MSG strives to improve apartments

Many students would agree that a renovation to the Briggs and Lewis apartments is needed and Mercyhurst Student Government (MSG) is taking action to make that happen.

The Campus Life Committee and Vice President for Student Life Gerard Tobin, Ph.D., meet monthly to choose goals to strive for. Currently, their goal is to look into students’ opinion on apartments and see what students think should be improved upon. They enact this goal through surveys that engage students in the consideration process.

MSG acts as a middleman between the students and the Mercyhurst Board of Trustees.

“[It] is also the “voice” of the student body,” said Sarah Allen, assistant director of the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership Development.

MSG will present a report of apartment improvements to the Board of Trustees, who play a huge role in how the university budget is doled out, during the Board of Trustees meeting in February.

At the end of 2012 fall term, MSG conducted a survey that asked questions about maintenance and what should be improved in the apartments.

According to MSG President Richard Molloy, these surveys were painstakingly conducted door-to-door and face-to-face.

“Students seemed glad that we were doing something [visibly] proactive about the situation,” Molloy said about the decision to do a face-to-face survey rather than an online survey.

MSG paid specific attention to apartments, previously housing three students that now house four students or will do so in the future. The number of apartments to hold four students is expected to increase in the future.

“Briggs and Lewis street apartments will become strictly four resident apartments again [in the future],” said senior and Resident Assistance Adrianne LaGruth.

An apartment meant for three people can comfortably accommodate all three residents but the inclusion of a fourth resident makes space a serious issue.

One of the ways they have come up with to deal with the space issue is to replace the bulky wooden furniture currently in apartments. With slimmer furniture and dressers that can be stacked horizontally instead of vertically under beds, space will be saved.

Though the surveys are still in processing because of the great volume of responses, according to Allen, there has been a trend in which rooms students consider need improvements.
The kitchen and the bathroom are two areas where problems exist.

Since the apartments are old, many built in the 1940s, there is a great deal of strain in these two areas. For example, ventilation in bathrooms is adequate, but no available window means that sometimes bathrooms stay moist and this encourages mold growth which is a health concern.

“The cost to renovate one apartment is relatively small,” said Tobin. “But when there are many apartments that need improvements the cost becomes great. Thus, implementing a gradual process of improving apartments is a great concern of future endeavors.”

Some apartments, such as the Highland Square apartments on Briggs Avenue, could be redone into high end apartments for students in order to deal with aging apartments and space issues. However, there is a catch. Students would have to pay more for these high end apartments.

“[It would] cost different amounts depending on where a student lives,” said Tobin, “but students would have to pay more to live in the high end apartments [than a regular apartment].”

The apartment improvements survey collected well over 250 responses and so far boasts a mainly positive student response.