The McNichols Tunnels

UDM’s underground tunnels have been a curiosity for students and faculty for many years.

“I know they exist, but I only know that based on speculation by other people,” said Chris Clark, a political science and criminal justice double-major. “I don’t know much about them. But from what I understand, they were originally created so the Jesuits could get from building to building without having to go outside.”

It has been rumored for many years that Jesuits used the tunnels to commute to buildings, but that was not the tunnels’ reason for existing.

Many students have been curious about what the tunnels.

“My friend and I were going to wait until our senior year and try to sneak into the tunnels,” said Sarah Eberhard, a senior in the nursing program. “We thought somehow we could get in through the library, and we knew we were going to get in trouble so we wanted to do it at the end of senior year.”

The tunnels actually provide a space for many of the university’s steam, chiller and water pipes to pass through and reach each building.

Dave Vandelinder, director of facility operations, is very familiar with the tunnels.

“The tunnels are in much better condition than they used to be,” he said. “There used to be a lot of old piping and other materials down here, but we made it a project to come down here and get it cleaned up.”

The tunnels have access points in every building, but not all of them can be walked through.

Some are nearly inaccessible due to the amount of large piping that runs through them.

Working in the tunnels can be quite a challenge, according to Vandelinder and other facility operations staff.

Since there is always steam running through them, the tunnels are always very warm and can even reach above 100 degrees during the summer months.

“They are not fun to work in,” said Greg Daniel, one of the university’s plumbers. “It’s always hot and it’s very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing or where  you’re walking.”

Though many students wonder about the tunnels and are interested in going into them, they are a restricted area.

Few people have access to the tunnels, and those who do only go into them when they have to.

“I know a lot of students think the tunnels are cool and want to go into them, but they are not a place you want to be,” said Daniel. “It is dangerous and a lot of bad things could happen. You could literally die down there.”