Following a gas leak in East Campus last week, construction to replace pipes in the bedroom and kitchen walls of affected suites will leave students unable to use their ovens and stoves for the foreseeable future, without a set date for when repairs will be completed.
EC is home not only to upperclassmen but also to fraternities and Special Interest Communities, including Casa Latina and Pan-African House, who hold regular programs and events for members.
Students in 20 suites received an email from Columbia Housing on Sept. 22 notifying them that their gas had been turned off for “emergency repairs.” Later that day, another email updated them that the gas would remain shut off for “preventative maintenance and pipe restoration work.”
Housing initially predicted regular gas service within the next two weeks, but sent out an email today informing students that “more comprehensive repairs will be required than initially planned.” According to a Facilities spokesperson, a new estimated timeline will be available to students only after the investigation is complete and a repair plan is in place, and will depend on evaluations by the New York City Department of Buildings and gas provider Con Edison.
Additionally, Housing informed some students that there would be work done in their rooms on weekdays beginning at 9:30 a.m, starting this week. Construction workers will be opening kitchen walls in the affected suites to access gas pipes and install temporary coverings until the repair plan is finalized. Depending on the examination results, some pipes may need to be replaced.
Students have been provided meal vouchers at dining halls while the repairs take place. Additionally, impacted suites are being provided with convection microwaves and hot plates, but these supplies have just been ordered and will be delivered upon arrival, approximately two weeks after gas was shut off.
Among those affected are students living in Metta House, the vegetarian, sustainable living Special Interest Community. Mary Bourque, SEAS ’18, said her suite’s diet has changed a lot in recent weeks.
“I think the sense of community in our suite has changed, too,” she said, “because our SIC specifically cooks dinner for the whole house six to seven days a week. It is really nice and heartwarming to spend time with your suitemates, helping cook or clean up a home-cooked meal.”
Bourque is also one of the students who relies on the Community Supported Agriculture farm share for fresh vegetables. She and other students described the lack of gas as especially inconvenient because of all the produce they are now unable to cook.
Other students, however, weren’t particularly bothered by the repairs.
“I think Housing’s compensation of providing free meals is very good,” Adam DeVita, CC ’18, said.
Lani Allen, CC ’18, however, expressed disappointment at the solutions offered by the University, adding that she would have preferred a stipend for food instead of free dining hall meals.
“There’s a reason I decided not to be on the dining plan anymore,” she said. “I feel like they should be doing whatever is in their reach to offset this inconvenience and my impression is that they are not doing that.”