Twenty-three Elon University students were displaced after a urinal was ripped from the wall in Smith residence hall; the only all-male freshman dorm in Historic Neighborhood. 

The incident occurred early in the morning Sept. 30 in a communal bathroom on the first floor. Almost three inches of water flooded the hall as a result. Dehumidifiers and fans lined the first floor as part of early cleanup measures. After further investigation, more extreme measures have been taken. 

Physical Plant is now using intense drying and heating machines to prevent mold growth on the first floor. Now, residents have either relocated to Danieley Neighborhood, other Smith rooms or a friend’s place. There is currently no timetable for their return.

The flood damages are in the “tens of thousands” of dollars according to Jon Dooley, vice president of Student Life. Dooley confirmed this in a meeting with Smith residents’ parents Oct. 7. 

Mark George’s and Judy Pepe’s sons are roommates in Smith, and they both attended the meeting to ask questions of costs and about their sons’ dorm room. Their room is right next to the bathroom that flooded the hall, and both sons are currently displaced.

“They are camped out with other kids in the building who were gracious enough to host them,” George said. “For what was thought to be a couple-day interruption, and it’s turned out to be more than a full week now with no end in sight.” 

Pepe said she missed out on part of the Family Weekend experience. 

“It’s disappointing,” Pepe said. “Coming down for the weekend, when you hope to be able to see their room and celebrate that and take them shopping to decorate. Without all that stuff, it’s disappointing.” 

Dooley said in the parents’ meeting that he and other Elon administrators are looking into their insurance polices to possibly cover some of the costs. Originally, Dooley told Smith residents they might be paying for the damages, unless they find the culprit of the vandalism. He said in the meeting he is “confident” they will find the person or persons responsible. 

George shared this confidence and belief that the culprit has to be known at this point. 

According to Elon’s housing agreement for all residence halls, “where the university has determined that there is theft or undue abuse of university property and the responsible individual(s) cannot be identified, all residents will be held responsible for paying a prorated share of the cost of repairing such damages.”

Several parents said they were pleased with the communication from Elon about these incidents, but would still like more frequent updates. “We need to hear more,” Pepe said. “We need to hear potential dates ... we need to hear when there are other incidents in the dorms.” 

“The bigger issue is this proud history and legacy of Smith being an all-boys dorm,” George said. “Every year, there’s been some level of vandalism ... I think the bigger issue is breaking this silly, ‘Bro code,’ that exists where nobody wants to turn in who’s responsible.”