Trouble at Mills

The MacDougall, March 8, 1995 Issue 18

by Howard Fienberg

On the evening of December 9, residents of Tay Mills and their friends broke into festive celebration of the close of term. For the international students in Dundee for only one term, it was the last bash of their stay. A relatively open door and prodigious word of mouth turned an ordinary party into an eclectic mix, crossing national and social boundaries. However, since it was in Tay Mills, they should have expected trouble from the get-go.

Shortly past 11, the party goers were ushered out of Block A into the cold by annoyed firemen. Perturbed first by the lack of attention showed to the alarm, and then by the snail's pace of the exodus, the fire chief offered a stern lecture on safety.

Yet neither the alarm, nor the resident's reaction, was novel. Tay Mills has heard its fire alarms rung and fire engines have paid visits dozens of times in the term. Only once or twice was anything burning, and then it was toast. The system is fickle, activating for any reason from steam from the shower, to no reason at all. Fast asleep on the night of November 10, Lisbeth Loos found that her alarm had been triggered by absolutely nothing. That particular ghost saw Block A stand outside in the cold and rain for nearly an hour in the middle of the night. ``Don't sneeze, fart, or use foul language in Tay Mills or you will set off the fire alarm,'' sputtered Mike Vahl, one of the party's hosts.

The janitor of Tay Mills is the focus of much student anguish. Several times, the fire alarm has gone off, the firemen have arrived, and he has been nowhere to be found. Disappearing on several weekends, he has left no one the crucial key to disable the alarms. Thus residents have endured hours-long alarms until the police arrived to shut them off.

As the janitor arrived on the scene of the party, he commenced a shouting match with Pierre, another host of the party. The janitor stormed off the scene, muttering expletives, as people re-entered the building.

The party having been re-established, it continued until shortly past 2, when the hosts again found themselves the object of scolding, this time from Tayside police. Offering charges varying from disturbing the peace to intentionally triggering the fire alarm, they promptly disbanded the party. The janitor was on hand again, obviously upset, but more reserved.

Breaking up the party saw several strands take up smaller celebrations elsewhere in the building, and many people poured into the street. There they caused more disturbance for a greater number of people.

The celebration, though considered a monstrous success, highlights many of the problems faced by residents in Dundee's Tay Mill's Flats.

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