Northeast debacle has HRL all wet

Nothing gives students the warm and cozy feeling of home quite like a mildewed and waterlogged dorm room.

That’s apparently the position of Western’s Housing and Residence Life officials, whose magnificent mishandling of the Northeast Hall flooding caused unsuspecting residents to be greeted back to campus by soggy socks and shrunken shirts.

A faulty water main brake on Dec. 30 transformed Northeast’s first floor into an indoor wading pool. The mishap resulted in an estimated $75,000 in damage to the building and students’ property.

The incident occurred two weeks before the beginning of the spring semester — two weeks that HRL should have used to contact residents of the affected rooms.

But there were no telephone calls to students. No e-mails. No letters delivered to their home mailboxes.

Instead, HRL inexplicably opted only to slip notices into campus mailboxes, where they would not be found until students returned to Western. For all the good that did, HRL might as well have sent smoke signals from the Northeast lawn.

Admittedly, it was a freak accident that could have been much worse. It appears the flood did not damage students’ computers or electronic equipment, items that would have sent the cost of repairs soaring.

And the housing office deserves credit for quickly cleaning up students’ rooms.

But HRL’s feeble effort to notify residents of the accident is inexcusable.

Insurers for Lee Mechanical Company, which recently renovated Northeast, are determining who is liable for the accident. Though Western likely isn’t at fault, the university should waste no time in resolving HRL’s embarrassing gaffe.

The students whose property was damaged or destroyed deserve immediate reimbursement, and Western — which is ultimately responsible for HRL’s actions — should foot the bill.

If the incident is covered by Lee’s insurance, the university gets its money back. If there is no insurance payout, then Western should swallow hard and accept the price tag.

That’s the cleanest solution to a messy problem.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.