The UNC Charlotte Department of Housing and Residence Life says that on-campus housing rates cover rent, utilities and Internet, among other things.
For students living in two highrise buildings, this week they have been without one utility that is considered a necessity: water.
Residents of Moore and Sanford Halls are being addressed by the housing department this week after local news outlets caught wind of the water pressure and temperature problems that have been off and on throughout the academic year in the buildings.
While the department now begins to address the water temperature and pressure problems this is not the first time that residents of these buildings have brought these problems, and similar ones, to the department’s attention.
Saturday when the Charlotte area saw snowfall ranging anywhere from 4.5 to 2.5 inches deep, residents in Moore and Sanford lost hot water. Throughout the weekend as temperatures sat in the 30s and 40s, these residents continued to be without hot water, and when hot water was available the water pressure was so low students were unable to fully utilize the water.
Monday, Feb. 18, around 8 p.m., the Department of Housing and Residence Life sent out an email to residents of Moore and Sanford Halls, after receiving countless complaints about the water over the weekend.
“As part of our continuing effort today to identify the problem, we learned that a contracter removed one of the water feeds to your buildings. By doing so, it reduced the volume of water available to you. You still have hot water,” the email said. “You, unfortunately, do not have as much hot water as you did before the pipe was removed.”
This pipe removal was done during the process of constructing the South Village Dining Hall and Hunt Hall, the newest additions to the South Village part of campus.
In this email, the department outlined a scheduled plan for what they think will be a permanent fix. According to the timeline, the piping was replaced Tuesday, water was to be chlorinated Wednesday, the water is to be tested Thursday and normal water pressure should return to the buildings Friday.
“The chlorinating and testing of the water is necessary to ensure your health. It does take extra time but it must be done,” said the email.
The email then lists alternatives for residents of Moore and Sanford to allow them to still be able to shower, brush their teeth and wash their hands throughout the week.
Residents of Sanford Hall were given permission to use the bathrooms in Holshouser Hall, while residents of Moore Hall can use the facilities in Scott Hall.
It’s also recommended by the department that residents of both halls use the showers in the Student Activity Center (SAC) and the Belk Gymnasium during the hours that these two buildings are open.
Michael Karp, a freshman living in Scott Hall, expected the students of Moore Hall to disrupt his ability to shower but was pleasantly surprised.
“I haven’t noticed any people from other buildings in our showers,” said Karp. “I do feel bad. It sucks for [the residents of Moore and Sanford].”
Ben Styka, a freshman living in Moore Hall, says that he is taking quick and cold showers in Moore Hall, as opposed to taking advantage of the offer to use Scott’s showers.
“The whole situation is that even the sinks are having problems which could really cause some sanitary issues, but I don’t really have another place to shower so I have to just take some really cold showers. They also tend to be some very quick showers too,” said Styka. “I really do not feel like going to another building then coming back up just for a more comfortable shower.”
While he is managing the shower situation now, Styka hopes Housing and Residence Life can come through on their promises of “normal volume water [returning] to your buildings on Friday,” according to the email.
“I honestly hope they can deliver but I just have a feeling that it will not be fixed,” he said.
Karp says that there is little he thinks the department can do to fix the problem. “I’m not sure that there is much they can do other than to put it on the top of their list of things to fix. I’m assuming people [are] already working on it,” he said.
The department has apparent ideas for quick ways to appease the residents of Moore and Sanford Halls that are without water. The email sent Monday concludes by saying, “Free pizza! As a way of thanking you for your patience in this situation, we will be providing every resident of Moore and Sanford Hall a coupon for one free pizza.”
Styka appreciates the offer made by the housing department, although his opinion on the coupon offering is not the majority opinion.
“It is the best they can really do. I think it is good that they’re offering some sort of compensation for the situation rather than just leaving it,” said Styka. “I do know of some people trying to get more for it but I figure it is just the fact that construction is happening so there can be a few mistakes.”
The Department of Housing and Residence Life held a meeting Wednesday night to provide students with an open forum to air grievances regarding water problems in an attempt to facilitate conversation and find a possible solution.
“Over the past few days, we have received many emails and phone calls regarding the shortage of hot water in your buildings. This type of communication is helpful, but does not allow for community-wide discussion,” said Jacklyn Simpson, associate vice chancellor and director of Housing and Residence Life in an email to residents of Moore and Sanford Halls Tuesday afternoon.
Rebecca Bower, a freshman living in Moore Hall, experienced problems last semester that had nothing to do with the temperature or amount of water coming out of the faucets, but the cleanliness of the water.
The water that came out of faucets and showers in the highrises and the Resident Dining Hall (RDH) was brown.
“The brown water lasted only a few hours, but while it lasted it was disgusting,” said Bower.
While speaking to affected students on campus, the Niner Times learned that a few students saw individuals inspecting the bathrooms in the residence halls the week before the water problem occurred. The Department of Housing and Residence Life did not comment on what the individuals were inspecting for when asked.