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Fire code breach to cause Odum Village closure

The residence hall will be closing at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Rick Bradley, associate director of housing and residential education, said Odum Village has been expected to close down for quite some time.

“Odum Village has had a number of dates that have been given over time as it relates to residential facilities having sprinkler systems installed,” Bradley said.

It is a requirement for all residence halls to have fire sprinklers. David Guynn, fire safety and emergency response manager of the Department of Environment, Health and Safety, said when Odum Village was built, fire sprinklers were not a part of the fire safety code.

“There was a shift in building construction that occurred throughout the second half of the 20th century where sprinklers became much more common, much more cost effective, and then, at some point, they were integrated into the code,” Guynn said.

Bradley said Odum Village was exempted from the sprinkler rule because the housing department was in the process of constructing a new project that would replace Odum Village.

“When the cost of the building escalated to a point that we could no longer afford that construction, then we were not granted anymore abilities to expand occupancy in Odum,” Bradley said.

Guynn said fire sprinklers are effective in maintaining fire safety for residence halls.

“It has pretty much a fuse and that fuse is heat-sensitive. So when that sprinkler is exposed to heat at a certain temperature depending on the sprinkler it will open and then spray water in the affected area,” Guynn said.

Bradley said 450 students currently live in Odum Village. He said the housing department is working to ensure these students will have their first choice in where they want to live on-campus for the 2016-17 school year, but it is difficult to gauge the retention of students that will remain on campus.

“Research shows it’s unlikely that people who live in an apartment style would move back to hall style,” Bradley said.

Cassidy Beegle, a sophomore and resident in Odum Village, said she and her fellow residents are receiving a lot of help finding new living situations for next year.

“The campus housing at UNC has been really great at giving information and, like, options for people to move in next year,” Beegle said. “They’re offering first dibs for Odum people to live in, like, Morrison super suites and all that fun stuff.”

Even with the help from the housing department, Beegle said most students she has spoken to plan on moving off-campus.

“I think that Odum has had its fair share of time here, and it’s getting a little run down, and I think it’s served its purpose pretty well, but it’s time for it to go.”

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