Illustrations, University News

Facilities staff shifts hours to adapt to winter climate

Students report mixed experiences with Facilities Management, citing wait times, low heating

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, February 26, 2016

When temperatures dipped to -9 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this month, the Department of Facilities Management responded to 40 student calls of cold rooms and broken heaters, said Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for Facilities Management.

Facilities Management, anticipating the freeze, tripled its weekend staff and called in extra staff as the night wore on. Extra shifts are typically added in the days leading up to an adverse weather condition, with the size of the increase depending on the strength and type of the storm, Maiorisi said.

When Cadence Pearce ’19 called Facilities Management to fix the broken heater in her room, they “responded within a couple of hours” and were “very helpful,” she said.

Ruiya Du ’19 said she and her roommate were frustrated when they called Facilities Management four times Sunday and twice on Monday, but no one came until late Monday night. Du added she was disappointed that Facilities Management did not give a “clear answer” when asked when they would be in her room, “especially because it was getting late at night.”

Other students coped with the cold temperatures by bundling up. “I wore blankets, hats (and) coats,” said Emily Yaruss ’18, whose Perkins Hall room lacked heat on Friday and Saturday.

Ashley Whaley ’18 also experienced issues with heating in her room, and she ended up having to sleep on the floor of the room across the hall, she said.

Facilities Management workers were able to address each of Yaruss’ and Whaley’s complaints within two days of being called.

The extra staff makes no difference if students choose not to call Facilities Management, Maiorisi said. “We really want the calls because we don’t know what we don’t know,” he said. “If a student is not comfortable in their room, we want to know so we can fix it, not only for them, but also because it could cause other problems down the road.”

The Facilities Management call center, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, tracks where large numbers of calls come from and analyzes the data after every storm. The concentration of calls can then be used to decide which buildings to upgrade next. For example, after a big storm three years ago, Facilities Management retrofitted Minden Hall’s heating system to add individual thermostats in each room.