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Lauder College House on March 16, 2022

Credit: Derek Wong

While move-in is an exciting, transitory period for many students, some residents faced challenges, such as flooding and fire drills in the middle of the night, during on-campus housing move-in last week.

A pair of roommates in Harrison College House experienced flooding that disrupted their schedules, while a fire alarm awoke Lauder College House residents at 5 a.m., the day before classes officially began for the fall 2022 semester. 

College sophomores Tova Tachau and Samia El-Erian are roommates living on the 17th floor of Harrison. They told The Daily Pennsylvanian that their rooms flooded on two different occasions due to a pipe burst and overflow from the floor above — all before classes even began. 

Tachau said that she noticed a sound of a water drip coming from inside her bedroom wall when she moved in. After a few days, on Aug. 27, El-Erian came back to the suite to find a Penn Residential Services maintenance employee waiting outside their door.

El-Erian said that maintenance had told her that a pipe burst inside one of their walls and that they would need to cut into the wall to fix the issue. 

“Our living room was completely flooded,” El-Erian said. They recounted that maintenance cut holes in both their common room wall and their shower ceiling.

“Maintenance was great,” Tachau said. "They put new drywall in and they painted it."

El-Erian said that after the first flooding incident, she was woken up on Aug. 30 by the sound of running water coming from the bathroom. She said that the students living in the dorm directly above her had forgotten to turn off their sink, leading to the second flooding.

“I walked into the bathroom, and the floor was completely flooded,” El-Erian said. “There was water coming down from our light.”

Water was running for almost three hours, El-Erian recounted. She called maintenance, and housekeeping staff mopped the water up.

Tachau said that the pair were fortunate that only a carpet was damaged. She added that Harrison House Director Eric Cottrell reached out to them following the flooding to inform her about a work order form to fill out.

El-Erian said that while the incidents did not dramatically affect their studies, it was frustrating to have to deal with so many issues before classes even began.

“The pipe was not human error, but the second flooding was,” El-Erian said.

This is the not the first time students have experienced issues with flooding in on-campus residences. Last fall semester, an activated fire sprinkler on the fifth floor of Harnwell College House flooded the residences of 27 students, causing significant damage throughout the first five floors of the building.

The morning of Aug. 30, the residents of LCH awoke to a fire alarm and instructions to evacuate the building.

College sophomore Vincent Lepani, who lives in LCH, said he was woken up at 5 a.m. on the first day of classes by a fire alarm, he said in a written statement to the DP.

Lepani said that while he had no classes that day, his roommates were inconvenienced by the disruption to their sleep. He added that he was not informed about the reason for the alarm. Nonetheless, he said he understands the need for evacuation to ensure the safety of students.