Pipe Bursts Over Break in Residence Hall


Published January 26, 2023
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The Montclarion
Burst pipe forces students to relocate to other residence halls.

A pipe burst in Williams Hall, located in The Village Apartments at Montclair State University, on Dec. 25, 2022. Displacing almost 80 students at the start of the Spring 2023 semester.

Debris in Williams Hall's first floor common area.

Debris in Williams Hall's first floor common area. Photo credit: Hannah Effinger

As many residents were not present in their on-campus housing over winter break, most found out from an email from Residence Life later that evening that their apartments were damaged. The next day, the affected students received another email to collect their personal belongings and valuables.

Students were told their apartments would be ready for move-in by Jan. 15, the day before the first day of the Spring 2023 semester, over a week later. But on Jan. 11, 79 students received an email that their apartments would not be ready in time and that they would have to relocate to another on-campus residence, either temporarily or permanently, while repairs and remediation take place in their apartments.

Whats left of a living room in Williams Hall.

Whats left of a living room in Williams Hall. Photo credit: Hannah Effinger

Carly Delucca, a senior sustainability science major and one of the affected Williams Hall residents, was relocated to Freeman Hall with one of her roommates but it wasn’t an easy process for her. At first, she was placed in Dinallo in The Heights.

“My housing assignment was switched at the very last minute from a single [in Dinallo] with my [friend and roommate] to a double with a stranger in [Bohn Hall],” Delucca said. “Not only was I uncomfortable with that but I was told to move everything out and did not have the capacity to move all of my stuff to a double.”

Delucca was eventually switched back with her friend to a double in Freeman Hall but there were moments of uncertainty that were very stressful for her.

“There was a brief period of time where all of my stuff was in bags thrown in my car and I didn’t know [if] I would have a place to stay,” Delucca said. “I live two hours away. They also provided a very small window to go grab our things and did not give any leeway for those who live [far away] or work.”

Debris left on student furniture in Williams Hall.

Debris left on student furniture in Williams Hall. Photo credit: Hannah Effinger

The fifth floor of Williams Hall.

The fifth floor of Williams Hall. Photo credit: Hannah Effinger

There have also been reports of damaged and stolen belongings found by students while moving out of their Williams Hall apartments, raising concerns and questions about who had access to their rooms and why there was so little care for their belongings.

Kat Fitch, a senior humanities major and another affected student, has been completely overwhelmed over the last few weeks.

“As someone who has been impacted by housing instability throughout my life, this incident has deeply affected me,” Fitch said. “Seeing my belongings handled so carelessly and going weeks without updates on the status of a space that I considered home has dredged up so much trauma and has made it honestly difficult to function.”

Fitch is unhappy with Montclair State’s handling of the situation.

“Regardless of whether or not the pipe burst itself was preventable, I believe the mess that followed certainly was,” Fitch said. “The lack of communication between [Residence Life] and affected students, between [Residence Life] and the remediation/construction teams and even between individual members of [Residence Life] as a department is absolutely unacceptable especially given the fact that incidents like this have occurred in the past.”

A tarp blocks off part of Williams Hall's third floor.

A tarp blocks off part of Williams Hall's third floor. Photo credit: Hannah Effinger

A student's bedroom in Williams Hall.

A student's bedroom in Williams Hall. Photo credit: Hannah Effinger

Cailey Merulla, a senior communication and media studies major and Williams Hall resident, is just happy that the proper precautions are being taken.

“The situation is what it is, honestly. My father is a firefighter and they’ve been getting many calls for broken pipes this winter because it’s really something that can’t be prevented,” Merulla said. “Water is almost more dangerous than fire because it seeps into the walls and can cause lasting damage so I’m glad the university is taking the time to properly remediate the building.”

However, she does wish, like the others, that she was more in the loop.

“I just wish that the communication could be a little better because no one really knows what the current situation is besides what they’ve told us and that’s changed multiple times now,” Merulla said.

University spokesperson Andrew Mees said the university is aware of the difficulties the students are facing due to the burst pipe.

“We know this is an inconvenience, and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we remediate these issues. The student experience is at the heart of everything we do, and we look forward to having students back in their respective residences as quickly as possible,” Mees said. “We will continue to communicate status updates to the impacted students as we have them.”

He is hopeful that the temporarily relocated students will be able to return to their apartments soon.

“We are working to ready the building for occupation as quickly as possible, and anticipate the remaining 50 students being able to return to their rooms within the next few weeks,” Mees said.

The laundry room on Williams Hall's third floor.

The laundry room on Williams Hall's third floor. Photo credit: Hannah Effinger

In the meantime, the affected students will receive a credit for their housing as well as a meal plan free of charge to the students. Students are also encouraged to report any damages to the university to receive credit.

Fitch is not convinced.

“The least [Montclair State] could do is provide us with some sort of support system on top of reimbursement for damages,” Fitch said. “But instead we’ve received little to no communication and vague promises of compensation in the supposedly near future.”

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