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Housing standards should live up to their occupants

By Chancellor Mills
On September 1, 2011

For my first column of the new school year, I've decided to forego my normal funny, light-hearted column and, instead, address a problem that I see with the Residential Living and Learning department. I know what you're thinking: "Great. Someone else is complaining about housing. How very original." Well, before you go writing me off, the problem that I want to address is something that not all students are able to complain about: family housing. 

Before I state my grievance, I'd like first to explain how I know some of the things that I know, as well as the real reason for my outrage. My best friend "Blake" has been dating a girl named "Zelda" for quite some time now. She just moved to Commerce this semester to go to school, and with her she, of course, brought her 18-month-old son "Jose." Now, despite what some of my columns might suggest, I love kids. (Every year, I enjoy celebrating Make-Me-A-Father's Day.) I'm also rather good with children when they are around Jose's age. So, given that side of my personality, as well as my closeness with Blake and Zelda, I act as Uncle Chancellor to the kid.

I've dated a girl who lived in family housing before and heard her complain about it, but nothing has ever driven the issue home more than knowing that my "common law nephew" is now living in that dump, Leberman Hall.

When Zelda and Jose moved in, I obviously wasn't there to see some of the problems and just how barren it was. For instance, Zelda tells me that there were a lot of dead bugs in her room that she had to clean. Also, having been there a few times now, I can see that, had she not brought some of her own furniture, the entire front half of her "dorm" would have had nothing in it except the kitchenette.  The other things that she has shown are the stained floors and walls, mildew in the bathroom, broken locks and doors, the rusty old playground outside and – probably the worst thing – a large black spot in the corner of the bathtub about the size of a softball.

Now, I understand that, in and of themselves, these conditions are not exactly egregious on their own. I had some of these similar problems at my apartment at Prairie Crossing when I moved in. However, when you take into consideration the fact that these are the living conditions of a mother and child who isn't even two years old yet, I think that anyone could agree that this is unacceptable. Maybe it's just me – and I certainly hope not – but I think that, if the university is going to force parents and married students to live in family housing, then those halls should be kept in the best possible condition and the university should be doing its level best to make sure that those facilities are not complete dives.

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