Students express concerns over rundown buildings on campus, improvements in progress

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Hannah Hunsinger | Collegian An unused room in the attic of Willard Hall has been cleaned out. This improvement is one among a long list maintenance is currently working on.Photo credit: Hannah Hunsinger.

K-State’s campus has 21 miles of curb that have to be maintained, 27 miles of sidewalk, 10 miles of road, 660 acres of landscaped land and more than 80 buildings that have to be taken care of. This large campus is maintained by approximately 400 staffers in the Division of Facilities, from power plant workers to custodians and maintenance workers.

In spite of the work that these individuals do, some have voiced concern about the quality of some of the buildings on campus, especially since the the K-State Student Union is soon to have a $25 million update.

“I think a new student union is cool and all, but I definitely think that there are other places on campus that need updated,” Allison Pfeifer, freshman in chemical engineering, said. “The Union is already one of the more modern buildings on campus.”

One building Pfeifer mentioned needing updating was Ahearn Field House, which hosts K-State volleyball and track, in addition to housing students for classes that take place in the building.

“The desks are really old,” Pfeifer said. “As a student, I enjoy comfy places to sit and plenty of room. It also gets uncomfortably warm in this building.”

The temperature conditions in the building are a result of the building’s older heating and cooling system.

“We wait as long as we can to turn on the heat,” Ed Heptig, director of maintenance, said.

Heptig said that some areas on campus are definitely dated in comparison to other buildings.

The university is in the process of doing a review of the heating and cooling on the entire campus in order to address concerns and maintain a comfortable environment for students.

I don’t think out-of-date classrooms make much of a difference to a student’s learning experience, but the environment does,” Patrick Hutfless, freshman in computer science, said. “I mean we have classrooms that are dirty and have desks and chairs falling apart. There are rooms where the AC does not work and it’s like 80 degrees in August. Things like that need to be fixed.”

Some buildings seem to be more out of date than others.

“In comparison to, say, the Leadership Studies building, Cardwell is pretty rundown,” Pfeifer said.

Slowly, Cardwell will become updated. Over the summer, classrooms 101, 102 and 103 all had new air conditioning units installed. The original units in the classrooms were estimated to have been in the building since the ’50s. Room 101 will be getting new desks and epoxy flooring during summer of 2014.

Epoxy flooring is a seamless flooring system that consists of a durable resin spread that is resistant to moisture and wear. Epoxy has been introduced on campus in some of the bathrooms, as well as Umberger Hall.

“It will maintain a look of a shiny floor and will be easier to clean,” Heptig said. “There used to be carpet in some classrooms, and those held stains.”

Epoxy flooring may become the go-to for classroom floors to improve the overall look and cleanliness.

On top of the floor and desk replacement, the maintenance team plans to incorporate more electrical outlets throughout classrooms to address students’ need for technology use within the classroom.

Heptig said he understands that there are areas on campus that are dated and that there is awareness that there are additional things on campus that need attention.

Ultimately, the facelifts to campus are dependent on finances and priority of the need.

“There is a budget that is not too big,” Heptig said.

Maintenance repairs around campus are funded through a restoration and renovation budget that is state funded. This funding program goes to support general upkeep including roofs, lighting, plumbing and more.

“We try to spread the money around campus, and it does not take long to use up,” Heptig said. “We divide it out into the most needed things first.”

The university has five and 10-year outlooks for updates around campus, but occasionally, things on the agenda have to be pushed back to allow for updates needed more desperately. Each year the outlook is reevaluated.

One necessary safety improvement for students is being completed in Durland 1073. There are desk chairs that have been deemed unsafe, and the maintenance department has since begun replacing them. Heptig said the classroom is just worn out.

To improve the classroom condition, new tables and chairs will be placed in the room. This alone will cost around $100,000.

Unplanned updates are also common for a university of K-State’s size. Two years ago, one unplanned update occurred in Dickens Hall when a transformer blew and the building had to run on a generator. It was vital that a new transformer be introduced.

When a student recognizes a maintenance issue on campus, it is important the that correct people are informed.

Heptig said that students have even tweeted K-State’s President, Kirk Schulz in regard to issues they see on campus, including things such as a classroom being too warm. Schulz contacts the maintenance department to fix such problems. However, Heptig said that this is not the most effective way to voice concerns about issues on campus.

Students should go to the main office of the building and state what the issue is. Then the office can report the concern to the workers of minor repairs of facilities. Additionally, concerns can be sent to repairs@k-state.edu.

While small maintenance repairs are quicker to fix, Heptig said that students might not see a whole building revitalized at once, but little bits here and there will be updated. It is a continual, evolving process, he said.

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