Need help Just call mom
On-campus housing: Your home away from home. A student's on-campus residence is a wonderful thing, allowing everything from a first taste of freedom, a chance to make new friends and a way to overcome the challenge of balancing the party next door and the paper due in the morning. While the experience might have some bumps in the road, there are plenty of people around to help.
Since transferring to the University, I have spent my on-campus experience on the Cook/Douglass campus. Living in the apartments, students may face problems that do not necessarily present in the dormitories, and understandingly so, as you and your roommates are responsible for an entire four-room place, and that encompasses cleaning and calling your local Housing Office should anything go wrong. Most students probably do not have to worry about much beyond clogged sinks or the occasional broken heater. But when you have more pressing problems, the only thing that can soothe your worries is a professional and prompt response to the problem. In fact, it is not unreasonable that a University-run office full of paid professionals would give you a prompt and efficient response. Unfortunately for the Cook/Douglass Housing Office, I am going to have to give them an "F" when it comes to customer service — at least when it comes to responding to students. After all, they fixed my week's worth of complaining in a matter of 24 hours when I made my mother call.
This tale of woe begins in October, when a trip to the health center confirmed that something in my apartment was giving me allergies. It is hard enough to be sneezing, have red and puffy eyes and be covered in a hideous itch that gives rise to welts, but trying to balance work and school while hopped up on antihistamines can give way to stress. When a friend relayed that she had the same problem and later discovered mold in her apartment, I decided to call housing to voice my concerns. On the phone, the answer was swift: an inspection of the apartment and the suspicious vent in the bathroom, and a possible cleaning of the carpets right away. Instead, only my bedroom was looked into. After going to the health center as the kind woman on the phone advised — in itself an adventure that cost me nearly three hours out of my day — I decided to take my doctor's note to the office and find out the results.
Instead of getting anywhere, I was confronted with a worker who spent nearly five minutes practically ignoring anything I said, eventually learning only a carpet cleaning happened and no one bothered looking for mold in the rest of the apartment. I left not only frustrated and annoyed that the worker would treat me so rudely, but without an answer and nothing except an additional carpet cleaning.
When a week passed without any improvement or response to my e-mails, I decided it was time to bring out the big guns. That's right, and I will not hesitate to admit it: I went straight home to my mommy. As independent as we all like to think we are, there are some things that we twenty-somethings cannot do ourselves, and, apparently, getting a health concern addressed at this University is one of them. Besides, what could be worse than an angry parent?
Monday morning something magical happened. My mother called the office at 9 a.m., the assistant manager called soon thereafter and I had an appointment set up for an inspection that afternoon. Talk about a prompt response!
I find it absolutely amazing — and appalling, if you are Housing Operations — that the pleas of a sick student were not taken seriously until her mother called. Even more troubling is that dozens of students I talked to shared similar stories regarding how quickly the department responded once a parent was involved. While I understand that some professionals may not consider college students to be adults, the fact remains that we still deserve to be treated with respect. It should not take a mother's concerns for someone to efficiently take care of someone's problems. Perhaps if someone took the time to treat students as adults and not whining children, more would start acting like adults. But this is a university, and it is full of students. Our concerns should be addressed first and foremost, and this is applicable no matter what office you happen to be talking to. So students, be polite, but do not let anyone overlook your problems no matter how small. You are what this university was built for.
If no one listens? Well, there's always mom.
Amanda Rae Chatsko is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in linguistics. She is the associate copy editor of The Daily Targum.