Housing Horrors: The Oaks
Many students at Meredith have had experience living in on-campus housing. There are several residence hall options available and upperclassmen can also live in apartments on campus. Students have complained about not being informed of the proper protocol for how to handle issues that may arise when they live on campus. And, if these issues are brought to the attention of Residence Life, students do not receive responses in a timely manner, or the responses they do receive are not helpful.
This was certainly the case for an upperclassmen student, who chose to remain anonymous, who dealt with a flea infestation in her unit of The Oaks Apartments.
The student said, “When I first got back to my apartment for the fall semester, I did not notice anything. It was not until two days later that I noticed all of the bumps on my legs from my ankles to hip.”
She went on to say that she got a flea spray for the carpet, saying, “I learned the apartment next to me was also suffering from a severe flea infestation so they did a flea bomb. This set off their fire alarms which prompted the apartment manager, Chyna McQueen, and firetrucks to come. When their apartment was explaining the situation, I joined in and said I was also treating my apartment. We got in trouble for handling it on our own, and [were] told we should've come to McQueen with our issue. We were unaware of this.”
The student explained that McQueen began the process of getting extermination services in their apartment. During this time, the student “went to urgent care because of the severe allergic reaction from the bites and had to get on medication.”
The students and their roommate were given the option to move into another apartment while theirs was getting exterminated. She said, “We were unaware we had to come to Chyna with the issue because it wasn't like your typical maintenance request issue and thought we should have to handle it ourselves. When she was setting up the exterminators, she was very lackluster in details and information, stating she did not know what day and time they would come but she would email us the morning of.”
After the first extermination cycle had happened, issues continued to arise. “When we got our first extermination done, we actually experienced more bug issues than just fleas,” the student said. “On top of the flea issue not being resolved, we now had spiders, centipedes and gnats. We requested a second exterminator visit and the same thing happened, where Chyna could not provide us with convenient details.”
After the second round of extermination occurred, the student said the issues seemed to have “thankfully dissipated.” After much reflection on the situation, the student said, “I did not have time to relax and prepare for the first day of my senior year. Working with Chyna has been difficult as her office hours are slim and she takes a long time (24-72 business hours) to reply to emails, even during an important issue such as the fleas. I was extremely disappointed and [felt] very unsupported by [Residence Life] during such a stressful time.”
Amanda Duran, ‘22, shared their experience with Residence Life and a lack of communication regarding move out timeframes. They stated, “I lived [in The Oaks] for the 2021-2022 school year. I moved in August [of] 2021 and things were fine. No issues arose until July [of] 2022.”
Duran continued by saying, “I was under the impression that I was moving out by July 29 which aligned with my schedule as I was still taking summer classes to finish up my degree. Essentially, we were given no warning that the actual move-out date was July 22, leaving my roommate and I panicking about how we were going to move everything out in just a couple of days.”
Duran also shared that the “attitude that the management had in regards to helping students” left them “a little shocked.”
Carrie Barnhart, the Director of Residence Life, was asked about her thoughts on the situations that students were facing with fleas in their apartments in The Oaks. She explained that “issues with insects can occur in any location, especially in a congregant living setting like apartments or residence halls, where many people and animals reside. The College makes its best effort to mitigate any issues like this efficiently once it has been notified. It is important for students to alert Residence Life and Facilities to issues as soon as they are noticed so the issue can be resolved.”
She continued by saying, “Depending upon the specific concern, repeated treatments may be needed for mitigation. It’s also important that students prep their space prior to treatment in order for facilities to treat the space appropriately. Not doing so can cause the issue to persist.”
She also responded to students' concerns about not being able to get in touch with Residence Life in a timely manner. Barnhart said, “Any students who have concerns about their room or apartment should contact their Residence Director or Apartment Manager. If you have challenges reaching them in a timely manner (1-2 business days) then I would reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to assist you.”
The Herald reached out to Chyna McQueen for comment and received no response.
By: Haileigh West, Reporter