Op-Ed: When the dorm cries wolf

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 - 5:44pm

When the dorm cries wolf

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As many may know, the fire alarm has been going off incessantly at the Mary Markley Residence Hall. While it can be considered simply an annoyance, many students believe it has become a danger. Even though we understand this dorm has not been renovated and the alarms can be set off purely by humidity rather than an actual fire, this is now a major hazard.

 

When the fire alarm goes off, sometimes even five times in the early hours of the morning, it causes students to initially be alarmed that it is a fire, then gradually understand it is a mistake. The third, fourth and fifth time the alarm sounds in one day are the times when the students begin to stop believing they need to leave the building. How is this dangerous? It is dangerous because of what could occur when there is actually a fire.

Last week, the alarms went off six times. I've spoken to numerous residents of Markley, who all admitted they stayed inside their rooms. And they were right to stay there — as soon as the alarm was turned off after thirty minutes of ringing, it went back on two minutes later, proving to these students it was only a mistake, due to the weather or some other accident. While these students were right this time, what happens when they are wrong? What happens when the alarm goes off for the 11th time in three weeks and the students don't leave, assuming it is another mistake from the humidity? What happens when hundreds of students stay in their rooms, only to eventually smell the smoke, hear the screams and realize this time it isn't a mistake?

 

You can't ask students to leave every time the alarm goes off. When the alarm goes off multiple times in a day, in a week, it causes students to stop believing. And this is a major concern for our safety. At the University of Michigan, our tuition money should be going toward researching ways to prevent the alarm going off from humidity. Maybe even some renovations are overdue because these issues of fire alarms being set off multiple times in a night are not happening in South Quad Residence Hall, West Quad Residence Hall, East Quad Residence or any other renovated building on campus. Furthermore, we are only students. With midterms this week, it is detrimental to our health if we don’t get the sleep we need. When studying until 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m., most students want to sleep a full seven to eight hours.

 

With alarms going off from 5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m., then 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., and so on, it greatly disrupts the sleep cycle we so desperately need.

For the health and safety of your students, we are begging for this issue to be fixed.