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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Broken sprinkler floods parts of Rashford, displacing students

Isabella Korbal ‘25 moved her belongings from her dorm in Rashford Hall with help from her sister. PHOTOS: JULIA HOLZ ’23/THE HAWK

On the evening of Friday, Sept. 23, Rashford Hall flooded on the east wing starting on the fourth floor all the way down to the second floor, causing rooms to become unlivable and damaging residents’ belongings.

Residence Life sent an email Sept. 23 at 8:34p.m to Rashford residents on the second, third and fourth floors who were impacted by the flooding explaining the flooding incident “Rashford Hall was evacuated this evening due a broken sprinkler head that resulted in significant flooding throughout the fourth, third, and second floors. Contractors are on site to begin the drying, cleaning, and repair process. Until these repairs are complete, temporary housing is available in LaFarge.”

A broken sprinkler head was identified to be from the fourth floor o Rashford, but the cause has not been disclosed by the university.

Rashford resident Alexis Westawski ’25 said she was taking a shower when she heard the fire alarms go off.

“I thought there was a fire, and then I walked into my common room living area,” Westawski said. “There was water coming in under the door.”

A follow up email was sent to affected residents by Residence Life on Saturday, Sept. 28 stating students would be able to move out their belongings by making appointments for Monday, Oct. 3 and Tuesday, Oct. 4. Students were offered 3-hour long appointment slots and had to be accompanied by public safety officers as a safety precaution.

In the Sept 28. email, affected Rashford residents were informed that they “will need to fully relocate and vacate your Rashford apartment for the duration of the fall semester.” Students were offered two options by Residence Life. Option one was to fully relocate to their temporary housing at LaFarge Hall with a $1,000 refund from the university and an Aramark all-access meal plan, which, according to Residence Life, is greater than the daily-rate cost difference between living Rashford and the first- year housing.

The second option for students was to apply for a housing release request and commute from home for the remainder of the semester. Students who choose this option will be given credit towards spring housing at Rashford, and issued a parking pass for the rest of the fall semester.

Westawski said her living situation in LaFarge is far inferior to her initial residence at Rashford.

“It’s a freshman dorm,” Westawski said. “So I don’t appreciate living here as a sophomore. You’re supposed to move up the ladder, you don’t move back down.”

According to Isabella Korbal ’25, who lived on the third floor of Rashford, as of now, the university is not reimbursing students for damaged goods. She said her laptop was completely ruined from the flooding.

“Unfortunately the school does not cover the damages,” Korbal said. “If it’s not covered by your insurance, then you’re pretty much on your own with replacing anything. In all of the emails they sent, there was never any communication about damages. I know there was thousands of dollars worth of damage.”

Westawski said she lost the iPad that she takes notes for classes, and she lost clothes damaged by the flood water. 

Adamaris Bovasso ’24, an RA on the second floor of Rashford, was eating at Campion Dining Hall when the flooding occurred. When she arrived back at Rashford, she saw a giant crowd of students standing outside, evacuated from their living spaces.

“They were sending groups to acertain number of apartments every 10 minutes, because they’re only giving you 10 minutes to get all your stuff out of the building,” Bovasso said. “But the problem was a lot of people either weren’t on campus, or were in class, or didn’t know what was happening. So a lot of people were showing up and just being really confused”.

Bovasso said she was notified around 10 p.m. the night of the flood that her room was clear to sleep in that night, and that she could continue to stay there. Although she is still living at Rashford, Bovasso said it is a lot different than it should be.

“You could definitely feel the change in energy here,” Bovasso said. “It was just a very family-like environment. We were really starting to foster that community, but it’s definitely off now.”

“Throughout everything, there’s definitely been a bit of annoyance towards the Office of Residence Life just because of how complicated the situation has been, and the lack of communication given to the residents,” Bovasso said. “Everyone’s definitely been upset and you can feel it.” 

Korbal said she lived in LaFarge last year as a first-year student and is not happy to be living there again.

“The quality of living went down tremendously,” Korbal said. “Obviously Rashford is newer, and apartment-style housing. So you’re going from having two nice bathrooms that are not communal, a living room, and a kitchen to an old freshman dorm with no kitchen and rundown bathrooms.”

All affected students are expected to be able to move back into their living spaces for the spring semester, according to Residence Life.

By press time, the Office of Residence Life had not responded to several requests to answer questions from The Hawk reporters. The Residential Area Manager (RAM) of Lannon and Rashford Halls declined requests to be interviewed.

On Monday Oct. 3 a number of Rashford Hall residents, accompanied by helpers removed the last of their belongings from their rooms.

Korbal said the added stress from the flooding incident happened at the same time as midterms and negatively impacted students’ mental health, “It definitely has made me a lot more stressed and anxious,” Korbal said. “I feel like that applies for almost every single person that this has affected. It’s just not a good situation at all.”

Allie Miller ’24 contributed to this story.

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