Roof Climbers Cost Reed $10,000
In 1895 Cambridge student Geoffrey Winthrop Young published The Roof Climber’s Guide to Trinity, inadvertently inventing the sport of stegophily. Unknowingly following in his footsteps, students have been climbing on the rooftops of Reed buildings for years. Recently, Community Safety reports of stegophily have increased and roof climbers have done thousands of dollars in damage. There were a total of 13 reports in the 2011-2012 academic year, but in the first quarter of this year 7 reports have already been filed.
Current damage to the roof of the Kaul Auditorium is estimated to cost $10,000 to repair. The roof tiles on Kaul and the Gray Campus Center are replaceable, but fragile, and the college relies on its own stockpile because they are no longer manufactured. Reed only has 150 tiles on hand, and current repairs will leave the school with an even shorter supply of replacements. Director of Community Safety Gary Granger says that Facilities Services has requested that Community Safety “take the matter more seriously because of the on-going damage to the unique and no-longer-manufactured tiles on the Kaul Auditorium.” Climbing on Kaul hastens the arrival of the day when the entire roof will have to be replaced. According to Granger, the $150,000 replacement cost “is about what it would cost to give five Reed students the average financial aid award for a year.”
A roof-climber who prefers not to be named says that she saw little harm in people climbing on the roofs “as long as you’re being careful and not under the influence.” She says of climbing on the GCC roof a few weeks ago, “It was exhilarating,” adding, “there was a great view of the Portland skyline.” While she was not under the influence at the time, inebri- ated students have been know to climb roofs. One student who requested anonymity says, “I was coming back from a party very drunk, and there was a ladder. I climbed it, and then I was on the roof. I don’t remember much else.”
As for whether the costs of stegophily are enough of a reason not to climb roofs, students’ opinions vary. “We, as members of the reed community have the right to climb the buildings that make up our school,” says a student who requested anonymity. Maggie Perlman ’15 disagrees. “Reed needs to last, and we need to let other people get out of it what we get out of it,” she says. Yeadon says, “There is no way to access any of these buildings without causing some kind of damage to the structures whether it be gutters, downspouts, rooftop equipment or roofing materials.”
The staff and the contractors that work on Reed campus follow strict protocol for accessing roofs to do mandatory maintenance. Reed students lack the proper equipment and training, and this puts them at risk of incurring severe injuries. Some roofs are more dangerous than others. According to Yeadon, not only are ODB’s copper-plated terracotta tiles “nearly irreplaceable,” but so steep that Facilities Services calls in professionals, rather than Reed staff, to work on the roof. Yeadon says, “I shudder at the thought of anyone accessing that roof or any other roof on campus.” Granger says that there were multiple climbing injuries last year, including one hospital trip that ended in stitches because of a cut from a rain gutter.