Students left uneasy after carbon monoxide evacuation

Residents at 206 Walnut still anxious after carbon monoxide alarm

Some students report feeling unwell after the incident, citing anxiety and schedule disruption
Published: November 7, 2022
The front door numbers outside of 206 Walnut Street on November 3rd, 2022.
Former sorority house 206 Walnut now serves as on-campus housing for several sophomores, a last minute addition after over-enrolling the class of 2026

It’s been almost a month since residents of 206 Walnut Place were evacuated in the middle of the night, due to a carbon monoxide alarm going off in the building. The alarms were heard on the first and third floor, with many residents on the second floor being awoken by Department of Public Safety officials and other residents. In a statement from Sarah Scarlese, Senior Associate Vice President for Communications, she said the cause of the alarms was due to a malfunctioning hot water heater– it has since been replaced and the University has “confirmed the quality of the air and the efficacy of the carbon monoxide monitors.” The statement also issued an apology towards the students affected and any possible disturbance this may have caused.

For many of these students, there seems to still be a lingering feeling of uneasiness and disappointment with the reaction, and lack thereof, from the University. This sense of uneasiness was particularly present after many students began experiencing symptoms of illness after exiting the building. When sophomore Katherine Keane, a resident of 206 Walnut Place woke up to the carbon monoxide alarm in the early hours of the morning, her body felt “off.”

“I had a really awful headache. It was to the point where I was asking my roommate to feel my head because I just felt like I had a really bad fever,” said Keane.

Syracuse student Katherine Keane stands outside of 206 Walnut Street in Syracuse, NY on November 3rd, 2022.
Katherine Keane stands outside 206 Walnut

Keane says she and the other students were then instructed, later on that day, to go to the Barnes Center at The Arch if they were still not feeling well, and needed medical assistance.

Sam Sambucci, another sophomore living in the building, says that after not feeling well himself, he planned on going to the Barnes Center for medical assistance. Yet, it wasn’t until he was on his way to receive this promised assistance that he realized there was no help to begin with.

“As I was walking to Barnes that day, I ended up getting a phone call saying that they can’t accommodate for that, and that we need to go to the hospital,” Sambucci said. Having received an email from the school just around five hours prior, promising medical care, Sambucci says he was disappointed.

Many other students, such as Keane, decided against going to the Barnes Center at all, feeling unsupported by the school, and going straight to the nearby emergency room. Keane says that, after hearing from her friends about the lack of help from Barnes, she felt as though she needed to do her own thing in order to ensure her health.

“I mean throughout this whole situation, like thing has been I need to do my own thing,” said Keane, “The school isn’t gonna provide the resources that I need.”

A Carbon Monoxide detector at 206 Walnut in Syracuse, NY on November 3rd, 2022.
A carbon monoxide detector in 206 Walnut

After making the next decision to go to the hospital, Sambucci and Keane said they both received oxygen, while Keane received a blood test to examine her CO levels, and were deemed healthy and safe to return to their lives on campus.

Three weeks later, while the two residents both feel okay in terms of their overall health, one feeling that has stuck with them is a disappointment in the school’s lack of support throughout the whole process. For Keane, having received no support from the school throughout this process, yet expected to maintain her grades and good attendance in classes, it has had a mental toll that she didn’t expect.

“This is an added inconvenience on an already busy schedule that I am trying to manage as a college student, and they could just try and help,” said Keane.