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The Housing Issue

Renovations stalled by budget

By Caryn Wilson
On March 18, 2009

Due to university budget cuts, living on campus has become an issue for students.

"It's great living here because you get to experience how to live on your own and meet new people.  But…I have a lock that has been broken ever since I've gotten here," said Farah Jules, 19, a freshman pre-med biology student from Ft. Pierce. "I've put it in like three or four requests, and it still hasn't been fixed. I know if I were in an apartment it would have been fixed at an earlier time."

Recently universities across the state of Florida have been subject to substantial budget cuts.  Nearly $300 million have been cut from university operational costs from the 11 public universities in Florida, according to Board of Governors data.

"We have no money for programs," said Vanessa Chatman, 19, a sophomore healthcare management student from Ft. Lauderdale and a resident assistant in Wheatley Hall.  "Before, we used to get refunded for the money we spent on a program, but now we don't have anything."

Housing enrollment has increased dramatically in the last year, according to the 2008-2009 Resident Assistant Manual. The capacity of on-campus residence halls is 2,473. In 2008, there were 1,858 first-time college students and 583 returning residents.

The ongoing renovations to Sampson and Young Halls is slated to be complete Fall 2011. 

Masekela Mandela, 19, a sophomore business administration student from Tallahassee and a resident assistant in Gibbs Hall, said tenants complain mostly about the Internet connection.

"The Internet infrastructure is severely dilapidated, and students aren't able to finish their homework in the comfort of their own room when that happens," Mandela said.

Chatman believes that more pressing concerns need to be addressed. 

"I think the bathrooms are in severe need for renovation," Chatman said.  "I think we're wasting money on housekeeping.  The (air-condition) never works, it leaks."

Juan Reyes, 18, a freshman architecture student from Miami thinks differently. "I've never had any problems in my room or on my hall," Reyes said. "I heard some people complain about leaks, but I haven't heard anything about it since."

However, Reyes does see some room for improvement. "(Gibbs Hall) could be better but it's not as bad as it could be," Reyes said. 

Some of the Office of Housing and Residence Life's ongoing projects include; ceiling tile and grid replacement in Gibbs Hall, installing new furniture in building B and roof repair on building D of Paddyfote Complex.  They said likelihood of speedy repair and renovations depend on how much money is available. 

"I think the maintenance men do all that they can do with the limited resources that are handed down from the people in charge," Chatman said.  "Maybe the money's just not there."

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