Campus housing furniture in bad condition

Carlie Hughes, psychology junior, shows blemishes on her couch in her Sunwatcher Village apartment room on March 2. Photo by Arianna Davis

On-campus apartments and residence halls come furnished and ready to go for students to move in at the start of a new semester — but the furniture and appliances will become damaged or worn out throughout years of use by thousands of students.

“I’ve been here for about a year and one of the priorities I have on my plate is to take a look at our furniture and carpet system-wide and determine what the appropriate renewal and replacement schedule is. We don’t exactly have a solid one right now,” Director of Residence Life and Housing Kristi Schulte said.

When it came time to move in for fall 2016, Carlie Hughes, psychology junior, said her couch was terribly worn out and looked “disgusting.”

“I didn’t even want to sit on it, so my roommate’s dad ended up calling maintenance to have the couch and the chair replaced,” she said. “The couch was replaced with a not much better couch that also had stains all over it. We’ve also been waiting for our chair since August and still haven’t gotten a new one.”

In Hughes’ first year of living in Sunwatcher Village, her dryer had a hole in it when she moved in, causing it to be off balance and shake every time it ran.

“I just think housing should pay better attention to the condition of the furniture and appliances before students start moving in and using them,”she said. “They make such a huge deal out of checkout fees and charges, but they leave us with the mess that other people made.”

The residence handbook clearly states that, “Furniture should be clear of all dirt, dust, etc. All drawers should be cleaned…,”on page 21.

“If these rules were enforced better and students actually read the handbook and paid attention, the furniture and appliances would last much longer,” Hughes said.

She also named the past experiences she had with bad furniture and appliances in Sunwatcher Village apartments.

“I remember last year my apartment’s dishwasher was completely messed up. The racks that the dishes go in were rusted so bad, that the prongs that hold the dishes up were falling off,” she said.

Hughes explained her frustration with having damaged furniture every year she has lived in Sunwatcher.

“We are paying over $5,000 total a semester to live in the on-campus apartments,”she said. “I don’t think we should be paying that amount of money for overused furniture and appliances that aren’t being replaced if they are clearly worn out or broken.”

Hughes also discussed what she thinks housing could do to improve this problem.

“I know we’re responsible for keeping the apartments clean, but I think housing should keep track of the furniture and appliances that look bad and replace it, or at least fix it,” Hughes said.

Claudio Rodriguez, Sunwatcher Village complex coordinator, said new furniture is ordered from different places in town.

“If the furniture or appliance is broken, and someone complains about it, we will go look at it and order a new one,” he said. “We try to keep the same look throughout the apartments.”

If a student is fined for damage to a piece of furniture, appliance, or the carpet Schulte likes to use the analogy of “car insurance” to explain this.

“If there’s a situation where you’re driving your car and someone hits you, you get an insurance check and you make the decisions to whether or not you’re going to replace your vehicle, fix your vehicle, or leave it alone for the time being because you may be getting ready to get a new car anyway. Furniture and appliances work the same way,” Schulte said.

The process of replacing furniture is not easy. At the beginning of each fiscal year, housing has a budget set for the apartments and if a resident breaks something, the money from the fine doesn’t go toward replacing the broken item.

“The money will come out of the budget that we’ve already established,” Rodriguez said. “So it’s not like if you break something, you pay for it and the money immediately goes towards that item.”

If a student causes damage to any furniture, carpet or appliance in the residence halls, they will be fined a minimum of $400 for the carpeting and a minimum of $70 for desk chairs according to the residence life handbook. Although other furniture and appliances aren’t listed in the handbook, a fee is still charged.

At the start of each school year, students are to pay a refundable $100 deposit that will be returned upon leaving the university’s housing.

The handbook explains how this deposit is used if there are any damages to furniture. “Any damage to a student’s room and/or housing common areas will be deducted from the deposit,” page 8.

“There are 95 apartments in Sunwatcher and 95 in Sundance,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes we miss things, and we expect students to let us know right away so they don’t wait until the end of the semester and get charged for something that was already broken when they moved in.”

Rodriguez explains how the apartments are checked when students move out.

“When everyone leaves in May and we start the summer semesters, I will go into the room and tell maintenance what they need to check on and what really needs to be replaced. Then I go check the room again before someone can move in,” he said.

Schulte said the furniture lasts for a certain amount of time and it will be replaced or upgraded as needed.

“There is a percentage of furniture that we take into account each summer that needs to be replaced, primarily because it’s worn out,” she said. “We do the same thing with mattresses, depending on the area we are looking at.”

Schulte also talked about Legacy’s new, contemporary furniture.

“It looks different from anything else that we have on campus, and students take notice of that.” Schulte said, “We are not on the market to replace all of the furniture because we have one building with new furniture.”

The housing team looks at what they need to replace, refresh, or update in the residence halls and how to go about doing that.

“Doing a comprehensive upgrade on all of the furniture is something that we’re open to, but right now it is not something that we’re working on,” Schulte said.