By ELIZABETH BRANTLEY
Facilities Services needs to get their act together. At least I think they do. Since starting at the University of Mary Washington this past fall, I’ve been amazed by the number of work request horror stories I’ve heard from friends, and it’s gotten to the point where I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had at least one bad experience with Facilities Services. Hearing so much negativity in such a short time is a big red flag.
For those of you not aware, Facilities Services are the people that deal with everything from icy sidewalks to broken toilets. The idea is that when something goes wrong in your dorm, you submit a work order request to get things fixed within a day or two. It’s an important service we receive here at UMW and shouldn’t ever be taken for granted. However, due to its importance, I think it’s necessary to look at it with a critical eye now and then in order to make sure everything is still operating smoothly.That being said, certain evidence points towards flaws within Facilities Services.
Take the case of KT Lambert as an example. A while back, Lambert and her roommate realized the shower in their suite bathroom wasn’t draining properly. It would take several hours to dispose of small amounts of water. They submitted a work order and were quickly notified that the problem had been solved. But the next time one of them went to shower, the water didn’t drain. Upon calling Facilities
Services, the pair discovered that workers had gone to the wrong room, found no problems, and marked the work request as resolved. Lambert remarked that though she is typically satisfied with work order completion, she found, “the fact that they went to the wrong place [to be] concerning.”
Furthermore, there’s the case of Sarah Heisey who lives in the UMW apartments with her two roommates. Last fall, the three discovered that one of their toilets didn’t work so they, of course, submitted a work order. Their request was ignored for several days, so they submitted another that was ignored as well. Eventually, Facilities Services claimed to have dropped by and fixed the toilet even though it was clear they had not. To this day, the three roommates still share one bathroom, much to
Heisey’s annoyance. “We were promised two bathrooms when we signed up to live in the apartments,” she said, “and now we have one.”
When asked to comment on these issues, Facilities Services Associate Vice President John Wiltenmuth said that his department handles “between 13,000 and 15,000 work requests in a typical year,” and that “any process may experience occasional aberrations,” but personally, I’m not convinced.
Miscommunication and occasional issues are one thing, but checking the wrong room? Essentially lying about work completed? I’ve heard too many bad stories to consider these small coincidences.
At the end of the day, it’s not about bratty students who want more than they need. It’s about basic services being denied to students who require them as well as denying that there’s any kind of problem at all. I hope that this might serve as a wake-up call for students to voice their concerns and for faculty to take note.