It was a crisp, misty fall afternoon for most GW students on Saturday, Oct. 16, but it was raining hard inside the room of one Ivory Tower resident.
Senior Kristen Loke said she called the Critical Call Center early Saturday morning to report a small leak from the light fixture in her bathroom ceiling. At 2:30 p.m., after the campus repair service placed a bucket under the leak earlier that morning, a two-foot wide hole in her ceiling appeared, allowing two inches of water flood her room.
“(Residential Property Management) told me everything would be fixed and cleaned in the morning, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen,” Loke said. “I couldn’t stay in my room for two days, even though every day they told me it would be ready the next day.”
Her room was not fully repaired until Thursday, five days after she first reported the ceiling leak.
Loke is not the only student upset with the University’s maintenance response. Some students are complaining that Fixit and the Critical Call Center, which respond to residence hall repair issues, take a long time to handle requests and provide insufficient service. With Fixit, students can request service for minor repair issues online; the Critical Call Center features a 24-hour hotline for maintenance emergencies, such as broken glass or a clogged toilet.
Sophomore James Finnegan said he has been waiting a month for Fixit to respond to several online repair requests.
“In some ways (the complaint) seems minor, but the way I think about it is, I’m living in New Hall and paying this extra money for room and board and for all these amenities,” he said. “If they don’t work, where’s all our money going to? It’s kind of ridiculous.”
Finnegan said the University’s repair service, which he called for maintenance issues present when he moved into his room, has mistakenly assumed that his requests have been answered.
“Somehow they get it in their heads that things were fixed when they weren’t. How can the person managing the system on the other end not know where their workers are?” he said.
Eric Hougen, project manager for the Office of Business and Operations, acknowledged recent student dissatisfaction with the Fixit service in a letter Friday.
“The University takes these complaints very seriously and is looking into ways to shorten the response time,” he wrote.
Though University officials said Fixit is not understaffed, Hougen said Facilities Management, which deals with University maintenance issues, is hiring two plumbers and two electricians.
Hougen added that for non-urgent service requests, Fixit aims to dispatch maintenance workers within 10 business days of a request, but depending on “the volume of high-priority critical calls, weather conditions and campus events, routine service response may take longer.”
Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said he has asked Residential Property Management for a report on the leak in Loke’s room to examine if the maintenance workers “did what they were supposed to do.” The report will also determine whether Ivory Tower rooms have had an abnormal number of leaks since it opened in late August.
Loke said she expects to be reimbursed by the University for the $12 she spent on laundry and dry cleaning after the flooding. Katz said that any student whose room is damaged will receive financial restitution.
“If a student did nothing wrong, they’re held harmless,” he said in an interview last month.
Still, Loke said she is dissatisfied with her experience with Residential Property Management.
“Every time (I called) they would give me a different number and tell me things would get done,” Loke said. “They made me feel like everything was my fault even though they kept screwing up. I don’t think they understood that this was my home and not just a unit in their property.”
Despite some negative student experiences, others said Fixit and the Critical Call Center are reliable campus services.
“Fixit is really efficient and quick,” freshman Debby Huszagh said. “Last week one of our fuses blew, and within an hour (workers) came and fixed it.”
When freshman Eric Edwards’ mini-fridge shorted out, Fixit brought a new one within the hour.
“I think they did an excellent job,” he said.
“(Fixit) is decent, as long as you’re persistent about it,” sophomore Geoff Bendleck said. “If you call, they’re pretty good about coming out.”
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.