For almost three weeks, students living in Drackett Tower on North campus have had five working water fountains. Credit: Kaylin Hynes | Lantern Reporter

Students living in the Drackett Tower residence hall have had to go beyond their front door for drinking water since the start of the school year as the university examines a health concern with one of its students.

Drackett Tower residents have not had functioning water fountains, except for three on the first floor and two on the basement-level floor, after the university became aware that a student in the residence hall had contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

The student is currently being treated with antibiotics and is expected to make a full recovery, Dave Isaacs, an Ohio State spokesman, said in an email.

“Within days of the line being fixed, the university received notification from a parent that a student in the hall had been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. There is no evidence that this student contracted Legionnaires’ disease from exposure in Drackett Tower. No other cases have been reported. There is evidence to suggest that the student may have contracted it elsewhere,” Isaacs said.

According to residents, they have not received any emails from their resident advisors, hall directors or Ohio State representatives explaining that their water would be turned off or the reasoning behind it.

Cam Vaughn, a first-year in biomedical engineering who lives in Drackett Tower, said students have not been given any explanation of the situation.

“They’ve been very hush about it,” Vaughn said. “We’ve seen workers around and most of the information we do get is from the workers in the building.”

The residence hall turned off the water lines out of caution, Isaacs said. He said the university will keep the water lines shut off until tests on the water are finished by the Columbus Public Health Department.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria known as Legionella that becomes a public-health issue when introduced into large, human-made water systems, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Fountains were turned off Aug. 27 after a water line had collapsed and affected the riser, which connects the water fountains from floor to floor. The issue was fixed shortly thereafter, Isaacs said.

“The water fountain was the only public on-campus water source the student indicated had been used. Out of an abundance of caution, the university worked with Columbus Public Health and experts at the Wexner Medical Center to once again isolate the riser until testing could be completed,” Isaacs said.

While showers and sinks are still functioning in the residence hall, there is no flow of water coming out of the fountains, leaving students out of luck if they rely on them for drinking water.

Vaughn said traveling nine floors to the only fountains that occasionally work has been an added hassle as he continues his first semester at Ohio State.

“It limits the water I consume per day. I have to, as lazy as this sounds, have to travel nine floors to get water whenever I want,” Vaughn said. “It’s a little frustrating considering how much I pay to live here”

Vaughn is not alone in his frustration. Abby Jans, a first-year in pre-nursing, has been relying on her Brita filter between her and her four roommates, avoiding the 11-story journey to the only working water fountain.

“I think it’s kind of disappointing because like, you know we pay to live in the residence halls and we’re not being supplied with one of our basic human needs,” Jans said.

Other students have found different ways to get water while the fountains are broken, including traveling to other dorms.

Ben Beachy, a first-year in linguistics, travels from his room in Drackett to Norton House, where his friends let him in to get drinking water.

“That’s kind of annoying just to drink water you have to go over to Norton,” Beachy said.

Although the students have had to deal with the inconvenience since shortly after move-in, some have made the best of the situation, including making “memes” for the elevator,Jans said.

“People have been posting pictures up in the elevator of memes and like water deprived signs about it, how they are frustrated that we don’t have water,” Jans said.

While some students have tried to remain positive, that might change because there is no set date for when the water will return.

“We’re still in the stage of joking about it, making light of it but I do feel as if people are starting to get frustrated especially with the one day having water and then not,” Vaughn said. “I think their frustration is starting to settle in but we’re still in the joking phase of it.”