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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Downhill on-campus residents report sporadic hot water outages

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The exterior of Lewis Hall is pictured on Feb. 26, 2020.

Residents in downhill dorms experienced sporadic bouts without hot water in showers throughout September and October, resulting in confusion about the cause of the hot water shortage and uncertainty regarding when the issue would be fixed. While Tufts Facilities Services concluded that issues regarding access to hot water have since been resolved, some residents have noticed a recent lack of consistent access to hot water.

Sophomore Anna Li, a resident of Harleston Hall, was one such student that experienced an occasional lack of hot water in her hall.

"I used to somehow shower really, really late, like 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and there was no hot water at all,” Li said. “[In September and October], I had to at least take three cold showers per week.” 

Abby Donaghue, a resident assistant in Lewis Hall, experienced a similar pattern.

For most of September, and I think some of October, [there would not be hot water] about three times a week, maybe,” Donaghue, a junior, said. “Late at night, the hot water would just randomly stop working. You’d go to take a shower and the water would be ice cold.”

Distinct from the occasional lack of hot water limited to one shower— a situation that most students can relate to experiencing at some point while living in dorms —  consistently insufficient hot water downhill seemed to represent a larger, more widespread issue.

“It was not just a one-shower issue,”Donaghue said. “I had a lot of reports from my residents and all the other bathrooms, it was a problem on the other floors, I had friends in Latin Way who were having the same issue. So, [it was] a pretty universal downhill dorm problem.”

Cold showers have presented inconveniences to residents and upended their daily routines.

“It was so frustrating for me when it first happened, because sometimes when I go back to my room, I’m so tired,”Li said. “I had a long day, and all I want to do is just to have a nice shower.” 

Donaghue echoed this sentiment.

 “It was really inconvenient for me to also be back at the dorm at night after a long, busy day and then not have access to basic amenities for hygiene and comfort.” Donaghue said. “It’s kind of really frustrating, and the uncertainty of it all was not good.” 

Donaghue and Ray Rogers, another RA in Lewis Hall, often received complaints from their residents about the lack of hot water in Lewis Hall.

“I literally get emails all the time from residents saying, ‘Hey Ray, there’s no hot water — can you do something about it?’”Rogers, a senior, said. 

In addition to reading concerns circulating in her hall’s group chat, Donaghue also recalled hearing complaints just outside of her dorm room door.

“I would be … doing homework in my dorm, and I would hear from the hallway one of the boys in my wing [yell], ‘The hot water is broken again!’” she said. 

Residents’ frustration about unreliable hot water in Lewis Hall was often directed toward RAs, adding more responsibilities and stress to their roles.

“Not only did I just want to take a shower and go to bed … now [responding to complaints about cold water] is another task that I have to do,”Donaghue said.

Rogers found it difficult to efficiently address these concerns.

“I obviously can’t do anything about it,” he said. “I file a work order, which will take a month to actually be processed.”

While Tufts Facilities stated that it received no complaints or work requests from students living in Lewis Hall or Harleston Hall in this time period, they did point to the seasonal servicing of boilers that service these locations in September and October. This servicing, which is done in preparation for the winter heating season, was completed in early October, according to Senior Facilities Director Cory Pouliot.

“All systems have been on-line and operational since [early October],”Pouliot wrote to the Daily in an email. 

However, Tufts Facilities did receive water complaints from residents in the Hillsides Apartments in late October. In the 20s and 30s tower, students reported that water would not properly heat up. Upon further investigation, in-house plumbers detected a malfunctioning valve, which was replaced on Nov. 4.

“Our in-house plumbers were able to successfully complete the job and hot water was restored to all of Hillsides Apartments,”Pouliot said. 

While students report that the issue has gotten better in recent weeks, some issues linger. According to Rogers, the showers in Lewis Hall still occasionally run out of hot water. 

“Once, maybe every two weeks … we’ll get an hour or two where there’s just cold water, or maybe a full night of no hot water,” he said.

Li said she is concerned about the issue as temperatures begin to drop. 

“I’m worried about … not having hot water in the winter when it’s a lot colder,” she said.