Inspectors monitor some residence halls, too

You are currently viewing Inspectors monitor some residence halls, tooDarrell Hoemann
on Friday, November 15, 2013. photo by Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Journalism

By Janelle O’Dea and Robert Holly/CU-CitizenAccess — In addition to fraternities and sororities, inspectors visit 15 privately-owned residences that fall under the certified housing rules, such as Bromley Hall, Illini Tower and Newman Hall.

“Ultimately, it’s about safety, so it’s good to have an outside set of eyes to check out for things and find things that maybe our staff has missed,” said Tristan Pisarczyk, the director of operations for Newman Hall in Champaign.

These non-Greek properties certified by the University hold about 2,900 students when they are full.

The privately-owned housing is, like the Greek houses, certified by the University and by the cities of Urbana and Champaign. It, too, must pass yearly safety inspections to get and keep the certification.

Yet, inspectors find violations at these properties, as well.

Non-Greek certified properties had more than 420 violations during initial inspections in 2012, according to inspection documents.

Among them, inspectors found:

– 140 violations at Bromley Hall during September inspections, including “combustible decorations” and “cracked and soft” bathroom ceilings. Bromley Hall houses more than 700 students, according to its website.

– 131 violations at Illini Tower during September inspections, including 13 carbon-monoxide detectors that were missing or had dead batteries, and smoke detectors on multiple floors that were more than 10 years old. Illini Tower houses more than 700 students, according to its website.

– 85 violations at Newman Hall during October inspections, including power strips connected to other power strips and obstructed electrical panels. Jennifer LaMontagne, director of marketing and communications for the hall, said that Newman Hall houses 586 students.

– 20 violations at Presby Hall during October inspections, including fire extinguishers that needed servicing and inoperable or missing emergency lighting. Presby Hall houses 262 students, according to Presby staff.

Pisarczyk said the Newman Hall staff takes different measures to address fire-safety standards throughout the year.

“We’ve got a number of safety systems in place for our students, and part of that is regular checks and testing,” said Pisarczyk. “We do our own walk-through checks in preparation of the fall tests by the city, and then our [resident advisers] on the floors do monthly fire checks as well to continue to make sure that things stay safe throughout the school year.”

Staff members at Newman Hall also organize regular emergency drills to keep residents prepared, Pisarczyk said.

While many violations are for minor things such as leaving flexible cords under closet doors, Michael Robinson – the vice president of marketing for Campus Living Villages, the company in charge of Illini Tower – said Illini Tower staff takes all violations seriously.

“Illini Tower takes annual steps to comply with fire-safety inspections,” said Robinson. “We take any minor or greater violation seriously and look for ways to resolve those issues.”

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