This week, a broken tap in Balliol forced a staircase to evacuate, and concerns were subsequently raised regarding the College’s response to student welfare.
The leak, referred to as a “flood” in one TikTok video, began around midnight and continued on for several hours until the proper maintenance staff could arrive. A College porter was at the scene but was, as one student described, “helpful but out of his depth”. Eventually the fire department was called to turn off the water. As a result of the flooding, students slept in spare classrooms, grouped by household.
During the leak, as one student told Cherwell, “Students were using bins to bail water out of the window. We got soaked and cold due to the cold water. Thankfully other students were incredibly helpful, offering clothes and hot drinks”.
One of the students who assisted the affected staircase said, “They came out all wet and freezing and tired, there was no one there to help them, and it was down us to get them towels and a hot drink so they wouldn’t get ill.”
The next morning, students received an email from College stating: “We have discovered the flood was caused by student vandalism. I am sure you would like to join me in thanking all the staff who came in at a moments [sic] notice to fix a situation caused by such thoughtless behaviour.”
Students contest this, however, saying it was an accident and that College “appeared to want to blame us rather than help us.”
Other descriptions of the College response included “poor” and “threatening”.
Speaking to Cherwell, Balliol said: “We are still investigating the cause of the water leak. Students affected were given immediate support. Luckily nothing was damaged except some towels, which the College replaced.”