Woes of Shoreland addressed

By Abby Seiff

I must respond to Sarah Birgé’s letter to the editor in Friday’s Maroon (“The University’s Master Plan,” 11/7/03). What she referred to as “respectfully disagree” I see as an attack on the veracity of my article. I would like to address any misgivings she, or other students, may have had about the facts in my article.

Birgé says that the sprinklers are faulty “perhaps because the sprinkler system is brand new?” She may not be aware that last year, during one of the Shoreland’s numerous and infamous false fire alarms, several sprinklers went off on the 13th floor. These sprinklers were located over rooms 1202 and 1206. The residents of these rooms returned to find water gushing through the light fixtures at a rate of around 30 gallons per minute (this is the rate at which the sprinklers discharge, although it is possible that the high floor slowed its rate). These floods displaced the occupants of both rooms for at least three weeks.

Whatever paper products they had out were destroyed. Their clothing and bedding were damaged. Housing refused to cover the expense of dry-cleaning or washing the items. One of the occupants was a second-year student with a minimum meal plan, and the guest room they put him in didn’t have a kitchen. Housing refused to reimburse him for the money he had to pay for food now that he was unable to cook. The damage was so extensive that new ceilings and carpets had to be installed. A brand new sprinkler system should be many things, but faulty is not one of them. The destruction of room and property and the subsequent inconvenience, to say the least, should not be simply brushed aside because the sprinkler system is “new.”

Similarly, Birgé says that the “fact that the radiators are generally older than the people that they are keeping warm” is an excuse for any leaking. With infinite space, I would go into the details of the radiator which leaked several winter vacations ago and covered the occupants’ room and belongings in black mold over the three weeks they were away. Lest she question my information, I learned this from my resident head last year. Several older house members substantiated it.

Birgé seems to find my mention of ground brick seeping into rooms completely incomprehensible. Once again, I turn to a housemate. The room of 1212 was completely coated in dust during the week of October 26 this year. The dust went in through the cracks between the wall and the window. If the mode of entry was unclear in my article, I apologize; I did not mean to suggest that the walls were porous enough to let in dust. The occupants contacted the 12th floor resident head who arranged for the room to be completely vacuumed and dusted by members of the maintenance staff. Sheets of plastic were also put over their windows to prevent a recurrence. You are welcome to contact the residents, the 12th floor resident heads, or the appropriate maintenance staff members if you still doubt my veracity.

As a small sidebar, I’d like to add that by mentioning the necessity of the façade work, I think Birgé missed my point. I understand that it is necessary, and only meant to invoke some issues that have come up during the construction. As she may have noticed, I mentioned the noise issue only as a minor inconvenience. Of course, I support any measures the University takes to make the buildings on campus safer.

As for your being a “vice-president of a house in Shoreland and have not heard any complaints about dust from any residents in my house or any other house,” it seems we have something in common. I am also vice-president of a house in the Shoreland, and as such, I can assure the readers out there that vice-presidents of houses, like presidents, secretaries, and treasurers, learn very little of what is happening in other houses. Furthermore, your addition “nor have I seen such dust,” frightens me a bit. Have we digressed so much as a society that we now believe only that which we see? I would invite you up here to take a look at the dust, but fortunately they have cleaned it. I am sure that the occupants of the affected room would happily tell you what it looked like if that might help.

I hope this clears up some of the issues you may have had with my article. If you still believe that these are simply stories I have invented to prove my point, you are more than welcome to talk with the older residents on my floor. Lest someone suspect this piece of being a giant conspiracy by the 12th floor, let me add, I only used stories that I witnessed first hand or heard about from firsthand witnesses. I assume that other floors have had their own unique set of problems. I only wish you had made more of an effort to find these facts out before attacking me so forthrightly.