By Aaliyah Murillo, Sept. 21, 2021

As Cal Poly Pomona resumed in-person classes this semester, many students were eager to move closer to campus, particularly into the University Village apartments located across the street; however, some residents have expressed frustration toward new policies and lack of maintenance.

After a year and a half of inactivity, University Village apartments, currently operating at 75% capacity and housing 981 students, are facing issues with infestation, broken fixtures and broken hardware, as the influx of work orders has delayed the speediness of repairs.

Jared Ceja, executive director and CEO of the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, explained that many of the maintenance issues are a result of the buildings’ dormancy during virtual instruction, when air conditioning and water were shut down in all vacant buildings to cut costs and prevent leaks. Now, as buildings are repopulated, more maintenance issues have occurred.

“Buildings aren’t made to go to sleep for a year and a half. When you go so long in inactivity a lot of things hit at once,” said Ceja.

Still, Ceja added that he is aware of the issues and is working to resolve them.

Destiny Castaneda, a psychology student and first-time resident, requested an early move-in date and was welcomed with an unpleasant smell.

“As soon as I opened the front door to the apartment, it all smelled like cigarette; the whole entire place smelled horrible,” said Castaneda. “It was unbearable. I had to open all the windows … (and) go buy air fresheners at Target.”

Castaneda confirmed she pays $997 per month for rent in addition to a $300 one-time utilities fee, a non-refundable $175 facilities fee and another non-refundable $50 application fee. She also experienced a lack of communication of fee due dates and how to pay for them online.

Melody Bando, a visual communication design student, found a dead cockroach on her desk during her move-in date and believes no one came in to check the rooms prior to residents moving in.

Mara Atchason, a sociology student and second-time resident, had a broken toilet, doorknob and blinds which do not function correctly.

“My toilet broke the other year too,” recalled Atchason. “When I moved in (this year), I didn’t know it was broken, and some random maintenance guy came, and we didn’t even put a work order or anything.”

Atchason was informed there were not enough repair employees available compared to the number of work orders coming in. This caused delays for residents as the administration prioritized the most crucial repairs.

Atchason joked about how residents could expedite work orders, “Oh, just tell them your pipe broke and they’ll come fix it right away.”

Ceja addressed residents’ maintenance concerns saying, “In terms of the challenges with bringing the building back online after being down so long, I do ask for some patience and do express my apologies.”

In addition to maintenance issues, COVID-19 policies in place at the University Village have also caused some student complaints.

Residents this semester are required to purchase a meal plan in case a resident contracts COVID-19 and needs to isolate, Ceja explained. With a meal plan, the University Village can prepare and deliver food to the resident’s doorstep.

However, some residents like Castaneda find the requirement to be unnecessary.

“I kind of find it ridiculous,” said Castaneda. “If you have your own kitchen and have to buy your own food, why even bother buying a meal plan at that point?”

Bando paid for the lowest meal plan rate, which starts at $375 per semester.

“It is for the possibility that if you get COVID and you have to stay inside for a week,” said Bando. “But still, I don’t think it was necessary to get a meal plan.”

Bando, in her final year at CPP, anticipated a different experience at the University Village where her friends could come over to her apartment to spend time with her. However, with the implementation of a new no-guest policy to limit the spread of cases, that has not been possible.

“We’re paying so much, and I would like to have at least a couple of visits from people,” Bando said. “It really sucks for this whole COVID situation.”

“It’s a little more lonely or sad,” Bando added. “But I mean it’s alright, you know?”

For Castaneda, the issues she’s experienced have outweighed the benefits of life at the University Village. She added, “It’s nice to be close to campus, but it’s not worth it, personally.”

Feature image by Aaliyah Murillo

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