QU evacuates building over construction-related gas smell

Cat Murphy, Associate News Editor

A gasoline odor caused by ongoing South Quad construction prompted university officials to briefly evacuate one of the College of Arts and Sciences buildings Monday morning.

Students and faculty evacuated the CAS 1 building at approximately 11:35 a.m. on Monday several minutes after noticing a prominent gasoline smell.

Although it is unclear who initiated the formal evacuation, Adam Roth, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, helped facilitate the process. John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, declined to make Roth available for comment.

Two Facilities Department staff members arrived just after 11:40 a.m. to investigate the odor. The smell did not appear to affect either the CAS 2 or CAS 3 buildings, which are not connected to the CAS 1 building and are located slightly farther from the South Quad construction site.

Morgan wrote in a statement to the Chronicle that the gasoline odor “was the result of the construction work being done in that part of campus.”

It remains unclear why the construction caused the odor.

Students gathered in front of the entrances to Quinnipiac University’s College of Arts and Sciences buildings just before noon Monday amid a construction-related evacuation. (Cat Murphy)

University officials reopened the CAS 1 building to students and faculty just before noon after deeming the building safe within 25 minutes of the initial evacuation.

“Everyone has been allowed back into the building,” Morgan wrote in an email to the Chronicle just before 1 p.m. Monday. “Facilities checked the area and determined the odor did not pose a safety threat.”

Students scheduled to be in class in CAS 1 between 11 a.m. and 11:50 a.m. were dismissed for the remainder of the class period.

Grace Marcellino, a first-year psychology major, said she was in an advising meeting when she noticed the gasoline odor.

“We were just sitting in there, and it started smelling like gas,” Marcellino said. “I didn’t get asked to leave, but we made the decision to leave because it smelled so bad.”

Marcellino, who said she remained in the building for “quite a few minutes” after noticing the odor, voiced concerns about the seeming lack of urgency and organization associated with the evacuation.

“Nobody really said anything or did anything,” Marcellino said. “It makes me a little concerned for our safety.”

Students with classes beginning at noon began gathering outside the CAS 1 entrances around 11:45 a.m. as they waited for word on the safety of the building. However, several students who were unaware of the unfolding situation walked into the evacuated building before university officials promptly asked them to leave.

“I tried to walk in the building and they’re like, ‘you can’t go inside,’” said Josh Daniels, a first-year applied business major. “I smelled the gas, so I assumed it was something to do with that.”

Sasha Gluzberg, a junior public relations major, said she entered the building because it was not clear that it had been evacuated.

We’re all just trying to do our thing, and the construction sort of halts that.

— Sasha Gluzberg, junior public relations major

“I just walked in there,” Gluzberg said. “A woman came up to me and said, ‘you can’t go in there.’”

Gluzberg also recalled the anxiety she felt when she found out the building had been evacuated.

“(The woman) goes, ‘Well, we evacuated the building,’” Gluzberg said. “At first, my heart dropped a little bit because I was a little bit scared, and I don’t know what that means.”

Daniels, who was scheduled to take an exam at noon, also expressed frustration with the inconvenience of the evacuation.

“I was just trying to get dialed for my math test,” Daniels said. “This really threw me off the game, but we’ll get back on it.”

Echoing Daniels’ irritation, Gluzberg added that she was not surprised to learn the gasoline odor had originated from the South Quad construction.

“I’m kind of confused and a little bit upset because it’s midterms week,” Gluzberg said. “We’re all just trying to do our thing, and the construction sort of halts that.”