Editorial: Tragedy of the Housing Commons


University housing is a mess. Literally.

In past weeks some students have noticed more and more laundry facilities becoming unusable in their dorm. This doesn’t happen just every now and then; it has become a daily issue for students.

This week in an article on university housing maintenance, we checked out the occurring issues in each laundry facility. Six of the seven facilities (across all dorms) had at least one unusable appliance.

There were signs discouraging use, several washing machines unplugged, leaks in some and some don’t even have signs to indicate the problems.

Work orders for maintenance also pour through on a daily basis. Forty of them can get resolved and another 20 will pop up. Like the cliche goes, it’s two steps forward and one step back.

Currently, there are only 11 maintenance people employed for all the housing facilities. That’s 11 people in charge of cleaning up after nearly 4,000 residents.

On top of that, the position for University Housing Associate Director of Operations is vacant.

The previous associate director of operations was in charge of overlooking the maintenance and improvement of facilities, according to a University Housing sub-page on the Georgia State website.

We praise the 11 workers for being able to handle all the workload. But they need help and all the residents need help. ASAP.

The position for University Housing Associate Director of Operations has been vacant since August and we are already more than halfway through the fall semester.

We pay approximately $3,000 a semester and up for university housing — and in the whole housing package, we expect good service.

Granted, University Housing does an excellent job of putting on programs to create a sense of community with all the student residents. Students can wake up to a nice surprise every now and then: free food, bus trips to the grocery store, information sessions and more.

That’s good because it means we, the students, are in their minds. And yes, all those things are nice, but we need our basic necessities met before moving on to more lofty goals. Not only should the associate director of operations be filled, but more money needs to be allocated to create jobs and initiatives in maintenance too.

There also needs to be direction on what students can and should do if they notice maintenance issues in common areas. There is a lack in sense of responsibility, creating a ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ right in our backyard.

For example, the University Commons, which houses 2,000 students altogether, only has four laundry areas for each building. The laundry space is something everyone has to share, but it seems as though no one thinks about the next person that may need to use an appliance. People leave behind clothes (or just throw them out), leaks get left running, floors remain wet, and overall, everyone’s mess just gets left behind too.

As one maintenance worker pointed out, sometimes students are the ones who put up signs or unplug the machines. In the short term it seems like that may help. But if the maintenance workers aren’t aware there’s an issue, then they won’t know there’s an issue to fix.

There should be more visible signs on the facilities directing people on how to report issues to maintenance. There should also be official signs indicating which machines are malfunctioning and which machines are currently being repaired.

There is also a sign in some of the University Commons telling residents if they leave their clothes unattended for hours on end, the clothes will be removed. And even that creates a mentality of “every man for himself” when the mentality should be that we all own the space and we all have to take care of it.

The maintenance situation as it is now is not pretty. Someone needs to be around to hear out the problems and we all need to start taking care of our common areas. If not, everything will just continue to run loose. Again, all students have to pay approximately $3,000 a semester for housing. Let’s all take responsibility for the mess while urging University Housing to take steps to improve conditions.


Read Letter to the Editor here.

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