LINCOLN — Two UNL residence halls built in the 1960s to accommodate the baby boom generation have become increasingly prone to leaks of rainwater through aging windows and building joints.
Some students complain of musty odors and leaks from the ceiling and walls of Cather and Pound Halls.
Junior Delaney Rhoades of Papillion, living in Cather Hall for the summer, said rainwater seeped into her room and closet during a heavy storm on May 20. Her clothing and rugs got soaked, she said, but none of her belongings were permanently damaged.
“I don’t know why they put the kids in these dorms. They’ve got to know they leak,” said her mother, Leslie Rhoades. “Everybody knows that dorms are not luxurious, fabulous places to live, but I think the water situation is above and beyond what you should expect.”
University of Nebraska-Lincoln housing officials are coping with the twin high rises until they can be replaced, said Sue Gildersleeve, interim housing director.
Plans are being developed to build two suite-style residence halls nearby. Once those are completed — likely in 2013 and 2014 — Cather and Pound would be demolished. Until then, the 960-capacity buildings are needed to help house the approximately 6,000 students each year who want to live on campus.
It would be the first time UNL has razed a residence hall at least since the baby boom building boom of the 1960s, when three major residence hall complexes went up on the downtown campus, Gildersleeve said.
Gildersleeve acknowledged some maintenance difficulties with the buildings, particularly with their windows, but said her staff is keeping the buildings in good repair and responding promptly to complaints.
“We know that it’s an issue and we continue to look for better ways to deal with it,” she said.
However, there are no plans to replace the windows, which are original to the buildings, or perform any other multi-million-dollar repairs, she said.
Cather and Pound missed out on the recent 10-year, $180 million updating of UNL residence facilities, which included $87 million of new construction plus significant renovations to Selleck Quadrangle, the Harper-Schramm-Smith residence hall complex and the Abel-Sandoz complex.
Partly it was because Harper-Schramm-Smith and Abel-Sandoz, built at about the same time as Cather and Pound, were in more urgent need of window replacement and new heating and cooling systems. When housing officials turned their attention to Cather and Pound, they realized renovation would be cost-prohibitive.
Students said it’s easy to see that Cather and Pound haven’t gotten the same attention as the other halls.
Kaitlin Porter, a junior from Omaha, lived in Cather Hall as a freshman.
“Of all the dorms it was definitely, definitely the worst,” she said. Porter disliked the group bathrooms and the building’s smell, although she didn’t have any water problems in her room.
Although several students interviewed said they’d had minor leakages in their rooms, none described a problem the magnitude of that experienced by Rhoades.
She said that when she woke in her third-floor corner room in Cather Hall during a heavy rainstorm on May 20, it sounded as if it were raining inside her room.
“It was coming in from the top of the windows, down the closet door and down the wood paneling. It was leaking from the ceiling,” she said. “It was literally pouring in.”
Rhoades moved into Cather Hall while she attended summer classes. Cather is the only residence hall open to students during summer school, Gildersleeve said.
Rhoades previously lived in Pound Hall, where she also experienced leaking windows, but nothing to the extent of what happened May 20, she said.
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