By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
Residents of Sherrod Hall voiced concerns and heard from John Delony, director of residence life, Police Chief Jimmy Ellison and Bob Nevill, director of physical resources, at a forum Thursday night.
After complaints of poor safety and living conditions were levied at the university housing facility, Delony scheduled a meeting Sept. 11 with Kevin Watson, associate vice president for administrative services and chief operations officer, and Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president and dean of student life, to discuss Sherrod’s future. Delony asked the residents, among whom only four families were missing from the 20 living in the complex, to e-mail him by Monday morning so he could compile a recommendation. At the meeting, Delony, Watson and Thompson will discuss Sherrod’s future -whether it should be torn down, phased out or renovated.
“We’re not going to put you on the street,” Delony said.
Delony appointed a student assistant director, Rebecca Cates, graduate student from Olathe, Kans., and Sherrod resident, to act a lesion between residents and the university, filling a position that has been vacant since this summer. Cates will e-mail Delony a copy of every maintenance request to create a paper record of requests.
At the meeting, Nevill said in the past year, 300 work orders have been put in for Sherrod; requests were responded to in an average time of four days. Currently, 34 work orders are open, with about 10 preventative orders and seven cricket complaints.
“Sherrod apartments are in terrible, terrible physical shape,” Nevill said. “Sherrod’s a long list of really serious, expensive infrastructure issues.”
But Nevill said residents should not feel isolated, and part of the problem could have come from poor communication between past residence directors who failed to report problems to his office.
“If you call, we come,” he said.
As for safety, Ellison assured residents the patrol frequents the area. In 2006, the complex had 11 criminal instances, Ellison said, which were part of a campus-wide car break-in epidemic.
“We don’t get many calls at Sherrod,” he said, adding that sometimes citizens don’t call because they think it won’t help.
One resident said he has noticed prostitutes in the area; others complained that strangers knock on their doors.
Officer Bob Delony, who works the late shift, said he receives few calls, but did recognize that the surrounding area can be dangerous.
“You’re going to see things you just need to be aware of, because it is a bad area,” he said.
Residents also voiced concerns over poor lighting – most notably in the laundry area. John Delony said he will walk through the complex soon and take note of lighting and other issues.
For now, residents said they feel like they are getting noticed. Josh Strahan, graduate student from Nashville, and Denis Podryadchikov, graduate student from Russia, said they’ve noticed a good start. Their rent bill came for the first time this month, and they said they have noticed a response to work orders.
In the meantime, residents will compile a list of problems, giving Delony some concrete issues to present at Tuesday’s meeting – among them the small laundry facility and safety concerns.
“We’ll come up with a reasonable solution,” Delony said.