Word-of-mouth rumors about Wefald Hall’s stability and structural integrity have floated among students on campus and prospective students this year. While seemingly harmless, the spreading rumors have caused concern for Wefald’s leaders.
“One issue that it’s caused is that prospective students have had their parents call or themselves call expressing concern of whether or not Wefald will be open next year,” Bently Taulbert, freshman in political science and president of Wefald Hall, said. “It causes general hysteria and distrust between Housing and Dining.”
Derek Jackson, associate vice president of student life and director of Housing and Dining Services, said he believes students who wanted to get into Wefald but were too late on the dorm sign-up list started the rumors.
“We think this is being spread on purpose for those students that are further down the list that want to get into Wefald,” Jackson said.
Jackson believes the rumor is spreading exclusively via word-of-mouth among prospective students.
“I was talking to some of our student government, and it’s not our students that are here,” Jackson said. “They live in the building. They know differently. Whatever is going on is coming out of our prospective students’ network.”
Taulbert said he worries the rumors might drive some students away, especially prospective engineering students who make up a large portion of the dorm’s population.
“If I didn’t get to live in Wefald, that could’ve affected me a little more, especially if you have no ties to the university,” Taulbert said. “When you are looking at prospective engineering students, they pick Wefald because it’s in close proximity to the engineering building and it’s nice, so these people not knowing if it’s open next year could cause problems. You have to think about all the ones that may have heard about the rumor and don’t call to get confirmation.”
Cameron Kotwitz, junior in computer engineering and resident assistant in Goodnow, lived in Wefald this past year. He said Wefald had some issues with its structure, but he does not believe the rumors.
“If there was something actually wrong with it, [the university] would’ve started taking measures to close it down and clear it out,” Kotwitz said. “It moves around in the wind, but it isn’t sinking into the ground.”
Kotwitz said there is a lot of joking about the issue, but no one he talks to takes it seriously.
Some students still see problems with the dorms. Josiah Field, freshman in family and couples therapy and Wefald resident, said residents use squeegees in the bathrooms when water collects on the shower floors. Another issue, she said, is the mens’ wing leans on the third floor.
However, Peyton Murrison, freshman in animal sciences and former Wefald resident, has a different perspective about the rumored construction flaws.
“I talked with my RA, and she had confirmed [the rumor],” Murrison said. “Somebody had told me their friend’s dad did the calculations that the building is 45 degrees off its axis. The building is tilted slightly, and if it continues to stand, it’ll eventually fall over.”
Although the rumor has been spreading through the prospective student network and dorms, Jackson said he rarely has to deal with it.
“It’s not pervasive in the sense that we’re even getting a call a day,” Jackson said. “It’s a couple here, and maybe a week or two later, we get a couple more.”
Jackson said his daughter lived in Wefald, and he has no concerns about the integrity of the building. However, he wishes the rumor would end.
“It’s not fair — it’s not true,” Jackson said. “This building is code rated, is earthquake rated, it’s got a fire safety system that most buildings off-campus don’t even come close to meeting. And it was inspected with a third party all the way through the construction period. There’s no way that the structure could be at fault based upon the code and the inspections at the state level, local level and the campus level, as well as with the third party.”