When it comes to housing, no UMBC student wants to be stuck in a freshman residential hall. There are constant maintenance and cleanliness issues that take an unnecessarily large amount of time to fix. UMBC’s ResLife needs to focus on upgrading these older halls. And although these improvements will most likely raise room rates, students need to advocate for upgrades in freshman residential halls so that they can match the standard that is set in upperclassmen halls.
From holes in the walls to flickering lights, freshman residential halls at UMBC are clearly in need of renovations. In Susquehanna hall, it is not uncommon to find a sketchy microwave or a broken laundry machine. The lack of maintenance is problematic for a student’s living condition and does not correlate with the rising room rates.
Room rates are the same across the board, whether a student lives in Potomac, a freshman residential hall, or Harbor, an upperclassmen hall. This causes an unequal relationship of price and condition, where some students in lower quality residential halls are paying the same amount as students in higher quality ones.
Even those who have adapted to constant problems in their on-campus residences are still appalled by how long it takes to fix things in the residential halls. “I was about to say that the freshman [halls] weren’t that bad,” said Brendan Witt, a freshman computer science major who lives in Potomac, “But then I walked literally outside of my door and found a three-foot hole in the wall.”
One issue that seems to be present in almost every freshman residential hall is faulty HVAC systems. Aminata Tolbert, a freshman biology major who lives in Patapsco Main, is forced to deal with this issue every day. “The central heating in my room is very bad, “ she stated. “For instance, it’s 69 degrees in my room for this winter time … I put in a FixIt and people came, but I didn’t see any change in temperature.”
HVAC systems are maintained annually and the filters are changed semi-annually, according to Frank Caldwell, the Associate Director of Residential Life. “Most of the complaints we get about room temperature are due to shoulder months,” he said. “These are times when the days are warm and the nights are too cold to turn on the chiller.”
Many are worried that any upgrades to the halls will cause an increase in room rates. There is already a proposal that is raising room rates due to “expenses [including] things like utilities, furniture and supply & labor costs for maintenance.” Introducing better systems and constantly keeping them up-to-date would require a hefty chunk of the budget.
However, the proposal is already using upgrades to residential halls as a reason for the increase. If this proposal goes through, Erickson and Harbor Hall, which are the newer residential halls, will receive renovations. Room rates are going to increase due to maintenance regardless. Now, it is simply a matter of where that money for residential improvements will be going.
The lack of up-to-date maintenance is not because ResLife is ignoring student complaints. Often times, ResLife is not aware of the problems students deal with every day in their rooms. It is our job, as residents, to bring these issues to light so that ResLife can address them.
By vocalizing concerns about the status of the residential halls, UMBC students can make the freshman halls “fresh” once again.