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Panic sprinkles over UMBC as RAC closes due to water damage

An email was sent out on Oct. 2, informing students and faculty of a pipe that had burst in the Retriever Activities Center, a facility many UMBC students spend time in when not in class or studying. “Areas of the facility impacted by the water damage include the arena floor and track, fitness studio and cardio balcony, weight rooms and auxiliary courts,” says Michael Pound, the Director of Environmental Safety & Health at UMBC.

At approximately 9 a.m., the burst set off fire alarms in other campus buildings including Patapsco Hall, the library and the University Center. Due to the pipe burst, the RAC shut down until the issue could be resolved. The RAC was closed from Oct. 2 to Oct. 3. On Oct. 4 the building reopened at 7 a.m. with the weight room, arena court and fitness studio remaining closed.

This was not a new occurrence, considering that there was a pipe burst last winter in the Patapsco Hall basement. There was also a water main break in the Retriever Learning Center on the same date in 2016, which forced an evacuation of the library.

However, many of the university’s recreational activities are held in the RAC. Some of these include taekwondo, intramural basketball, physical education classes, yoga and aquatics. Students often use the RAC as a gym to work out in during their spare time, and student employees work at the desks of the RAC throughout the week. “I try to go to the gym a couple of times a week. It’s a good stress reliever for me,” says Kerrey O’Neill, a biology major. “I definitely feel incomplete if I don’t get a workout in.”

“I’m not particularly surprised that [the pipe burst] happened. The pipe has been an issue for a while now,” says Holly Mann, an information systems major and a director of the taekwondo club at UMBC. “The email updates and the university’s spatial accommodation have been extremely helpful to me as an individual and club sport representative.”

Currently, maintenance and UMBC administration are working to fix the pipe and get the RAC back to functioning as normal. In the meantime, students have been jogging or walking around campus as an alternative to get their daily exercise.