On Sunday at around 12:30 a.m, a student at a registered event in the basement of Baxter House broke a sprinkler pipe on the ceiling, which set off the fire alarm and flooded the room with about five inches of water. 

“I saw someone jump up, and as soon as they made contact with the pipe, it snapped,” said Matt Friedland ’15. “There was a big hissing sound, and people were screaming because [the pipes] sprayed on them. Everyone freaked out and went upstairs.”

Assistant Director of Residential Life Chris Rossi and multiple Baxter House residents have confirmed that the responsible party has come forward; however, no name has been released.  

“They’ve come forward and they’re paying for the damages,” said Nancy Walker ’15.

Had the individual responsible not admitted to causing the damage, the costs would have been split between the residents of Baxter House. 

Security responded immediately after the alarms went off.  

“We had several officers right in the immediate vicinity, including me, when that occurred,” said Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols. “We were only minutes away from shutting down the party anyway because we were going to end it right at 1 a.m., and this happened right before that.”

Nichols said that Facilities Management began work pumping out the water immediately, and the fire department assisted with their hoses. 

“Later that morning, the contractor came in and did the really heavy work,” he said. “They did a really good job and we were able to let students back in by around 1 p.m. on Sunday.” 
According to Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon, Facilities has not yet determined the cost of the damage. 

“Facilities will let us know the bill and handles the actual billing to the responsible student,” she said. 

Baxter House president Ujal Santchurn ’15 estimated that the costs could be around $5,000 or $6,000, and would include those of the fire department, the water damage, the burst pipe, the company that came to clean up the basement, and the speakers and amplifiers that were in the basement.  

Baxter House was placed on social probation following the incident. 

Santchurn said that Baxter residents are unhappy with that decision.

“There is a lingering frustration that the house has been put on probation as a result of this,” he said. “Especially because it’s not something any house member was directly responsible for. We just feel like the punishment shouldn’t really be reflected on us, and we should still be able to have events regardless of another person’s actions.”

Clare McLaughlin ’15 said that she thought it was the addition of this event to other incidents, including an unregistered event on the Wednesday of Ivies, that led to social probation. 

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back to put us on [social probation],” she said, “But it wasn’t our fault. Instead of doing one bad thing, this added to other things.”

In an email to Baxter residents at 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning, directly after the incident occurred, Randy Nichols said that the house was closed and that no one was allowed to stay in the building. 
“A lot of people were frustrated that the College couldn’t provide housing on such short notice,” said Santchurn. 

Some house residents reserved rooms at the Inn at Brunswick Station, and some stayed in other dorms. According to Santchurn, some house residents were still attempting to contact friends at 4 a.m. 

According to McMahon, asking students to find their own housing was the standard protocol for such a situation.

“Generally speaking, Bowdoin students have lots of friends in other residence halls that can help them out in a pinch,” she wrote in an email to the Orient. “Had students not been able to get back into the house Sunday night we would have asked them to do the same or worked with them to meet their needs.”

McLaughlin said that it is common for things to be broken in Baxter.

“You don’t expect Bowdoin kids to break things,” she said, “but Baxter has a reputation of getting things broken, so when something gets broken, instead of freaking out, people brush it off.”

She went on to say that the pipe that broke had probably been partially damaged before. 

“I’m sure there were a lot of people hitting it, hanging on it, and then that one person happened to be there at that moment,” she said. “It wasn’t like one kid broke it.”

Walker said that, in the past, people have generally accepted responsibility after causing damage.

“Usually when it’s a small thing people are open about it and come forward,” she said. “People have been good about it this year. But with this, I can imagine people might be more hesitant to come forward themselves, or hesitate to implicate the person.”

A similar incident occurred in November 2009 at Ladd House during the first Inappropriate Party, when someone knocked a sprinkler head off a pipe, flooding the basement. According to McMahon, the College responded then in the same way it did this past weekend.

“As in this case, the College’s response is a coordinated effort among many offices,” she said. “Security personnel, the dean-on-call, and facilities staff coordinate to immediately secure the building, stop the flooding, and start clean-up operations.”