By Alixandra Wilens, Staff Writer
Unaddressed maintenance concerns are leaving students in the cold as responses to work orders are consistently delayed.
Two residents of Constitution Hall, seniors Hope Lefko and Brianna O’Keefe, were taking chilled showers or traveling elsewhere to find warm water for over a week; the water in the 10th floor women’s restroom was ice cold with few deviating moments of scolding hot water.
“[The water temperature] took almost two weeks to fix, which got really frustrating because I either had to brace the cold or travel downstairs to the women’s showers located on the opposite side,” said Lefko, an accounting major.
All facility-related work orders get funneled to the Physical Plant Department on the outer edge of South Campus. Paul Romano, the associate director of Physical Plant, explained how students’ reports make their way to the department.
“Residential Life takes the calls during normal business hours, but we also have staff that’s here 24 hours a day,” Romano said. “So once the Office of Residential Life is closed, Public Safety takes the calls for any emergencies because they can notify Plant tradesmen through their radios; so the tradesmen that are working can respond to it instead of waiting until the morning when Residential Life opens again.”
In regard to the situation on the 10th floor of Constitution Hall, a Plant representative said, “We try to maintain 120 degrees at all locations. Sometimes temperatures drift. Buildings with upgraded bathrooms and fixtures are less likely to be affected when this happens. Constitution Hall still has the older fixtures; we will monitor it more closely.”
At least four students submitted work orders, in addition to the floor’s resident assistant. Only one request from the four students was accepted and the rest were rejected on the basis of repeated submissions. The students soon received emails from their resident director, instructing them to cease submitting work orders because the issue was already being addressed.
Romano said, “The work orders from students are reviewed by Residential Programs. They normally are able to catch duplicate work requests and only submit one; however, safety issues still take precedence.”
Residents Lefko and O’Keefe did not fault Romano’s team for the situation. “All in all, I don’t blame the [Physical] Plant Department for the issue because I’m sure it’s a hard problem to fix and I’m sure they were inundated with emails, but it was an unfortunate situation,” Lefko said.
“It’s just that the problem wasn’t the easiest fix, which is completely understandable considering the size of the building,” O’Keefe said.
One of the most common complaints in dorms is leaks. Nicole Chevalier, a senior psychology and fine arts major, has three years of experience with this issue while living in Enterprise Hall.
“In my sophomore year, plaster from the ceiling actually fell down onto my roommate’s bed and we called Public Safety and they brought us a trash can,” Chevalier said. “They painted over it the next year and that’s all the work they’ve done on it thus far. There’s now a dip in the plaster over my roommate’s bed.”
When Chevalier and her roommate returned to their dorm prior to the start of this year, the students found a mark on the wall from an ongoing leak over the summer and within the first month of the semester, another set of cracks appeared above Chevalier’s bed.
Romano said those problems could be caused by “drain lines that come from the roofs or it could be windows from the rooms above or it could be HVAC units from the rooms above. Ceiling leaks could be a number of things.”
Romano clarified the use of trash cans as solutions to leaks, explaining that the buckets are to prevent further water damage. “Any time we get a leak call, we try to get someone there as quick as we can,” he said.
Work orders are not limited to leaks and have often been successful. Lauren Squires, a senior speech language hearing pathology and linguistics major, and her roommate, have submitted a number of work orders throughout the years.
“Sophomore year, my roommate dropped her Claddagh ring down the drain,” Squires said. “We put an emergency work order just in case … and someone came immediately and they helped us and they got it out.”
Speaking about living in the Nassau/Suffolk halls, Squires said, “Then junior year, my roommate’s air conditioning froze. There was ice on her HVAC unit and it wouldn’t work … we called [Public Safety] and someone came immediately. They fixed it and replaced an extra piece.”
“Every work order is important to us,” Romano said. “Safety issues always take precedence and then we continually complete work orders as quickly as we are able to.”