Possible lack of communication could be the cause problems with campus dorms

Reuben Wolf, Staff Writer

As college students living for the first time away from home, it may only seem natural to find things to complain about and point the finger at.  For those who dorm on SUNY Buffalo State’s campus, this finger is – more often than not – pointed toward the campus maintenance department.

“There is a water filter in Tower 4 that needs to be replaced,” said sophomore English education major, Kenniandra Wildman. “It has been for about a week and a half and maintenance hasn’t gotten to it.”

However, the maintenance department does not feel as though this is completely justified.

Of these problems in campus dorm rooms, they may range from what maintenance considers minimal (plumbing, heating, electric) to what they refer to as a “capital project,” something that costs at a minimum of $1 million. No matter the size of the problem, there is a growing student frustration over the lack of campus maintenance initiative, that is, some of these “minor” problems take too long to be fixed.

One of the more glaring and pressing issues that the maintenance department perceived to have shirked is a broken elevator in Tower C of the Moore Complex.  In response to an emailed complaint by a concerned parent, Frank Gilbert, director of Residential Life in the Moore Complex, made a stirring claim about the elevator that furthered suspicions of maintenance’s laziness.

“As for the Moore Complex and its elevator usage, we are very much aware of this inconvenience, and, in fact, I have tried to pull efforts in getting this corrected,” Gilbert said in the email. “However, our Housing Department along with the institution has decided to table the correction of that specific elevator, because of the amount of money that it would take to fix it.”

In other words, the lack of initiative taken to fix the Moore Complex elevator comes in light of plans to renovate all of the dorm buildings on campus. Fixing the elevator in Moore would cost around $500,000. Therefore, a decision was made to table the elevator repair for now, as it would not be wise to spend that type of money given the future plans.

“We’ve laid plans to renovate all of the dorms around the 2014 or 2015 school year,” Housing Office director, Kris Kaufman said. “So, to fix an elevator for that much money wouldn’t make much sense, even though we know it’s been down for a number of years now.”

But the problem of the Moore elevator may prove less pressing considering that dormitory buildings throughout the campus contain asbestos in their ceilings and floors.  This may sound alarming, but keep in mind asbestos is only harmful if exposed.  These types of repairs, according to Kaufman, will be expensive.

“To replace Tower 1,” Kaufman said, “It’s going to cost around $12 million.”

As for the smaller problems on campus, Kaufman understands there are frustrations, but believes some of the problem lies in the fact that students will expect maintenance to fix a problem they are completely unaware of.

“Sometimes I’ll hear students say ‘I thought this person told you,’ or ‘I’m pretty sure somebody else submitted a work request,’” Kaufman said, “Occasionally it’s the case that nobody tells us anything.”

More often than not, maintenance attends to work orders within a week of receiving them.  Wildman’s concern with the water filter in Tower 4, then, may be the result of a lack of communication.

Despite her frustrations, there are students on campus that have effectively submitted work requests and have experienced the benefits of doing so.

“[Maintenance] usually fixes my problems within a day or two,” said Kiamesha Welch,  sophomore early childhood education majorwho lives on campus. “It’s usually been a lightbulb or door that needs fixing, but I’ve never really had a problem with maintenance responding.”

Problems such as this extend even beyond the dorm building walls.  For example, those taking classes in the Classroom Building may have noticed ‘caution’ tape plastered on a few of the doors around the building.  This is potentially due to the fact that, during the windy season, the doors are prone to slam, caused by loosened bolts.

“Ever since I’ve been here, there has been tape on these doors,” said Nick Howard, a senior social work major. “I figured somebody would have told maintenance by now.”

To some, the disconnection between the maintenance department and the student body persists.

If there ever is a problem in the dorms that needs fixing, Kaufman would like students to know that they may submit work order request online here: residencelife.buffalostate.edu/work-order or you can even stop by his office in Porter Hall and submit a work order in person with either him or his staff who he maintains is always around for these types of problems.

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