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Friday, November 16, 2018

Campus

How does the University of Houston FIX-IT?


FIX-IT

FIX-IT handles service requests with different orders of priority for the University. | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

Between 2,000 and 3,000 requests for on-campus maintenance are filed each month. Whether it be a clogged toilet or broken thermostat, students and staff rely heavily on FIX-IT, the University’s maintenance department.

When something goes wrong, UH students, faculty and staff can make a request through FIX-IT by logging into the AccessUH online portal. The FIX-IT request form will ask for the location and description of the problem.

“FIX-IT itself is really our communications pipeline,” said Executive Director for Facilities Services Jeffrey Benjamin.

Within the organization are multiple departments including pest control, plumbing, electricity and general services. When someone sends a request for service, the invoice goes to the respective shop. From there, depending on the level of urgency, a worker is sent out to fix the problem.

A loose hierarchy of importance exists within the maintenance system. Most important would be classified as an emergency. This includes a pipe break or anything else that could cause more damage to the surrounding area or harm to individuals.

When there is an emergency, FIX-IT will stop everything to address that situation, Benjamin said.

Urgent is the second most important and includes something affecting a number of people but not causing immediate damage or harm, such as hot water being out in one of the buildings. Lastly, routine calls would be the average request, including a clogged toilet or a light out.

“We typically try to get (routine calls) done within a few days, no more than 30,” Benjamin said.

In addition to the usual requests, the demolition of the Quadrangle and Chinese Star has led to an uptick in pest problems this year, Benjamin said.

“Rats have been a problem, I’m not going to lie,” Benjamin said. “It’s amazing the situation in the Bayou City here that we don’t have a worse problem on campus.”

Pests ranging from flies, millipedes and rats have been reported primarily at Cougar Place and Moody Towers.

No confirmed rat sightings have been reported for the past two weeks, Benjamin said. FIX-IT has gone into multiple rooms in Moody Towers and used wire mesh to prevent rats from entering the dorms. Students are also advised to keep their spaces clean to prevent the pests.

But some students are still unhappy with the department’s request turnaround time for routine issues.

“The first time I moved (to Bayou Oaks) the air conditioner wasn’t working,” said psychology sophomore Dakota Robles. “They got it working after like … four or five days after I sent a request.”

Not all experiences with FIX-IT have caused headaches. Sometimes students have to wait only an hour for service.

“There was this really friendly guy who came and unclogged our toilet,” said communications sciences and disorders junior Bernice Tsao. “He was really fast. He did it in like five minutes.”

Benjamin said the majority of requests come from residence halls. The department is working on communication between maintenance and residents, he said. FIX-IT has been suggesting their workers leave behind notes when they have been inside a dorm to fix or inspect a problem.

Reviews are encouraged, and the option is offered at the end of every submission.

“We tend to treat residence halls a little bit differently than the rest of campus because it’s people’s homes and we want to make sure that they’re getting the treatment they’re paying for,” Benjamin said. “They’re paying to live there, and we want to make sure they’re happy.”

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