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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Sutherland House irregular hot water outages span two months

Vanderbilt Maintenance and Operations is implementing a permanent solution to the hot water issue in Sutherland House.
Abby Hoelscher
Sutherland House entrance, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Abby Hoelscher)

Vanderbilt Housing and Residential Experience notified residents of Sutherland House on Oct. 18 that hot water would be off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT on Oct. 19 for a repair to the water heater system. The repair comes after residents reported repeated hot water outages, some lasting up to several days, since the beginning of fall semester.

When the hot water was out again last week, residents said they were back to taking cold showers or avoiding them altogether. 

Vanderbilt University Maintenance and Operations, formerly Vanderbilt University Plant Operations, has responded to eight total reports of hot water outages at Sutherland this school year, VUMO told The Hustler. It said some reports were filed on the same day but did not specify how many. 

“I normally shower a little cold anyways, but it’s miserable,” Sutherland House Programming Advisory Council president Ethan Blevins, a first-year, said. 

VUMO said it determined that an electrical issue is causing the air compressor, part of the water heater’s control system, to fail. 

“VUMO will be installing an electric conversion kit so the water heater will run without the air compressor,” the representative said. “A short outage will be required for installation, and timing for that is being coordinated with Housing and Residential Experience. This solution is intended to solve the hot water issue, once and for all.”

Sutherland resident and first-year Nathan Widjaja said the cold showers have been manageable for him so far because, for the most part, hot water is only off for a few days at a time. 

“I think the main thing that I’m annoyed at is that it keeps happening,” Widjaja said. “I get that things happen and things go wrong, but if they can find a permanent solution that would be really nice.”

First-year Quinton Newell, another Sutherland resident, said some members of the house have started using body wipes instead of showering in the cold. 

Residents communicate in the house GroupMe about the status of hot water, but some said they have been hesitant to “bother” the head RA about the issue. The week of Oct. 9, they were instructed to call the RA on duty when the hot water is off. Sutherland Head RA Olivia Jones, a senior, also told residents in an email that they could start filing maintenance requests about the hot water, which only RAs had been doing previously. Jones declined to comment on the matter due to her role as a university employee.

As HPAC president, Blevins said he feels a responsibility to reassure residents that eventually the hot water problem will be resolved, even though he cannot take any action to solve the issue.

“I like to think I’m an optimist in most cases, but things were looking pretty bleak [when] we were out of hot water,” Blevins said. “Besides that, things are great. I try not to let it get me down. I’m still having a great time here.”

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About the Contributors
Lauren Lamson
Lauren Lamson, Staff Writer
Lauren Lamson (‘27) is from Madison, Wis., and is majoring in communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. When she’s not writing for The Hustler, she enjoys running, attempting to solve crosswords and drinking lattes. You can reach her at [email protected].
Abby Hoelscher
Abby Hoelscher, Photography Editor
Abby Hoelscher (‘27) is from St. Louis and is an aspiring elementary teacher currently studying in Peabody College. She previously served as Deputy Photography Director. Outside of writing, she enjoys performing, learning Taylor Swift songs in American Sign Language and trying the seasonal lattes from the campus coffee shops. She can be reached at [email protected].
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