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Courtesy of Caroline Albert / Courtesy of Caroline Albert

It may be true that the seniors of East Campus are ogre-like in their partying habits, but it seems that, like Lord Farquaad, Columbia Housing doesn’t care much about the conditions of the creatures in the swamps.

For many rising seniors, living in EC is the dream—one we’ve been waiting to fulfill since attending our first NSOP party in one of the high rises. My housing group was so excited to have picked into the “penthouse,” the highest suite in the tallest tower. So far, however, the reality has been more like a nightmare than a fairytale.

It started with the kitchens. Just days before in-person selection last spring, Housing announced that EC kitchens would no longer have gas stoves or ovens. When people asked for better amenities, these requests were denied as students were technically informed of the issue before room selection (but only after housing groups were already formed). I’d already agreed to live with four of my other friends, so why would we dissolve our group? We figured we would just make it work. But it’s two weeks in and I’m already up to my neck in instant ramen.

While the now-uniform housing price makes EC slightly more accessible than before, it’s certainly not cheap enough for this nonsense. For the low, low price of just under $10,000 for the year, the problems start coming and they won’t stop coming—and some may even be unlawful.

Then came the endless fire alarms, as if to say, “My world’s on fire, how about yours?”, which only made the kitchen situation worse. My RA informed us that to prevent unnecessary alarms, we should not use both the hot plate and the microwave oven at the same time, which further strains the students who have chosen to forgo the meal plan and need to cook all their meals.

At first, my suitemates and I evacuated every time the fire alarm went off like we were supposed to, but after a while it started to feel inconvenient and unnecessary, so we’d just stay inside. After all, what were the odds that all 20+ alarms were actual fires? It was a potentially dangerous assumption to make, sure, but one I know I was not alone in making. It was only after we all complained and campus media outlets reported on the issue that Housing finally announced their grand plan to solve the issue: “fire guards,” Public Safety officers who would be stationed in the building and tasked with investigating every time the fire alarm goes off. But in a building with nearly as many floors as an onion has layers, how can we be sure these guards will be able to act quickly and effectively?

After all these problems and barely passable solutions, Housing really ought learn to check themselves before they Shrek themselves. But the real cherry on top of this swashbuckling adventure has been the moisture.

It’s been a cool place, and they say it gets colder, but the leaky AC in my room only makes it worse. The leakage has been hard to contain, and the weather has created conditions in my room that can only be compared to Shrek’s swamp. The moisture has damaged my documents and personal items, and there doesn’t seem to be any real solution. The problem isn’t isolated to my room, either. One of my suitemates requested that Housing come by to inspect the cracked, leaking ceiling in our common area, only to have a worker assess the situation and mark the request as fixed despite nothing being done. These serious issues combined with the heat and rain this week provided the perfect breeding ground for perhaps the most concerning and dangerous issue facing EC residents currently: mold.

On Wednesday morning, the Columbia class of 2019′s Facebook group erupted in anger and frustration over countless instances of mold across EC and little help from Housing. Some students complained that after reporting the issue, a worker came by only to clean up the existing mold and seemingly just paint over the affected areas. In response, Housing sent out an email later that evening informing us that mold in the dorm would be properly addressed according to “New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene guidelines.” Despite this reassurance, I, much like Princess Fiona when she first meets Shrek, am skeptical the problem will be addressed, as Housing has already dropped the ball so many times this year and we’re only two weeks into the semester.

It’s hard not to feel like Housing is more concerned with saving face than actually meeting students’ needs. When we’ve raised our concerns, we’ve been met with little more than convoluted bureaucratic bullshit and vague promises to fix said problems. I would like real solutions to the conditions we face in the dorms. I would like Housing to not blame us for the dorms we picked into because they technically informed us of the issue. I would like my problems to actually be addressed the first time, and not reappear two days later. Yes, it may be a high demand to ask for good college dorms, especially in New York City, but I’m sure Columbia can handle it. It shouldn’t take a shooting star for Columbia Housing to break the mold problem.

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The author is a senior at Columbia College studying political science and philosophy. She hopes this o[pi]nion piece urges Columbia Housing to get the mold out of her swamp.

Housing Mold Campus East Campus
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