Slum Life: Annoyed Residents Agree Phelan Needs Renovation

Plumbing issues, including hot water faucets that do not work, in tbe bathrooms on the top floors of Phelan Hall are deemed unbearable by residents.  Photo by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn
Plumbing issues, including hot water faucets that do not work, in tbe bathrooms on the top floors of Phelan Hall are deemed unbearable by residents. Photo by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn

With the upcoming renovations of the University Center, and, at some point in the future, the Harney Science Center, some students are wondering when exactly it will be Phelan’s turn.

“USF should not be wasting money on laying brickwork stars in front of the cafeteria or trying to beautify our school with new landscape; they need to get their priorities in order and focus on the interior,” said Montana Dillenberg, Phelan resident.

Phelan Hall, which  is the oldest dorm on campus according to USF’s website, has been showing signs of its age for a while, according to the students who live there.

Nick Wright, English major, said that “The heaters here don’t make your room warm at all.”

“Well, ours won’t turn off,” said biology major Mari Feuz.

There are a variety of other complaints, regarding both building-related and non-related issues–showers that take a long time to heat up, noisy halls, a puddle of vomit that remained uncleaned in the bathroom during the Lovefest weekend–but above all, the residents’ main plague seemed to be related to the bathrooms.

“Once a week we get puddles in the bathroom from old plumbing that hasn’t been fixed,” said Wright.

Dillenberg said that four out of the seven sinks on her floor’s bathroom don’t have functioning hot water knobs.

Feuz agreed, and also demonstrated that tiles are falling in the showers, and that two of the stalls on the sixth floor bathroom have doors that cannot close.

The plumbing may be a contributor to the mysterious stench that several residents observe.

“There’s been a horrible smell in the past few days,” said Taryn Larribas, psychology major. “I think it might be the plumbing.”

Dillenberg went further to state that “Living in Phelan is like living in a communal garbage can. Quite frankly, it’s disgusting, the sixth floor in particular. Not only do the bathrooms carry a horrible stench, but the hallways as well.” Because she cannot access the internet from her room, she has to “sit outside in the hall that reeks of horrible odors to get connected to the internet.”

Internet connection has been another complaint that seems to be cropping up; “The internet is absolutely terrible in Phelan,” said Wright.

Steve Nygaard, director of the Office of Residence Life, said, “ORL has worked with ITS to improve the wireless access setting on the network equipment in Phelan that prevents non-ITS network devices from providing unauthorized network IP Addresses.  The setting only allows a ‘trusted’ server to provided network addresses.  The typical ‘Non-ITS’ network devices that we see are consumer-level routers  that are commonly used at home to share Internet connections. Often students do not understand the impact of the plug-in devices to share a network connection with their roommate or visiting classmate/friend.  This is common in Phelan where only one data port is available per dorm room. With improvements to USFwireless coverage we have seen less issues relate to ‘rogue’ routers.”

Regarding the plumbing, he said, “The administration is in complete agreement that the Phelan plumbing facilities are in great need of repair. When the University renovates Phelan, in addition to addressing the plumbing issues, it is also looking to improve the privacy of the restroom facilities, create floors with the potential for co-ed facilities and greatly improved lounge/common area spaces.”

When will these renovations actually be taking place, however? Dillenberg said she contacted ORL, but that they did not give her any information on the time frame for the renovation. Attempts were also made to contact Mike London, assistant vice president of facilities management, but a response was not received by the time of publication.

Until that indefinite time, students must continue to deal with the occasional plumbing leak and wafting bathroom odor. While some, like Dillenberg, remain angry and frustrated, most are willing to wait.

“Calling it unlivable is a bit overdramatic,” said Wright. “If a few little things got changed, I’d be fine with it.”

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