On the night before moving in this fall semester, Webster students finished packing, rushed to the store to complete last-minute errands and tried to calm their nerves. The email the university sent around 5:30 p.m. that night made some of the students’ night more stressful.
“There will be some carpet cleaning in the WVA apartments tomorrow. The carpets may still be damp, do not worry about this,” the message read. “Please keep as many of your belongings as you can off the floor. Thank you for your cooperation!”
Junior Bethany Lancaster worried about her belongings getting wet because of the carpet cleaning. When she moved in, she put her boxes on the couches, tables and bed.
“I’m just confused why the carpets couldn’t get cleaned weeks before we moved in,” Lancaster said. “I’m not even sure if the carpets were wet, but I wasn’t taking any chances.”
Taylor Brown said she felt stressed from the email Webster sent the night before move-in, but it was all for nothing. Her carpet was never cleaned.
“My roommate and I had to clean the carpet ourselves to make living better and more comfortable for us,” Brown said.
A dirty carpet is one of many issues the Brown faced in her apartment. In addition, her fire alarm battery died, the fire alarm goes off almost every time they cook, her toilet floods and there are silverfish everywhere.
Brown says when the fire alarm battery died, it woke her up in the middle of the night.
“It took over an hour for Public Safety to come to help,” Brown said. “I didn’t get more than four hours of sleep before class. They are supposed to change batteries every year, and our batteries are from 2018.”
While these practical issues have been hard for Brown, it seems the most stressful issue at Webster is the poor Wi-Fi.
The WVA apartments have little to no Wi-Fi sometimes, which Housing and Residential Life knows. The university started to provide hotspots to students but ran out due to high demand. The housing office did not message students about the availability of hotspots, so some students weren’t aware of them in the first place, including senior Jonny McCarthy.
“They’ve only just now tried giving out hotspots to make us happy, but I just think it’s not enough, and it was overall poorly handled,” McCarthy said. “If it was handled well, they would have had alternatives, like the hotspot, from the start.”
The poor Wi-Fi has made learning hard for McCarthy since early in the semester.
“It was tough the second week when I got sick and couldn’t even Zoom into class from my room,” McCarthy said. “I ended up missing three days of class.”
Brown has faced similar issues academically.
“I have to finish my homework outside of my apartment at times,” Brown said. “I’ve also been kicked out of tests while taking them.”
Besides academically, McCarthy has also been affected socially.
“I can’t really watch shows for leisure or play games with friends because the internet is so bad, so it’s also affected that part of my daily life,” McCarthy said.
Kole Myrick, community director at Webster, urges students to put in work orders with Information Technology to address their issues in their apartments.
“We have a fantastic maintenance team here, but if no one is told it’s broken, it’ll never get fixed,” Myrick said in a WVA GroupMe.
Nonetheless, McCarthy said he put in a work order over a month ago and has yet to see results.
“I’ve had a work order in since the last week of August, and nothing is being done,” McCarthy said. “So with that being said, I think it’s pretty clear that the apartments weren’t ready for people to live in.”
McCarthy also said he has two large holes in his walls, exposing electrical wires that haven’t been patched despite his submission of work orders.
Lancaster also has holes in her walls that she said haven’t been patched up. She said she had to cover a hole in her bedroom wall with a poster.
“It’s disgusting,” Lancaster said. “We’ve had silverfish crawl out of the holes and I just feel like my apartment is filthy.”
Students aren’t feeling heard. Some discussed whether a petition may be the answer to their frustration. Other students believe these issues have been going on for too long and the answer is some form of reimbursement.
“I think tuition/rent reimbursement is the best way Webster can fix this, especially with the amount of money we are spending to live here,” McCarthy said. “In terms of getting their attention, we need to make it as public as possible.”
While students are frustrated, they are not the only ones struggling at the moment. Professor Allison Levin is facing some adversity teaching in the new wing of the Sverdrup Building.
“The new classrooms in Sverdrup are excellent for student learning, but it is a shame that this far into the semester, Sverdrup 258 is still without internet,” Levin said.
Levin had to adapt to teaching without Wi-Fi in the classroom by using her personal hotspot to access materials on her laptop and tablet. Her students are also struggling with viewing class materials and digital textbooks, thus having to resort to using their phones.
“Unfortunately, I am finding myself changing my teaching style to adapt to the lack of internet in the room and students struggling with how to adjust the way they prepare for the class discussions,” Levin said. “While we are getting through it, I think we are all waiting for the internet in 258 so we can engage in the discussion and activities we usually would.”
Patrick Giblin, director of public relations, says the new wing of Sverdrup is currently under construction, which is impacting the stability of the Wi-Fi network in that area.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to build state-of-the-art learning spaces for our students,” Giblin says.
As students continue to seek answers from the university, they are growing more frustrated every day with what they say is a lack of sympathy from Webster.
“I understand they want us to wait, but some of the things we are waiting on should have been handled before we moved in,” Brown said. “How would they feel if they couldn’t live comfortably in their own house? I get things can’t change within seconds. Therefore, I have no choice but to wait, but it’s not fair.”