This is not the notice you would want to see on your door when returning home from the holidays. My neighbor, a fellow student, left KAUST for the holiday to spend quality time with his family and especially his wife, whom he was planning to bring back to KAUST for their home in another city.
Yesterday, while he was away, a water connection burst loose on the second floor of his apartment and flooded the entire house. Another neighbor noticed water pouring out from underneath the front door, and immediately called 911.
The water is off, and maintenance cleared the sludge out of the apartment, but damage was already done. This is one of the saddest of the pathetic housing stories so far. A man spends all month cleaning and preparing his home for his bride to come live with him, to have this happen. They will be relocated to another apartment, but relocation just means more maintenance problems, more insect infestations to deal with, and more uncertainty about basic comforts and safety.
Ironically, this happened the same day that our university president announced via email that KAUST's campus had recieved LEED Platinum certification, the highest environmental sustainability award achievable for new construction projects.
"LEED provides independent validation that our buildings were designed and constructed to the highest performance levels in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. "
Hopefully this award was not made prematurely.
So much effort has been expended on the awards, the recognition, and the public relations. Students and faculty are still waiting for our relief from unreliable and sometimes dangerous living conditions. My apartment is great - I have been lucky so far - but who knows, maybe tomorrow my pipes will burst too.
Things should get better for all of us when the inaugeration is finally finished. Maybe then we can concentrate on the basics. Maybe then students, faculty, and staff can find some kind of "normal" together at KAUST.
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