PHOTO BY EPHREM TILAHUN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Students occupying various residential halls on the campus of Alabama State University consider the living conditions unsatisfactory as the age-old buildings have led to bug infestations, moldy bathrooms, and much more.
The university employs a contracted janitorial staff, ABM Industries, Inc., in which many students believe that their lack of direct affiliation with the university causes a lack of motivation to clean the halls thoroughly. While there are many other factors to be considered and more culprits that could be to blame, there is the general consensus that these buildings are unsatisfactory and that students are paying too much to live in these conditions.
“It is October,” said senior communications major Chalisa Butler, who serves as a resident assistant in the Charles Johnson (C.J.) Dunn Tower. “We have been complaining since August about it. We have been told that [ABM Industries Inc.] are under investigation for [not cleaning certain floors], along with a whole other slew of issues they have been causing in our building.”
With C.J. Dunn Tower housing almost 500 underclasswomen spread amongst 11 floors, it is a notable landmark at the Hornet’s Nest. Not only known as the tallest building on campus, but it is also regarded as one of the most unkempt. Inhabitants of the nearly 30-year-old building complain of trash buildup, tracked dirt in the lobby and hallways, stained bathrooms, and overcrowding.
“I have been trying to get the cleaning crew to come and clean our floor since we moved in,” said Butler. “They came and waxed our floors and left all the footprints, residue, and other stuff.”
The lack of maintenance and cleanliness being a problem shared by multiple other halls as students from all over campus share their grievances. Though the custodians are seen in the buildings, many believe there is little work to show.
“The main problem I have seen was during homecoming weekend,” said senior communications major Lauren Hyche, who resides in Facility 2. “I do not know what was going on Saturday night, but it kind of took them a long time to clean a spill on the floor.”
“It is cleaned, but it is not up to par as I would say that it should be,” said sophomore computer information systems major Nick Wright, who resides in John W. Abercrombie Hall. “There are some things that could be changed, like taking out the trash regularly, it gets backed up a lot and cleaning the floors.”
“When we first moved in, it could have been better,” said senior recording technology major Chaz Clemons, who resides in Willetta McGinty Apartments. Initially placed in Abercrombie Hall, the ceiling caved in due to flooding and poor infrastructure, forcing him to relocate to a different living situation. With his main complaint being the floors, he shares that it was unbelievably filthy upon move-in.
“Either the previous people or the maintenance crew could have done better,” Clemons said. “My room was flooded, that is why we moved, but the day that we moved in, it was not the best experience. They did not do a good job cleaning it if they cleaned it at all.”
Blame for the residence hall shortcomings is the university administration. With many halls being decades old and long overdue for demolition or renovation, it seems that the sloppiness is inevitable. Not only do students comment on the stained walls, outdated carpets, and more, but they also bring up the issue of mold growing in multiple buildings on campus.
“I already have asthma, and I have been having a really hard time breathing when I am in there,” said freshman biology major Jordan Morris, referring to the mold situation of Bessie Estell Hall. Unfortunately, she rates the residence hall a one on a ten-point grading scale.
“There is always trash in the elevators,” said freshman undecided major Rosie Allen, who resides in Bessie Estell Hall. “People leave noodles in the hallways, or Chick-fil-A bags, or dead roaches by the elevators.”
Though she holds many grievances, the mold of the building is the most pressing.
“It has always been an issue from what I have seen. Before I even got here, the mold was always the first thing said about Bessie Estell. For it to still be going on after the pandemic, and all of the stuff they fixed, I feel like that should have been one of the first things they fixed because people can get sick.”
Mold also proves to be an issue in Facility 1, one of the newest buildings of the Hornet’s Nest.
“It really affected my health. It was urgent,” said junior political science major Khari Williams. With mold growing in her air conditioning unit all semester, she has experienced several health issues that have resulted in medical treatment. “They keep the surface level things clean like the hallways mopped, and the grass stays cut, but everything else not so much.”
Some residents of the Hornet’s Nest placed blame on students for the uncleanliness of the residence halls. Though it is the responsibility of the custodians to maintain the overall tidiness of the buildings, some think that it is also up to each student to adopt clean practices.
“It is not the cleanest at the end of the week,” said freshman undecided major Quantez Oden, who resides in George N. Card Hall. “The elevators are so nasty. [Students] leave trash in there, so there is always something on the floor. They leave food wrappers and stuff like that.”
“It is decent,” said sophomore forensic biology major Jayla Moore, who resides in Bibb Graves Hall. “It could be cleaner. If [custodians] come in the morning and clean, then by the end of the day, if it is dirty, then that is on us. It is teamwork.”
The grievances of these students should be heard and considered. While there is no sole party to blame, students believe that this problem should be solved sooner rather than later.