Photo from The Clock archives

Much to do about flooding

Jacob Downey


Editor in Chief


Last weekend, ‘6 more weeks of winter’ came all at once. Plymouth was hit with frigid temperatures of as low as -24°. That Sunday students in the White Mountain Apartments were subject to murky, brown water dripping from their ceilings at best and indoor downpours at worst. When temperatures hit their lowest overnight water in the sprinkler pipes had frozen, causing a burst in the morning as temperatures began to rise. Reports of flooding first reached PSU around 8 am. By 9 am, CA’s were going door-to-door to apartment residents informing them of the situation and encouraging safety procedures to mitigate further damages. Students whose apartments were flooded were instructed to report to the Center Lodge, where at 11:35 keys to their new accommodations, updated parking passes, and unlimited meal plans were all provided alongside staff from the Physical Plant to assist in the relocation. Efforts to begin cataloging damages and reimbursing students would also begin at this time. A portal to submit claims is expected later this week.

Videos circulated showing torrents pouring down from burst pipes and residents shoveling water out through their front doors. It was a scene straight out of a disaster movie as students online quickly, if justifiably, began looking for someone to blame. While PSU was able to execute a recovery plan described by Interim Vice President Marlin Collingwood described PSU’s response as “a testament, I think, to the great work of ResLife and the physical, tactile, and all of those kinds of things”, that was able to rapidly relocate all twenty-five students, some students remained baffled as to how this was something that could happen in the first place. One former White Mountains resident, Noah Biron, remarked:

“I had a friend go through the same thing earlier this year and so I knew what the school’s response would be. I was less mad it happened and more annoyed about having to deal with the whole process after. Plus having to move back into a dorm is never enjoyable”. 

The 2013 Campus Master Plan Update, which circulated as details were still coming out, cites the ap’s as “A significant ongoing maintenance issue” the events of last weekend were more the fault of unfortunate happenstance than anything bordering on negligence. Collingwood responded to the unearthing of these documents with,“ [The aps] Are in horrible condition. Nobody’s denying that. They are inspected every year so they are safe for students to be in but they are not in the shape that they should be”. The fact of the matter is that what happened last weekend was the result of bad luck that was able to be remedied in the short term by the rapid response from Residential Life and the Physical Plant. In the long term, however, it is important to be aware of PSU’s outdated infrastructure. While the 2013 plan could not have pinpointed extreme weather phenomena, it presents an issue now being brought to the state government.

The Granite State currently spends the least on public education nationwide. As part of the USNH system of public colleges, we suffer from this lack of funding. “We’re getting less funding today from the state of New Hampshire than we got in 2012.”, added Collingwood, “We are now asking this year for the very first time that our state funding for Plymouth state to come back to 2012 levels”. 

Just over 24 hours after students began moving out of the aps, Student Government met with state legislators. One member of SGA, Parliamentarian and new Vice Speaker Will Loughlin has been at the front of student lobbying efforts for some time now, stating:

“Through student government and being a political science major, I’ve been trying to get involved and active where I can, and the idea of helping with a student-led advocacy group caught my attention.  The point of student advocacy for Plymouth State is to help us share our experiences as students to different leaders and stakeholders from across the state and to hopefully bring greater change and support for higher education in New Hampshire.  For the rest of the semester, the hope is that the University is able to get a group of interested students down to Concord for at least a day to meet with legislators and share their experiences and concerns. We’ve had issues with housing being in poor condition that have become painfully obvious this year, and it is getting to a point where it’s becoming a factor that’s causing students to drop out or transfer. The success of universities like PSU depends on having the needs of students met, and a number of students I talk with agree that we still have a ways to go. Even if it’s going to take time, I think we have a good chance to start making some meaningful change, and I’m hopeful that student involvement can play a key role in that.”

Student-led movements are the only way to bring PSU out of the state it finds itself in. Too often students throw a “fuck Plym” out on our socials but lack the momentum to make any meaningful change to our material conditions on campus. While lobbying as a concept has been stigmatized by big tobacco and currently in the news, the deregulation of railways nationwide, we as students need to use those very same tools to start pushing the state of New Hampshire to fulfill our needs.  While increased funding for public schools has officially been added to Governor Sunnunu’s budget proposal, the New Hampshire House of Representatives and State Senate will still need to sign off in the coming months.

The White Mountain Apartments and Memorial Hall will remain closed until the damages can be assessed and repaired. If relocated students are not able to return to their apartments, they will be charged for the spaces they now find themselves in rather than their original accommodations. Additional information will be posted here when it becomes available.