Complaints of unsanitary residence halls trigger University review

Complaints about residence hall maintenance issues have built up across campus in recent years, as shown in a 2011 photo, above. Summer housing residents took their complaints to a local news station this week, prompting a University response. Hatchet File Photo

The University is reviewing how it responds to maintenance requests after summer housing residents complained to a local news station that GW ignored their pleas to fix the mold, crumbling ceilings and filthy appliances in their rooms.

ABC7’s report spotlighted criticism by a summer housing resident and a GW graduate student, who said GW staff members were dismissive of their maintenance requests. University spokeswoman Candace Smith told the local ABC affiliate that the issue has “reached the highest levels at the university, including the president.”

“We are taking a look at our housing maintenance practices and how we interact with residents. It’s really regrettable and we’re very concerned about it,” Smith said after the report aired.

The University initially defended its housing and maintenance departments, pointing to fewer repair requests this summer and GW’s No. 10 spot on The Princeton Review’s “Best College Dorms” list.

The University also told ABC7 that Jennifer Tarnowski, a graduate student and the main subject of the report, was relocated from Aston Hall to another room and offered a refund of about one-third of her $3,292 in housing costs.

The accounts add to the list of student complaints that have knocked GW for subpar residence halls and slow maintenance response time. Last January, residents in Mitchell Hall complained of leaks, fungus, mold and broken appliances and said FIXit wasn’t doing enough to address the building’s state of disrepair.

FIXit crews completed 76 percent of maintenance requests within its five-day target as of March, though its office has had to deal with budget pressures lately. The University will roll out a mobile-friendly website and update students on work progress with status reports this fall.

The University spent more than $3 million on upgrades to Guthridge, Mitchell, City and The Aston halls in 2012. GW is also planning a massive $35 million upgrade to its graduate residence hall, the Hall on Virginia Avenue.

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