Slow response from Campus Services frustrates students

by Ben Frotscher

Two years ago, Amber Woodley was stung by a wasp while living in the Progressive Action Coalition House, and was rushed to the hospital because she is allergic to bees and wasps.

This was after Woodley and her housemates had complained to campus services about a wasp problem in the house, but the problem wasn’t resolved until after Woodley was stung.

Now as a senior, Woodley has a similar issue.

“We don’t have window screens and Amber is allergic to bees,” said senior Kathryn Fenneman, one of Woodley’s roommates. “We kind of need screens in our windows.”

Woodley and Fenneman, who live in Colonial Apartments with two other roommates, also don’t have a bookshelf. For two weeks at the beginning of the year, they didn’t have desk chairs. They’ve also had an emergency problem: no hot water.

While these four in Colonial may have extreme circumstances, Bart Lane, director of campus services, said many dormitory rooms and apartments across campus do have work orders out – more than 500, actually.

Lane said it will take a little more than a month for the maintenance staff to get caught up.

“We currently average 35 work orders completed per day,” Lane said. “If we maintain this average, and consider the number of new work orders generated, we should be in line by the first week of November.”

Lane said if emergencies happen, they become top priority.

“Our goal is to make emergency repairs dealing with safety and comfort immediately,” he said. “[Then] routine work orders should have no more than a three-day turnaround.”

Woodley and Fenneman said they have called campus services five times since the year began, but still don’t have window screens and a bookshelf.

When the hot water went out in the shower, Woodley said campus services got it fixed in good time.

“I’d say they are good at emergency responses, but not at general responses,” Woodley said. “Maybe that is the problem; they don’t have enough staff to do the general work, just the emergency stuff.”

Lane said campus services does well with the staff available.

“We have nine maintenance mechanics, four grounds people and 22 custodians,” Lane said. “The maintenance people do all the preventative maintenance on campus, so with this in mind, we dedicate approximately five maintenance people to repair work.”

Both Woodley and Fenneman emphasized that they don’t dislike campus services, they’re just frustrated with the system.

“There is a problem with the system, not the people,” Fenneman said. “If they had a system where they kept track of things better, that would be good.”

Lane said there are three ways for a student to get a maintenance problem fixed: contact campus services, inform a housing assistant or enter a work order online.

When a request is received, it goes into the computer under custodial, grounds or maintenance, and is put into a box.

Lane said the process in place works well.

“Campus services is a very productive staff, in comparison to national averages our maintenance staff covers about 30 percent more square footage than our peers at other institutions,” Lane said. “We are fortunate that Simpson has invested in many renovations over the past 10 years which make buildings easier to maintain.”

Fenneman said she just wants her window screens, unless central air is available.

“I don’t dislike maintenance, I just want window screens,” Fenneman said.

Woodley agreed.

“No one should have an apartment full of bugs,” Woodley said.