Residents enter theme houses in need of maintenance and refurbished appliances

by Courtney Murphy|Copy Chief

This year students living in theme houses have reported issues such as pest infestations, faulty appliances and broken furniture left by previous students. While those problems are not uncommon in theme houses, and occur in many rental situations, all theme houses are supposed to be left “furnished” at the start of each year, according to the Whitworth website.

Senior Kat Duarte decided to live in a theme house this year because she did not want to buy her own furniture, or sign a 12 month lease since she is graduating this year and liked the idea of an assured flat fee.

Upon moving into her theme house, The House of Rivendell, at the beginning of the year, Duarte noticed the washing machine was leaking. She and her housemates filled out a work order for the machine, and a maintenance crew got back to her the next day, Duarte said. They agreed to replace the washing machine right away, but the new machine would be coin-operated.

“We weren’t told that any time that a machine that is currently placed in a house goes out of working order they will replace it with a new machine,” Duarte said. “This [was] unknown information to us.”

Duarte and her housemates chose their theme house partially because of the free washer and dryer, so they decided to deal with the leaking machine, Duarte said.

“They turned off the water to our house,” Duarte said. “For half the week, for half the house.”

The maintenance crew eventually came and took both the washing machine and dryer and replaced them both with coin-operated machines, Duarte said.

“[The house] comes pre-furnished, but this is a very generic term so you don’t know what you’re exactly getting,” Duarte said. In her house that meant a built-in bookshelf and a lamp, in addition to a broken couch and an old rug the previous residents left.

“It’s like if you had a dorm and you just let the dorm run without doing checkouts at the end of the year, and without doing repairs,” Duarte said.

Sophomores Meiyah Neely and Talya Jackson of the Powerpuff Girls theme house decided to live in a theme house this year because they did not enjoy traditional on-campus living and wanted a change.

Although they enjoy living in their theme house and like that they have the freedom to “cook [their] own food” and “come and go as [they please],” they have had issues with appliances and pest control, Jackson said.

“We have this set of stairs; everyone who has lived in this house and has moved in has fallen down these stairs because they’re very steep, they’re carpeted, and they’re very slick,” Neely said.

When they moved in there was a spider infestation, Neely said.

“They sprayed for it so hopefully it will recover, but there were so many spiders,” Neely said. “It was like that when we moved in, and they just sprayed two days ago.”

Neely and Jackson are also uncomfortable with the fact that the maintenance crews used to enter the house unannounced.

“They just like to walk into the house,” Neely said.

“They come in at weird times,” Jackson said. “If we hear somebody with a key in the door and it’s not us, then we’re like, ‘Oh god.’”

Although Duarte has not personally experienced an issue with maintenance crews coming into her house because she has generally interacted directly with them, she knows it has been a problem for other theme house residents.

“That was a problem that Steven [Herevia, the theme house Resident Director] directly had to deal with in the first couple weeks of school,” Duarte said.

Despite those issues, theme house residents like the direction that theme houses are going and the changes Herevia is making.

“I personally like Steven a lot…we can get a hold of him really quickly,” Neely said.

This year, Herevia is attempting to develop a system for theme houses that is similar to what exists in dorms on campus, Duarte said. The Halloween party, a Christmas party next month and more funding for theme house events are some of those changes, Duarte said.

“[Herevia] right now is working to change a lot of [issues with theme houses] and get more funding,” Duarte said. “He’s advocated for a lot of the changes that have happened in theme houses and are still happening for next year.”

Despite some issues that need to be worked out with maintenance, theme houses are a good alternative to traditional on-campus living because they offer “more freedom,” Neely said.

“[Living in a theme house] is a good adjustment and transition from on-campus living,” Duarte said.