At the Students’ Association Senate meeting on Monday, Jan. 23, Dean Watts, Dean Runner, Neziah Osayi, and others in attendance weighed in on the question of whether or not the University of Rochester did their due diligence in informing students living in on-campus apartments of the risk that comes with not getting renters insurance.
This question has been raised after the floods in Brooks Crossing Apartments on the morning of Dec. 25, 2022, which caused thousands of dollars in damage for both the university and the students. Of those whose apartments experienced the most damage, one has moved to Innovation Square, and the other 18 have been placed in temporary rooms at the next door Staybridge Inn and Suites.
The University has claimed that they are not responsible for the damage and stated that they will not pay for the students’ personal damages, but the school will work with any student that was affected “whether or not they [were insured].” ResLife recommends that students living in University housing ensure that they are covered under their parents’ homeowners insurance or getting renters insurance. This reminder is also in the housing contracts all students living in on-campus apartments sign.
The reality is that floods like the one in Brooks Crossings are random accidents that occur once in a while, and many students were not prepared for an accident of this sort and thus uninsured. So while the University legally cannot be held responsible, do those affected feel as though they were adequately informed about renters insurance?
Kate Lentz and Sam Kriegsman, both seniors who live in Brooks Crossing and are currently displaced at Staybridge, were interviewed for the Campus Times about their experience since the flood.
Kriegsman was first informed of the flooding through the initial email to residents stating there was flooding damage on the evening of Dec. 25. She is facing anywhere between $500-1000 in estimated damages to her personal property, much of which could have been prevented.
“The movers put wet stuff in,” she said. “They just kind of piled it all in, basically. It was a little strange. So originally the plan was to leave it all there ‘cause you don’t need to unpack it all per se. But then we had to unpack it all to find mold.” The movers were hired by the University, so the facilities and ResLife volunteers were not responsible for the extra damage from putting wet items in the boxes of belongings. Both Kriegsman and Lentz mentioned that another student’s amps were ruined after wet boxes were set atop.
Thankfully, Kriegsman is covered under her parents’ homeowners insurance after she pays the deductible ($250 in her case, but that number changes based on insurance plans). She will receive compensation for the rest of her damages.
When asked if she thought she had been given sufficient warning by the University, Sam said “I think it could have been better, but also, I guess the warning is there. That’s not the big problem.” While the statement was mostly to cover the University legally if anything were to happen, she admitted that there wasn’t much else that they could have added to express the importance of renters insurance.
Lentz, who was impacted by the flood and did not have renters insurance. As for how much of her property was damaged, she doesn’t know yet.
“The movers brought in a ton of boxes with clothes and bathroom stuff, and then like some various knickknacks. And then one of the movers came in and said, ‘Oh yeah, some of your other stuff is in a mechanic’s storage area in Brooks,’” Lentz said. She hasn’t been able to access it since, and consequently does not know how much damage her belongings sustained. She is also responsible for her cat Bart, an emotional support animal, which further complicates her situation.
When asked if she believed the University provided enough warning about the importance of renters insurance, Lentz says no. “I’ve lived in a townhouse and whenever we applied to live there, it was right in the contract in our application, that we were going to have to buy renters insurance and it had to be worth however much money. And then when we were signing the lease, we already had to have renters insurance.” When she moved out of the townhouse and back into University housing, she ended her renters insurance because she thought she didn’t need it anymore. She is one of the many who missed that line in the housing contract and unfortunately fell victim to an event of chance.
Some people are using these events to argue that the University should provide renters insurance and allow students who are already covered under their parents’ plans or have their own to waive the insurance, similar to waiving the school’s health insurance. This would not be possible though, because no insurance company would cover a whole university, according to Dean Runner. The other option would be to incorporate more education about renters and homeowners insurance to students.
However, we are unlikely to see these results any time soon. At the Students’ Association Senate meeting on Jan. 23, Dean Runner and Dean Watts said that if the University were to implement an education system teaching students about the importance of renters insurance, that it would first have to be voted on by the Board of Trustees. If it were to pass, the training would be a part of all preliminary trainings that admitted students are required to take, such as the financial aid and alcohol awareness seminars.
Until then, there have not been any official decisions about changing the current renters insurance education or requirement at the University.