The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Ceiling collapses in Watson Hall dorm room

Residents+of+Watson+Hall+reported+water+damage+in+the+days+before+a+ceiling+collapsed+in+one+room.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Kira+Baker+27%29
Residents of Watson Hall reported water damage in the days before a ceiling collapsed in one room. (Photo courtesy of Kira Baker ’27)

When Tim Jarkow ’27 saw that mud had accumulated outside of his dorm room last Friday night, he figured that his roommate had failed to wipe off her shoes. But when he entered his room on the second floor of Watson Hall, Jarkow found not a messy roommate but a collapsed ceiling.

“I opened the door and instantly there’s water everywhere,” Jarkow said. “I walked further and then that’s when I saw that the ceiling of my closet had completely collapsed. Like, the tiles were hanging from the ceiling and there was debris everywhere and water everywhere and all over my clothes.”

Panicked, Jarkow ran down the hallway to a floormate who then called Public Safety.

Jarkow’s roommate, Kira Baker ’27, was elsewhere in the building playing Cards Against Humanity with her friends when she got a call from Jarkow summoning her to their room. When she got there, friends in tow, Baker realized that her backpack with her school work and laptop was in the room.

“I thought I had to replace everything, so that was really stressful,” Baker said.

Nothing of significant value was destroyed, according to the roommates, though they do not know if the rug they purchased for the room is “going to survive.” The pair also handed over their soiled clothing to Facilities Operations, which then took the clothing to a local laundry service. According to Baker, all of hers and Jarkow’s items were returned on Wednesday in good condition.

After staying in friends’ rooms on Friday night, Jarkow and Baker were relocated to temporary housing on Saturday. The pair returned to their room on Sunday to find debris and stains on their floor despite being told that Facilities Operations would clean the room.

“Obviously it was cleaner than it was when it was flooded, but there was still insulation all over the floor,” Jarkow said.

The experience has left Baker shaken.

The scene after it was cleaned. (Photo courtesy of Tim Jarkow ’27)

“I think that given the amount that we’re paying, we should have that security that we are able to be safe in our own dorm,” she said.

Scott Kennedy, the college’s director of facilities operations, wrote in an email that the ceiling collapse was due to a “new roof leak.” According to data from the National Weather Service, this January has seen more precipitation than in recent years.

There were at least two other instances of water damage in Watson Hall, a 75-year-old building, in the days leading up to the ceiling collapse. A first-floor room had large water stains on one of its ceiling tiles, though the issue has since been repaired. Ava Holland ’27 similarly reported a water-stained ceiling tile in her second-floor room, which was also repaired over the course of two days.

Jarkow said that the room “smelled like shit” after the ceiling collapsed, though Kennedy wrote that there were no plumbing issues.

According to Kennedy, there was no indication of a problem in the room shared by Jarkow and Baker when it was inspected over winter break. He added that his office has reached out to a consultant to inspect Watson Hall’s roof.

Benjamin White ’27 contributed reporting.

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Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.

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