Sprinkler damages residents’ rooms

IUS Horizon

A sprinkler malfunction in Meadow Lodge on Sunday, Jan. 18, caused damage to four apartments, displacing several students and damaging some of the students’ personal belongings.

Jim Schlinsog, director of Residence Life and Housing, said apartments 220, 120, 218 and 118 were damaged by the water. He said residents of apartment 118 were displaced for about a day, while residents of apartments 220 and 120 are still living in other residence hall apartments.

Schlinsog said each affected student was given a $20 credit on their Ucards to help with costs like laundry, but he said neither IUS nor IU will reimburse them for their personal property that was damaged.

“The university does not assume responsibility for any personal belongings,” he said.

The Terms and Conditions section of the Residence Hall Housing Contract states: “The University assumes no responsibility for the loss of money or valuables belonging to the Resident or third parties, or for the loss of or damage to personal property. The University strongly recommends that the Resident obtain renter’s insurance to cover personal effects.”

A similar statement can be found on Residence Life’s Web site.

“It’s a pretty standard policy,” Schlinsog said.

Schlinsog said he was not sure of the value of the personal items that were damaged, but he said they included books, among other things.

Dennis Simon, IUS Police chief, said that when Hillside Hall flooded two years ago some items owned by professors were or paid for by the university, but only those that the professors used for their work. He said professors were not reimbursed for items like clothes or radios.

“None of their personal items that I know of were recovered,” he said. “It had to be applicable to their mission… on campus.”

Simon said he and Schlinsog have been in contact with IU Risk Management in Bloomington, who adjusts all claims within the IU system, to see if any of the students’ personal belongings, such as items relating to school, could be recovered.

But Schlinsog said they had had no success.

“We got a note back from Risk Management that the university will not do anything for students’ personal property,” he said.

A representative from Risk Management was
unavailable for comment.

Sarah Geftos, a student who lived in one of the affected dorms, said none of her personal effects were damaged from the malfunction, but she was moved to another apartment.

Geftos said she thinks the university should be responsible for replacing students’ property if it’s damaged by their equipment.

“I thought it was a bunch of bull,” Geftos said. “It was a school malfunction, and I think the school should have to pay for it.”

Geftos said the community advisers were helpful in getting property out of the dorms and cleaning up afterward.

Schlinsog said Residence Life emphasizes to residents the importance of getting renter’s insurance.

“You just never know when something could happen, whether it’s an accident or malicious,” he said. “It’s just best to have that kind of renter’s insurance to protect your personal property.”

He said residents are advised to check with their parents’ insurance agency about extending coverage to the apartments or getting a policy on their own.

Angela Adams, a sales agent with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, said the cost of renter’s insurance can vary.

She said if a student’s parents have Nationwide for homeowner’s insurance, it might not cost students anything to have their personal effects covered.

Adams said several factors come into play when figuring out how much a policy would cost for students, such as credit.

However, she said a typical policy to cover $20,000 of personal items would cost between $15 and $20 a month.

Geftos said she was never told anything about renter’s insurance before the incident.

Bob Snip, Physical Plant director, said the sprinkler that malfunctioned was in the attic of Meadow Lodge above the rooms.

Snip said the cause of the malfunction is unclear.

“We probably will never know,” he said. “I think it was just a faulty sprinkler head that gave way.

Snip said the faulty sprinkler head was the only one that put out water.

“It charged the whole system, but obviously it’s only going to sprinkle where it detects the fire might be,” he said.

“Once it went off, it did what it was supposed to do and flooded the area.”

Snip said because the residence halls are new they are still under warranty from contractor Shiel-Sexton, but it is unclear whether the contractor’s warranty will cover all the costs or if some of the damage will have to be paid for through the university’s self-insurance.

He said the value of the damage has not yet been determined.

He said work has already begun on repairing the apartments.

“If [Shiel-Sexton] stay[s] on site, they should be done in a couple of weeks,” he said, “but once again we’re at the mercy of the
contractor.

By ZACH HESTER
Editor
zwhester@ius.edu

and

JEROD CLAPP
Senior editor
jlcapp@ius.edu