After rowing practice on Feb. 1, Ivan Soto-Wright tried to relax by taking a shower in his Thurston Hall room.
Moments later, the freshman narrowly avoided serious injury when the ceiling collapsed.
“I heard a crack sound, and within a split second, I moved out of the way and half of the ceiling above the shower came crashing down,” Soto-Wright said.
About $19 million has been spent over the past three years to update the fire and sprinkler systems, replace elevators and renovate the exterior of the residence hall, said Juan Ibanez, Jr., associate vice president for facilities. But despite the millions of dollars in renovations, GW’s largest freshman residence hall is still home to a variety of harmful mold and piping problems.
The University is taking these problems on a case-by-case basis, leaving students to largely rely on FIXit.
Ibanez said money was spent to carpet hallways, paint rooms and for “miscellaneous repairs to portions of the plumbing systems, and other general maintenance-like activities consistent with daily support to a 1,000-person residence hall.”
But dozens of freshmen like Soto-Write say they are experiencing issues that extend beyond general maintenance.
“Half of the brick-like substance that came from the ceiling was scattered throughout the bathtub,” Soto-Wright said. “I survived with a minor scrape on my leg, but it could have been a lot worse.”
When FIXit arrived an hour later, they were surprised to see the damage.
“[FIXit] shows up, tells me [they’ve] never seen anything like it and that I’m lucky for making it out all right,” Soto-Wright said.
Freshman Laura Roccograndi also had major issues with her Thurston room, including a bee infestation and a mold outbreak.
“One day, I came home and my roommate told me that there was a bee in the room. Over the next few days, there had been about 50 bees. The big problem is I am deathly allergic to bees so I had to carry around my EpiPen at all times,” Roccograndi said.
Roccograndi said FIXit did not come until she notified a professor who then called again for her.
She then discovered mold in her closet that spread to a neighboring dorm room. FIXit was eventually forced to tear up the wall to repair a leaky pipe, she said.
“It was terrible. I felt like I was living in the most tragic room in Thurston. One problem came after the next. FIXit should’ve been there,” Roccograndi said.
Shelley Adler, a first-floor resident, said her Thurston room is constantly plagued by maintenance issues.
“FIXit has stopped by our room more than five times. We personally know the superintendent and I always hear FIXit outside the door saying, ‘Oh, it’s this room again,’ ” she said.
Crumbling walls, leaky pipes and moldy walls are some of the problems affecting Adler’s room.
Bits of the bathroom wall shatter onto the ground frequently, Adler said, and a mold problem in the bathroom in the beginning of the school year became an even bigger dilemma since her former roommate was allergic to mold.
This past week, Residential Property Management performed maintenance checks in dozens of rooms in Thurston, inspecting rooms for leaks.
“Currently we are working through some roof leaks, which will be resolved shortly. As for mold, our maintenance and housekeeping staffs are always watchful,” Ibanez said.
He added that Thurston Hall is up to code regarding fire systems and elevators.