At Barrett Hall, the sky is falling

Over spring break, a slate tile from the roof of Barrett Hall fell onto the driveway and broke into several pieces. The cause was attributed to general wear and tear of the roof tiles.

Lauren Padgett ’09, a resident assistant on the third floor of Barrett, believes that students should be made aware of all possible dangers in dormitories.

“It scares me that one of my residents could be walking by a building and a piece of the roof [could] come off to hit them,” she said. “I think it’s something that all RAs should know about. At least we can inform students when they come.”

Informing students about the problem is especially important during inclement weather, she said.

Others said the problem was not serious. Gilbert Stewart, the Facilities Management officer in charge of roofing projects for the College, said that as far as Facilities Management was concerned, slate was a safe material to be used on almost any building.

“It’s not a safety hazard to have slate on the buildings,” Stewart said. “Slate is a very reliable resource … slate roofs are not anything new.”

But after several years of wear and tear, Stewart said, slate tiles could come loose under certain weather conditions.

Deb Boykin, director of Residence Life, added that one reason the College uses slate is to maintain the integrity of the College’s historic architectural designs.

Most of the Old Campus buildings – including both academic and residential buildings – are roofed with slate shingles that cover flat, low-sloped roofs.

Still, most students living in Old Campus dorms expressed little anxiety at the problem of falling roof shingles.

Barrett resident Simon Sun ’11 said that it would be a waste of money for the College to spend time looking into the matter.

“The chances of someone getting hit by a tile are so small that it’s almost a non-issue that we shouldn’t put time and money into,” Sun said.

Kate Laird ’11, who lives on the third floor agreed, adding that College funds should be allocated toward more important issues.
“I think we have bigger issues to deal with,” Laird said.

Kathleen Brasington ’08, the head resident of Barrett, said that she was more worried about students going out onto Barrett’s structurally unsound balconies than she was about loose roof shingles on the building.

Others stressed that students should know about the issue.
“[Informing students] is something that would be easy enough to include during orientation,” Padgett said.

In the absence of any human injury, if a shingle should fall, Boykin said that students should immediately contact the Office of Residence Life.

“We would hope that students, as they see any problems, can go into the work order system,” she said. “Facilities Management responds to those as soon as they are aware, and it’s not just residence halls.”

Kelsey Nawalinski ’11 contributed reporting to this article.


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