MINNEAPOLIS -- College dormitories aren't known for being luxurious, but social media posts of spiders and cockroaches are being shared across Augsburg University's campus.
"This is very heartbreaking for me because no one should be living in conditions like these," a student wrote on Instagram. "Through the years, the conditions of these buildings have gotten worse & worse."
Leora Derechin, an Augsburg junior who lives in the affected dorm, told WCCO about her own issues related to a broken window.
"You get snow in your room, the AC doesn't work, the heat doesn't work, and you're hearing a wind tunnel and you can't fall asleep for the six hours of sleep you need before class – it gets frustrating," Derechin lamented. "And I haven't moved in because of that problem, because I lived with that problem all of last year."
Though Derechin is still paying to live on campus, she said she's currently living at home with her parents and commuting to school.
"I'm not saying [the window] is a simple fix, but I think it's something they could do for a single student. They just haven't chosen to take action to do what their job is supposed to be doing, which is maintenance for the students who live on campus," Derechin said.
Administrators declined several requests for an interview, instead a university spokeswoman sent a statement and answered follow up questions via email.
"Our students' safety and well-being is a priority, and we make every effort to address concerns about campus life. Given the disruption from COVID these past two years, we recognize that students may not be aware of the process for submitting facilities requests when needed," the spokeswoman said.
"We know photos like those shared recently on social media can be upsetting even if students have not directly had the experience themselves. We have been working with student groups, including student government, for the past several months to clarify the request process as well as the treatments we do in cases like those suggested in the online posts. Recent process improvements include providing greater transparency around work order status and timing; a campus-wide communication initiative about the online system used to report and track facilities requests; and specific plans to address these topics in residential floor meetings at the beginning of the fall semester."
According to the university, maintenance is fully staffed and the goal is to address complaints within five business days.
"In general, when a student submits a facilities request in our online system, they receive a confirmation that their request has been received, and it is assigned to an appropriate facilities staff member. That facilities staff member coordinates with the student to determine a time to assess the situation and the plans to address it. Depending on the scenario, this might involve scheduling external contractors. For recent context, we had approximately 750 students move in over the last few weeks and have seen about 10 new work orders related to pest issues. A goal of our recent and ongoing process improvements is to receive all future requests through the online system in order to be able to affirm we have completed the appropriate follow up."
Bethlehem Belainah, the president of Augsburg's student government, told WCCO that she is trying to mediate the situation and bring about positive change.
"It's kind of a both-ways problem. [Students) not being patient and also not being like active from the university side and from the student side," Belainah said. "I would say the problems with the residence halls have never been worked on because I have talked to a lot of students before us that just graduated, and they have the same issues going on. That shows nothing had been done for it."
Belainah added that she will be meeting with affected students next week. She did, however, also describe instances where students would call campus police for complaints instead of going online.
"They just come to the window and say, 'Hey my pipe broke, or this thing is not working.' We tell them to go online and submit a form," she said.
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