Dunster Residents Return After Toilet Overflow Forces Them to Relocate

Six students will be returning to their rooms in Dunster’s swing housing on Prescott Street Thursday after large amounts of toilet water spilled out onto their bathroom floor just four days earlier, forcing them to relocate to other Harvard housing.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesperson Colin Manning wrote in an email statement Wednesday night that the water overflow, “was not a sewer or plumbing issue. Rather, someone attempted to flush paper towels, which clogged a toilet in a second floor room and caused water to overflow.”

The clog also damaged the ceiling of the floor below, displacing a total of six students to other upperclassman houses, Manning wrote. The damage has since been fixed, he added.

For the students affected by the overflow, the mess—although resolved quickly—proved to be an inconvenience adding to what they said was an already stressful beginning week of classes.  

Shortly after arriving back to his room Sunday night, Ryan M. Rule ’15 said he saw several maintenance workers in his suite “freaking out” and cleaning what he described as “nasty sewage water—poop and whatnot—all over the ground.”

Rule further explained that the bathroom in his apartment had “sewage on the floor.”

In under an hour, Rule said he and his two roommates Max T. Murphy ’15 and Kyle P. Rehkemper ’15 received an email from Dunster Building Manager Brandon Fernald, requesting that they pack belongings for three to five days, turn in their keys, and relocate to Adams House.

Fernald’s email, forwarded to The Crimson by Rule, thanked the three for their “patience and understanding” and also made clear that the instructions were “mandatory.”

In an email to all Dunster residents the next day, Fernald warned occupants against “flush[ing] items down the toilet that don’t belong down the toilet.”

Rule, who along with Murphy said he is yet to be informed of the cause of the leak, confirmed in an email Thursday that, to his knowledge, he and his roommates were not responsible for the misuse of the toilet that Manning referenced.

Both Rule and Murphy agreed that Harvard Campus Services did what was required of the situation and expressed relief at moving back into their suite.

"It was definitely an inconvenience at the start of classes, but we tried to make the best of it," Murphy said.

“I wasn’t happy about the situation, I'm still not happy about the situation, but I truly understand why they did it because I don’t want to stay in a room that has a massive sewage leak,” Rule added.

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at noah.delwiche@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

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