Unreported damages could cause problems

Kelly Copeland

Facilities Services receives an average of 6,000 work orders each year from Residence Advisers and other departments all over campus. Despite the large number, there are many students who leave important maintenance jobs    unreported.

Although no serious problems have been reported, mainly because of a lack of communication between students and the college, Director of Residence Life Jeff Mackay said if potential problems go unnoticed, serious consequences, such as fires, could result. 

He is now considering a regular mid-year inspection for all residence halls and apartments on campus. He thinks the face-to-face interaction with students and their RAs could bring any potential problems to the attention of the college with little or no inconvenience to students.

“Other colleges have these types of procedures,” Mackay said. “This could entirely be a possibility for Linfield.”

Juniors Marc Corcoran and Spencer Myers, who live in Dana Hall, have noticed minor problems with the base heater in their apartment. While no fires have occurred, the back of  two couches in their living room show singe marks as a result of the heat.

Despite the risk of fire, Corcoran and Myers did not notify their RA about the potential problem because they said it did not seem like a pressing issue.

Although they did not send out a work order for their heater, Corcoran said students have the responsibility to alert the college of a maintenance issue, rather than wait for yearly inspections.

“I think if something is bothering students, they should do something about it,” Corcoran said.

According to the Linfield Office of Admission’s Web site, more than half of the college’s residence halls and apartments on campus are at least 40 years old. This increases the likelihood they will need more than average maintenance because of outdated heating and water systems.

Students living in buildings such as Dana and College 308 apartments, which are each at least more than 50 years old, have reported problems such as mold, bug infestations and heater problems. All are problems seen more often in older residence halls,               Mackay said.

Junior Jessica Kramer lives in College 308 housing and is experiencing severe problems with box elder bug infestations, an issue the college has been well aware of for several years and has yet to solve.

Kramer notifies her RA whenever she needs maintenance work done in her apartment, but said she knows many students who simply let problems go unreported.

“If you lived in your own apartment and have a problem, you would call the landlord and ask them to help you fix it,”               she said. 

Because Kramer said the problem with the box elder bugs has continued over several years without a solution, she would welcome a procedure such as a mid-semester inspection. She said it would help prevent small problems from becoming larger in the long run, saving the college money and time.

“It would be nice for the (college) to have a proactive approach to these problems,” she said.

John Hall, senior director of Facilities Services, said Linfield procedure regarding work orders states students are required to send any maintenance requests, such as burned out light bulbs, broken appliances and furniture, to RAs who are required to send those notices to    facilities.

Junior ASLC President-elect Chris Schuldt also lives in Dana and has experienced problems with his heater. He said it should be up to students to notify one another of potential issues, and that a mid-year inspection by Residence Life or Facilties Services is not necessary, especially if it infringes on students’ privacy.

“If there is a potential for danger, you should tell your RA,” Schuldt said.

Sophomore RA Joy Nelson agrees that a mid-year inspection is unnecessary. She said she thinks it would cause extra paperwork. If residents have problems, they can be easily solved through communication with RAs.

Hall said the department’s staff works diligently to complete work orders as quickly as possible. He said on average Facilities Services completes 55 percent of its work orders within 24 hours and 75 percent within seven days.

But because many problems, such as unsafe heaters, do not bother students year round, potentially dangerous issues go       unreported.

“I’ve always thought students on campus are active and aware of what needs to be repaired in their rooms,” Mackay said. “But some students just don’t make an effort (to bring problems to the attention of the college).”

Aside from routine work order submissions, Facilities Services and Residence Life conduct inspections of all student rooms at the end of each school year to fix damages or replace furniture or appliances.

Hall and Mackay said the challenge with this system is the summer months are inundated with maintenance work. This is often further complicated because many rooms are rented out for sports camps and other functions on campus. This is also the time of year when major improvements are scheduled for many buildings on campus.

“I would rather know now than at the end of the year when hundreds of work orders are submitted,” Mackay said.

The school currently spends about $230,000 each year on maintenance, repairs and remodeling of residence halls and apartments on campus. This summer, Pioneer, Anderson, Potter, Memorial, Mahaffey, Whitman and Miller halls, as well as the white, red and Hewlett-Packard Park Apartments, will receive work ranging from new interior paint to bathroom remodeling.

Features editor Amber McKenna contributed to     this article.

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