Burst pipes and standing water can easily lead to students getting hurt. I saw the effects firsthand when my roof collapsed because of a burst pipe at the Retreat at Oxford on Feb. 16. Luckily, no one was injured, but the safety risk cannot be understated. If I had been in my room 60 seconds longer, then the roof would have collapsed on me, and I would be writing this from a hospital bed. Aside from structural damage, water leaks can also lead to short-circuiting electronics and even electrical fires. All this is to say that the safety of students is most definitely on the line.
Over the past week, we have seen several apartment buildings and campus buildings flooding as a result of pipes bursting due to the cold weather. If something is not done about this now, this will be a yearly problem that Oxford and the entire state will have to face from now on.
The university has an obligation to do all it can to protect its students both on and off campus, and the fact that this is happening primarily to apartments occupied by students should be concerning. The solution, though, is quite simple. The university should support a new building code in the City of Oxford to protect students from the increasing likelihood of cold snaps every winter. Any new housing development seeking to market itself to students should have to adopt this building code, which would ensure that building materials would be more likely to withstand cold temperatures. Hopefully, by doing this new housing developments will not flood as frequently from cold temperatures and burst pipes.
I understand this is an unprecedented situation. Not only have we just experienced the largest snowstorm on record in the state, but we are also in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have lived in Mississippi for my whole life. Every year, the winters get colder, and it snows a little bit more. That means the only thing worse than the Great Oxford Snowstorm of 2021 will be the Great Oxford Snowstorm of 2022. If something isn’t done about this now, then more pipes will burst in the coming years as the state is forced to grapple with a natural disaster that it simply does not have the infrastructure to adequately handle.
Varad Mahajan is a junior from Brandon majoring in public policy leadership and entrepreneurship.