Fosmire: first story pitch

Reporter: Laura Fosmire
Slug: Pipes burst in campus dining hall — what are our construction weaknesses?

Pitch: On February 5th, several water pipes burst in the ceiling above the Gallery, the dining hall in Snyder/Phillips. It was a severe problem — the resulting gush of water caved in the ceiling, broke the fire sprinklers, and flooded the dining hall floor with a massive amount of water. It took the fire department, Gallery workers, and several maintenance people an entire night to repair the pipes and clean up the mess. The dining hall portion of the building was built recently, in summer of 2007.

This story would explore how the problem happened — and could it happen again? Students rely upon university buildings to provide basic necessities: food, plumbing, running water, heat, safety and other things. How do technical and constructional malfunctions threaten the basic comfort, or even safety, of students? Should we be more concerned about the condition of our buildings, inside and out? Are older buildings any less sound than new ones? And perhaps most importantly — how can we ensure our tuition dollars are going towards construction projects that will truly keep us safe?

Contact people: I plan to talk to the head of the maintenance department for Snyder/Phillips to find out the cause of the problem. I also hope to get in touch with the people involved with the initial construction of the building. I’d also like to get a few quotes from students who witnessed the event, and how they responded to it. I’ll also try to talk to any university representative who is involved with construction on campus, to find out more about the funding behind it.

Additional multimedia: I have access to pictures of both the Gallery flooding (from various angles in the building), campus buildings, and designs and floor plans of the Gallery.

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