In fall 2017, I lived in a dilapidated apartment in Henle Village. Initially, I thought little of my home’s shabby state. Eventually, though, I noticed our floors were substantially dirtier and, more importantly, moister than those in any of my friends’ apartments. Our carpet floors retained moisture and were consistently wet, to the point where you could touch any spot on the carpet floors and feel dampness. For this reason, my roommates and I started the process of petitioning the Office of Planning and Facilities Management for new floors in late August 2017.
When facilities first came to my apartment, they did a humidity level reading in my living room to assess the general moisture level within the apartment. Our apartment registered a 57 percent relative humidity level, which facilities considered standard — although levels should be no higher than 50 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control. Furthermore, facilities claimed no moisture was present, even though my roommates and I could simply put our hands on the floor and feel persistent wetness. Regrettably, Georgetown facilities felt as though our situation was nothing out of the normal and made no effort to replace our carpet floors. At this point, my parents, along with those of my roommates, took the initiative to talk with facilities about the condition of the apartment.
After the university’s initial response, my roommates, our parents, and I were passed from administrator to administrator within facilities, none of whom showed much interest in actually addressing the problems with our floors.
“This type of work [replacing floors] is disruptive to students,” Mark Sciarratta, director of facilities management, wrote to me in an email Sept. 26 — close to a month after we initially reported the poor condition of our floors. “Sometimes the carpet is overlooked and that is unfortunate.”
Clearly, replacing our floors was not a priority for the facilities department.
Facilities finally took action in January 2018 — five months after our first request — by beginning the process of replacing our carpet floors with wood floors. At this point, my roommates and I had lived in putrid conditions for an entire semester. During this time, the condition of our living room was so bad we barely used it. We couldn’t even do the simplest things, like walk around without shoes.
When our floors were finally replaced in late January, my roommates and I were relieved. Yet, at the same time, we could not shake the feeling that facilities had ignored our concerns when a simple solution could have solved our problem. Overall, my roommates and I feel as though facilities failed us. No Georgetown student should have disgusting living conditions, but I know that my experience is not unique. I hope that the university takes the necessary steps to ensure that a situation such as mine never happens again.
Luke Duffner is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. Of Mice and Mold is a weekly series of student and alumni letters highlighting issues within Georgetown University’s housing and maintenance.