Shortly after returning from winter break, sophomore Melissa Veilleux watched as the bed she had been sleeping in just minutes before became covered in concrete and plaster.
“It was like a bucket of mud,” she said, referring to the gunk that covered her sheets and pillows.
What may sound like a nasty prank is actually life for a resident in The Schenley, a former apartment building that is one of GW’s oldest residence halls. Cracks in Veilleux’s ceiling caused the aging plaster to come tumbling down.
Falling debris is not the only problem Veilleux is dealing with; she said she has battled with a clogged bathtub and a leaky heater. Other residents among the building’s 150 students have reported problems as well.
Sophomore Henry Roosevelt complained about clogged drains and a radiator that leaked blue fluid.
“It messed up our entire floor,” he said, referring to the malfunctioning heating system. “It ruined our papers.”
He added, “We have broken doors, cracked doors, leaky faucets.”
While the dorm’s residents are forced to call GW maintenance personnel on a regular basis, future students living in the building may avoid some of its current problems. The University has allocated $2.3 to residence hall projects next year, $1 million greater than this year’s spending on dorm repairs.
Thane Tuttle, a senior who is in charge of Student Association President Omar Woodard’s residence hall renewal project, said a decision on where the money will go has yet to be reached.
“We conducted a string of inspections with (Facilities Management Managing Director) Tom Dwyer before winter break … to show him some of the problems,” Tuttle said. “They conducted more inspections over the break and found many of the same problems that we found.”
Tuttle said chipped paint and peeling plaster due to moisture and humidity was one of the most common safety problems his inspections found. Other problems included cracked door hinges in buildings such as 2109 F St. that could pose a security risk and mold in bathrooms and other moist areas.
The residence hall renewal project will report its findings of University-wide housing problems to Facilities Management within the next few weeks, Tuttle said.
University officials said older building on campus take a particular wear and tear, especially The Schenley, which is made of plaster that cracks and constantly needs to be repaired.
“We try to go through and deal with those issues on a regular basis,” Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said. “We have millions of square feet of property and it’s used a lot. Stuff happens, and you’ve got to deal with it.”
Eric Hougen, project manager in the Office of Business and Operations, said that basic maintenance issues and not more serious structural problems are present in The Schenley.
“The Schenley was built in 1926, and our records appear to indicate that it has the type of maintenance issues and concerns that would be fairly typical for a building of that vintage,” Hougen said.
Hougen added that the old hall is one of many buildings being evaluated before the $2.3 million is allocated to different dorms.
At a GW Board of Trustees meeting two weeks ago, Woodard thanked the group for pumping money into some of GW’s aging student housing facilities, and said after the meeting that some halls need more help than others.
“When we did our walkthroughs, The Schenley was by far the worst,” Woodard said. “The Schenley needs help, it needs renovation quick.”
Omar said rounds throughout University housing revealed problems in older residence halls such as “pest problems.”
He added that the $2.3 million allocated to upgrading older dorms is “just a start.”
While Hougen said that no other older residence halls are experiencing severe problems, some students in Lafayette Hall, which houses mostly freshmen, complained about their conditions.
Bryce Mendez, a Lafayette Hall freshman, said his room has been experiencing problems since the first week of school.
“In my room, the heater broke, and the fan broke,” Mendez said.
In addition, he said there was a leak in the room above, which went through Mendez’s living space into the room below.
“Oh, and one of our windows fell out too,” he added.
-Michael Barnett and Gabriel Okolski contributed to this report.