Nikkie Sardelli ’14 was minding her own business while returning to her room on the second floor of McKean Hall around 2:15 a.m. Sunday. She did not expect to step out of the elevator and find her entire floor covered in smoke with fire alarms blaring.
The Resident Assistants quickly helped everyone leave the building in an orderly fashion. Sardelli stated, “I felt safer with the RAs there. They answered all our questions and did not withhold anything.”
The helpful RAs were one of the few benefits of being evacuated from your residence hall room for three hours in the middle of the night.
The fire department responded immediately to the threat and spent most of the early morning searching every room for evidence. Around 5:30 a.m., the residents of McKean were finally allowed back into their rooms after stating their names and showing their RCards at the door.
On Monday, the Rollins College Campus Security Department confirmed the case of arson in McKean Hall, stating that Campus Security found the ashes and remnants of a burnt poster on the floor. The State Fire Marshal determined that this was a case of arson. The last case of reported arson at Rollins occurred in 2008, making it a relatively rare crime on campus.
In the words of Ken Miller, Director of Campus Security, “Students need to understand that they live in a communal environment, which is very different than what they have experienced at home. When a student or guest lights a fire inside one of our buildings, it puts everyone living there at risk, not just from the fire, but from potential injuries as the evacuation takes place, and from the feeling that their new ‘home’ is not safe.”
The students of McKean feel that the evacuation went well, but definitely do not want it to happen again.
A student who chose to remain nameless stated, “If someone feels the need to light something on fire, go somewhere else. I do not need to be up all night just because some idiot decided to light a poster on fire.”
Students should always be aware of your surroundings and take responsibility for those around them. In the words of Campus Security Operations Coordinator Fernando Rodriguez, “By taking action, you might be saving lives.”
If you ever see a person violating fire safety codes, or if anyone has information pertaining to who was responsible for this incident, report that to a Residential Life staff member, Campus Security (by telephone at 407-646-2999 or e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Winter Park Police Department (407-644-1313).