Recurring problems in City Hall, the aging former hotel-turned-residential hall, have caused some students to question the capability of the University to maintain its housing.
The residential hall, converted from the former St. James Suites hotel, is composed of 189 units and houses more than 500 students, including many who said they have had major facilities issues this year.
After the garbage disposal in junior Sarah Mersky’s City Hall kitchen broke unexpectedly earlier this year, a “disgusting odor” filled her room, she said.
Mersky called Residential Property Management to request immediate assistance and was referred to the online FixIt form. She was assured that an RPM representative would come that day.
Hours later, the rotten smell had reached the hallway, and no one had come, she said. Mersky called three more times that night and each time was assured help was on the way.
The next day, when she called for the fifth time and threatened to involve her parents, the problem was addressed.
“I guess the only way to get things done is to tell GW that you are going to call your parents, which is stupid because the point of college is to be independent,” she said.
Mersky and other residents reported additional problems, including faulty doors.
“The biggest issue is the doors,” Mersky said. “In the beginning of the semester my key would demagnetize every other day.”
City Hall uses magnetized key cards, a system commonly used by hotels. Each door is equipped with an electronic portal that reads the key cards. Mersky said her portal was defective and arbitrarily reset itself, preventing it from correctly reading her key.
She said she complained to RPM about the door after being locked out several times, but the source of the problem was not addressed.
“Once it happened at 4 a.m. and my roommate and I had to sit outside our rooms until 6 a.m. when someone finally came. My parents finally called the University and they listened to them and actually fixed the door,” she said.
“My key still gets demagnetized but at least my door is fixed,” she said.
Managing Director of Residential Property Management Thomas Dwyer said the University is considering changing the locking mechanism, but did not know if an adjustment would be made.
“We are exploring alternative locking systems, but it is too early to confirm at this time whether any change will occur,” he said.
Dwyer said the key cards can be subject to demagnetization when they come close to devices like cell phones and iPods – a regular occurrence for many students. He suggested students utilize the free card sleeves that cover the key in plastic and are provided by the Key Depot to prevent demagnetization.
Other City Hall residents have also complained of damaged furniture and failing Internet service.
“Our closet door has been broken since August,” junior Tom Luley said. The damage prevents the closet from being used, he said.
“There is a sign on the door that says they would be back to fix it soon, and yet both the broken door and sign remain,” Luley said.
He has reported the problem to FixIt twice, but has “given up” after his requests went unaddressed.
“Facilities strives to respond to student requests for services or repairs in a timely manner across all residence halls, regardless of whether a hall is owned or leased,” Dwyer said.
Other residence halls have experienced problems as well.
Sophomore Rachel Primé said the water in International House unexpectedly turned off earlier this month, forcing her to bring her toothbrush to an academic building.
E-mail notifications about the outage were sent out the previous Friday, Juan Ibanez, associate vice president for Facilities, added, but no physical notifications were posted in the residential hall.
“Except possibly in cases of emergency shut-offs, there should be a physical posting of signs alerting residents to any service outrage. We have reminded staff to follow this procedure, and appreciate The Hatchet bringing this oversight to our attention,” Dwyer said.
Many residents in The Dakota have experienced hot water shortages this semester. Dakota resident Caitlin Summers, a sophomore, said the problem occurs about once a week.
“GW fixes the problem in a timely manner. However, they have not communicated to the residents of Dakota the source of the problem and what is being done to prevent it from occurring in the future,” she said earlier this month.
Junior Lauryn Adams, also a Dakota resident, reported a similar experience. “I think it’s ridiculous to come back from the gym to have to take a cold shower before class in the room I’m paying $10,000 for,” she said.
Ibanez said the water-heating issue in The Dakota came from a broken control valve, and the University has fixed the problem and continues to monitor it to ensure future operation.