Staff Editorial: At least with no lights you can’t see the roaches

The list of complaints includes roaches, water shortages and non-functioning lights, but it doesn’t refer to the local news broadcast of the health inspections at local restaurants -these grumbles come from students at a residence hall.

Students can expect a change in the quality of University residence halls when Cougar Place is demolished to make way for a new dormitory building, UH officials said (see story, Page 1). Though we applaud administrator’s efforts to raise the living conditions for on-campus students, they should have come sooner.

The master plan was approved by the UH System Board of Regents in 2006, and the ensuing construction and building renovations have produced both progress and nuisances for students.

Officials said Cougar Place, which was built in 1981 as a temporary residence hall to house students for 10 to 15 years, will be demolished in summer 2009 to make room for a new dormitory building that will meet students’ needs, pending the Board’s approval.

While it seems that officials have good intentions in improving the University, students, sadly, seem to be the last ones considered in the decision-making process. Otherwise, students would not be left wondering why it would take the University nearly 15 years to update what it initially called a "temporary" building.

Students residing in Cougar Place complained of water shortages and repair problems. Basic maintenance, which is included in the price of rent, should be provided to every student residing in a residence hall, regardless of how much rent is paid.

It seems, however, that the residence halls do not operate on an equal basis. Residents from Bayou Oaks complained at the Tuition and Fee Forums last week about the discrepancies in the disproportionate sizes of the dormitories off campus, with some rooms built significantly smaller than others.

If a new residence hall is built, officials should keep in mind that students are the reason the University exists. Of the problems students continue to face while attending the University, being able to sleep in a dormitory on campus without worrying about basic services or maintenance shouldn’t be one of them.

Officials said one of the advantages students have at Cougar Place is a low rent, but it’s not enough to make up for the complaints of the lack of service.

While the University is finally making an attempt to be more competitive with local housing to attract more students to campus, it should have moved more quickly to ameliorate these conditions, which are causing students to complain and not return.

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