Utah Tech Jennings building water leak, upgrades only do so much

Outside of the Jennings Communication building on the east side of campus. The Jennings building has had many improvements done, especially after a heavy rainfall week. Mia Tom | Sun News Daily

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The Jennings Communicaton building was built in 1978 and is one of the oldest buildings left on campus.

Due to its aging infrastructure, the Jennings building undergoes constant repairs, ranging from sewage coming out of drains to office flooding.

Becky Moore, administrative assistant for the communications department, has worked in the Jennings building for two years. During that time, she experienced ceiling leaks, bathroom drains shooting up sewage, and the handicap push plate failing to work multiple times.

Last year, $162,261.70 was spent on building maintenance, repairs, utilities, insurance and facilities administration.

Last week, the heating and ventilation unit broke and caused a water line to burst in the Jennings building.

Tisa Zito, the film department’s digital film producer, has experienced firsthand damage due to this specific leak. Her office has flooded numerous times with the most recent being Labor Day weekend. 

During a rainstorm, a water main burst, and a considerable amount of water was dumped on her computer along with all of her personal belongings on her desk. She is now concerned about leaving hard drives or anything of value in her office.

“My lifetime of work here at the school is sitting in these filling cabinets,” Zito said. “Years of work could get damaged, and then they would all just be gone.”

Hyatt Iverson, a junior integrated studies major from St. George, has been working for IT Solutions for a year and a half. In that time, he has had to fix two separate pieces of technology due to water damage caused by the leak in the Jennings building.

Bart Peacock, director of facilities operations and energy, said much of the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems are original to the building and continue to age and break down as time goes on. 

“We have performed some upgrades and improvements but have lacked the funding for major upgrades and improvements,” Peacock said.

The challenges faced by the Jennings building have not gone unnoticed by the Utah Tech administration. In response to the repeated incidents of maintenance issues, facilities management answers work orders from staff and students in a timely manner and remains proactive in resolving issues with the building as they arise.

The General Classroom building just broke ground this year and is scheduled to be finished in fall 2025. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences will be moving from the Jennings building to the new building.

It is uncertain who will move into the Jennings building and if the building will be torn down or improved for future semesters.