by Cambria Pilger|Staff Writer
Stewart (often called Stewville in collaboration with the Village) is a small, tight-knit community, Stewville senator Shelby Krug said.
Krug has noticed issues such as items coming in and falling out, the lack of locks, and other safety matters due to the age of the windows and hopes to change the situation, she said.
Krug has lived in Stewart which is one of the two all-first-year residence halls on campus, for two years.
As part of her principles of service and leadership class, in which the students were asked to create proposals for problems on campus that they would like to fix, Krug drafted an outline focused on the problems she was experiencing. The proposal is an attempt to update the old-fashioned windows and, as a result, fix multiple issues: pillows falling out, bugs flying in, lack of insulation, no locks on the windows, students throwing objects through the open windows and overall safety concerns, Krug said.
“People enjoy being able to throw things out when [they] forget it or people have enjoyed the snowball fights in and out, but then we have to stop those because it’s a safety concern,” Krug said.
One of the biggest concerns is that the windows downstairs are held shut by a wood plank, and if removed, the window can be slid open to allow someone to climb in, Krug said.
Chris Eichorst, director of Facilities Services, was informed about the window situation at the ASWU meeting in Jan. 2018.
“There’s a lot of factors with windows: energy, aesthetics, maintenance issues. Typically what we try to spec for window replacement is something that’s going to be energy-efficient and low-maintenance,” Eichorst said.
The windows in Stewart are old and single-pane, and window replacement for Stewart has been on the radar for years. However, because of the large cost estimate of the project and need to complete more time-sensitive tasks, it is a lower priority on the Facilities Service’s to-do list, Eichorst said.
“Generally a lot of our projects are focused on HVAC systems, which are quite complicated. That directly affects the comfort of classrooms, residence halls, and those would be the biggest things that you would notice as a student,” Eichorst said.
There are certain issues (like a leak in the Fieldhouse, for example) that fall higher up on the list due to their “deferred maintenance” status, Eichorst said. These tasks are ones in which something has failed or is not performing the way it needs to and in which the problem should have already been fixed; it is easier to give these projects more attention because they are critical and immediate.
“I would put the windows at Stewart on that list as deferred. It’s overdue to replace them. I don’t argue with that. It’s just the funding and the priority compared to other projects. That’s been the biggest issue,” Eichorst said.
The project is estimated to cost over $400,000 to replace all the windows in Stewart, Sommerville said.
“You can kind of see why this would drop down on the list when competing with the Fieldhouse where a leak is causing direct damage to the building. It needs to be fixed right away, whereas this is causing an inconvenience to the occupants, but it’s not causing damage,” said Aaron Sommerville, manager of facilities maintenance.
“If the windows in Stewart were to be replaced, it would most likely be for aesthetic purposes more than anything else,” Sommerville said. “They present an inconvenience to students rather than a safety threat,” he said.
“The window sill is tall enough that it is unlikely a student will fall out, and in order for that to happen, they would need to intentionally move themselves out the window,” Sommerville said.
Since Sommerville began working at Whitworth, Stewart has not had screens in the rooms. It is possible that in the future, temporary screens could be implemented to relieve the issue with bugs and other objects flying in and out, but Facilities Services would need to look at the “big picture” (how many days there are where a window needs to be opened for cooling, how much it costs, etc.), Eichorst said.
“Stewart is just overlooked a lot. It’s one of the lesser-known or lesser-appealing buildings,” Krug said. “There are people living there now that are having these safety and security risks, and (in or out of my position) I’m still just someone that always looks for ways to improve where we are now for the benefit of the future. I think if we add this improvement it would appeal to certain students that are looking to come to Whitworth so it would be beneficial to that population as well as current students.”
Krug has been talking with the Facilities Service team to try to get progress made on the windows, but there is no definite plan to begin action at the moment.
“We fix what we can see, but we don’t always see everything, and we don’t always hear about everything. So if there are some issues that haven’t been brought to our attention, we are totally open to hearing them,” Eichorst said.