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Holder and Henry sewage problems caused by tennis balls, ping pong balls, and beer cans

A brightly-lit laundry room with stacked units and a yellow caution sign.
A laundry room in Henry Hall was closed due to the plumbing issues.
Isa Yip / Daily Princetonian

Tennis balls, ping-pong balls, and beer cans found lodged in plumbing systems contributed to a backup in Holder and Henry Halls earlier this week, causing a lingering sewage smell, according to residents. 

In a statement sent to The Daily Princetonian, University spokesperson Ahmad Rizvi attributed the issue at both locations to “improper disposal of trash into toilets,” identifying “solid disposable matter” as the primary cause.


Flooding resulting from the clogs destroyed a rug in a resident’s private bathroom and a drain cap, which will need to be replaced according to Rizvi. Damages were contained to bathrooms, adjacent residential rooms, and one adjacent laundry room in Holder Hall.

Facilities Operations, Building Services, and Housing spoke with the student whose rug was destroyed on Oct. 30 to “provide updates and contact information.” Rizvi explained that “Housing was following up to assess whether relocation was needed and to provide information for the replacement of damaged belongings.”

Facilities Operations, Building Services, Housing, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and a third-party cleaning vendor, Servpro, were all involved in the cleaning and treatment of the problem. Rizvi confirmed that repairs are ongoing in both locations.

On Oct. 30, residents of Henry Hall received an email that the laundry room would be closed for the day due to “a Facilities issue” but was anticipated to reopen the following day. 

Campbell Schouten ’24 is a resident of Henry Hall. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ she wrote, “My living experience has truthfully not been affected by this issue.” Schouten explained that “University Facilities has been quite careful not to make students feel like our living situation and daily routine have been disrupted.”

Schouten noted being minimally affected by the plumbing issue, “except for maybe waiting an extra day to do laundry.” However, other residents reported being disrupted by the smell. One student was heard saying, “Why does it smell like shit in here?” as she entered Henry Hall this past weekend.


Schouten also noted “living in Princeton’s historic buildings is surely bound to cause some wear and tear.” 

University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 disclosed plans to update residential colleges that “are no longer programmatically up to standards” at a Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) meeting this September. Holder and Henry hall were first occupied in the 1910s and 1920s, respectively.

Rizvi shared that “planning is currently underway to replace the aged piping in both locations.”

Tess Weinreich is an associate News editor at the ‘Prince.’

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Victoria Davies is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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