Housing headaches: Deteriorating living conditions

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Tessa Wagner

There is a broken window in Smith hall that has needed to be fixed since the beginning of the academic year.

Like most female freshmen, I have been living in the Smith residential building for my first academic year at Henderson. Most of the time, when I tell other students this, I get a grimace along with an apologetic “good luck.”

 

Smith is not very hygienic, with paint peeling off the walls and floors and with the showers having a quality scale from working to barely functioning. Maintenance also seems to be lacking, with it taking weeks, sometimes even months for something to be fixed, if they even do.

 

A personal example of mine involves my dorm room window. The top panel has been cracked since I moved in, and I have filed two separate requests for it; once before winter break, and once before spring break. At the time of writing this, it remains broken, despite the claim that “glass replacement affecting safety or securityā€¯ are a top priority. It makes you wonder where all the money from the housing rates goes, not to mention the maintenance fees.

 

Before you jump to blaming the individual maintenance workers, look at the company Henderson contracts for various repairs. HSU hires a company named SSC Services for Education, who prides themselves on their specialty concerning custodial services, grounds management, and facilities maintenance. However, along with the lack of care when it comes to housing, they also mistreat their workers.

 

Indeed is a job searching website that allows employees to review their current and/or previous jobs anonymously. Looking at the reviews for SSC reveals some disturbing practices.

 

“Have not liked this job in the slightest,” one review read. “My experience involved being constantly hazed by fellow employees, and hours i’ve worked being logged incorrectly resulting in ‘lost’ pay, including hours of overtime; which several other employees have had to deal with in several different cases.”

 

“Horrible work environment and horrible management and supervisors favoritism is horrible,” another review said. “Major racism within the company just all around a horrible place to work would not recommend.”

 

The manipulation of their employees, along with Henderson only having $279,000/year to spend on maintenance, leads to specific buildings and requests being prioritized, while others are left to the wayside. This explains why many students in freshman housing, more than those in the apartments or co-ed, are feeling the effects of poor worker management. So, with these significant pitfalls, what can be done to improve our current housing situation?

 

Henderson is now officially merged with the Arkansas State University system, so it should have more of a budget to work with. This new influx of wealth allows for a renovation of the current housing units. They could shut down certain buildings for the summer, while still offering classes, to address the major issues.

 

Start with the freshman buildings. Doing so will ensure that incoming freshmen will stay enrolled. Redo the paint and fix the more structural issues, mainly the elevators and fire alarms. Then, reorganize quality of life components.

 

The way trash is in the dormitories makes the floor it is on stink. An easy solution would be to move it outside. Recycling options should also be available so that the janitorial staff can have presorted containers to make their jobs a little easier as well as help the environment.

 

 

The way Smith is laid out now, the only place students have to do their dishes is in the bathroom, where a big, often dirty sink is placed. Needless to say, this is not very sanitary. There needs to be a separate room where dishwashing materials and microwaves are placed. Not only will this make the process more comfortable, but it will also make the buildings more organized.

 

 

After this, move on to the other residential buildings and go through the same process. These steps would significantly improve the environment students stay in.