Student’s dorm hot tub lands him in hot water

Kevin Lenahan, a senior studying mathematics, sociology and history, checked Residential Housing’s rules before moving in his about 1,800-pound, 200-gallon Aero Spa inflatable hot tub. Residential Housing, however, says the hot tub’s water and heat violate several rules, giving Lenahan until noon to remove the tub. (Brien Vincent | Staff Photographer)

After a month of relaxing in 100-degree-plus water whenever he wanted, one Ohio University student’s dream of a hot tub in his dorm room will soon be dammed.

Residential Housing told Kevin Lenahan, a senior studying mathematics, sociology and history, that his about 1,800-pound, 200-gallon Aero Spa inflatable hot tub must be removed from his James Hall room by noon.

The hot tub is typically kept at 103-104 degrees, has more than 130 jets and has had as many as eight people inside at one time, Lenahan said.

Lenahan said he did his homework before installing the hot tub at the end of January and that it is not in violation of Residential Housing’s rules.

“I didn’t just do this overnight; I did my research. I looked over the housing code, and it wasn’t in violation of health or safety (procedures), in my opinion,” Lenahan said. “Once I did my research, I knew it was going to work.”

Lenahan’s roommate Kyle Crawford, a sophomore studying restaurants, hotels and tourism, said they used 27-gallon containers to fill the hot tub with water from the janitor’s closet.

Though Residential Housing regulations do not explicitly forbid a hot tub in dorm rooms, the water and heat violate several rules, said Judy Piercy, associate director for residential education.

“It doesn’t violate a particular rule; we don’t have a rule that says, ‘No hot tubs,’ ” Piercy said. “But the auxiliary heater and that volume of water is not allowed in rooms, and anything that contributes to an excess of humidity is not allowed.”

Despite the violations of multiple rules, Lenahan and Crawford would be punished only if they do not comply in removing the hot tub, said Christine Sheets, executive director of Residential Housing.

Piercy said she was first told about the hot tub on Monday and met with Lenahan on Tuesday.

“I came (into the meeting) with the mentality to work with (Piercy), and she had the facade of showing similar interests,” Lenahan said. “(But) she stood by her initial decision that it was a risk to others.”

Sheets said that, when in doubt, students should check with administrators about the feasibility of unconventional additions to residence-hall rooms before making an investment.

“We looked at this from a reasonable expectation of what would be acceptable in a residence-hall room and from a health and safety perspective,” Sheets said.

Lenahan said he will empty the hot tub by noon but will continue to defend his dorm-room dream by appealing to Dianne Bouvier, the university ombudsman.

The water will most likely be siphoned or pumped out the window of Lenahan and Crawford’s second-floor room and onto West Green.


think about this seriously

As a former member of Reslife, I can see how many people might think that the department just makes up rules as they go along. I can tell you that that isn't true (or at least wasn't when I was in the department several years ago). I was an RA during the time when the department transitioned to the mandatory probation for first violations, and then when they went to the letter-home-and-fine model, and THAT was a time of serious upheaval. But I digress. You all are looking at this from the the standpoint that Reslife was always going to be wrong, the same way many people look at the police/government. But try looking at it from these angles:


1) this guy lives on the second floor; that means there are rooms and/or offices/lounges below him. What if this hot tub sprung a leak or got punctured? I bet you  wouldn't be all "Reslife is lame for making him get rid of the hot tub" if it was YOUR flat panel tv, xbox/wii, computer, clothes and futon that got destroyed in the subsequent water damage. You'd be angry that no one made him get rid of it before something like that happened. For example: I was in the department when someone's [illegal] reptile enclosure started a fire in Bromley, which caused the sprinklers to turn on on several floors of rooms. There was THOUSANDS of dollars in damaged/destroyed property , all because ONE person thought the rules didn't apply to them and/or because the rules didn't "explicitly state" that such things were not allowed. Think on that a bit, please, before you start calling the Reslife department rules arbitrary, or saying they make things up as they go along.

2) I have lived in rooms that got so humid just from normal conditions, that water started condensing on the ceiling and walls, and started dripping. It was gross, and stained bed-linens and clothes. It looked like pee and smelled worse. I'm sure that a 103 degree hot tub would only make matters worse in a building that already had that issue, or it could possibly CREATE that issue where it didn't exist before. Again, you're all on his side now, but if it was your stuff being damaged, I doubt you would be this friendly. 

