Photography lab flood allegedly caused by student

Originally Posted on The Triangle via UWIRE

A photography lab and several faculty offices were damaged in an accidental flood in the Academic Building during the night of March 6. Inspection and repairs to the rooms are currently underway.

According to Britt Faulstick, assistant director of media relations for the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, the flood was caused by misplaced equipment.

A person familiar with the matter, however, expanded further saying the flood was caused by a piece of washing equipment in the lab that was left running and unattended overnight by an underclassman student. At some point, the washing equipment overflowed, flooding the lab and adjacent rooms, including a conference room below.

This person asked to remain anonymous due to their affiliation with the photography program.

The affected lab is reserved for a class typically taken only by seniors, but due to a student shortage, the underclassman was granted permission to take the class.

The photography lab is largely staffed by work-study students who are tasked with checking the rooms after individual use by photography students. Many of these work-studies are not photography students due to a shortage of work-study labor.

The source noted that these students may not be as familiar with photography lab equipment as a photography major may be, potentially causing them to miss key warning signs about equipment malfunctions.

“When people are aware, they care about what they’re doing,” the source said. “That makes a difference.”

The photography program is allegedly putting new safeguards into place to prevent future incidents.

In addition to increased security, the source told The Triangle only professional staff will be allowed to check out these labs to students. Work-studies will no longer be allowed to manage the rooms.

Faulstick told The Triangle the area has been inspected by Drexel’s Department of Environmental Health & Safety and necessary repairs are expected to be made before spring classes start.

While Faulstick could not confirm the cost of the damage at this point, he said Drexel maintains an all-risk insurance policy on all university-owned and leased buildings for events such as this. The policy, though, is subject to deductibles, sublimits and policy terms and conditions.

According to the source, the water damage is expected to have only affected drywall and flooring, but allegedly did not affect equipment or stored materials.

Paul Runyon, program director of photography, and Michael Froio, photo facilities manager, did not respond to comment prior to this article’s publication.

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