Neptune upgrades fall short

By Jordan Radloff

When the university announced Neptune East Residence Hall would be receiving a $5.4 million refresh, higher quality features were set to arrive in the living space. These upgrades did come to fruition, yet many aspects of the residence hall remain lackluster. The plans for the refresh should have been much more extensive in order to resolve more pressing issues, such as faulty stoves and old drinking fountains.

A proposition of air conditioning units and new hardwood floors seemed like a great way to make Neptune East more comfortable. Despite this promise, there were issues that diminished the quality of the new flooring.

“A defect was detected in the glue with the vinyl planks. We’re addressing this issue with the manufacturer, but to avoid any issues this year, we’ve purchased area rugs for each room to help cover the vinyl floor and prevent any seams from popping up,” according to a July 30 email sent to all Neptune East residents from Dan Pederson, director of Housing and Residential Services.

Within one week of the start of classes, complaints have already risen from the residents of Neptune East at floor meetings. One of the upgrades from the refresh was refreshed bathrooms. Even though the sinks and grey countertops now look very sleek and modern, the bathrooms still have old and rusty hand-dryers.

“The bathroom hand-dryers don’t dry efficiently,” first-year art education major, Fin Allen said.

Pederson said the refresh was partially guided by student feedback gathered from the 2015-2016 Neptune West project. He said he was unaware of student complaints about hand-dryers, as that issue had not been raised.

In the aforementioned email, Housing and Residential Services promised improved, locking shower stalls with changing areas, yet the stalls are worse than before.

Steffi Delgado, sophomore music education major, said the areas outside of the showers used to include benches for clothes. It can be very difficult for residents to find a place to prevent their clothes from getting wet while showering.

Student feedback indicated a desire for more privacy, Pederson said. This led to the addition of changing areas and shower partitions.

Pederson said one goal of the refresh was to create intentional spaces for students. He said the refresh did not include plans for the kitchenette areas in the halls. This lead to the common areas on each floor remaining inadequate.

In the kitchen area of the second floor there is a sink that clogs easily and an inoperable stove that looks like an ancient relic.

Pederson said student feedback did not name the kitchen spaces as an issue. He said he suspects this is because of the robust dining plans on campus, but as meal plans have changed the kitchen spaces may become more important. This is something Housing and Residential Services will continue to monitor, he said.

Drinking fountains in most of the hallways are only able to serve up lukewarm water, forcing residents to make their way to the dining hall in order to access fresh, cold water.

Pederson said some utilities on campus have standards as to when they should be replaced or simply repaired, and hand-dryers and drinking fountains are often repaired until they can no longer be of use.

Despite these shortcomings, the air conditioning units added to each room in Neptune East definitely set it apart from Neptune West Residence Hall, which still does not have any air conditioning units.

All of these grievances of the residents of Neptune East show there was oversight when Housing and Residential Services planned renovations for the residence hall. Many of these problems should have been addressed over the summer in order to put Neptune East on the same level as all the other residence halls.

Pederson said Housing and Residential Services hopes to gather student feedback beginning in late September once students have settled in.