Upon moving into their woodframe houses this fall, seniors were greeted with their own kitchens, bathrooms, and full-sized beds—but some were also greeted with more unwelcome household features. Students whose problems range from the mild to the downright debilitating have reported loose nails, rusty hinges, missing screens and other unwanted additions to their everyday lives. For the residents of 167 Vine St., the stairs leading down to their backyard seemed reminiscent of a haunted house.
“The stairs were rotted and messed up,” said Matthew Diaz ’09. “The steps were flimsy, and the banister was about ready to fall off. Add to that the fact that our light isn’t working, so if you went down there at night you couldn’t see where you were going.”
According to Diaz, the backyard itself presented its own share of hazards. At the end of their driveway, in between their house and the house next door, an old storage shed marks the end of a trail of gravel. Before Physical Plant arrived, anyone who peered inside could see a dense litter of rusty metal, broken glass and moldy garbage on the floor. Since the door was unlocked and the windows were broken, anyone with the inclination to do so could come and go as they pleased. By the looks of it, said one of the residents, the trash on the floor had been there for at least a year.
Other students grappled with a variety of indoor problems. At 29 Miles Ave., Priya Ghosh ’09 found a huge hole in her bedroom wall that connects to a hole by the stairs. Chunks of plaster, which fill up the inside of the wall in between her room and the staircase, fall occasionally from the alcove into her closet. Sylvia Ryerson ’09, her housemate, cited the hole as the first item on a long list of issues.
“We have another hole in the whale room, but that one has a pipe sticking out of it,” she said, in reference to a small common area adjacent to the kitchen. “We also had screens missing in three out of five bedrooms, and didn’t get any new ones for the first two weeks.”
She also noticed a disparity between the paint jobs on certain houses.
“The paint on the outside of the house is peeling, and nobody’s come to fix it,” she said. “A couple of weeks ago we saw painters working on Cross Street, which is where most of the tours go by. We wanted to run up to them and shout, ’Hey guys, stop by our place!’”
While Associate Vice President for Facilities Joyce Topshe acknowledged that there have been concerns with the conditions of some senior woodframes, she noted that the aging houses are right on schedule for maintenance.
“In the fiscal year 2007, 93 percent of our building spaces were more than 25 years old, which is about the time that major building components are due for replacement,” she said. “Physical Plant staff performs maintenance and repair work inside more than 2,800 student living spaces on campus between commencement and Labor Day.”
Despite their grievances, many residents commended the work of Physical Plant.
“Our general sentiment is that Physical Plant responded well,” Diaz said. “They tore out our back porch immediately and locked up the shed, then built us a whole new porch. Now our stairs are really nice, though our light still doesn’t work.”
Ryerson echoed his sentiments.
“They’ve been incredibly receptive and effective,” she said.
Other students felt differently. The day that Ari King ’09 moved in, he turned on his faucet for a few seconds to fill up a pot of water. Then he left to run some errands. An hour later, he returned home to find his kitchen floor submerged under a pool of water.
“They came in and fixed it, but the wood underneath the sink is still warped,” he said. “We called them two weeks ago because we have these huge dents in our doors and walls, but they never got back to us. We’re just hoping they don’t charge us for not reporting it in the first five days.”
Topshe conceded that some issues go unnoticed, even while proper maintenance measures are being followed.
“Occasionally, the new tenants discover something we missed and our team works extremely hard to resolve those items on the spot,” she said.