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Students staying on campus for Thanksgiving break will be able to attend a Thanksgiving dinner in the Living Learning Commons on South Green (FILE).

Students in new dorms complain of cold showers, loose faucets, thin walls

Students and staff submitted over 500 maintenance requests for Tanaka, Sowle, Carr and Luchs Halls last semester.

Freshman Mackenzie Milam pulled back a tapestry on her wall in Tanaka Hall to reveal an array of chipped paint and blue sticky tack residue.

“You can literally touch the wall and leave a dent,” Milam, who’s studying early childhood education, said. “Underneath all those layers of paint, it’s basically cardboard.”

Milam said the paint on her wall came off after she removed wall decorations, even though she used the products recommended to her by resident assistants. The sticky blue tack, she said, won’t come off, no matter how hard she scrubs.

Additionally, she said the water is freezing and the bathroom door won’t lock.

She’s paying $4,167 a semester to live in her suite.

A residential advisor in Tanaka, Carson Hampton, said he thought the building looked “rushed” when he moved in.

“I figured everything would work, for the most part,” Hampton, a sophomore studying pre-nursing, said.

Like Milam, he said the walls are thin and easily dented. He said the faucet head in his bathroom sink keeps falling off.

Milam and Hampton aren’t the only residents of the four newest residence halls who've reported difficulties with their rooms. About 533 maintenance requests were filed for Tanaka, Carr, Luchs and Sowle halls between their grand opening on Aug. 29 and the beginning of December.

Those requests included routine maintenance checks, requests for new keys to be cut, spills and pest infestations. Staff and students called for help with urine in elevators, spiders that made them afraid to open their windows, food spills, mysterious odors and plumbing issues. Four requests involved people stuck in Tanaka elevators.

In comparison, Adams Hall, which was built in 2007, received 230 calls for service and Biddle Hall, which was built in 1954 and later renovated, received 149.

However, some of them were issues students might not have expected in the new dorms, such as outlets not working, loose faucets on sinks, and cold water. Some requests included: 

  • “Our shower is permanently freezing. It never gets hot,” a Luchs resident wrote in a November maintenance request. “Roommates described it as ‘an ice cube,’ ’not even room temperature’ and ‘I was literally like shaking the whole time.’ We may or may not get hypothermia from this.”
  • “I have put in multiple work orders, staff has even came to fix the problem multiple times,” a Carr resident wrote in a December request. “Still has not been resolved. We have had cold water for the majority of the school year (not exaggerating). It's never been anything more than just warm!”

Steve Wood, executive director of Facilities Management, said the problems students are having are typical of new buildings.

“Whenever you have a new construction, there are a few bugs that need to be worked out,” Woods said. “It’s these kinds of bugs we’re seeing.”

Woods said the university had contractors “on the ground” during fall move-in to help resolve problems.

Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Housing and Residence Life, said the loose faucets could be caused by installation mistakes.

“Ultimately, when you’re doing 400 at a time, you might have a handful that might not be tightened appropriately,” Trentacoste said.

If the problems do come from contractor error, Woods said the university won’t have to pay. The construction warranty for the buildings extends to the end of July. The new furniture in the dorms has a warranty of 20 years.

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The problems Milam has had with her room haven’t deterred her from living in the new dorms. She said she still plans to live in Carr next year.

“It’s just going to be an easier transition that way,” she said.


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