Gebbie leaks lead to student room relocation

Even as spring begins to arrive to the Wheaton campus, some effects of the harsh winter still linger. One such effect occurred earlier this semester to roommates Matisse Baumann ’16, Jeffrey Sanborn ’16 and Michael Cronin ’16. They were moved out of their room in Gebbie and relocated, presumably because the freezing pipes and a snow-heavy roof caused leaking and flooding in the room. Yet, there appears to be disagreement among staff and students as to what caused the flooding was and how effectively the situation was handled.

Baumann said that the situation in the room was noticed quite early and quickly became dire. “After the initial blizzard … we noticed that the corner of our carpet was pretty damp. We didn’t think much about it, placed a work order and then they vacuumed the wet carpet,” Baumann said. “This started to happen repeatedly with all the snow and as time went on there were leaks in the ceiling, as well as by the window, due to all the ice and snow on top of Gebbie.”

Baumann said that because of their room’s location, the snow on their part of the roof could not be shoveled off because it would be a hazard to the workers. The situation quickly deteriorated and the roommates had to be innovative. “After about the second serious leak which left [more than half] of the carpet soaked, my roommates and I decided to go down to the storage room of Gebbie where there were extra wooden planks,” Baumann said. “We used these to cover the wet rug so we could still use the common room.”

Despite their efforts, the smell of the mold that had formed on the walls, and the fact that the rug began to soak more than just the common area, made the living conditions even more difficult. Baumann said that he felt somewhat frustrated by the slow response that the faculty and workers had toward the serious problems present in concerns about the room.

“Personally I believe that it took them a little too long to make a decision because we were living with mold and a wet carpet for almost a month [until] we were finally moved out,” Baumann said. The building service management disagreed as Chief Engineer Gary Pavao said, “The staff did a great job of responding to this emergency.”
As to why exactly the leak occurred, Pavao said, “A steam heating coil froze due to a window being left open. This has been quite a problem during this winter.” Pavao said that he thought it would be beneficial if students learned from this, as open windows can be damaging during the winter.

Baumann disagreed that he or his roommates had anything to do with the leaks and said that a worker informed him that this was not the cause of the issues in his room. “That only happened on the third floor,” Baumann said. “I don’t think our room was involved in that situation. Due to these events, the roommates may further seek reimbursement concerning their ‘rooming and boarding’ charges. Baumann said that if it takes too long to get back into their old room after this past break, then there could be issues. He stated, “Hopefully nothing bad will happen [from all of] this.”