The dorm walls are overpainted with a beige-yellow paint with a glossy finish, cracking from years of use and improper repairs. Some windows do not fully open, or open improperly. A carpet near a bathroom is stained from a leaking urinal. Floor and building lounges which are meant as a spot for residents to relax and spend time with each other are currently graveyards for unused, ripped and stained out of date furniture. Are these conditions what students are paying over $12,000 a year in room and board for?
To address these issues, a group of Niagara University resident students decided to form a club where the main goal is to improve the quality of the residence halls and experience of living on campus for everyone.
“There is a disconnect between what happens in the daily routines of the students and what the administration actually knows,” says Tohme, Resident Hall Association’s Public Relations Director.
Click here to listen to the interview: https://soundcloud.com/sara-vogel/rha-interview
RHA directly reaches out to current students by asking about any current issues or complaints they may have, and these issues are reported to Resident Life and other appropriate administrative offices.
“We try to see what we can improve, improve it, and actually do something because at the end of the day we’re doing this voluntarily, we’re doing this for free, we get paid to do it, we’re just doing it to improve our campus and our own lives on this campus,” says Tohme.
RHA has had meetings this semester with these administrative offices.
“So far they’ve met with us, they’ve made promises, we’re waiting on them to deliver,” says Tohme. Administration is expected to be proactive throughout the summer and get a lot of work done.
The first meeting was with Niagara University President Father Maher C.M. accompanied by Executive Vice President Dr. Debra Colley. During this meeting administration referred to the paint color as asylum yellow.
At another meeting, with Provost Dr. Tim Ireland, concerns from students were expressed. Dr. Ireland was astonished by the issues faced by students. He did not understand why some concerns even got to this point. One topic was the lack of storage in some of the rooms. Residence halls O’Donoughue Hall and Lynch Hall have very small rooms. Although meant for a one-person occupancy, there is still an issue of storage space. Dr. Ireland did not know that the beds in the rooms cannot be raised, so storage space is near to none. Clet Hall has many issues, mainly dealing with lounges and bathrooms. Seton Hall and O’Shea Hall have their own problems, the majority dealing with cleanliness.
Residence Hall Association has met with Dean of Students Jason Jakubowski on multiple occasions. During these meetings furniture, carpets, paint, and overall décor were discussed. Along with cosmetic improvements, plans for future designs of some rooms were also introduced. Details are currently confidential. Concerns with cleanliness and general maintenance especially in lounges were addressed at all of these meetings.
Members of RHA took Jakubowski on a tour of the buildings Clet Hall and Lynch Hall. Clet Hall is Niagara University’s first building. Out of three lounges on the first floor, only one is periodically used. The other two, along with the lounge on the second and third floor, are almost never used. All the furniture is either broken, stained, or ripped. The fourth floor does not have a lounge. Paint is stained, cracked, and evidences poor quality and application. It has an unnecessary glossy finish, which exaggerates these imperfections. Each of these lounges are lacking in adequate lighting, making each room feel dull and small. There are no windows in some of these lounges, so proper lighting is heavily relied on.
“Jason Jakubowski, with us, is going to lead to overhauls throughout the lounges, starting in Clet,” reports Tohme. “We’re going to paint the halls, we’re going to get some carpeting, and TVs. We’re going to turn these warehouses of furniture into spaces where students can sit and enjoy being there with others on their floors.”
Click here to watch a video tour of Clet’s third floor lounge: https://youtu.be/wqUDZhr2EY0
Cleanliness of the bathrooms is an even larger issue. There is what looks like mold on the top of the walls by the showers. Shower curtains have black spots of what is also probably mold and curl in on the sides so privacy is sometimes an issue, since there is a lack of changing station for these stalls. Many showers have very poor water pressure, so they are not even used. Each bathroom also has two smalls rooms with a bathtub/shower and a sink. The sinks are not used and there is no usable ventilation system. The steam from a hot shower has no place to go until the door of the room is opened. Some of the shower selections do not work properly, so there will be water coming out of the shower head and the bathtub faucet. Throughout the bathrooms there are black spots in the grout of the floors. Mirrors have possible glue stains, which are quite unattractive.
The entire basement of Lynch Hall is a lounge. This lounge consists of chairs, a laundry room, and a work out room. No one is sure if the equipment is usable. There have been multiple complaints about the lack of heat control. Also, during recent rain storms, the lounge has flooded. This issue especially is currently being considered and how it can be fixed. Another main issue with Lynch is the size of the rooms. There are many complaints about this, which also leads to a storage issue. A small out of date desk is by the window and a set of drawers are on the adjacent wall. Some rooms have beds that can be raised and some do not. The wall space next to the door is taken up by a large built-in closet, which appears to be the only positive aspect of these rooms. There seems to be a large amount of hanging space in these closets. There is a large shelf at the top, which items can be stacked on up to the ceiling.
O’Donoughue Hall, or OD, is the least problematic of the five residence halls. The main issue is the size of the rooms, which is very similar to Lynch Hall. However, OD does not have the built-in closets. This results in even less hanging space and a smaller storage shelf in the present closets.
There are two newer residence halls referred to as “The Towers” – Seton and O’Shea. These buildings are only about 60 years old. Both are very similar. These two buildings have building lounges that could be improved, along with floor lounges. There are balconies that are not being used, and the buildings tend to have an unattractive odor. The laundry rooms are full of washers and dryers that do not work properly. Water leaks on to the floor and poses a safety concern. The windows whistle and some do not open or close properly. Bathroom cleanliness is also a huge problem for these buildings.
“We’re trying to find what the issues are,” says Tohme. “We go to them directly.”
Residence Hall Association has taken much of their own time to provide efforts to take care of these concerns. RHA has recently done floor forums. Members of RHA went to each residence hall for a week. One night was reserved per building. At this event, residents were asked what could be improved in each hall. These complaints have been sent to facility services and Dean of Students Jason Jakubowski. RHA has met with Jakubowski about these complaints and work orders were put in. These efforts and many others will be taken to improve not only these halls but overall life on campus for the residents.