Students in distress: broken ceilings, shelves and stoves

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Webster student Parker-Jesse Spearmon began living on campus in early July. After leaving his apartment during router installation, he thought he would return to better Wi-Fi. Instead, Spearmon returned to a mess and broken things left by a worker that fell through his ceiling.

Photo by Craig Reynolds. Exterior shot of the Webster Village Apartments, where students have been alleging poor conditions this semester.

Over the summer, Spearmon received an email from the Housing and Residential Life Office saying that work was scheduled in the attic above his apartment to lay cable for new Wi-Fi routers and systems. He decided to go home for a few days to avoid the noise, but he returned two days later after getting a call from Webster saying that a small hole was made in the bathroom wall.

When he went back to see the damage, Spearmon said he found insulation, drywall pieces and mud everywhere, including on his belongings.

“They were going through the original placing of the internet wiring, and one of the workers fell off the walking beam and through my ceiling,” Spearmon said. “They then proceeded to use a bookshelf that I bought as a ladder and broke multiple shelves, including the one that had my PlayStation 4 and Switch on it.”

Photo by Craig Reynolds. A hole in the wall at the Webster Village Apartments with network cables exposed. The issue has not been fixed since the student moved into their apartment.

Spearmon said he reached out to Housing multiple times but never received a response. He also reached out to Public Safety but was not helped. Finally, Spearmon visited the Housing office and spoke to Rachael Amick, the director of Housing and Residential Life, who heard his complaints and helped push to get things fixed.

Spearmon was not aware that the mess was created by someone falling through his ceiling until he spoke with Amick.

“When I went to Housing upset, that’s when [Amick] said someone told her they fell through, but she didn’t know I wasn’t informed,” Spearmon said. “Housing lied to me and said only something in the bathroom was damaged, instead of telling me the truth that someone fell.”

Despite Spearmon’s belongings being damaged, he said the worst part of this incident was that no one helped him clean anything.

“They were so rude,” Spearmon said. “The first day the workers came in to fix things, a man broke the stuff on my other shelf and said, ‘I’d help you fix this, but we have to do the rest of the room, so I hope you still have the building manuals.'”

Spearmon said he argued with Housing authorities for over a month until they replaced his bookshelf and patched the hole in the wall.

“It costs a ton of money to live in the apartments, yet the living situations have been stressful and lackluster,” Spearmon said. “I don’t think the value of living here is worth all that we’ve been paying.”

The university has been trying to improve student experience on campus with an ongoing Wi-Fi project that started over the summer.

Amick said this project was planned to start mid-June and finish before students move in for the fall semester, but global shipping delays prevented this. She said there was some equipment that was ordered in February, set to arrive in June, but arrived in October.

“This was supposed to be a summer project that would only impact summer residents, but it continued into the fall,” Amick said.

According to Amick, Housing started providing hotspots over the summer, and they ordered more whenever they ran out. Several emails were sent out that asked students to see Housing if their rooms had any issues.

“I actively want students to enjoy living on campus; I think it’s one of the most impactful experiences a person can have,” Amick said. “Just come to me if there’s something going on.”

Student Isabelle Llewellyn has been hesitant about coming forward with her problems in her apartment because she thinks nothing will be done to fix them.

When Llewellyn moved in, her sister put her couch together for her. Llewellyn proceeded to put out a blanket on top and said she did not think much of it. When she later sat down and felt empty spaces underneath her, she removed the cushion and found large holes.

Photo by Craig Reynolds. A large tear in Isabelle Llewellyn’s couch, hollow from a lack of cushion.

“I mean, we didn’t put a work order in, because what are they going to do, give us a new couch?” Llewellyn said.

Llewellyn also said her oven does not work properly. She was making fish sticks one day at 350 degrees. After 5 minutes, she took them out and they were black.

“Again, what are they going to do, give us a new stove?” Llewellyn said.

One night, Llewellyn went to bed and woke up freezing. When she saw the thermostat read 49 degrees, she turned on the heat, but she said all the fire alarms instantly went off in the middle of the night.

“I was panicking,” Llewellyn said. “I called my dad, and I was like, ‘I think I just started my roommate’s room on fire.'”

Although Webster is working on the project to improve Wi-Fi in WVA, students believe the university is moving too slowly on urgent issues. Spearmon said these issues should’ve been an immediate fix, given the amount of money students pay for housing.

“Unhappy students will just create more problems for the school later,” Spearmon said.

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Jordyn Grimes
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