Kristina Kim

Yale will not reimburse Morse College students whose possessions were ruined when water from a burst pipe flooded about 40 dorm rooms over winter break.

After winter break, almost 80 Morse sophomores had to relocate from their waterlogged rooms. Many of those students left behind clothes, electronics and other possessions, which were damaged and destroyed by the flooding. But Head of Morse College Catherine Panter-Brick explained that Yale does not have to reimburse students for their damaged property, citing a policy under which the University is not legally responsible for the safety of personal property on its premises or in its buildings.

Some students voice dissatisfaction with the University’s response.

“I lost articles of clothing, room decorations and notebooks during the flood,” Ben Kieff ’20 said. “In addition, the movers mistakenly moved my wet clothes into my new room instead of bringing them to the laundry service, causing many of my clothes to sit in wet mold for over a week. While the University offered to wash the clothes that they had left in the wet bag, they said that any lost or damaged property was not their responsibility.”

After students moved back to the suites in Morse, he added, many discovered that their wet clothes had been bagged, not washed, and ruined as a result. Kieff said he thinks the University should take responsibility for the destroyed property because the flooding occurred when students were away from campus and because much of the damage resulted from “human error.”

According to Panter-Brick, Yale recommends that students take out personal-contents insurance on items they leave in their suites. She added that some parents’ homeowner’s insurance policies cover property owned by college students if the student is living in university housing, not off campus.

But Kieff said the University did not inform him or other students about this insurance option before the flooding.

A Morse student, who requested anonymity because he did not want his name associated with criticism of the University, said he lost four rugs and five pairs of shoes — totaling 500 dollars’ worth of ruined possessions.

“I think the University, but more specifically Morse College, should have more appropriately responded by offering financial compensation for those who had evidence of damage,” the anonymous source added. “Moreover, many items were lost in the process of returning back to Morse, which has felt rushed and left many students scrambling to reassemble their entire living arrangement in the middle of the semester.”

Some students view Yale’s involvement more positively. Morse College aide Onyx Brunner ’20 said he appreciated how quickly the University repaired the burst pipes and moved students back into the college. He also appreciated that Yale paid for students’ dry cleaning, despite the fact that the University is not liable for damaged property.

“I know that taking out insurance costs money, but I’ll continue to recommend students to get personal property insurance, to protect them against potential loss, theft or accidental damage to their belongings,” Panter-Brick said.

The displaced Morse students moved back into their suites over the weekend.

Jever Mariwala | jever.mariwala@yale.edu