Students displaced from the Hall on Virginia Avenue last week because of collapsing ceilings began returning to HOVA Friday, said Director of Facilities Management Walter Gray.
Hurricane Floyd’s intense rains and a leak in the pool maintenance room caused structural damage that forced the relocation of 14 freshman residents. Repairs were made during the early part of last week, and administrators said the rooms were ready for students to move back in Thursday.
Not all displaced students have been told they can return, but most moved back last week or over the weekend, Community Director Vania Smith, who oversees HOVA, said.
Gray said Trammell Crow, the company in charge of HOVA’s renovations, had finished the structural repairs to the building, and his department was “supporting the process as well as patching up ceilings and touching up paint.”
Representatives from Trammell Crow would not comment on specifics and directed all comments to CLLC.
Smith said most of the students plan on returning to their rooms in HOVA, but several decided to stay in their new rooms in Mitchell Hall and the Aston.
Smith said she was “very pleased with the facilities management department at GW and Trammell Crow’s handling of what was a daunting task.”
Daguyla Burkis, a displaced student who is deciding whether to move from her new Mitchell Hall room back to her room on the seventh floor of HOVA, said the move to a different residence hall was a bit annoying, but she is not mad about the situation.
“It wasn’t as upsetting because it really wasn’t anyone’s fault,” she said. “Although it was stressful having to pack everything up.”
Burkis said the move was easier for her because she is not in the Watergate 723 program, a living and learning community on the seventh floor of HOVA, or Healthy Lifestyles, a program on the eighth floor of HOVA.
Displaced program students said they continued to remain active in their individual programs despite being separated from their neighbors and classmates on the seventh and eight floors of HOVA.
But some students who had to move said they were unhappy with the University’s response.
“For a lot of people, it was extremely inconvenient, having to move all the way across campus on only eight hours notice,” said Andrew Goldberg, one of the displaced residents.
“Thursday night at nine I was told to be out of the room by 12 the next morning,” said Christina Fantizi, a HOVA resident who was moved to JBKO. “It took them six nights to clean the carpet in my room and an entire week before I could unpack my things. For a while I was living in my room with only bare essentials. It was like being in limbo for a week”
Some displaced students said they were upset because the University did not provide all the support they originally promised.
“Black water seeped in from my ceiling onto my mattress and all they did was flip it over; many of our things were delivered to the wrong rooms or never delivered at all,” displaced resident Nadia Vizueta said. “I pay a lot to go to school here. This type of thing makes me want to transfer. After they got us out of the rooms, no one spoke to us again. My parents couldn’t reach me – my phone didn’t work in my new room. I am supposed to be here for an education, but I had to miss classes on Friday because they made me use that time to move in and my professors were never notified.”
Vizueta said she also never received the “care package” which CLLC administrators promised. She said when she called to ask about it, no one in the CLLC office said they knew about it.
Mark Levine, the assistant dean of CLLC, was unavailable to comment on the status of the rooms or students’ individual complaints.
One resident said she had difficulty moving her computer and the University did nothing to help.
“ResNet had told us they would help move computers, but they never did,” displaced resident Katie Tegeler said. “We were told to go use the computer labs. I had to call my parents and have them do it.”
Fantizi said the situation seemed familiar.
“It feels like it is August,” Fantizi said. “We have to move everything back in again and start over again.”