The smell & the fury


Malodorous misfortune in Gorman

Over the past two weeks, something has been amiss in Gorman Lecture Center. Prominently situated in the center of campus with easy access from the mall, Gorman is one of the only buildings on campus that isn’t typically associated with any particular major. Many  physics, English, economics, politics and theology courses have been taught within its brown brick walls. Recently, this diverse collection of courses has led to a diverse grouping of people brought together by one common enemy: a suspicious smell lingering throughout the building. 

The smell was so overwhelming that several classes moved outside to engage in discussion undisturbed. Those who couldn’t go outside had to endure bravely. The fortunate students who did not have a class in Gorman supported their unfortunate friends by offering rousing speeches to encourage them back into the fray. Responding to a fellow student who mentioned the ripe scent, senior psychology major Anna Christianson commented, “That sucks!” 

Those responsible for solving the problem in Gorman tried their very best to locate the source of the smell, without immediate success . After an email stating that the stench had been removed was followed by another class day of rancid wafts, Assistant to the Provost Dr. John Norris wrote an email on Feb. 16 in which he admitted the problem would need further work before being solved. “Apparently,” said  Norris, “I will be eating a large serving of crow pie.” 

While Norris and the facilities department worked swiftly to diagnose the issue, students and professors continued to wrinkle their noses upon entrance into Gorman. Some, like senior history major Joseph Farley, had strong takes on the scent. “I didn’t notice it until about a week ago, and then I just remember, I went into astronomy that day, and I was just like, ‘oh my gosh, what’s that god awful stench?’” he said. 

Others, like senior politics major Gabriella Capizzi, had more uplifting outlooks on the problem. Capizzi admitted that while the smell was initially offensive, her senses eventually adjusted themselves to their new environment.

“I have three classes in Gorman on MWF and would walk in and immediately notice the smell. It was pretty rancid,” said Capizzi. “But the worst part was realizing that by the end of my third class I had grown accustomed to it. Leaving Gorman and taking a breath of fresh air after my third class made me forget all of my worries in life. The world was new and beautiful. The birds sang. The sun shone. Angelic voices rang in my ears. I actually think I began to levitate. Free. Free at last.”

Dr. Richard Olenick, interim chair of the physics department, had a less transcendent experience with the stink. “The odor in GLB was horrible last Friday for students taking an exam,” he said. “However, by the second test section I hardly noticed the offensive odor. Other than that one malodorous experience, I have nothing to report.” 

After diligently working to find a solution, HES staff resolved the issue.  Norris explained the process of recognizing the problem, searching for the source, and remedying it: “The original report from faculty was that there was a smell of a dead animal in Gorman. HES staff were able to smell the odor reported, but were unable to find a dead animal. The smell tended to come and go, some days being very strong, sometimes going away.” 

HES discovered that the culprit was a dried out P-trap — a type of pipe used for preventing unpleasant sewer gasses from rising out of a sink — which is a common source for this type of odor. “They fixed that P-trap, and we thought the problem was resolved, but it turned out that at least one more P-trap was not functioning, and they have fixed that. We believe that has completely resolved the odor issue,”Norris said.  

The rest of the students and professors populating Gorman seem to agree with Norris — the problem of the smell has been resolved, and classes may henceforth continue uninterrupted.


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