SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — A broken sprinkler that flooded a Bryant University residence hall and displaced about 300 students during finals week was caused by a thrown frisbee, according to President Ronald Machtley.
Bristol House, a freshman residence hall, was evacuated Wednesday night after a sprinkler head and pipe broke on the third floor, sending water gushing from the ceiling into the hallway.
Machtley said the school was able to find alternative housing for all affected residents. Some students were put up in area hotels while others stayed with family or friends.
“It’s pretty bad in there, not going to lie,” Bryant freshman Michael Sands said. “There’s a lot of ceiling damage. It’s pretty much flooded everywhere.”
The flooding occurred amid final exams but Machtley said they couldn’t simply cancel all freshman exams, despite the circumstances. He advised affected students to contact their professors to schedule a makeup exam or presentation if necessary, and asked that all faculty accommodate those students.
The flood caused significant damage to the floors below, according to Machtley.
Power has been shut off to Bristol House as the cleanup continues. Machtley said the residence hall can’t be reoccupied until power is restored and the alarm system is back online.
Machtley said they’re working on a plan for students to remove their personal belongings from inside of the building, which will remain closed until at least Sunday.
“Our hope is to close Bristol House on Sunday so that the restoration crews can remove wet ceiling tile, wallboard and carpet,” Machtley said in an email to students.
“We are mindful that many students who live in Bristol House are eager to retrieve their personal belongings,” he said in the email. “A majority of these students have completed their semester work and may choose to leave for summer break as soon as we can grant them access to gather belongings. Others have families who live near campus and may choose to commute for the remainder of the spring term. For these students, we are planning to make special departure arrangements with Residence Life staff for them to move out.
“For students who need to remain on campus until final exams conclude May 13, we are arranging for both alternative housing and the recovery of personal items that may be needed,” Machtley continued. “Students are asked to coordinate their individual needs and access with Bryant’s Residence Life staff. All students will have a chance to return to their rooms for their personal belongings, but no one will be permitted into Bristol House unaccompanied.”
In terms of damage to personal property such as laptops and other electronics, Machtley said school officials will work with students on a case-by-case basis and assured that everything will be covered.
“We ask students to be honest, validate claims, and submit them on the form that will be sent with a subsequent email,” Machtley said.