Maintaining campus is no easy task

Walking into the carpenter’s office, visitors immediately are met with work orders hanging on all the cabinets and organized into files by buildings. Thousands of dollars worth of vandalized signs, including the Wright house sign, are lying out and currently being worked on by Bill Bunker.

With over half a million square feet of grounds to maintain, physical plant officials try to maintain buildings but are struggling to fix the vandalized items before getting to students’ needs.

“I have to prioritize,” said Bunker, the only carpenter employed by the department, explaining why student are sometimes left wondering when their stuff will be fixed. “Safety comes first. Sometimes we have to wait for parts and pieces.”

Next to the door frame above Bunker’s desk hangs the work orders that can only be completed during student breaks. Bunker waits until students leave for these work orders to be completed because many of them raise a lot of dust in the rooms and would be better completed without people walking in and out.

“If it needs to be done, he’s the man on the front line,” said Rick Wareing, assistant director of physical plant.

While workers focus on fixing vandalized items, students sometimes believe their work orders are being ignored.

“They don’t fix a lot of things and they don’t get back to people,” said student Jess Mascola of Babcock Hall.

But Wheeler Hall custodian Ron Clark is quick to point out that he has not received any personal requests for repairs so far this year.

Some students find that the best way to get their needs met is through face-to-face interaction.

“If there’s anything you need and you go to them personally, they are good at giving you what you need or getting you in contact with who can help,” said Wheeler Hall resident Katie Sprowl.

The folder of work orders for Wheeler Hall is one of the thickest.

In 12 years at the college, Clark said only one other year has come close to the amount of vandalism inflicted on the dorm this year.

“I don’t think students realize custodians have a set schedule,” Clark said, explaining that vandalism takes away time from what he would normally work on. “If we have to stop to pick up glass, things don’t get done as well as they need to be.”

When the Wright House sign was pulled down a couple times, Gary Rogers, the visitor coordinator who works out of the Wright House, said the response time was prompt.

“They keep things looking good,” Rogers said. “They do a bang up job.”

Budget constraints only allow the Physical Plant to able to employ one maintenance worker per 14,000 square feet when the national average is one per every 50,000 square feet. Custodians cover an average of about 37,000 square feet, when the national average is 18,000, according to a poster hanging inside the physical plant office. As a result, there are slower response times to student requests.

While every maintenance worker has their area of expertise such as electrician or mechanic, the pool specialist Gordon Austin said they are all “Jack of all trades” and they help out where they can.

In addition to maintaining the grounds and buildings around the campus, physical plant is also charged with getting heat and water to the different buildings.

“It’s never boring,” said Chuck Lavoie, director of physical plant. “There’s always something different going on.”

As Bunker sat down to organize the clutter of work orders on his desk, Waring reached in and handed him yet another one.

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