Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Dorm maintenance issues raise concern on campus, bugs not a “priority”

Justyce+Petty+holds+a+photo+of+the+bugs+that+accumulated+in+her+dorm+room+over+winter+break+Jan.+30%2C+2024+at+Smith+Hall+on+West+Campus+at+SIU+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.+%E2%80%9C%5BThe+roaches%5D+got+solved+kind+of+right+away+but+not+really+because+I+had+been+not+sleeping+in+my+dorm+for+four+days+because+I+was+like+%E2%80%98what+am+I+supposed+to+do+while+theres+roaches+in+my+room%3F%E2%80%99+So+I+slept+in+other+peoples+dorm+rooms%2C%E2%80%9D+Petty+said.+Due+to+the+maintenance+request+being+put+in+right+before+the+weekend%2C+maintenance+was+not+able+to+immediately+fill+the+requests+made+by+Petty.+
Dominique Martinez-Powell
Justyce Petty holds a photo of the bugs that accumulated in her dorm room over winter break Jan. 30, 2024 at Smith Hall on West Campus at SIU in Carbondale, Illinois. “[The roaches] got solved kind of right away but not really because I had been not sleeping in my dorm for four days because I was like ‘what am I supposed to do while there’s roaches in my room?’ So I slept in other people’s dorm rooms,” Petty said. Due to the maintenance request being put in right before the weekend, maintenance was not able to immediately fill the requests made by Petty.

The start of a new semester brings new faces, new experiences and new friends. But for some students, it brings new unwanted guests. 

“I came back from winter break to a dozen dead roaches and a couple alive roaches,” Southern Illinois University freshman Justyce Petty said. 

For Petty, it took contacting her RA, hall director and University Housing to get in touch with maintenance. 

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“It was frustrating because our campus got shut down [due to snow] the day they were supposed to come so they couldn’t come. They came a couple of days after that, but I honestly feel as though the only reason I got a response was because we went through [the assistant housing director,]” she said. 

Before maintenance came, Petty and her friends deep cleaned her room, bought roach traps and sprayed the walls with Raid. She said that maintenance has continued to reach out to her to check on the issue, but that the response was much slower than her first time working with them, when her bathroom flooded shortly after Thanksgiving break. 

“I would recommend them [maintenance] for anything that isn’t bug related,” she said. “They came really quickly when my shower flooded, and they cleaned it and washed our rugs for us because they got drenched. They were really quick about that, but I don’t know if I would suggest them for roach problems.” 

In a small, nonscientific survey conducted by the Daily Egyptian, 88.1% of students said they have had issues with their dorm that required maintenance. Of the 43 participants, 72.1% live on West Campus, 25.6% live on East and 2.3% live in Wall and Grand Apartments. 

Insects seem to be a common issue among students living in West Campus dorms, while water and plumbing is a major problem for those on East Campus. 

One anonymous survey participant wrote, “I heard lots of people [are] living among cockroaches on West Campus, which is not sanitary at all and not acceptable. The buildings should be shut down.”

A sophomore on East Campus wrote, “Our shower wasn’t draining and we had a light out and they [maintenance] came the next morning and fixed it! Very nice.”

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Students who participated in the survey were asked to select all dorm issues that applied to them. Results found that water/plumbing was the most common issue among participants. Insects and AC/heat followed in second and third respectively, and 14 participants listed other issues, such as mold, electricity and broken door handles. 

The survey also found that many students have mixed reviews when it comes to the maintenance team. Sophomore Abby Zerrusen wrote, “Sometimes they blame you and don’t take you seriously, but some people are kind and friendly and genuinely care.”

Zerrusen emphasized the importance of treating students with respect, but also recognized that the maintenance team may not be fairly compensated for their tasks. 

“I don’t know how much maintenance workers get paid, maybe they don’t get paid enough to care all that much,” she said. “Either way people just need to be more kind and believe students when they say something is an issue, and most importantly not ridicule people. I have heard of and experienced instances where either maintenance, housing or both just act like whatever issue there is was the students fault and even laughed at the student in one case.” 

Jim Hunsaker, Senior Associate Director of Housing Operations, said that over the last three years, $10 million has been put into keeping the buildings safe for students. 

“Student safety and comfort and convenience is always at the forefront of our minds,” he said.

Hunsaker said that if students are faced with an emergency, they should contact their resident assistant or hall director immediately. 

“For instance, a leaking shower or a sink that won’t turn off or any type of leak should be reported immediately, so we can take care of that,” he said. “Otherwise, through the housing portal, a student will submit a maintenance request. If it’s bug issues or other non-emergency issues, we will prioritize those and take care of those as soon as we possibly can. But the emergency needs to get reported right away, and everything else is done through the housing portal on a maintenance request.” 

Emergency responses are immediate, he said, but other issues can take up to ten days depending on priority. 

“We’re going to prioritize the work orders. If it’s an issue of light bulbs or bugs, light bulbs are going to take precedence over now sweeping up ladybugs, for instance,” he said. “We definitely will get to it as soon as possible, but there could be a seven to 10 day wait for some issues.”

To keep rooms free of pests, Hunsaker recommends getting rid of garbage and making sure your room is clean.

“Cardboard is a nesting ground for bugs. A lot of pests will lay eggs in the cardboard. If students don’t get the cardboard out of their rooms, they can hatch pests,” he said. “Keeping your room clean, keeping the food put away, either in the refrigerator or covered in a container, that’s the biggest thing…We recommend that the students keep their room as clean as possible; clean the bathroom, clean the room, and just try to help us control these issues. Because if the students can’t keep their rooms clean, it just is a breeding ground for pests that makes it harder for us to do our job.” 

Hunsaker spoke proudly of the maintenance team and commemorated them for their efforts. 

“I think we have a fantastic maintenance staff, and I think our students really appreciate how quickly we get on things,” he said. “We live in southern Illinois, we have the most beautiful campus in the state. But along with that natural beauty of the campus, with the woods and in the lake and…being surrounded by rural farming communities, there’s gonna be bugs without question…We are here to make the experience the best we possibly can for the student, and quite frequently, our maintenance staff will get thank you letters…So for the most part, our students really appreciate what we do.”

For more information, visit the Maintenance & Housekeeping page on the University Housing’s website. 

News Reporter Carly Gist can be reached at [email protected]

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