An investigation by University Police Department (UPD) is underway for those responsible for vandalizing the toilet flusher in the 13th floor bathroom that caused the pipe burst in Bohn Hall on Monday night. The pipe burst caused water damage to multiple floors and students’ belongings as well as the building’s elevators, walls and ceilings.
“As with normal investigative techniques, we are taking the necessary actions to create a timeline, survey any forensic or eyewitness information, and also solicit information with any person that has information on this case,” said Captain Kieran Barrett. “In addition, our first priority at the scene was to address the residents’ safety.”
A $200 reward is being offered by the Office of Residence Life for any information about the person or people responsible for the pipe break.
Executive Director of Residence Life Jeanine Stroh said that it is very rare for the Office of Residence Life to offer a reward for an incident like this.
“A reward would be given if any type of information that is given assists university police and leads to an arrest,” Stroh said.
The break caused water to flow through both the “A” and “B” wings of the 13th floor and spread to other parts of the building. The flooding was discovered after a locksmith was able to get into the locked bathroom but not before the water had been running for some time.
Those living on the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th floors of Bohn Hall were advised to grab their belongings and evacuate on Monday night. Students could stay with a friend for the night or make arrangements at the front desk of the building to be placed in empty spaces in other residence halls on campus.
Undeclared freshman Danny Koopalethes lives on the 12th floor of Bohn and said that while the boys’ wing escaped unscathed, the girls’ wing endured more of the flooding. He made the decision to stay in his dorm but said that he saw many students leaving the building on Monday night.
Water was restored later on Monday night following the pipe burst and all bathrooms are operational including the toilet in the 13th floor “A” wing bathroom that was vandalized. One elevator in Bohn Hall remains out of service until further notice.
Many students had belongings that were damaged in the flood including rugs, clothing and other items. Stroh said that because the pipe burst was caused by an act of vandalism, no compensation will be given to students. She said students should file a claim with their renter’s insurance or work with the university’s Risk Management Office.
While it was reported that the flooding was caused by vandalism and not the university, students have taken to online petitions to express their dissatisfaction with Bohn Hall and its poor living conditions.
Montclair State student and Bohn Hall resident Victoria Jimenez started a petition stating that students living in Bohn shouldn’t have to pay for room and board due to the constant struggles of living there like “contaminated water, not being able to shower nor drink, the heat constantly breaking, the elevators shutting down and trapping/endangering student lives…” As of Wednesday, Jan. 31, the petition has over 180 signatures.
“While a petition might be a quick way to express opinions, a more successful way to effect change is to work through the Bohn Hall Council and the Residence Hall Association (RHA),” Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Dr. Karen Pennington said in a statement to The Montclarion. “By working directly with the students, we are better able to target specific concerns, provide explanations, agree on priorities and continue making the upgrades that we all know are needed to an older facility.”
The RHA meets in their office on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on the 11th floor of Bohn Hall.
Vice President of University Facilities Shawn Connolly said approximately 1,600 students live in Bohn Hall. Due to the fact that the building houses so many students, the building can’t be completely shut down for renovations because there would be no other place to house the students.
Connolly said they have $15 million slated to Bohn Hall for renovations and have already spent $4 million on replacing windows, heating, and securing the brick siding of the building. Bohn Hall can only be worked on during breaks from school in order to keep the building operational during fall and spring.
According to an email sent out to Bohn Hall residents, the housekeeping staff cleaned up the water on the affected floors and dorm rooms. Over the next week, the ceilings and walls that received water damage on the impacted floors and common areas will also be repaired.
Anyone with information regarding the vandalism case at Bohn Hall is urged to contact university police at 973-655-7440, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or utilize the ETips program on the RAVE app.
– Published in The Montclarion on Feb. 1, 2018