Facilities friction and frustrations


Caleb Geer

Kresge Hall is set to receive most of this summer’s renovation budget with $3 million allocated to the renovation.

by Caleb Geer, Editor-in-Chief

While campus grows and changes through new projects and renovations, issues with the state of residence halls have persisted according to both the students and staff of Simpson College.

Through an all-campus email sent on March 8, it was announced that Kresge Hall would be the residence hall on campus receiving the majority of the college’s attention this summer. The $3 million project includes a new roof and complete renovation of the building’s bathrooms. This project comes after students were moved from the building’s top floor because of the leaky roof during this academic year.

“Early in the fall, I had a resident moved to my floor because his room kept leaking no matter what they did to try to fix the roof,” second-floor Kresge Community Advisor (CA) Riley Ericson said.

Leaky roofs have become a theme across campus as the fraternities have also faced the issue and continue to do so. Kappa Theta Psi (KOY) even went so far as to bar their members from using the third floor at all. 

“They’ve been patching our roof for, what I’m told, 3 years now. They’ve been refusing to actually get us a new roof,” KOY President Sid Hudson said.

After the most recent round of patching the house’s roof, the majority of the issue is said to have been resolved as of the email sent to all of campus on March 8, but Residence Life and campus maintenance are still keeping close tabs. Empty trash cans remain in the building’s east stairwell to collect water beneath the ceiling, which appears to have large cracks in it.

“We’re planning on replacing the roof this summer,” Director of Facility Management Brian Schultes said. “But we’re trying to understand what’s going on.”

Notably, Schultes has just finished his first full year with the college as Simpson switched to JLL, the facilities management partner of the college, in April last year. Most recently, an on-staff licensed plumber has been added to the JLL-Simpson partnership to shorten response times to plumbing and other water-related issues.

Improvements in response time and solutions to facilities issues were immediately noticed by staff and students alike. “I think when Brian [Schultes] says, ‘hey, we’re going to do this,’ it generally happens. I experienced a lot, even in the short period I worked with the previous company of being told things would happen and they wouldn’t,” Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Matt Hansen said.

While KOY is dealing with their problematic roof, they are also recovering from their basement flooding earlier this semester due to their building’s boiler. Coincidentally, Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) faced nearly an identical issue around the same time.

Picken Hall is another residence building on campus that has faced flooding recently. Sophomore Morgan Rosenbeck had her basement room flood twice during the fall semester this year, with a third time at the beginning of March. Belongings of both her and her roommate were found sopping wet. While the flooding ultimately led to her changing rooms, health was something Rosenbeck was concerned about with the basement room.

“I never get sick, really, [but] I was almost constantly sick; couldn’t breathe, always had headaches and felt like I wasn’t sleeping at all,” Rosenbeck said. When the room was tested, she said everything tested high, although not abnormally high enough to do anything about it. While the standard humidity level for interior living space is 30%, the basement room tested at 70%.

After the most recent flooding and exchanging emails with Residence Life, Rosenbeck and her roommate were offered the ability to move rooms to a higher floor in the building and they accepted.

“My dad went here, and he told me when I was visiting schools, ‘please don’t go to Simpson, you’re going to hate it,’” Rosenbeck said. However, she did acknowledge that the people she has met have made all the difference.

While some buildings are set to receive repairs and renovations, others are being considered for replacement. At the top of the list are the Detroit and Weinman Apartments. 

“Given the facility condition assessment of poor and given the functionality and comfort levels we have identified in Detroit and Weinman, I would say that Detroit and Weinman are prime candidates to be considered for replacement,” Schultes said.

Students’ frustrations continue as the school’s renovation master plan takes shape. 

“I’ve lived in quite a few areas and they all seem not fun to live in,” Hudson, who previously served as a CA, said.

Rosenbeck shared the concern. “I feel like I shouldn’t have to fight this hard to feel safe and not be sick.”

With Residence Life and maintenance, the goal is to get ahead of the curve. More preventative measures and less need for response to issues as they arise is what they hope to achieve. 

“We have to move away from ‘we made it through it’ to ‘it didn’t happen,’” Hansen said.