Note: Louisiana lawmakers will decide what to do with a substantial excess of cash on hand in the state during the next legislative session in March. Prior to the meeting, The Reveille devotes a series of articles dedicated to LSU’s infrastructure. This is the sixth story in the current series.
When Chloe McGukin returned to her dorm after the Christmas break, she found black stains all over the walls, furniture and lampshades that needed replacing.
The freshman mass communications student lives in Beauregard Hall, one of five dormitories at the Pentagon Community, built in 1923.
She was filling out a work order on Saturday and on Sunday maintenance came into her room, said they found nothing and left. She stayed with a friend for three nights until Residential Life addressed the issue. Maintenance came back Tuesday and fixed the problem.
Hot water outages, peeling paint, spotty Wi-Fi, and insect problems are some of the problems Pentagon residents have described.
“There will be bugs on the bathroom ceiling. It’s super, super gross,” said film and television newcomer Mary Dum, who lives in LeJeune Hall.
Dum said she spotted cracks along the bathroom window frames that allowed insects to crawl inside. At the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester, residents would sometimes spray the bathroom ceiling bugs with Raid, causing them to fall all over the floor, sink, and toilet.
Dum said their air-conditioned window unit gives off a terrible smell. When her friends began investigating the strange smell in their dorm, she pulled out the air conditioning filters, which Dum was sure had rarely, if ever, been cleaned.
“It was covered in dust and coarseness,” Dum said. “Even after a week everything was dusty again and the smell didn’t go away.”
She’s been desperately trying to cover the smell with air fresheners, but the smell overpowers the store-bought scent. Even when Dum leaves her dormitory, Dum feels that the smell lingers on her.
Biology newbie Mikayla Zeigler is dealing with the same stinky problem at LeJeune Hall. Zeigler and her roommate maintain clean habits and are confident that they have identified the source of the problem in the air conditioner.
“The air conditioning stinks,” said Zeigler. “Our room always stinks. I’ve tried Febreeze, but it’s just always musty here.”
Zeigler believes the “black fuzzy stuff” emanating from her air conditioner is causing, or at least worsening, her constant constipation and nausea.
When Zeigler adjusts the room temperature via the air conditioner, the temperature doesn’t change, she said. Their broken ceiling fan didn’t help the problem.
“It’s always hot here,” says Zeigler.
Business junior Peyton Watson is a housing assistant at the Pentagon Community. Watson has residents come to her for a variety of building issues.
The most recent problem Watson faced was maggots in one of her residents’ showers on the second floor of Lejeune Hall.
“In the case of insect problems, it is because the residents have put groceries in the apartment [bathroom] trash can,” said Watson. “I actually had the janitors or the janitor staff come to me to specifically ask the residents not to throw food in the bathroom.”
Watson emphasized the importance of residents having to complete work orders in order to communicate an issue. Without a report, residential life won’t know there’s an issue that needs fixing, she said.
“If something isn’t cleaned properly, we can report it and they will come back and do it,” Watson said.
However, Watson believes the errors could also be the result of a “structural” problem. She has discovered several cracks between her wall and the air conditioner, the similar cracks Dum discovered in her dorm room and shared bathroom.
“There are small gaps around my air conditioner through which you can see outside. The building is really old,” said Watson.
Housing and Residence Executive Director Peter Trentacoste also emphasizes the importance of submitting work orders. However, some work orders may be prioritized over others depending on the severity of the issue.
“Insects are pretty smart,” Trentacoste said, “and on the other hand, we also have to balance the reality of how we’re students living here for the first time, and sometimes we discover that through health and safety inspections, or through mistakes, that it’s itself.” It is a cleanliness issue that needs to be addressed.”
Bed bugs are “unfortunately a fact of life” in the South, Trentacoste said.
Trentacoste is currently working on an analysis to determine whether additional money should go towards refurbishing existing dormitories or building new dormitories.
This analysis is part of the Master Housing Plan and has evolved over the past decade, Trentacoste said. Azalea, Camelia and Nicholson Gateways are all products of the Master Housing Plan to cope with rising enrollment. Trentacoste predicts the construction of a third building next to Azalea and Camelia in the future.
“The goal is to document that it’s constantly adapting to the needs of the students and the needs of LSU in terms of enrollment goals,” Trentacoste said.