Some college leaks remain unrepaired

Nearly a month after the University suffered an unprecedented number of structural leaks due to long periods of rain, some of the damage has yet to be repaired.

Yale officials and students said the problem of water damage is particularly severe in Calhoun College, which suffered leaks last month in eight rooms — one of which was uninhabitable until Tuesday. Administrators said some of the leaks were unavoidable given the unusually heavy rainfall, but students said they were still frustrated by the extent of the damage and the slow pace of repairs.

Last month marked the wettest October in Connecticut’s recorded history, but Calhoun Master Jonathan Holloway said he thought at least some of the leaks could have been prevented.

“It was an exceptional circumstance, and in that regard, I’m sympathetic to the challenge the University faced,” Holloway said. “At the same time, eight leaks in one college and students getting displaced isn’t acceptable at all.”

Director of Facilities Operations Eric Uscinski said maintenance staff responded to more than 100 leaks across campus during the rainy period, many of them new but not severe. He said such a high volume of leaks is natural given the month’s heavy rainfall.

“The more intense the rain, the more you get saturated, and you get leaks where you haven’t had leaks before,” Uscinski said. “We’re taking all the measures we can to make sure we’re solving the problems.”

One of the worst leaks caused part of the ceiling in Sloane Physics Laboratory to fall down, and students said the tiles have yet to be replaced.

Calhoun was hardest hit, as its roof suffered a major leak that was difficult to pinpoint and repair, Uscinski said. During the repair process, workers punched holes in some dorm room ceilings that have not been mended, students said. Some students said they are worried that the loose, exposed insulation poses an airborne health risk, but Uscinski said the students would have been relocated if the holes were dangerous.

Brett Peace ’06, who said mildewed sheetrock has been exposed on his ceiling since the plaster covering it collapsed last month, said the maintenance staff has not responded to his requests for repair.

“The first week, they were constantly in my room, and now they’ve just quit,” he said.

Christina Meyer ’06, another Calhoun resident, said she finally moved out of her room last Wednesday after weeks of continual leaks and messy maintenance work. She said she is currently staying in the Calhoun guest suite and hopes to return to her room shortly. Though the leaks destroyed her computer, Meyer said, the University will reimburse her for the damage.

Provost Andrew Hamilton said much of the blame lies with Yale’s aging architecture, a problem the current round of renovations aims to fix.

“Part of the challenge of a university like Yale is that we have old and distinguished buildings that can be amenable to leaks,” he said. “Part of the systematic renovation on campus is ensuring that water damage of this type is eliminated as quickly as possible.”

Holloway said he is disappointed that Calhoun is not slated for renovation with the other residential colleges and fears that the leaks may be symptomatic of larger problems with the college’s construction.

“I hope the University will come and investigate Calhoun a little more closely,” Holloway said.

Uscinski said the facilities staff conducts a yearlong preventative maintenance program, but it cannot fully protect the campus from last month’s level of rain. He said he expects the repairs to be completed in two to three weeks.

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