By Angela Roberts
For nearly three weeks, Residential Facilities Management has been in hot – or, more appropriately, lukewarm – water. Since Oct. 29, five residence halls located in the North Hill community have experienced routine hot water outages.
As of Monday, Nov. 13, the administration is making plans to replace the offending hot water heaters, a process that will not be quick, easy, or inexpensive, according to an email circulated to North Hill residents.
Meanwhile, the outages have been a major inconvenience to North Hill residents.
“I plan on starting my day with a shower and it being a good, calming thing to begin my day,” said freshman cell biology and genetics major Sofia Rebaudengo. “Then it’s distressful because I leave shivering and need to put on a bunch of layers before I can actually get going.”
What was first anticipated to be an unfortunate one-time fault in the heating system became a habitual occurrence.
“They would say it’s fixed and then hours later, it would be out again,” said neurology and physiology major Claire Asenso, who lives in Anne Arundel Hall. “I think it’s finally fixed, but I honestly never know if the next shower I’ll take will be a cold one.”
During an outage, students living in affected residences were given swipe access to another North Hill hall with working hot water between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to shower. Emails circulated by Christopher Moore, the Assistant Director of Residential Facilities, also encouraged students to use the showers in Ritchie Coliseum or the Eppley Recreation Center.
However, many students said they did not take advantage of these facilities.
“It’s just too much of a pain, none of them are that close,” said freshman aerospace engineering major Stella Hurtt. “And I don’t want to have to walk there with my washcloth and soap and shampoo, conditioner, change of clothes, towel – it’s just too much.”
Instead, many residents chose convenience over comfort.
“I was not going to go take a shower in a different place where I had to walk outside in the cold to get there,” said Asenso. “Fortunately, it wasn’t as cold as you would expect. It was like it was one setting away from being lukewarm when the handle was positioned at the highest level, so you expected it to get warmer, but it stayed cold.”
As the outages piled up, students noticed a pattern in the emails they received from the residential facilities director. The initial email would recognize the problem, highlight the steps the department was taking to address it, and then review where residents could access a hot shower. Although helpful at first, residents said the constant stream of messages became repetitive.
“The emails could have been a little less redundant and more to the point after the initial email,” said Asenso. “They could have sent updates that said ‘the hot water problem is still being handled and your access still remains as follows’ instead of literally sending us the same email multiple times a day for two weeks.”
Despite the inconvenience, some students have managed to find the silver lining in a less than optimal situation.
“The outage has provided great meme material,” said sophomore psychology major Amber Allen. “So that’s cool.”