Students move off campus to avoid theme house disrepair


by Mindy Marks

Moldy walls, water stained and patched together carpet greeted senior Joel Shenefield, as he and his roommates attempted to move into the track theme house just two days before cross-country practice started.

Three of the nine members decided it wasn’t fit to live there, so they moved into an off-campus apartment, leaving six men in a potential 10-person theme house.

When the sewage pump broke at theme house no. 2, junior Jessica Montag and her roommates were up until 5 a.m. while a repairman from Urbandale came to fix it.

These instances, while not the norm, crop up in older homes and can be pesky problems for students at Simpson to deal with.

“There are definitely some in great shape and some theme houses that need some lovin’,” said Laurie Dienberg Hoppe, assistant director of residence life for apartments and theme houses.

In the performing arts house, the dining room table leg broke off last year. Senior Allison Smith said it was two weeks into the school year before it was fixed.

“We pay so much and then things don’t get done, and we wonder where our money goes,” said Smith.

Bart Lane, director of the physical plant, said the college spent about $40,000 on repairs and maintenance. Repairs have ranged from replacing electrical panels and carpeting to adding central air and replacing sewer pumps.

“We try to do something each year in every theme house – whether it is a new coat of paint or linoleum just to keep things in good order, so it looks nice and new,” said Stephanie Krauth, associate dean of students/residence life and security.

The residence life staff tries to make the most of their money and to do as much as the budget can handle.

When problems arise in September they are often able to make the repairs over breaks, so they don’t disturb students living in theme houses.

Theme houses provide students with an alternative to dorm and apartment style living. The idea behind theme houses is to create learning communities outside of traditional Simpson classrooms.

Repairs throughout the school year are generally student initiated. When a repair is needed the theme house manager contacts Laurie Dienberg Hoppe, who then files a work order with Simpson’s physical plant.