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Flood Forces Move of Bldg. 34 Classes


Greg Kuhnen--The Tech
Water flowing from a broken urinal in a men's bathroom in Building 36 caused damage to many classrooms in Building 34. Scores of classes had to be moved to other locations on campus.

By Douglas E.Heimburger
News Editor

Classrooms inBuilding 34 will remain closed today after a urinal was ripped from a third floor men's bathroom Wednesday evening, causing a flood of water that significantly damage Edgerton Hall (34-101) and other facilities.

The Schedules Office of AcademicServices has rescheduled all classes held in the affected rooms to other facilities.

Several thousand gallons of water were released into Building 36 on Wednesday evening around 11:30 p.m. after the urinal was removed. Campus Police are investigating the incident, said Chief Anne P. Glavin. "It appears to us that it was a deliberate destruction of property."

Water subsequently poured down ran into Building 34, where it ran through ceilings into Edgerton Hall and caused "quite extensive water damage" to the electrical system,said Stephen P. Miscowski, manager of repair and maintenance for Physical Plant.

Water also ran down the elevator shafts in Building 36, extensively damaging all three, Miscowski said. Electrical closets in Building 34 were also damaged by the flood. Classrooms on the third floor of Building 34 suffered extensive carpet damage as water poured in from the adjacent building.

Buildings evacuated

Buildings 34 and 36 were completely evacuated by order of the Cambridge Fire Department until 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, when a building inspector from the city certified that there was no structural damage, Miscowski said.

Students in the Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (6.001) lab were evacuated when the fire alarm in the building sounded, said Douglas A. Creager '01, who serves as a lab assistant.

As Creager walked down, he heard water pouring down the elevator shafts. "It sounded like a waterfall" he said.

A torrent of water was pouring into Edgerton Hall, Creager said. "We saw a bunch of ceiling tiles fall it seemed like the weight of the water was causing them to fall onto the floor."

Later, the ten to 15 students in the lab were ordered to go home after the building was closed, Creager said. No data was lost, though, as everyone was allowed to return to the lab to save and close their work.

Students in 6.001 may be allowed extensions on their problem sets at the discretion of their tutors, said Harold Abelson PhD '73, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and one of the 6.001 lecturers. "People want to see solutions posted since there is a quiz coming up."

Classes rescheduled

All classes scheduled for Thursday in the affected rooms were rescheduled, except for Knowledge-Based ApplicationSystems (6.871). Academic Services was unable to find a suitable room before the class began at 9:30 a.m.

"We're going to have to compress the set of lectures for the rest of the term,"saidRandall Davis, professor of electrical engineering and computer science who lectures 6.871. "It will be an inconvenience but nothing disastrous," he said. "This is the first time I've had a lecture called off on the account of rain," he added.

Other classes were accommodated in smaller rooms available on campus such as rooms 3-370 and 4-270. "It's always an inconvenience,"said Professor of Electrical Engineering andComputer Science Charles G. Sodini, who teaches Electronic Devices andCircuits (6.012). "You lose five minutes of class time."

However, Sodini praised the Academic Services for their coordination. "I thought it was handled well."The replacement room for the class was "adequate"for the number of students, he added.

As Physical Plant continues to clean the facilities damaged by Wednesday's incident,the CampusPolice are looking for clues about what happened and who may be responsible. "I don't know what possessed someone to do this,"Glavin said, adding that similar incidents have occurred a few times in the past, although with smaller amounts of damage.

The pipes attaching the urinal to the wall were "clear and in good condition,"Glavin said, indicating that most likely the incident was deliberate.

However, the pipe could have broken because of a fracture in it, Miscowski said.