In her first two weeks at Stony Brook, freshman psychology major Allison Leverock struggled to breathe in the heat of her Benedict hall dorm room, a building famously known for lacking air conditioning.
Leverock suffers from mild asthma that only gets worse when high temperatures and humidity traps pollutants in the air. Her issues escalated to the point where she was admitted to Stony Brook Hospital for heat exhaustion on Aug. 27, at around 4 a.m.
“I tried to get air conditioning after that incident and the disabilities union never responded to the form I sent in,” Leverock said. “Even though I went to the hospital, nobody did anything to fix the heat problem and now my roommates and I sleep with ice packs and have seven fans.”
Leverock is not the only person suffering from inadequate housing conditions. Both students and their parents have voiced their dissatisfaction with the on-campus living quality, including heat, pests and mold. A glance over the Stony Brook University parent page on Facebook or a scan of the r/SBU Reddit page reveals that many students are unhappy with living conditions on campus, and this is nothing new.
According to The Statesman’s State of the University 2021 annual survey, 85.4% of students said they do not approve of housing conditions on campus; only 2.4% said they approve.
A major concern among residents is the lack of air conditioning in many dorm rooms and buildings, especially given the record breaking heat Long Island experienced this summer. While a majority of upperclassmen housing options include air conditioning, freshman-only options like H Community, Mendelsohn Community and Roosevelt Community ask for students to bring their own fans.
“The heat during the first month was just overwhelming because on top of being stressed, it was constantly hot and we were coming from heat to air-conditioned classrooms, which definitely influenced the cold that I got this month,” Kamila Halas, a freshman biology major and Irving hall resident said.
Sarah Murphy, a junior English major living in Eisenhower hall, had a similar experience. “The first week of classes we had this heat wave … The room was so hot and the fans were just blowing around warm air at that point,” she said. “At one point, me and my other suitemate had to go sit in a car just so we could cool off with A.C. I was just so uncomfortable and it made it hard to do work and sleep in the heat.”
Housing issues also go beyond air conditioning. Despite enduring uncomfortable heat, Murphy claimed pest issues are her biggest concern.
“I live in Kelly Quad, and there have been cockroaches and other bugs in the buildings,” Murphy said.
Murphy filed a work order to have her room sprayed after finding bugs, but said she wishes the rooms had been treated before everyone moved back in for the fall semester.
“After your room gets sprayed, the bugs come out a few days later to die, but then you are left to clean them up,” she said.
An additional housing dilemma inflicted upon many students was the flooding caused by Hurricane Ida that required many students to evacuate their rooms and move to new buildings. The greatest impact was on the Mendelson Community; some residents of Tubman Hall and West Apartments were impacted as well.
“I think the flood was handled horribly and I’ve heard too many horror stories about living conditions even outside the flood,” Ione Henriksen, a sophomore undecided major said in the State of the University survey, adding that Stony Brook should “try listening to our complaints” and “respond appropriately.”
Aaron Xue, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, agrees that complaints should be taken seriously. “Fix what needs to be fixed rather than ignoring it,” Xue said. “The conditions of the dorms are not adequate. There are often bugs, mold, or some sort of structural damage.”
Parents have taken to social media in order to voice their grievances. Facebook user Tracy Ann posted on a Stony Brook Parent’s Facebook page, “… the AC was leaking … the carpet was wet … mildew/Mold in [the] freezer and door where water [and] ice come out,” regarding the conditions of her child’s room. She is most likely referring to West Apartments, where residents are provided with a refrigerator.
Another parent, Denise Licause Miller, used the same platform as a forum, asking, “Anyone’s child’s room smell musty … my daughter feels like the room smells musty.”
Despite the influx of housing concerns, reported work orders are 8% less than previous years, according to Sonia Garrido, director of marketing and communications at Stony Brook. There has been a total of approximately 32,000 work orders relating to Campus Residences out of a total of about 64,000 work orders placed in the past two years.
Garrido was able to compile responses based on data from staff of the Campus Residences and the Facilities and Services Departments.
“In any building with residential occupants, inevitably something may not work correctly, or an issue may arise,” Garrido said.
Garrido said students are encouraged to request maintenance and repairs, as well as report pest and bug issues via FIXIT.
“We are able to track each request that is submitted, capture any concerns and allow our management team to prioritize and schedule labor accordingly,” she said. “Our teams are also able to track many performance metrics within the system, allowing us to evaluate effectiveness and improve our processes over time.”
The eight percent decrease in work orders surprised Leverock.
“Hopefully, living on campus for other students is going well, but I feel like I’m a prime example of what issues students can face when dorming at Stony Brook,” Leverock said.