Tilton Hall and Bush Hall are being planned for the summers of 2017 and 2018.

Nasson encouraged students to be the “eyes and ears in the dorms” for Facilities, by reporting issues through the university work order system, so that they can be properly addressed in a timely manner.

Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon said that the process of evaluating current housing conditions can lend opportunities not only to make needed repairs, but also to explore options to increase effective utilization of space.

“Those of us who already look at the condition of housing look at where is there ordinary wear and tear, where is there opportunity to think about how space is used,” she said. “When buildings are built in different decades, the idea about dorm life and what people are doing in a residential space looks different and…when we go to renovate them, we have to think about what’s community space like now.”

Vice President for Operations Linda Snyder said that on-campus housing is a university priority.

“As the place where much of our student life takes place, housing constitutes about 20 percent of the total building square footage, which means a good amount of university staff time and financial resources are dedicated to the housing system,” she told the Daily in an email.


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