Ohio University tells student to remove hot tub installed in dorm room

ATHENS, Ohio - An Ohio University student from northeast Ohio was perhaps the talk of the campus after he installed a hot tub in his dorm room, but the school made him remove it.

Kevin Lenahan, an Ohio U. senior and 2007 Lakewood High graduate, installed a hot tub in his second-floor James Hall room more than a month ago, complete with automated jets and a temperature control system.

"I own a hot tub at home and thought it would be nice to have one at school also. I'm an ultra marathon runner, so when I come back from running it's a nice way to relax the muscles," Lenahan told WOUB-TV in Athens.

Lenahan said he did some thorough research of the university's policies before he brought in the $500, 211-gallon tub.

"There is no place in the housing handbook that said my hot tub was not allowed," he said. "My hot tub heater is fundamentally the same as a coffee maker."

He explained the handbook permits students to have certain small appliances like coffee makers. But to be sure he wasn't breaking any rules, he talked with his resident assistant, who ran it up the ladder to school administrators -- and that's where he said he encountered resistance.

"I didn't hide anything. I was straight forward with the university, but they didn't want to work with me," he said.

Katie Quaranta, communications specialist for Ohio University, told NewsChannel5 that there were health and safety issues related to the tub being there, and the student was given a March 1 deadline to remove it from his residence hall.

Quaranta sent these eight reasons why the hot tub had to be removed:

"1. The hot tub has a heater which is considered an auxiliary heater.  Auxiliary heaters are not allowed for reasons of fire safety.  It is possible that the heater could malfunction, ignite and start a residence hall fire.

2. If the heater overheats or ignites, the inflatable plastic tub will melt and release 211 gallons of water onto the floor, hallway, adjacent rooms and the room below.

3. If the hot tub is punctured or deflates, 211 gallons of water will release onto the floor, hallway, adjacent rooms and the room below.  

4. Humidity within the room will increase significantly, even when the hot tub is not in use and covered.  This humidity will cause mold and fungus and increase the likelihood of bugs that are attracted to water and humidity.

5. Water spillage and/or leaking will damage the flooring.

6. Filling and draining the tub cannot be done in a manner that doesn't have risk of spillage or water damage.

7. The electricity used to run a hot tub is high and beyond expected use for a room.

8. Hot tubs need to have proper chemicals and filters to remain safe. Ohio University staff are not prepared to conduct associated safety checks or leave it up to students to assure safe and sanitary practices."

Still, Lenahan insisted the hot tub was in compliance with what is outlined in the handbook. He abided by the university's order to empty and dismantle the tub, but he has filed an appeal to the schools decision. He said he spoke with an ombudsman Wednesday about the issue, and hopes to figure out a compromise.

"It's been received fairly well by my friends and the university community. Everyone likes seeing the little guy go up against the giant," he said.

Lenahan said he would be willing to place the hot tub outside in a patio area and open it up to the entire community, or even turn it into a 211-gallon aquarium.

Unlike many of his colleagues, he said he wasn't able live off-campus because he's a member of the armed forces and had two pending deployments – which would have complicated a lease.

Until a decision is reached, Lenahan said the hot tub remains empty inside his dorm room.

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