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Infrastructure Issues Continue to Plague College Housing

It’s only been a month and a half since the semester started, but Haverford’s dorms and on-campus housing have already experienced their fair share of infrastructure issues. Whether it’s electrical problems, floods, or ceilings caving in, community members have reported a wide variety of problems with their residence halls. While some problems were minor, others were disruptive to the lives of students and even faculty.

During the week of August 23, a heat wave brought discomfort to many students, especially those without dorm room air conditioning. With this intense heat also came more serious electrical problems, which affected various buildings on campus, Gummere in particular. On the evening of August 25, an electrical overload caused smoke to come from a transformer in Gummere. According to Campbell, what transpired was not a fire, but simply smoke emitting from the superheated transformer, although the fire department was still called to the scene.

A first year student living in Gummere at the time, Dante Nguyen ‘25, added that only the second section of residents were displaced.  These students spent one night in Barclay before it was deemed safe for them to return. After this incident, Facilities connected a portable generator to one of the electrical panels in Gummere in order to prevent another overload during the rest of the heat wave.

Campbell explained that both the electrical overload in Gummere and the lack of air conditioning in all residence halls is partially due to the surge in appliances that students are bringing to campus in more recent years. “Some of our older buildings were not designed with the electrical capacity needed for all of the items that students bring today,” he said.

The administration addressed this capacity overload problem in an email to students the next day, in which they encouraged students to keep their windows and doors closed as much as possible to increase fan effectiveness, among other suggestions. In reference to Campbell’s statement about weak electrical capacity in certain dorms, the email also asked students to limit themselves “to one mini-refrigerator per suite…” and to “consider unplugging other small appliances and electronic devices when they are not in use.”

A week later, on August 31, waters from the rains of Hurricane Ida entered the front doors of Tritton. Luckily, according to Director of Facilities, Don Campbell, this was cleaned up quickly and no first year students were displaced or affected in any major way.

Even faculty housing has experienced issues this semester. On Friday, September 17, Professor Maud McInerney’s ceiling cracked and parts of it fell completely, not unlike the HCA 46 ceiling which caved in last semester. She noted that the damage was so bad that her “bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen [were] inaccessible.” As a result, she had to stay with a friend nearby while her apartment was repaired. The college did offer to put her up in a hotel, but she chose to stay with her friend because of her cat.

In light of Haverford’s recent infrastructure issues in various residence halls, Campbell noted that the Facilities team at Haverford is currently working to make changes to some of the dorms. For a variety of reasons, one of the most tumultuous places to live recently has been the North Dorms, for which Campbell did note that some improvements are in the works: “We are currently upgrading the central sink area on each floor of the North Dorms with a new Bottle Fill Station and countertop.” He added that the electrical situations in these dorms, as well as in Gummere, are in the process of being evaluated for future upgrades, which he said will be programmed in the next few years. 

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