A pattern of forgotten student concerns

A broken pipe leaves more damage on university’s reputation than on dorms

On February 2, 2014

A callous response to issues facing students appears to be the default for campus administrators. Following the pipes bursting in Ellicott Complex over winter break, flooding several dorms, UB officials stated the importance of students purchasing their own renter's insurance.

One student impacted by the issue made a point indicative of a trend: she thought insurance would be included in the slew of fees involved in dorming and attending the university.

The issue of UB's myriad fees, and the bizarre euphemisms shrouding what they actually are, has been a common refrain. There's a disconnect between offices such as Campus Living, which has such an integral role in students' lives, and the students themselves that continues to go unaddressed.

This issue is just another articulation of a common problem plaguing UB - a communicative mismatch between officials and students, and the deleterious effects that result when problems inevitably arise.

The fact that none of the residents interviewed had renter's insurance is less of a reflection on the newly independent students than it is on the officials responsible for educating and guiding students into independent living. That some would erroneously think the insurance was included in the other fees they pay only emphasizes this.

That Campus Living waits until issues arise, as opposed to being proactive about problems, speaks to an unsurprising, though troubling, trend across the campus. Though far less serious, this story seems reminiscent of the carbon monoxide leak last year that prompted safety changes throughout the dorms.

Freezing pipes during the coldest months of the year and carbon monoxide leaking - these are not abnormal or spectacular problems. These are generally predictable and relatively common. What is abnormal is that the organization charged with housing and serving the needs of thousands of on-campus students would conduct itself in such a disgraceful manner.

UB has already proved itself unresponsive to the needs of students living off-campus, particularly in the University Heights neighborhood, as if on-campus students would receive better treatment.

Campus Living and UB administration need to better inform students coming into the dorms on renter's insurance and other necessities before they move in, and before issues arise.

Further, older buildings around the campus should be inspected and rigorously checked for compliance with safety codes - and potential future issues.

UB's growth and development pursuing UB 2020 has been admirable, and it will certainly bring prestige to the university and benefits for future students. The myopia that accompanies this ambition toward current students, however, is what must change.

The university and its departments can no longer remain blind to problems that exist outside Greiner Hall and the downtown medical campus. Problems have and will continue to arise in the aging building stock of this university, and until attention is shifted to dealing with those, this trend will likely continue.

Attention to fixing and updating outdated buildings in a measured, proactive way is necessary. And when a pipe bursts, a preventable and foreseeable inconvenience, a sincerely apologetic tone may prove more effective at retaining residents than apathy.


email: editorial@ubspectrum.com

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