associate director of Campus Fire Safety, teaches housemates Sally Smyth '07 and Kara Brodgesell '07 how to plunge a toilet and shut
off a water valve at their student residence as part of the WesHome Program.
WesHome Program Teaches Students How to Live
Home sweet home. Or is it?
If a student’s residence is too hot, has a broken toilet, a burned-out
entrance light, sticky windows or drafty doors, his or her home may not be
more sour than sweet.
WesHome, a new program spearheaded by Physical Plant and the Campus Fire
Safety Office, teaches students how to use, maintain and be safe in their
Wesleyan currently has 143 wood-framed homes, which house more than 554
students. Already, about 40 Wesleyan staff members have “adopted” their own
“At Wesleyan we teach students all kinds of things, but we haven’t educated
them how to live in their homes,” says Barbara Spalding, associate director
of Campus Fire Safety.
On Sept. 29, Spalding visited the six students living in the 88 Home Ave.
house. She brought along a pizza, soda, cookies and a plunger.
“Does everyone know how to use this thing,” she asks, smiling.
a brief introduction, Spalding gathers with the students in their living
room. She asks if the students are having any problems with their home, and
takes note of their concerns. Any immediate problems are reported to
Spalding then goes down a checklist, making sure their keys, doors, lights,
windows, appliances, exhaust fans and heating system work. She explains
where they are able to park, where their fire extinguishers are, when trash
and recyclables are collected, how to close a storm window, how to hang a
shower curtain inside the bathtub and how to control their thermostat.
She talks about prohibited items and behaviors such as using candles,
burning incense, the use of electric heaters and halogen floor lamps, or
placing furniture too close to the heaters.
Basements and attics are locked and Spaulding reminds students that
unauthorized access to these areas will lead to a $500 fine.
Heating issues alone are worthy of an extensive talk. Spalding estimates
that half of the students living in Wesleyan’s wood-framed homes have no
idea where their home’s thermostat is located.
“Before you call Physical Plant and say your home is too hot or too cold,
make sure your thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature that everyone
in your home can agree on,” Spalding says. “Fixing the heat is not usually a
housing problem, it’s a behavior problem.”
Spalding proceeds with a home tour, showing the residents their boiler,
electric box and fire alarm panel in the basement. She teaches the residents
how to plunge a toilet and shut off a water valve.
Residents also receive an Emergency Planning Notebook, which contains a
photo of the home, exit plans, emergency phone numbers, links to personal
safety Web sites, Emergency Blue Light locations, fire alarm and sprinkler
information, trash and recycling information, energy saving tips, cable
modem information and a family-contact emergency form for each of the home’s
Meredith Katz, an 88 Home Avenue resident, says she enjoyed learning how her
home away from home works.
“Our home-mom, Barbara, taught us everything we need to know about
maintaining a happy household,” she says. “Now we know how to respect and
preserve our beautiful home.”
The WesHome program is seeking staff and faculty volunteers to adopt a home.
For more information, contact Barbara Spalding at 860-685-3780.
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection