Facilities repairs roof, defends delayed action

In response to rumors, misinformation and concerns about Norsworthy Hall, the office of Facilities Operations released additional information regarding the collapsed ceiling incident that was reported in last week’s Signal.

According to Joseph Sullivan, director of Facilities, the plaster repair of the ceiling in room 315 covered an area of 3 feet by 4 feet and was completed on Feb. 3. After the plaster cures, the ceiling will be painted and is expected to be completely restored by Feb. 11.

Sullivan said members of his staff observed and evaluated the situation in Norsworthy Hall both on the afternoon it was reported as well as the following day. “To properly repair the ceiling required a skilled plasterer and removal of a larger area,” Sullivan said.

In response to the 12 days that elapsed between when the collapsed ceiling was reported and the inspection of other rooms on the Norsworthy third floor, Sullivan called his staff’s inspections “proactive and precautionary.” He said there were other ceiling repairs that required attention on the third floor, such as areas that needed to be scraped and painted.

“This work is being scheduled,” he said. “We hope to do it over Spring Break to minimize the inconvenience to residents.”

Gretchen Reyes Cseplo, acting director of Residence Life, said the fallen ceiling plaster was “not lethal size” and called the collapse “if anything, a nuisance.” She expressed concern over the incident in room 315 but ensured students that the building was safe. “No one is under any type of threat or concern,” she said.

According to Cseplo, her staff made every effort to accommodate the former residents of room 315 to the best of their ability. She explained that decisions were made in the best interest of the students and with efforts not to “interrupt the lives of these women.”

“When we have a situation like this because of facilities issues, it’s not just ResLife responsible for this. We do the best we can knowing there are other offices involved,” Cseplo said.

She explained the lack of the ResLife staff’s response to this situation and refusal to speak publicly was a result of not enough information. She said her staff cannot comment until they have all the information.

Cseplo also referenced some of the strides made by the office of Residence Life, such as allowing residents of Norsworthy and Centennial Halls to paint their rooms, and questioned the lack of focus on such attempts to enhance the situation of students in Norsworthy Hall.

“I’m disappointed that there was such a focus on just the negative aspects,” she said.

Regarding the safety issues students face while residing in Norsworthy Hall, Sullivan said, “This is an old building but, as is typical of old brick buildings, was well-built and is still a very serviceable building. The building is structurally sound and a recent check (on Jan. 28) indicates the third-floor ceiling, while not perfect, is not defective.”

“It was a little unsettling to hear about problems with Norsworthy, but moving in we all understood that because it’s one of the oldest buildings on campus, it’s bound to need repairs at some point,” Annelise Catanzaro, junior communications major, said. “In the past when I’ve phoned facilities, they’ve reacted almost immediately.”

Margot Shimkus, junior art education major, said the ceiling in her closet collapsed last semester while she retrieved articles of clothing. Plaster and other particles from the ceiling tile fell on her head.

“Honestly, our door has been broken for so long,” her roommate, Nicole Mendez, junior English early childhood education major, added. “We don’t even lock our room any more because our keys keep breaking in the lock.”

Jessica Boston, junior psychology major, spent three weeks on crutches during the first semester. She expressed frustration about how she was unable to be moved from the third floor even after contacting ResLife about her situation.

Hobbling up and down the stairs for 21 days, she was told there were no other rooms available for her. However, upon hearing of the collapse in room 315, she does not question the overall structural security of the building. “It’s okay,” Boston said. “I don’t feel unsafe.”

Junior special education major, Lisa Peeke agreed. “I’ve never really felt unsafe. I never felt like anything was going to collapse.”

“The long-term master plan does call for the replacement of Norsworthy,” Sullivan said regarding the long-term vulnerability of the building.

“And, in fact, we were not expecting Norsworthy to be in service this year. We have tried and will continue to try to make the best of this situation.”

Cseplo expressed confidence in the safety of Norsworthy Hall and insisted that residents had every reason to feel secure. “As a parent and as an administrator, I can go to sleep at night because I know the students here are safe,” she said.