A Firsthand Account: The Drayer Sewage Struggle

Elena Hull '24, Guest Writer

On January 31st, Dickinson moved the 83 residents of Drayer Hall into the High Street Residence Hall between the hours of 8:30 and 10:30 PM. That was only about a week and a half ago from the time of my writing this, but it feels like a year ago. 

I am a first year student who, up until that Sunday, lived on the first floor of Drayer Hall.  At the time, nobody on my floor had any idea what was going on. We just knew something happened with the plumbing that caused flooding in the basement, our water was shut off, and then an hour later we were told the school was starting relocation at 8:30 pm. During our time at High Street I started talking to people (masked or online), trying to figure out what happened, what’s currently happening, and what their thoughts are on it all.

That is how I learned that when Drayer Ground-A told Dickinson that there was half an inch of water in their hallway coming from the floorboards and the bathrooms, their first response was to send housekeeping. 

Housekeeping. There was half an inch of reeking water in the hallway and entering three dorm rooms, and the school sent in housekeeping. 

The only reason I know this is because I happened to ask some Ground-A students. Even Ground-B didn’t know what happened until the water spread to their shared common room and they had to move the couches. The rest of us only knew there was flooding in the first place because people put it on Snapchat. 

The ground level students were given half an hour to pack everything they needed for daily life and school. Everyone upstairs was still confused as to why flooding in the basement required moving the whole building. Most of my podmates said they would have rather stayed in Drayer without water than moving. But we dealt with it. We dealt with incredibly short notice, no information on what was going on, and no guidance as to where we were going or when we were leaving. We were told we’d be back home by Tuesday night. But when Tuesday night came, we were told that wouldn’t be the case and they didn’t know when we’d go back. We all started obsessively doing laundry and carrying clothes back and forth between Drayer Hall and High Street Residence. 

Now we’ve been told to tentatively expect a Friday return for most residents and Saturday for the ground-level residents. But at this point, we’ve received so many last-minute changes to the little pieces of information we were told that we don’t trust that anymore. It took me about three days to figure out the whole story of what happened, and very little of what I learned came from the college. Nobody has any faith we’ll be moving back this weekend, especially not the ground level students. 

Update: Drayer did move back within the school’s estimated timeframe. But the plumbing issues have continued on a smaller scale. There was another minor flood or two in the basement and my floor has had some moments where there was a fifty-fifty chance the water would work.

On the bright side, these are the nicest dorms on campus and my floor is bonding as a floor, not just as individual pods. As a result we now have a budding community. But surely there was some other way we could have achieved that without all of the stress and confusion associated with the move even if that did speed up the process some. That being the case, was the accelerating effect of the move really worth it? I would say no, and I’m pretty sure everyone else would agree with me on that, too.