3) A lot of times, Reslife doesn't have a rule explicitly stating something because SURPRISE SURPRISE, they assume that everyone old enough and smart enough to get accepted into a selective-acceptance university would have enough common sense to read between the lines and figure out that certain things would probably not be acceptable. If they have a size/gallon limit on FISH TANKS, why would anyone assume that a hot tub would be okay? If it is explicitly stated that students are not allowed to have any heating elements more powerful than a coffee maker in their rooms, how would the heating necessary to get that much water to that high a temperature be allowed? 

4) Lastly, while this guy might be responsible and probably would do thinks like make sure there is good ventilation in the room, that the body is well maintained, etc...if they let HIM keep it, there is then no way for them to bar that space-cadet pothead up on the fourth floor from getting one, too, and THAT person might not be so responsible.


Long story short, please think before you malign the department. I'm sure this guy is cool as heck, and I for one would have LOVED such a thing in my room (it totally would have fit, I was an RA in the Convo and had a quad to myself). But in the end, it was the idea of all the things that *could* go wrong that made me decide against it. Believe it or not, there is a reason for all of the rules and banned items in the housing contract, even if you don't know it, or it happened so long ago that no one on campus remembers. 

That is great and all, but what about....?

If they have a size/gallon limit on FISH TANKS, why would anyone assume that a hot tub would be okay? If it is explicitly stated that students are not allowed to have any heating elements more powerful than a coffee maker in their rooms, how would the heating necessary to get that much water to that high a temperature be allowed?

·       Where is the size/gallon limit on FISH TANKS located in the handbook/ contract?

·       The hot tub heater runs on 900 watts and is registered under UL (underwriters laboratories).

·       The fourth floor yahoo argument still holds some water.

·       Also, are not the residents entitled to some say as to what they are paying for? I am aware of the fact that the University is quite keen on taking a textualist perspective when the constituents of the housing contract are in limbo; does that mean the students should take a similar perspective?  What is the likelihood of a hot tub puncturing?  I am sure some enterprising engineer thought to impliment some sort of puncture control beyond the durability of the material?  Right?

Fix the problem

It seems like reslife just makes up rules as they go or found a rule because they didn't like this. Anything and everything is considered a 'health and safety' concern. They want to build community and then do anything and everything to negate fun things that help do it. Make the kid remove the hot tub, and have a free pizza program that two people show up to. Really though it brings up a greater issue than just the hot tub.

With funding problems at the University, that department needs to massively re-evaluate how it tries to engage students and allocates money. Someone needs to step in and overhaul the bureaucratic nonsense that is protocol/procedure!! Try working with and developing residents rather than giving the facade that you are, then throwing the book at those who aren't goody two shoes.

I agree with this

I agree with this wholeheartedly. The entire programming model that Reslife uses is flawed. They put tons of pressure on RA's to come up with programs that inevitably no one attends. They make them focus on educational topics that somehow are supposed to foster community. What they dont understand however is that students are in class all day and the last thing they want to do is go down to the lobby and listen to a lecture about evils of Walmart. Come up with something fun and the residents would want to come down and hang out. I would suggest they invest in a hot tub, but I doubt Judy would go for that... :)

Here's one of the rules Judy didn't bring up.....

For all of you critical thinkers out there,

I recieved an email from Judy claiming that " Filling and draining the tub is challenging.  It also requires an abundance of water which the university should not have to pay for.  Residence hall water usage is based upon regular shower, consumption, and cleaning usage."  I did the math on this already.  Someone calculate how much 211 gallons of water costs; you might be surprised at what you find.

Typical Reslife Nonsense

As somebody who once had the displeasure to work for reslife, this is pretty standard operating procedure. Judy Piercy loves to talk out of both sides of her mouth. Who is this harming? If there isn't a rule against it specifially, then that's their problem. Making up rules as she goes along is a typical Piercy philosophy.


My freshman year, a bunch of friends and I bought a kiddie pool from Walmart, set it up in the mod bathroom and filled it with hot water and bubble bath. It was epic.

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