Fairfield University officials unveiled on Sept. 8 a new six-person, suite-style sophomore residence hall in the western area of The Quad during a blessing event. Named after Sister Thea Bowman, an African American woman from Canton, Miss. who dedicated her life to “spreading the joy of the Gospel and promoting cultural awareness and racial reconciliation,” the building will house the Sophomores Give Back program and is part of the efforts made by the administration to expand the campus housing capacity as Fairfield continues to grow.

Jenn Anderson ’97, MBA ’02, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications, said in a statement to The Mirror that the campus community was “thrilled” with the opening of Bowman Hall.

“We had a blessing ceremony and it was wonderful to see the community – students, faculty and staff – come together to celebrate the opening and visit with the student residents,” said Anderson. “We are excited that the residence hall will house the Sophomores Give Back program, which offers second-year students an opportunity to ‘give back’ to the Fairfield residential community through service, programming and mentorship.”

The blessing, performed by Campus Ministry Director Fr. Keith Maczkiewicz, S.J.,‘04, better known to the community as Fr. Mac, was part of the “Fairfield Friday” events that culminated with the Fall Activities Fair.

While many students celebrated the opening of the new residence hall in the Quad, Bowman Hall residents were restricted from using the elevator later that night due to water leakage from the walls and the elevator. This issue, however, was isolated only to the first, second and ground level of the five-story building

Other students have reported issues with the design of their room showers, a concern that The Office of Residence Life recognized in an email on Sept. 7.

“We are reaching out today because over the past few days, there have been several showers throughout Sr. Thea Bowman that have flooded and caused leaking into the units below,” stated Res Life. “We are currently working [with] our facilities team and the contractors to address the issues.”

The office also told students that to avoid flooding, residents should “be mindful of when using the shower and make sure the shower head is not pointed directly at the shower curtain.” They also advised residents to make sure the shower’s drain is “clear of hair and debris.”

“With new construction, it is not uncommon to make adjustments post-opening, and the University is in the process of doing so with the design of the showers,” said Anderson when asked about the issues reported by the students within days of their move-in.

In the communication to students the day before the building’s blessing, Residence Life staff detailed the steps they were taking to permanently address the flooding issues with the showers. 

“We started the work today [Sept. 7] with the lowering of the shower curtains in all of the suites. Starting tomorrow [Sept. 8] at 8 a.m. the contractors will begin checking the bathrooms and start shower threshold installation. They will be continuing work on Saturday morning starting at 8 a.m. and again on Tuesday morning, hopefully completing all of the work before the end of next week,” said the statement.

It is unclear what has caused the recent flood issues in Thea Bowman Hall, and while students have sarcastically blamed Father Mac’s holy water, no clear answer has been given at this time. 

The Mirror reached out to the Office of Residence Life for an explanation and an official response to the student claims, but the office has not responded for comment.

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