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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Staff editorial: Faulty facilities are more than just an inconvenience

From malfunctioning elevators to broken wheelchair-accessible entrance buttons, GW’s facilities are out of order.

Ceiling leaks and plumbing catastrophes are a matter of safety and accessibility. When members of the University community can’t reliably use GW’s facilities, this isn’t much of a university at all.

It’s no secret that older buildings like Bell or Phillips halls aren’t the shining jewels of GW. Why would they be? Unlike the Science and Engineering Hall and Duques Hall, they haven’t received millions of dollars to be built or upgraded. These shiny, new spaces are attractive to prospective students, faculty and donors alike and showcase the image officials want to project. But that leaves other buildings neglected — think exposure to asbestos and mold, which can sicken people who regularly use those buildings.

It may be cheaper to hold off on addressing maintenance issues, like the air conditioning in Bell Hall, in the short term. But faulty facilities, made worse by years of deferring longer-term repair work, have injured both students and facilities workers.

We can’t stress it enough: These issues aren’t just inconveniences. Sure, a room won’t always be a perfect 68 degrees Fahrenheit. But one Bell Hall laboratory reached 90 degrees in May 2023. And yes, some students can always take the stairs on their way to class. But that isn’t an option for disabled students who rely on elevators — or someone who’s using a wheelchair, walker or crutches. Those parts of campus become indefinitely off-limits.

Whether they make campus spaces uncomfortable or inaccessible, GW’s numerous facilities problems can’t be fixed without a dedicated team of workers.

The individual people who make up the facilities staff are an essential part of this campus, both through the work they do and the warmth they extend to students. Yet some say they’re putting up with poor conditions, poor pay and officials who just don’t grasp the magnitude of the challenges they’re facing. Keeping the University running isn’t easy to begin with, and that’s not making it any easier.

GW’s community isn’t just people: it’s physical places, too. Think of residence and dining halls for students, classrooms and offices for faculty and libraries, gyms and other common spaces. When these buildings don’t work, neither does the University.

Making up years, if not decades, of deferred maintenance is going to take time, and they’re jobs that will fall mostly on facilities staff. And as much as GW’s facilities workers are heroes for the job they do and the kindness they do it with, they can’t do it alone. So, the least students can do is not make their lives harder. Before you toss a fish in Thurston Hall’s showers, clog up your floor’s trash chute or leave garbage behind, take a second to check yourself. Facilities and maintenance staff aren’t a personal maid service: They have a job to do. Let’s leave this community better than we found it.

The editorial board consists of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s staff editorial was written by Editorials Assistant Paige Baratta based on discussions with Contributing Culture Editor Jenna Baer, Opinions Editor Ethan Benn, Contributing Social Media Director Anaya Bhatt, Contributing Opinions Editor Riley Goodfellow, incoming Opinions Editor Andrea Mendoza-Melchor, incoming Contributing Opinions Editor Madie Turley and Social Media Director Ethan Valliath.

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