Our Buildings Need Fixing and Our Admin Can Do It

Sesquicentennial Hall is scheduled to open for classes and usage in the fall semester. While the university has invested deeply into developing this building and should be celebrated, many other buildings around campus are falling into disrepair. This ranges from safety code violations that may harm faculty, staff and students to accessibility issues that create barriers in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In Warner Hall, structural issues pose a safety hazard. Protecting students and staff from asbestos exposure is a measly layer of carpeting in some office spaces. The elevator, while providing accessibility to second, third and fourth floor, does not settle evenly with the level of the floors when it arrives to its desired destination.

The residence halls provide a closer-to-home example of how disrepair affects campus life because students live in them. Earlier in the semester, a pipe burst in Dobson Hall and displaced multiple students. For the Circle Drive residence halls, Hugunin, Brockert and Pickard, concerns regarding asbestos, heating and mice have caused displacement, closure or discomfort. These instances raise the question, “What sorts of hazards exist in the other residence halls?”

In lab spaces across campus, hazardous chemicals and their associated risks are not thoroughly addressed with out-of-date ventilation systems, lack of emergency systems like eyewash stations and a compounding effect of improper supply of personal protection equipment. Altogether, these factors heighten improper practices.

Even in the heart of campus, in the Markee Pioneer Student Center, the ceilings drip water after rain, and some walls in the Pioneer Involvement Center buckle and require reconstruction. While dust and debris collect from the work on the wall and pose a safety risk, student employees are still held to high standards of production.

When it comes to an elevator shutdown in Warner or the leaky roof of the Markee, staff from Facilities are called to fix the issues. The evelator, which broke down on April 20, was fixed by the next day. Facilities was able to call in a contractor for the roof and addressed the issues within two days – quick compared to the standard of a two-week or three-week roofing job.

Facilities is called in to address these sorts of things all the time, but they are only applying a bandage on the larger wound of our established infrastructure. Their task is almost Sisyphean – to fix the buildings up just to come back later to find them broken.

When the campus invests in our established infrastructure, we create a safer place for faculty, staff and students and ease the chronic workload of our Facilities crew. It is also when we work together to nurture an environment of communication and transparency as well as vigilance and awareness that we can guarantee that we go home to our families safely and soundly.

We should not expect our campus community to learn and work in unsafe environments. We should not be expected to keep pushing problems under rugs as they arise. How many problems go unreported, unknown and unresolved without the proper acknowledgement they deserve?