Remember the fire alarms from when you lived in the dorms? They would blare through the hallways of your residence hall at the most inconvenient time, all because someone accidentally burned their microwave popcorn in the communal kitchen. Well, we’ve all complained about being woken up at odd hours during the night due to our peers’ (or our own) forgetfulness. At least we were almost always able to go back to our rooms shortly after the firemen showed up and made sure everything was okay. But freshmen living on floors 2 through 6 in Race Street Hall Feb. 23 were not as lucky.
It was like deja-vu for us at The Triangle when we received notification of the alleged fire in Race. Just under a year ago we reported about the fixture fire on the ninth floor of Millennium Hall that caused 90 freshmen to be displaced due to water damage caused by a sprinkler. The displaced students we spoke to after that incident were happy the sprinklers did their job to stop the fire, and their biggest complaint was that they didn’t have a say in where they would live for the remainder of the academic year. The students we talked to who were affected by this week’s sprinkler incident do not feel the same way.
In our latest episode of The Burning Question, we spoke to students who were unsure of what would happen to them. One girl we spoke to actually said she felt “homeless.” Many of the students also said they didn’t know that they wouldn’t be allowed back into the building that night. According to our news article this week, Chris Heasley, executive director of University Housing, said the Residential Living Office and University Housing coordinated placements of displaced students with vacancies of other halls within an hour and sent notice to residents shortly thereafter. How come students still didn’t know where to go? The students were calling friends in other residence halls to see if they could sleep in their rooms, but because it was around 2 a.m., many of their friends weren’t answering.
One resident said she thought Drexel should have had an emergency plan set up for this type of situation. Given that a very similar event happened last year in another Drexel residence hall, we agree. While we understand that the Millennium fire occurred during the day, giving University Housing more time to figure out where students would spend the next night, we still think Drexel should have had a better plan for the students affected by the Race Hall fire.
Drexel puts a lot of effort into freshman retention. The provost even experimented with a change in when freshmen register for classes to try to keep them coming back. The Editorial Board thinks if our belongings were ruined due to water damage and we were left to find somewhere to sleep during the winter as freshmen, we would not be that happy with Drexel. To make matters worse for many affected residents, they will not be compensated for damaged property unless they purchased renter’s insurance or have coverage under their parent’s homeowner’s insurance policy. Did we mention that it’s week 8? With the stress of all this and finals coming up soon, what freshman would want to come back to study at Drexel after going through this ordeal?
The Editorial Board would like to see a comprehensive plan set up should this situation occur again. We don’t think any freshmen should have to feel homeless for any amount of time when they pay more than $3,000 per term for on-campus housing in a shared room.