Lack of communication between maintenance and students leads to awkward moments in the Cal Poly Humboldt dorms

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by Alina Ferguson

Submitting a maintenance request is a mysterious process here at Cal Poly Humboldt. The procedure goes something like this: submit a request and two weeks later, someone will bang loudly on your door. Do you get confirmation emails? Not in my experience. 

Unlike other rent-paying, contracting-holding people, students do not get full tenant rights, which normally stipulate 24 hour notice before repairs. My complaint is not with the maintenance staff, but rather with the lack of a system for notifying students about maintenance in their dorm.

Last semester, my roommate was coming up the hill to Creekview and saw some man in our room! Naturally, she was freaked out—who was this strange man, and why was he in our room? As it turns out, he was there to fix the window. 

I worked online from my dorm every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm, and one day someone barged into my room during a work call to “fix the lights.” I asked if it needed to be done at that exact moment, and the maintenance man responded with “yeah.” So, inconvenienced and with all my other roommates still sleeping, I did an hour of work in my bathroom. My laptop was precariously perched on the toilet, my phone was scrunched against my ear and my shoulder, and I was sitting cross legged for an hour. My feet fell asleep, so I had to crawl back to my room like some horror movie villain, hair in my face and phone in my mouth, grunting from the pinpricks in my feet. 

This semester, I submitted a request to put a bar across my top bunk. A week later, someone banged on our front door while my roommate was taking a nap and my housemates were out. What could we do? Well, he said he would come back in half an hour, and an hour later, he was back. 

Though, it’s not always that they take weeks. My roommates and I put in a request for our microwave and electrical outlet to be fixed and that same day, someone arrived. I came home to the door ajar and the microwave disassembled like a butcher had just gone to town on it, tools scattered across the countertop. I tiptoed to my room, and my roommate muttered, “Maintenance is here to fix the microwave and electrical.” I asked if she had gotten an email or call beforehand, and of course the answer was no.

The maintenance team themselves are not at fault. The staff here do a brilliant job; they work efficiently and are always friendly. They work hard to make sure that all our requests are fulfilled and they do an excellent job of repairing whatever is broken. 

But I have some ideas to improve the maintenance process. There needs to be a system for alerting students to maintenance work in their living spaces. Normally, as a tenant, someone who pays rent and has a rental contract, you are entitled to 24 hours notice when anyone is entering your unit or room for non-emergencies. Student tenants should be granted the same courtesy. I pay to live here, and I signed a contract; we all did. 

Sending an email is all it takes. Just send me an email with the name of the maintenance worker, the approximate time they will arrive, and what they will be fixing. While I understand that there are a lot of students here, I believe we need more communication between dorm residents and staff. It is about respect for both the students and maintenance staff. 

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