University of Chicago students say a much-beloved on-campus residential building need not be demolished, but that many major repairs are necessary to make the dormitory inhabitable.
Residents of Pierce Hall, (also called Pierce Tower) at 5514 S. University Ave. have been rallying for the administration to address maintenance problems they say include exposed pipes that reach temperatures of 200 degrees and have burned students; bathroom plumbing that constantly leaks and has caused some toilets to burst, sending waste and shards of porcelain flying; ceiling mold and frequent heating outages throughout the winter.
Students have organized their efforts with a Tumblr blog page called "Save Pierce," where residents have been uploading photos documenting problems that range from flooded bathrooms to mislabeled heat indicators on shower knobs.
Freshman Michelle Rodriguez filmed a video testimonial for the university's student government in Pierce, and her speech is interrupted repeatedly by banging from the heating system that students say keep them up at night.
"In a 24-hour period, the plumbing exploded twice, and exploded with such force and severity that a toilet bowl… shattered, throwing porcelain shards across the bathroom," Rodriguez says in the video. [See her full testimony above.] "On the floor, there were just rivers of excrement, urine and pieces of porcelain. There were no e-mails, no nothing, no notifications sent from house administration about the issue."
Freshman David Goldfeld, whose dorm room is across from a bathroom in Pierce, was startled by a toilet explosion that sounded "like a shotgun," according to the school's newspaper, The Chicago Maroon. Goldfield met with Dean of the College John Boyer and Vice President for Campus Life Kimberly Goff-Crews last week, and said administrators were receptive to student concerns.
After a second meeting with 125 students, Goff-Crews announced the launch of a webpage that will keep students updated on the progress of renovations. A community meeting between dorm residents and administrators is scheduled for April 2.