Aimee Zynda, a junior political science major, watched her roommates in their Flint Village apartment perform their usual nighttime routine, consisting of brushing their teeth, washing their faces and putting on their pajamas—except starting Feb. 5 this also included boiling several pots of water to avoid taking cold showers.
Residents of Flint Village 301 were without hot water from Feb. 5-10, as the result of a malfunctioning main circuit board that controls the building’s boiler, according to Campus Living Director Tom Tiberi.
Tiberi also said students in Hadley Village 110 and 113 reported not having hot water “a few days before” Campus Living received the Flint complaints.
Flint residents were instructed to use the shower facilities in Alumni Arena during the hot water pause.
“I was very thankful to have friends that live off campus, so I was able to shower at their place, but if it wasn’t for them being very kind to me I don’t know what I would have done,” Zynda said. “All they [Campus Living] offered us was Alumni, and granted Flint 301 is the closest building to it—but still we didn’t have time to go to Alumni to shower, especially in freezing cold weather, and ridiculous wind chills.”
After technicians looked at the circuit board in Flint, they determined that a new part had to be installed, Tiberi said in a Zoom interview with The Spectrum. But the part they required needed to be shipped by the manufacturer in Texas. While waiting for the new part, technicians installed a temporary fix.
“We had told students that this temporary solution would cause the water to be lukewarm to hot, but most reported back that it was hot,” Tiberi said. “So, students actually had hot water by Wednesday night [Feb. 9] and the permanent solution came in on Feb. 10.”
By contrast, Hadley’s hot water issues were caused by failing boilers.
“There were actually three hot water boilers, one boiler heats the water for one building,” Tiberi said. “There’s 12 apartments in each of those buildings and three of those failed, we got those up and running, two of them within the day, and one of them within eight hours. We just put a different system in there and that was much easier to figure out.”
Tiberi says the systems should have lasted longer than they did. The malfunctions occurred several years before they are expected to die, something Tiberi attributed in part to harsh weather conditions.
“The part that is frustrating is that neither of these systems are old,” Tiberi said. “The Flint system is only 2 years old and the Hadley system is 7 years old, but you should get 8-12 years out of these systems. So, we are working with the manufacturer to figure out why but unfortunately, equipment does fail, even when we take care of it. The winter is certainly hard on equipment, but we are committed to doing all that we can to make sure that the equipment works properly.”
The equipment problems not only impact administrators, but also students — the lack of hot water violated students’ housing agreement.
“We actually did refund all of the students in Flint 301 for the five days that the hot water was not working,” Tiberi said.
But according to Zynda, the Community Advisers were the ones at the forefront of solving the water crisis.
“Our CAs were mainly the ones who seemed to be handling the situation,” said Zynda. “Out of the kindness of their hearts they offered to drive us over to Alumni so we could take hot showers. The administration wasn’t giving us a lot of answers and that was really frustrating.”
Kayla Estrada is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.