On Nov. 3, the ceiling of the auditorium in the Frank Dawson Adams Building leaked water and partially collapsed during a RELG 252: Hinduism and Buddhism lecture. No injuries were reported.
According to Associate Director of Preventative Maintenance Claude Lahaie, the leak was a result of human error.
“Because the building is very old, we have to [perform] maintenance on it,” Lahaie sad. “We took an electrical cable out of the floor, which left a hole. The incident was a human error, not something that could have been prevented.”
Lahaie stated that the process of restoring the ceiling is still in progress.
“The leak was caused by water coming from the floor above,” Lahaie said. “Someone took a floor opening for a floor drain, thus leaking clean water on the ceiling below. The cleaning work and drying was completed some days ago. The missing ceiling tiles will be replaced shortly. Proper safety equipment is required to lift the personnel up the 30 feet to do the work.”
Professor Lara Braitstein, who teaches RELG 252, said the worst part of the experience was the risk that students would be harmed in the incident.
“The leak was a small leak at first, and it took ten minutes for the ceiling to collapse,” Braitstein said. “I first asked the students sitting there to move, but then it was clear that it was getting worse. I asked them to evacuate to the back, but they wanted to come to the front to take photos and videos. [The students] evacuated, and [the TAs and I] stayed behind to make sure the students were okay.”
Braitstein said she hopes that if this happens during other classes, professors will put their students’ safety first. She was also concerned by the lack of a prompt response from Building Services over the issue.
“After 10 to 15 minutes, Building Services still hadn’t come, and I had called Building Services right after I saw the ceiling start to leak,” Braitstein said.
Hannah McKillop, U3 Religious Studies, witnessed the collapse and was shocked by the situation but appreciated Braitstein’s concern for her students.
“The TA brought over a garbage bin to catch the water and then it began to pour,” McKillop said. “People were taking Snapchats, and we were so confused. Basically, it was just a little stream of water, then it was as if it was raining, it was unbelievable. Finally, [Professor Braitstein] suggested we leave, saying though this was pretty funny, it was also dangerous. Later she sent out an email with resources to mental health services on campus. I think she handled the situation beautifully.”
McKillop said that this incident is a reflection of McGill’s poor infrastructure and that McGill needs to improve the safety of its buildings.
“It's a shame that events like this are needed as a wake-up call, but I hope [that…] future improvements can be made,” McKillop said. “A healthy learning environment requires many things, and one of those is safe and secure buildings.”