Hall damages caused by the burst pipe will cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair
By Clare McKinley, Staff Writer
Husman Hall, one of Xavier’s first-year dorms, made local news last week when a pipe broke, damaging about a dozen rooms. The woman who was allegedly responsible was placed under arrest by the Xavier University Police Department (XUPD), and Physical Plant continues to clean up the aftermath.
On Wednesday evening, 49-year-old Stephanie Dickens, not a Xavier student, was discovered in Husman Hall and accused of breaking a pipe in a maintenance room that brought water to the fourth floor. She was arrested on charges of criminal trespassing. The investigation is ongoing.
XUPD Chief of Police Robert Warfel released a statement a few days after the incident in an effort to shut down rumors and speculation and paint a clearer picture of what happened.
According to Warfel, the woman likely entered the building by tailgating a group of students. She was reported as suspicious, and XUPD arrived at the scene soon after to conduct a search.
“We surmise it was at this point she discovered the open maintenance closet where she climbed onto exposed piping and ductwork to avoid detection approximately six-to eight feet above the floor. She remained hidden for a few hours but upon her attempt to climb back down, broke the water pipe which created the flooding,” Warfel said.
Warfel acknowledged that this incident raises questions and concerns about the safety of campus and on-campus living and stated that he hoped to quell these concerns, emphasizing the importance of safety for students and community members.
“Safety is paramount at Xavier. In this instance, a prompt response helped to limit the water damage and, most importantly, maintain the safety of campus residents,” he said.
First-year biology major Lauren Halverson, who was impacted by the flooding, said that she isn’t too concerned about a lack of safety but wishes that students were kept in the loop.
“Personally, the incident doesn’t make me feel unsafe on campus. I think it was handled quickly in a professional manner. I just think the faculty should’ve been more open about what was happening,” she said.
“In the moment, we didn’t really know what was going on,” Halverson said.
Some students who weren’t in Husman at the time of the event discovered the damage as they arrived back at their dorms. This was the case for first-year biomedical sciences major Katelyn Shoesmith.
“I actually didn’t know there was a flood. I was in class and then I went straight to the dining hall. I came back to my dorm… and as I came to the door of my room, I saw a huge puddle and then I opened the door to find lots of water in our dorm room. I wasn’t alerted at all about the flooding situation,” Shoesmith stated.
“When I saw how much water was in our room, I tried to move my stuff to save some things, but I knew that I couldn’t possibly clean all the water up on the floor and in my desk drawer,” she continued.
The water began spewing out of the pipe on the fourth floor and trickled down to the first. The damage to students’ property ranged from items that just needed to dry off to inches of water on the floor and rugs that needed to be tossed out. The Resident Assistant office located on the first floor one lost ceiling tiles to water damage, and carpets on all floors were soaked.
Husman Hall Director Hannah Sanders said that as soon as they were made aware of the flooding, Physical Plant got right to work.
“They turned off the water to the building to stop the flooding and fix the damaged pipe. They also called in an emergency cleaning crew to extract the water from the halls/rooms in a matter of hours,” Sanders said.
When asked if students would be compensated for damaged and destroyed property due to water damage, Sanders commented that students are encouraged to get renter’s insurance.
Associate Director of Maintenance and Operations of Physical Plant Larry Pruse says that it is looking like it is going to be an expensive repair.
“We are still assessing the damages, but we estimate it being about $20,000, maybe even $50,000.”