Georgia State’s University Housing has recently faced concerns with upkeep and leadership, resulting in complaints from student residents.
Charles Mayfield, Georgia State’s building manager for maintenance, said he and the building manager for custodial services Meqqa Washington have had to assume more housing operations responsibilities.
This began when the University Housing Associate Director of Operations position, formerly held by Laurence Uphoff, became vacant on Aug. 5, according to Mayfield.
A shift in leadership
Mayfield said Uphoff no longer holds the position because he has moved to a new position.
Uphoff’s responsibilities were directing operational activities and creating goals for maintaining and improving housing facilities, according to University Housing’s website.
“The main change was just more on my plate and Ms. Washington’s plate where he would deal with getting foundation money,” Mayfield said. “Now it falls on us to get money for special projects. [It’s] just a more day to day role with the front end of it than the actual implementing of it.”
The university has yet to look for another person to fill the position, according to Mayfield.
‘We are just waiting with some of the new initiatives that are going on [and] waiting to see how they finish out before they look for that position,” he said.
The position is open and the housing director will post the Associate Director of Operations job responsibilities online and conduct interviews, according to Mayfield.
Procedures and concerns
Mayfield said University Housing has 11 maintenance workers and they complete roughly 50 work orders a day.
“I can change every light bulb in this building today and tomorrow there will be 10 light bulbs down,” he said. “I can go and unclog every drain in this building today and tomorrow there will be 10 drains clogged up.”
Once a maintenance request (TMA) is turned in, the average turn around is 20 hours, according to Mayfield.
“We take pride that we are one of the smallest departments in personnel but we do tremendous amounts of trying to make everything right,” he said.
Piedmont North resident Doran Draluck said he filed a TMA for his broken drawer but they never got back to him and now there are other things in need of repair as well.
“There is a vent that came loose on our ceiling and also a towel rack that came loose,” he said.
Brandi Jackson, Patton Hall resident, said she submitted a TMA about her broken toilet button and maintenance came much later after the request.
“It was broken on move-in day and I told them on move-in day. Then I submitted a TMA a week later and they didn’t come until like a month,” she said.
Jackson said University Housing should hire more workers to improve maintenance and timing issues.
“I have friends who have lights that are out or like some sort of things are not working,” she said.
Jackson suggested more people who would work more hours should be hired so things can get fixed faster and more efficiently.
Prevailing laundry room issues
On Oct. 21 The Signal visited laundry rooms throughout campus dorms and below were the statuses of each.
Six out of seven laundry rooms on that day had at least one unusable appliance. Patton Hall is the only Georgia State housing facility with all laundry appliances working
In the Lofts, two washers had signs discouraging use but a third unresponsive washer didn’t have one posted. All dryers appeared to be working.
On May 13, 2014 one of the Lofts’s dryers caught fire and students were evacuated.
Student Osiga Utsalo said the Lofts’s laundry facility was recently restocked with new dryers after having many broken ones previously. She also said there’s a concern about the size of the laundry room.
“The only problem is… do you have time to do your laundry because [there are] so many people and there [are] no washers and dryers available?” she said.
The Lofts’s maximum amount of residents is 550 and they share one laundry room located on the first floor of the housing facility, according to University Housing website.
Piedmont North also has one laundry room and on Oct. 21 seven of the washing machines were unplugged and only one of them had a sign. There were also two dryers unresponsive and lacking signs.
All of University Commons’ laundry rooms had at least one unplugged or unresponsive washing machine in the four buildings.
In Commons Building A there were three unresponsive washers and one dryer not working. All of them were without signage.
Building B had one unresponsive and one unplugged washer. Two of the dryers weren’t working either.
Building C had an unplugged washer without a sign. Building D had an unplugged washer and another washer with a sign discouraging use because of leakage.
Kojo Burah, Maintenance Technician 1, said he checks the laundry rooms daily to see the status of the machines. He also said University Housing is aware of broken appliances and will fix them when parts are ordered.
Some repairs are also outsourced and depend on the ability of the technicians, according to Burah.
Mayfield said University Housing tries to put a sign on the appliances but cannot keep it there and residents tend to ignore it. To prevent residents from using broken appliances, housing has resulted to unplugging and turning off washer’s water.
“We have had them [residents] plug it back up, climb up and turn the water back on,” he said.
Upcoming housing improvements
Commons Building A’s laundry room will receive new washers and dryers during Thanksgiving break costing $70,000, according to Mayfield.
Commons Building B, C and D have also received a quote for new washers and dryers but it is unknown if appliances would be added to those laundry locations anytime soon, according to Mayfield.
Housing is also planning on reupholstering 783 living room furniture pieces in the Commons and adding new elevators to Piedmont North B building, according to Mayfield.
He said housing funds come from sources such as student room rates, allocated funds from the Georgia State University foundation and the Board of Regents foundation. This does not include state or federal funding.