West hall floods with plumbing problems

Sydney Brummel—Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Sydney Brummel

Though its wing decorations change yearly, the dim lighting and aged-building scent remains the same. In Dordt University’s West Hall, piano music flows from the lodge and laughter radiates from the lobby. 

Over the past several weeks, however, the women’s residence hall has experienced a number of unwelcome issues. On eastern end of West’s first floor, residents dealt with overflowing toilets, flooding showers, and floors covered in sewage water.

“I came into our room, and I heard our toilet bubbling, and I was like, ‘Ooh, this is spooky,’” Allie Bandstra, sophomore social work major, said. “The next morning I looked into our shower. It was full of this yellow liquid.”

When Bandstra returned to her dorm later that day, she found an overflowing toilet and  sewage-seeped carpet. She and her roommate, Isabel Pheifer, submitted a maintenance request, later learning the maintenance department had received almost ten similar requests from other West Hall residents. Maintenance workers cleaned their bathrooms, carpets, and rugs.

“It just smelled so gross, and then it kept going throughout the week,” Bandstra said. “It kept happening and happening.”

The maintenance department lowered a camera into the plumbing and found old paper towels clogging the pipes—amongst other things. Later that week, professionals attempted to fix the problem, but West continued to encounter issues. For example, one dormitory temporarily relocated to East Campus Apartments after sewage water soaked the carpets of their room. These plumbing problems culminated on Sunday night, Oct. 24, when all of West Hall had to evacuate.

“Someone’s dorm flooded,” Bandstra said. “And the maintenance guy put a bunch of Drano down the toilet and created some kind of chemical reaction.” 

The West Hall residents stayed in Eckardt Lounge for twenty minutes until the potentially harmful gas aired out of the building.

Since the end of that eventful week, the plumbing in West Hall has, more-or-less, returned to normal. Still, Bandstra and her fellow West Hall residents have remained cautious. Bandstra and her roommate continue to use friends’ bathrooms on other wings and rely on water bottles to brush their teeth.

“I was just scared,” Bandstra said. “Every time I went to the bathroom, I was like, ‘is this going to flush? Am I going to be coated in sewer again?’”

Yet, Bandstra has kept a positive outlook on the situation: “This is just the college experience; We’re going to look back on this and laugh.”

This is Bandstra’s first year living in West Hall after residing in Covenant Hall last year. She and her roommate chose to live in the dorm for its increased living space.

A collage of pictures and posters decorates Bandstra’s wall, a wax warmer fills the her dorm with a pleasant fragrance, and colorful Christmas lights hang from the ceiling.

“It’s just homey,” Bandstra said.

Despite the unpleasant and smelly experiences of the past several weeks, the building still feels like home to the women inside.

“West is still best,” Bandstra said.

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