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Officials Address Dormitory Disasters; Resident Suspected

By Orli G. Bahcall
Staff Reporter

Random Hall residents met with housing officials Monday night to discuss the series of near-disasters the dormitory experienced this past weekend.

Residents were evacuated on Sunday by the fire department when a blocked chimney caused smoke to flood the building. In addition, sewer drain blockage caused water and sewage to back up and repeatedly flood the first floor and the trunk room.

According to Random Hall President Mark L. Gottlieb '96, Campus Police suspect a resident of Random may be responsible for the fire. "The police have a suspect. They have questioned him," Gottlieb said.

"They have talked about a possible arrest within the next few days," he said. Gottlieb declined to name the resident suspected of causing the fire.

As a result of the problems over the weekend, heat and hot water were shut off and later turned back on. The sewage was cleaned up by Monday afternoon.

Environmental Medical Services is still working on analyzing an odorous gas and yellow powder that spurted from the sewer drain on Sunday morning.

Residents want problems addressed

The meeting was called by residents to question housing officials about how they are addressing the dormitory's problems, said Random Desk Captain Samir S. Gandi '97.

The fact that "repairs are not done efficiently but haphazardly," makes resident think that "you don't take us seriously" and that "you plan to close us down," Random tutor Jennifer Lantz said to housing officials at the meeting.

Random Hall is not seen as long-term housing, said Associate Dean of Residence and Campus Activities Margaret A. Jablonski.

The dormitory is "not in the permanent housing stock" because of its small size and distant location, said Housing Manager in the Graduate Housing Office Linda L. Patton.

The land on which the dormitory sits has been "slated for possible redevelopment,"Patton said.

The fact that Random is temporary is "a consideration in how much we invest" in the dorm, "but we will make sure it is a clean, habitable, safe, and reasonable place to live" while it remains MIT housing, Jablonski said.

Random will be here for "at least ten years," Patton said. Other spots for future undergraduate housing are currently being sought, Patton said.

Several housing and related officials attended the meeting, including Jablonski, Patton, Director of Physical Plant Victoria V. Sirianni, Associate Director of Housing and Food Services Kenneth R. Wisentaner, Campus Police Lieutenant Charles E. Heitman, Physical Plant Pipe Shop Supervisor John C. Narcotta, Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Andrew M. Eisenmann '75, and Random Hall House Manager Linda A. Petralia.

Residents say dorm needs repairs

"Now that we have the attention of housing authorities," residents want the administration to present the dorm "with some sort of plan to fix and bring up to code what needs attention," Gandi said. Residents also want the repairmen sent to do the job to be "familiar with the dorm," Gandi said.

Representatives of both Physical Plant and the Housing Office responded to those requests. In working with the dormitory's residents, we realize we will be "dealing with people sensitized to" the place, Sirianni said.

"We are committed to fix all the problems," and not "just do patchwork," Patton said.