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Commentary: Cleanliness and upkeep of residence halls must be prioritized

Sophomore+Grace+Vanderveer+writes+about+the+lack+of+maintenance+and+the+cleanliness+needs+in+the+colleges+residence+halls.+
Jesus Luna
Sophomore Grace Vanderveer writes about the lack of maintenance and the cleanliness needs in the college’s residence halls.

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

Growing up, my parents always lamented to me about their experiences living in the oldest residence hall on their college’s campus. This building was built in the 1960s, and has since been deemed too decrepit for student housing. In fact, most of their university’s original 1960s residence halls have long been torn down and replaced with newer housing. What I never would have expected was to live in dorms as old as the ones my parents complained about — nearly 40 years after they attended college. This is where I have issues with Ithaca College’s residence halls, which were also mostly built in the 1960s.

Ithaca College’s residence halls have seen better days. They are dated, and have not been maintained well enough to justify their endurance. It’s time for a remodel at the very least.

The lack of upkeep is made apparent by the numerous reports of rats, mice and even mold present in resident halls and apartments. Living in Tallcott Hall during my first year, a number of friends had mice in their rooms, whether it was noticed via a chewed up towel or a face-to-face interaction. Some of my fellow residents took it upon themselves to remove a mouse when it was spotted running around our kitchen, and on another occasion, a dead mouse was found floating in a pot of soup.

Just a few days after moving into Terrace 11 at the beginning of the fall semester, my roommate woke up to a mouse right next to her bed. Not only that, but she found the college-supplied dressers to be full of dead insects. The college had mouse traps placed in our room and we were offered only a temporary housing change by the Office of Residential Life. After countless phone calls and emails, we finally convinced Residential Life to grant us a permanent housing reassignment. 

The college’s system of putting a bandage over the bigger issue of deteriorating residence halls is also made clear by the state of the bathrooms. In Lower Quads and Upper Quads, the bathrooms are dated and not at all suitable to the needs of residents. The bathroom fixtures are very frequently broken or otherwise unusable, often leaving one working shower to be shared between 10 to 20 residents.

The problem is not just that students mistreat shared spaces or don’t clean up after themselves. The college does not devote enough concern to its living facilities. Complaints I’ve heard have ranged from missing showerheads to shower doors that are completely see-through in the communal bathroom. As a first-year student, my RA advised us at our first floor meeting to not use the locks on the shower doors because they tended to easily get stuck and students would get trapped in the stalls.

In the three semesters I’ve attended Ithaca College so far, I’ve submitted maintenance requests because of plumbing problems, like leaking ceilings, water spraying from toilet pipes, and a shower that didn’t drain. My personal experiences with dorm plumbing don’t even compare to what I’ve seen and heard about in other buildings though, considering the documentation of sewage backup issues in Terrace 9 last year by the Barstool Ithaca Instagram account.

Maintenance problems extend past bathrooms. Once on a rainy night in the TV lounge, I noticed rainwater literally pouring into the room from a leak in the ceiling or window. Another time, the laundry room in my building was essentially flooded because of a broken washing machine.

However, having the ability to immediately alert the college of issues in dorms isn’t enough to keep our living facilities up-to-date. In my own experience and the experience of others, maintenance requests often either go unanswered or the problems never appear to be fixed. 

While rodents, plumbing problems and general filth can definitely be exacerbated by students neglecting their living spaces, it’s clear to me that our living facilities are largely outdated and in need of a refresh. The college’s dorm rooms don’t feel like a home. To put it simply, the residence halls feel like bunkers. Cold cinder block walls that just get a fresh coat of paint slapped over any holes, exposed pipes and stained carpets don’t make for a pleasant environment to live in.

The college may boast beautiful landscapes and carefully maintained grounds and facades, but behind the closed doors of residence halls, students come home to a very different atmosphere. It’s disappointing, especially considering its label as a “residential college.” It’s unfair to prohibit students to live off campus until they are seniors when the living conditions available on campus are not acceptable for what we pay to be here. Just because the general public doesn’t see inside the dorms doesn’t mean that these spaces can be forgotten about while millions of dollars are spent updating academic and sports facilities.

Grace Vanderveer (she/her) is a sophomore advertising, public relations and marketing communications major. Contact her at [email protected].

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Grace Vanderveer, Co-Design Editor
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