Residence halls cleanup, repairs underway ahead of fall semester

Dorm furniture is stacked into each Kessler residence hall bathroom, giving the 'BMW crew' room to renovate the rest of the space, adding shelving units, and repainting. (Taryn Wattles | Staff Photographer)

Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday.

With only a few weeks until the students of Central Michigan University return for fall semester classes, construction and clean up crews are working through CMU Residence Life's Building Maintenance Workers program to prepare the new homes of nearly 6,000 students living in various CMU residence halls this year.

Zach Hutchinson, a fifth-year senior and 21-year-old Shepherd-native, was working in the Towers Residence Halls during a Tuesday cleanup session. He admitted the task of cleaning out and refurbishing CMU residence halls is not always a glorious endeavor.

"I've seen some pretty gross stuff this summer," Hutchinson said. "There have been some toilets that have been pretty clogged or other stuff that hasn't been cleaned all semester. That ends up falling on us to take care of, but this is a guaranteed 40 hours a week, so it's a good paycheck."

Hutchinson's direct supervisor, Ryan Lewis, said he and other leaders on the team do whatever they can to compensate for the less-than-stellar work environment.

"We all like to joke around and have a good time now and then, but we are doing an important job here," Lewis said. "We find stuff that people leave behind on a daily basis. Most of that stuff gets donated to the (cleaning) crew. If something more valuable is found, then that obviously gets reported."

Lewis and his team of several hundred student workers wash and repair dorm rooms, replace dry wall and electrical wiring, as well as a host of other "standard" jobs.

Shaun Holtgrieve, executive director of Residence Life, said the work CMU students are doing this summer to ultimately benefit other students is invaluable.

"We couldn't get the work that needs to be done without that student labor," Holtgrieve said. "We are supposed to be a learning institution.  A lot of these workers learn some pretty good skills. When they own a house someday, this will serve them well."

Holtgrieve said the most frequent complaint his department receives regarding dorm rooms does not pertain to cleanliness, rather the size of the rooms.

"Are we perfect? No," he said. "But if issues do come up,  and someone lets us know, then we make sure we get that taken care of."

Last year, the cost of student labor for the summer repair and construction efforts totaled $822,570.  Holtgrieve said the repair and cleaning efforts account for one third of Residence Life's total budget and will reflect a similar figure in 2014.

"Clearly the labor and supplies to do this is substantial," Holtgrieve said. "It clearly is worth it. It takes a lot of time and student effort."

This summer specifically, the department seeks the help of third parties to do some of the more elaborate or complex maintenance jobs. Facilities Management, for example, is painting two buildings in East Campus – a job not allocated for students.

"We don't have the workforce to do those projects in that period of time," Holtgrieve said. "Some of those projects are specialized fields so we go to a third party for those types of things."

Check back with for more on the Residence Hall cleanup.


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