During January in New Orleans, average highs and lows hover in the 60s and 50s, respectively. While this isn’t necessarily cold, students living in North Hall dorms could only keep their cool in the showers that night, as the student living quarters were without hot water. This continued to be the theme for several days.
“The delay in service lasted longer in the North Hall because a pipe needed to be repaired in that building,” stated Adam Norris, Chief Communications Officer at UNO. “Pontchartrain Halls lost hot water starting at 10:45 p.m. on Monday, January 27. It was restored the following morning at 10:30 a.m.”
Even on chilly nights, many North Hall residents had no choice but to take cold showers. At some points during the day, no showers were available at all due to the water being turned off for maintenance.
“When I moved back into dorms after Christmas break on Jan. 11, there was no hot water whatsoever,” states psychology major Jasmyne Howard. “I thought this was a temporary problem that it would be fixed the next day or something, but we went almost three weeks without a drop of hot water.”
Unfortunately for students, the temperature has dropped following Jan. 11, and this left some students a bit agitated.
“Not being able to take a shower in the morning did have me a little upset,” says freshman psychology major Charles Brown.
Frustrated by the lack of response from Sodexo, Jasmyne Howard took matters into her own hands.“I personally reached out to President John (Nicklow),” Jasmyne said. …”The director of residence life reached back and said the problem would be handled immediately.”
Just as things seemed to be improving, students found themselves perplexed as to why there were pools of water on the second floor.
“A hot water pipe failed and caused the flood to occur. After workers re-pressurized the line, another pipe 20 feet further down the line failed,” Norris stated. “During a two-week period, there were several separate issues involving the boilers, including a circulating pump and a bypass valve, and the pipes inside the building.”
Sodexo, the food and facilities management company that partners with UNO’s Office of Facility Services, is responsible for plumbing maintenance, according to the UNO website (https://www.uno.edu/facility-services). However, Sodexo had not responded to interview requests as of press time.
Currently, students are enjoying the steaming effects of hot water, but some are still wondering why it took so long to remedy the problem. Norris says boilers are complex systems that experience unique challenges due to the city’s climate.
“One of the challenges is that our boilers sit outside in the open atmosphere of New Orleans, making them susceptible to the elements,” Norris said. “The University is looking into long-term solutions to resolve this.”
In the meantime, students should alert their RAs if maintenance issues arise.
“The best way for students to report an issue is to go through their RA,” Norris said. “Those timely reports help us respond faster to problems.”
Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash