Locked in the bedroom: Miscommunication with Housing and Dining

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Usually, I find it unnecessary to launch complaints against the system — the system that provides my housing while I attempt an education that will hopefully launch a successful career (which will, in turn, pay off my student loans for housing and education). However, launching complaints against the system became necessary after I had to climb out my bedroom window in order to leave my room.

My awkward encounter with the construction men who wondered which window I had climbed from wasn’t the first issue I have had with Housing and Dining Services. Not that there have been many — they employ me, which I greatly appreciate. Still, the first major problem occurred last semester with a representative of Housing services. He shall remain nameless, yet it is important to know that his job was to settle issues within the dormitory: in my case, a quickly intensifying feud between my roommate and I. Instead he exacerbated the problems, and my general cynicism, when he decided to scream and yell at me. Although his level of disrespect intrigued me, as I was convinced he wanted me to report his behavior to a higher authority, I decided to let the situation be, since finals and the like were quickly approaching.

Since my second negative experience with Housing was much more tragic, I’ve decided to take action.

On August 14, 2007, I was locked into my room. My door was jammed and I was unable to get out. Despite the fact that my bladder was bursting, and my nose was bleeding, I didn’t get out of my room until 11:30 a.m. — when I decided to take action and climb out of my window that might serve as a fire escape. This course of action was necessary even though I called University Police at 9:30 a.m., and Housing at 9:45 a.m., and they had both assured me that they were on their way.

Well, University Police didn’t exactly manage to break down my door, because they never showed up. I had called Housing twice — the first time to introduce them to my unlikely problem, and the second time to introduce them to the necessity of immediate action to resolve my unlikely problem. I was assured the first time that a representative from maintenance was on his or her way, and the second time that the representative had already left and would be arriving any minute. I am still waiting for that representative, two weeks later.

Naturally, I was frustrated. If Housing were free, I wouldn’t feel the need to complain. Since Housing isn’t free, I personally don’t think that maintaining doors is too much to ask.

Well, the staff at Housing noticed I was irritated with the situation, and furthermore, that I had had to go to such extremes as climbing out my window. I wanted someone to explain why no one had come to my apartment, why I had waited two hours (to no avail), and why I had to sacrifice my pride and my bladder.

A representative from Housing and Dining’s explanation, on the behalf of the maintenance employee: “He said he knocked on your door.”

For those students unfamiliar with the floor plans of Margaret Morrison Apartments, there is a main door that opens into a living area and a kitchen, and, in my apartment, the bedrooms are downstairs. So naturally, I asked her what door he knocked on, to which she responded, “I don’t know, I don’t know the layout of Maggie Mo.”

There was silence on my behalf. Where is the communication?! I wouldn’t expect all Housing staff to know the layout of all dorms and apartments, that would be ridiculous. But, as the Housing representative was alternately speaking to the mystery maintenance man on the phone, and me standing in front of her, I found it suspicious that she couldn’t ask him which door. Thus, I was led to believe, since my question was never answered, that if he did come, he came to the front door. And that would be another instance of a lack of communication. When I called Housing, I relayed that I lived in Margaret Morrison Apartments, and that I was stuck inside of my bedroom. My message may have been lost in translation, because the only door he could feasibly have knocked on without me hearing would have been the front door. And, surely, I wouldn’t have been able to open the front door when I was stuck inside of my bedroom.

Despite the questions I asked, I received no answers or reassurance that I wouldn’t be stuck inside of my room again. The mystery maintenance man promised to come to my apartment later that day to fix the door. I assume that he eventually made an appearance, because my door isn’t stuck anymore.

I don’t blame the individuals that work for Housing, but instead the system, or lack thereof, for relaying messages. Housing should learn to communicate better with students, the college, and within its own departments. The campus community, as a whole, should emphasize the significance of communication. Housing must not have cared that I was stuck in my apartment, nor did University Police — that much is clear by the responses I didn’t receive. Their lackluster efforts make me wonder what other messages are lost or jumbled along the way to students and back.

The most tragic part? Well, there was my recycling bin, and the fact that my bladder was no longer pulsating by the time I scrambled out.