Admins meet with students over Pierce plumbing woes

University administrators continue to work with students to address Pierce’s litany of facility problems.

By Lina Li

University administrators met with Pierce residents twice this week in response to student outrage over the repeated breakdowns in the dormitory’s plumbing system and other persistent maintenance issues that have occurred throughout the year.

Housing and campus life administrators convened an open forum Tuesday evening with Pierce residents and staff, where they promised that extensive plumbing repairs would occur during spring and summer vacations.

In addition, administrators announced plans to replace carpeting in house lounges, repaint common area walls, provide new furniture for house lounges and study rooms, treat windows, replace mattresses in dorm rooms, renovate house kitchens, and upgrade the dorm’s previous student-run snack bar area. The upgrades are intended to occur alongside—not as a substitution for—plumbing repairs.

The meetings were spurred by an incident early Monday morning when a toilet erupted in a 10th floor bathroom, coinciding with a water outage and an elevator malfunction in the building.

Associate Vice President for Campus Life Karen Warren-Coleman, one of the administrators who attended the meeting, said that while the University would make repairs, it had not yet decided how coomprehensive the renovations would be.

“We’re committed to making Pierce operational,” Warren-Coleman said. “Pierce is stuck in the question of University next-step commitments…. We’re in the process now of thinking of a new dorm and where Pierce fits into that conversation.”

In a smaller meeting with an interim student working group on Wednesday, University Executive Vice President David Greene presented plans for a new $200 million residential complex, likely to be located on the current Pierce lot. Students at the Wednesday meeting declined to comment on specific proposals discussed, but released a statement addressing the ongoing dialogue with administrators.

“As a group representing the majority of Pierce students, we are pleased to see the administration take our concerns seriously. Over the past week, we have had two meetings with members of the administration, in which promises were made to make a significant contribution to bettering the quality of student life in Pierce,” the statement said. The students added that they would have another meeting with administrators today regarding details for repairs to the plumbing system.

Warren-Coleman promised another open forum, similar to the one held Tuesday, in the first week following spring break, after several scheduled repairs during the vacation.

During the Tuesday meeting, students repeatedly demanded monetary compensation for the inconveniences—requests which were met with applause.

Both Warren-Coleman and Assistant Vice President for Campus Life Katie Callow-Wright refrained from making guarantees. However, in the Wednesday meeting, Callow-Wright, Greene, and Chief Financial Officer Nim Chinniah promised “some form of compensation” for students.

To ensure accountability, Executive Director of Operations for Facilities Services Joel Schriever and Callow-Wright offered to provide students with a timeline for intended repairs. Goff-Crews also noted that the Board of Trustees had been notified of the conditions in Pierce.

Throughout the week, upper-level administrators have toured Pierce, and Housing Services has established a Web site for Pierce updates. Schriever has promised to terminate and renegotiate its contract with the company that maintains Pierce’s elevators, and plans have been made for emergency interim housing in Henry Crown Field House if dangerous conditions persist or worsen.

Goff-Crews offered to spend a night in the dormitory, a promise she will keep if a bed can be found for her, she said.