GW promotes residence hall rights in response to complaints of 'housing horrors'

by Brianna Gurciullo | Metro News Editor

Complaints about residence hall maintenance issues have built up across campus in recent years, as shown in a 2011 photo, above. Summer housing residents took their complaints to a local news station this month, GW to release a housing "Bill of Rights" last week.
Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Complaints about residence hall maintenance issues have built up across campus in recent years, as shown in a 2011 photo, above. Summer housing residents took their complaints to a local news station this month, GW to release a housing "Bill of Rights" last week.

Two weeks after summer residents called out GW for what they called unsanitary conditions in residence halls, the housing office released a "Bill of Rights" Friday for students living on campus.

The list promises that the University will provide a clean room before a resident arrives and will respond to FIXit requests "within a reasonable time," giving priority to emergencies. The second half of the letter calls on residents to keep up their rooms by taking out trash and to prevent mold or mildew by cleaning their bathrooms.

Over the weekend, the University emailed the Bill of Rights to all students who live on campus. Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said in an email that the document was sent in response to recent news coverage of a damning Facebook page called "GW Housing Horrors."

Konwerski said the Residence Hall Association and the Student Association helped craft the document, which was based on discussions with students, interns, staff and administrators after a string of complaints about residence halls.

The list is an effort "to communicate more clearly what our residents can expect of us and also serves to reiterate the part residents play in maintaining our high quality residential communities," Konwerski said, adding that the list is similar to what hospitality industry offer their guests.

Student complaints about mold, crumbling ceilings and filthy appliances in a residence halls like The Aston and JBKO Hall went viral among national, and even international, news outlets this month. GW often touts the quality of its residence hall rooms, which placed No. 10 on the Princeton Review's "Best College Dorms" list.

The University has also racked up complaints about conditions in Mitchell and Fulbright halls and the Hall on Virginia Avenue over the years.

Shortly after the media coverage of the most recent residence hall complaints, GW announced it would review how it handles maintenance requests. The official Facebook page for GW Housing has responded to the posts with photographs of repairs.

Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia Knight said Friday that the University has yet to firm up details of the review, but maintenance departments "consistently review" the way they handle requests.

She added that FIXIt requests are higher during move-in and that both facilities employees and house staff members have already performed inspections on all rooms to preclude some requests.

The FIXIt response staff, which students have long criticized for slow responses to residence hall problems, stepped up its communication about requests this summer. The department added email notification for emergency requests so staff can confirm requests and provide the applicant's work order number.

The University plans to roll out another notification layer for routine calls later in the fall, sending students an email when FIXit assigns a request to a facilities employee and offering an estimated completion time for the job.

The University launched a mobile-friendly website for FIXit in July, and an app could be in the works in the future. GW's maintenance team will now process requests via iPod touches, which Knight said improves timeliness.

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