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August 13, 2018 | by  | in News Splash | [ssba]

Mould and Roaches in University Hall

Cockroaches, mould, and broken heaters are just some of the things international students have been welcomed with upon moving into their University Hall residences.
Nick Rosenberg, an exchange student from Hawai’i, said when he arrived to his new home, “it didn’t seem it was really prepared at all for people”.
“A lot of it was really messy. The floors were definitely not clean and neither were the walls. I found half a joint under my bed. My bedding wasn’t washed either.”
There was a “shit ton” of glass in his garden in the wrong recycling bag. The university threatened to fine the flat if they didn’t sort out the glass.

Uni Hall differs from other halls, in that it’s a series of self-catered flats. There are RAs who are expected to visit once a week, and power and electricity is supplied. The marketing for the hall said it is “suitable for international students” and 86 percent of the residents are international. To live there costs $270 a week, which includes electricity and wifi but not food, on top of a $150 activity fee and a $120 administration fee.
When Marie Kepp, an exchange student from Denmark, moved into her room, she was horrified to find mould on the walls. She asked to be moved to another room in the house, only to find that every room in that house was in the same condition. The house “was also very filthy”, with “dirt and a dead fly”.
“I don’t think it’s okay to put exchange students, or any students, to stay in a house full of mould,” she said. “I can’t imagine this happening in Denmark. It’s like, what the fuck? It’s not good enough.”
Taryn Gangi, an exchange student from the US, said her kitchen was “disgusting” when she arrived. “There were crumbs everywhere and all the dishes in the cabinets were all covered in food.” In addition, the rubbish, which included a bloody tampon, hadn’t been taken out.
When Elle Ryan, an exchange student from the US, first moved in, it was raining. “My window was leaking so it was all wet and damp and my heater didn’t work.”
“It’s just a lot of us being left with other people’s messes and having to deal with it,” said Georgia Carroll, an exchange student from England.
Ravethi Jeyakumar, President of Victoria International Students’ Association, said that she has received multiple complaints from international students about substandard living conditions at uni halls. “The accommodation provided to international students is not up to the standards they were promised,” she said.
Rainsforth Dix, Director of Campus Living at Victoria University, said that the outgoing residents are responsible for leaving flats in a clean condition. However, the University sends in commercial cleaners if after an inspection the flat is “not clean enough for new residents”.
Uni Hall residents are also struggling with long wait times before their complaints are dealt with.
Taryn has cockroaches living in her flat. “When I saw [the first cockroach] I was home alone freaking out,” she said. Rainsforth said that when a maintenance job is logged, high priority jobs get attention “within an hour” and low priority jobs “may take five days”.

However, this claim doesn’t live up to students’ experiences.
Taryn’s complaint was neglected for two weeks after she logged her maintenance request. She was “super annoyed”, enough to make a public Facebook post. She said “the next day there was someone here”.
Taryn’s bathroom ceiling is also coated in mould, a problem the previous tenants from Tri One had already logged. There are two broken heaters in Elle’s flat, logged over a month ago. They still have not been fixed.
Rainsforth said the University “works hard to provide accommodation that it is the best it can be”.
She said the University believes “the systems and processes we have available to remedy issues for students in accommodation mean that we act in a prompt and good faith way”.
Ravethi disagrees. She said that more often than not, the University implicitly tells international students to “bear with it”, as responses to complaints can “take a while”. She believes that there are insufficient resources dedicated to the maintenance of the accommodation provided.
“Currently, it seems like the University has a ‘if it’s not broken why fix it’ attitude,” she said. “But as seen in this case, the system in place clearly has errors, so I would say it’s high time they fixed it.”


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