University to conduct fewer health inspections

Dormitories will get fewer health and safety inspections this year after Residential Property Management took responsibility for the examinations from the Community Living and Learning Center.

The inspections, which were conducted by CLLC until this year, were previously made twice a semester by a building’s Community Facilitator to make sure students are not violating their residential community conduct guidelines. With responsibility for these checks now under the umbrella of Residential Property Management, dorms will only be examined during winter and spring break, when students are typically not in their rooms.

Student Association members said the decrease in inspections may lead to unhealthy living conditions. They said health and safeties may be even more important since a fire engulfed a Georgetown townhouse last month, killing one Georgetown University student. After the fire, city inspectors evicted dozens of people – including six current GW students – from homes they deemed unsafe.

Senior Thane Tuttle, director of the SA’s Residence Hall Renewal Project, said the delaying of inspections until winter break could lead to a buildup of problems in residence halls.

“A group of students could have 50 pizza boxes in their six at Thurston (Hall) and throw them out right before winter break, but in that time they could breed thousands of vermin,” he said. “Over breaks you can notice whether the tile cracked or the plaster’s peeling, but the purpose of health and safety inspections is to mitigate hazards while students are in their rooms.”

Tuttle said that while he does not think anything can be done about the lack of inspections this semester, he hopes the checks will be resumed next spring in campus buildings at “high risk of violating student safety.”

Tom Dwyer, managing director for Residential Property Management, said there is a possibility of reforming the University’s new approach to hall checks.

“I’d be happy to work the SA if (safety hazards) are deemed to be too widespread,” Dwyer said. “I’d like to deputize students to be a part of the solution.”

Dwyer said teams composed of his group’s staff and student employees will perform the twice-a-year inspections to “correct any items that pose as safety problems to student residents.”

A former student-employee of Residential Property Management who requested anonymity said there were tense debates between CLLC and property officials this summer over who would be in charge of the inspections.

“Residential Property Management did not feel comfortable about doing (health and safety inspections) because that’s not what the students who work there were hired to do,” the employee said.

Dwyer would not discuss any possible tension between the two departments, but noted that Residential Property Management seeks to embrace control over inspections in a “positive” way.

“My organization has its responsibilities and CLLC has its responsibilities, and because we’re different departments, there are different (responsibilities),” he said. “I don’t see a difference in our missions as being a dispute.”

Dwyer said room inspectors will be looking for damages and safety hazards, such as loose steps and handrails, non-operable lights or pests. He added that it is not his mission to “nail students.”

“If (they) uncover situations that undermine student safety, then I have to act on that,” Dwyer said. “But I’m not as focused on punishment as I am on correction. I don’t have the staff to play policeman.”

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