The Rector Fire Response

By Joel Hruska

Date: May 8, 2002


Note:  There are those of you who might see coverage of this at both Van’s Hardware and VIA Hardware.  I have done work for both sites and maintain addresses at each—but did not contact or communicate with willing donators from the same address.  This article, therefore, will run in a slightly different form on both sites.

On April 7th, 2002, Rector Hall (the oldest dorm on DePauw’s campus) caught fire and was badly burned due to an electrical problem that occurred on the 4th floor.  Although only the 4th floor and 5th floor storage areas were destroyed, the resulting fire and smoke damage damaged a great deal of student property throughout the rest of the building. 

Because DePauw’s living contract with students did not cover any type of insurance for damaged or destroyed property, there were a number of students left without computers (or with severe damage to existing machines) who also lacked the funds to immediately purchase new ones.  In addition to cutting my own rates for affected students, I asked members of the VH staff, readers, and manufacturers if they’d be willing to donate any equipment to help students who’d lost hardware in the fire. 

The response, honestly, was even greater than I expected.  Processors, video cards, monetary donations, motherboards, RAM, and even monetary donations were given, and oftentimes the parts that were donated were far nicer than anything I expected. 

Thanks to your generous aid, we were able to donate PC’s (or replace damaged components) for students who needed aid most, significantly reducing their out-of-pocket expense, or, in some cases, eliminating it altogether.  We were also able to assemble several public computers for students to use who had relied on Rector’s computer lab for Internet / email access before the fire.  These public computers have proven essential, as Rector students moved into other fraternities, sororities, and living units, oftentimes leaving these buildings with a shortage of computer resources themselves. 

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the individuals, websites, and companies who donated equipment or funding—you helped a great deal.  Without listing what people donated (lest this seem like a competition) I’d like to say that every single donator on this list exceeded my hopes tremendously.  Where I hoped for a single video card, or a handful of old processors, far more was donated.  When I asked for one motherboard, or maybe 128 meg of RAM, several motherboards (and accompanying RAM) dropped on my doorstep.  Thank you to the following individuals and companies for helping in a very difficult time: 


Douglas Bell (VIA Hardware Staff)

Ken Fraza (Theater Director, McHale Auditorium)


Philips Tsai (MSI)

George Alfs (Intel)


Michael Schuette (Mushkin Enhanced Memory Systems)


Michael Schuette (Lost Circuits)

It’s companies and people like those above that make IT journalism a great field to work in.  Again, gentlemen, both myself and the students who were the recipients of your generosity, thank you deeply.  


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