On March 19, Ganędagǫ: Hall residents, including Mika Finkman ’25, were forced out of their beds in their pajamas when the fire alarm was triggered at 4:42 a.m. When her friend noticed water pouring out of the trash room, Finkman knew something was amiss.
“We smelled something burning from inside the trash room and decided to hop across the pool of water,” Finkman said.
The fire triggered the building’s sprinkler system, causing water damage to nearby dorm rooms.
“It was the most concerned I have been during a fire alarm because after seeing the pool of water, I quickly realized there was an actual fire,” Finkman said. “My friends also were concerned about our Residential Advisor, whose room was right next to the fire and was now getting flooded by the sprinklers.”
The Cornell University Police Department classified Saturday’s fire as a case of arson, which followed a series of three other arson cases that occurred in December.
Following this incident, Area Coordinator Amadou Fofana sent out an email to the Ganędagǫ: Hall residences later that day to address the situation and keep the community informed.
According to Fofana, several measures have been taken to prevent further fire-related incidents from occurring. Microwaves have been removed from all residence floor kitchens and stovetops were shut off in these kitchens.
The trash and recycling rooms in Ganędagǫ: Hall have been closed as a result of the incident to allow for further investigation and repairs, according to Fofana’s email.
Jack Letendre ’25 believes that the campus and student body need to do their part in calling out activity that seems suspicious. He also suggested offering incentives to students to hold each other to a higher standard.
James Kelly ’25 commented that he thought students might be willing to sacrifice certain privacies in exchange for a peace of mind.
“I feel like people don’t mind if there is a camera in the elevator or the hallway,” Kelly said.
An investigation of the fires by the CUPD is ongoing, and a March 25 email to students from Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student & campus life, and Joanne DeStefano, executive vice president and chief financial officer, noted that there would be CUPD presence within Ganędagǫ: Hall and that consequences for guilty parties include possible expulsion and criminal charges.
Sophia Emerson ’25, who is a resident of the floor where the fire took place, is one of the many students angered by the sequence of alarms that has taken place this school year.
“It was a massive inconvenience to have to go outside twice in one night for fire alarms last semester,” Emerson said.
Many residents, like Hannah Irvine ’25 are frustrated by these alarms. Irvine said that she was awake until 6 a.m. as a result of the fire. She expressed an increase in stress that she attributes to the fire alarm incidents.
“It affects my ability to be in my dorm stress-free and sleep because I’m always afraid I’m going to be woken up to that voice,” Irvine said, referring to the alarm system in Ganędagǫ: Hall, which repeats directions for evacuation to residents in a human-like voice when the fire alarm is triggered.
Similarly, Kelly noted the inconvenience of these alarms for his sleep schedule.
“It’s very annoying because they [often] happen the night before prelims and finals. It disrupts sleep,” Kelly said.
He expressed further concern that the frequency of fire alarms will result in students not taking alarms seriously.
“If it keeps happening, people aren’t going to leave [the building],” Kelly said.