Residents get rude awakening

It wasn’t the sun that woke the residents of Polkinghorne Village building 146, but the combination of maintenance men stomping above their heads, the thick odor of tar and pieces of asphalt falling from their ceilings.

“I heard noise on the roof and looked up and rocks were falling on my head,” said Miguel Davis, 23, from Mobile, Ala. “It took me three hours to clean up all the black dust and dirt.”

Without prior notification from the University’s Housing department, the building’s residents were forced to weather the roof repair project for almost two weeks last January.

Davis, a Computer Information Systems senior, was the first tenant to alarm the Polkinghorne office of the disturbance. “I called the office at 8 a.m. to find out what was going on,” he said.

Polkinghorne Resident Adviser Johnny McCaskill said the Housing department did not forewarn him of the roofing project, so he could not notify residents ahead of time.

Resident Assistant Natalie Gardner, 21, a junior African-American Studies student from Miami verified that the Polkinghorne office was not informed about the roofing project in advance.

Still, residents were not informed about the project until much later in the day.

“Once [McCaskill] knew about the situation, a notice about health concerns and risk of damages was not posted until 3 p.m.,” said building 146 resident Sharonda Amaye-Obu, 24, a senior business administration student from Gainesville. “That was seven hours after the first student complained.”

Associate Director of University Housing Bernard Kelly confirmed that Housing did not have advanced notification. “We [Housing] did not set that appointment. I suspect that it was Physical Plant,” said Kelly. “I asked Physical Plant to make us aware of such instances [roofing project].”

In April 2003, Kelly sent a memo to Kendal Jones, Physical Plant director, that stated in order to provide improved customer service to the students, Housing needs Physical Plant to inform residence hall directors each time repairs will be made.

According to Kelly, LeRoy Simmons, the University roofer, may have set up the roofing project. Neither Jones nor Simmons were available for comment.

The University Housing Web site states that the housing staff, including maintenance personnel, is “to help provide a clean, well-maintained facility”.

Although the roofing project is complete, Davis had to sleep on his couch to avoid headaches from the lingering smell of tar. He still has tiles piled up in his bathroom that fell from the walls during the ordeal.

“I had to go to some one else’s place to take showers,” said Davis. “They [Kelly and McCaskill] said they would take care of it, but they aren’t.”

Contact Thometta Cozart at