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Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

Aging campuses add to long list of university maintenance requests

Kansas State President: ‘We are in a crisis’

February 1, 2007

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Aging campuses add to long list of university maintenance requests: Exactly how bad has the "university maintenance crisis" gotten? We went behind the scenes to show you the unbelievable problems students and staff at Kansas universities deal with every day. Enlarge video

From busted pipes, to outdated electrical systems, across the state, it's a challenge for universities to keep up with the demand for quick fixes, and temporary solutions.

"That's how we have to secure out a circuit that's down and we're back feeding the building right now because that circuit is down," Dale Boggs, with Kansas State University, said.

It's gotten so bad that students have taken it upon themselves to try to encourage the state to fix the problem.

Students from the six state universities brought postcards from the more than 6,000 who sent their thoughts to the governor via postcards. And the students didn't just bring post cards; they brought their own personal maintenance mess horror stories along with them.

"We had a student sitting in a classroom one time and she had a ceiling tile fall on top of her head," Jess Price, an Emporia State University student, said.

Another student, Lucas Maddy, from Kansas State University said the metal grates over building entrances that serve an unusual purpose.

"When I first showed up at campus I thought it was to keep pigeons from dropping their business on your head. But it's actually to keep the masonry from falling off the building on to students as they walk in," he said.

All of the universities had to submit proposals of their top maintenance priorities. At K-State, the power plant tops that list. Just last week, Kansas State University President Jon Wefald presented K-State's needs to a Senate panel.

"No matter where you look at Kansas State, we have huge, I mean, extraordinary, monumental problems," Wefald said.

As Wefald spoke those words, this there was a mess at the K-State power plant. A steam pipe ruptured that morning, and workers had to suit up to protect themselves from the asbestos that insulates those pipes.

"We are in a crisis. Period. Amen. Goodnight," Wefald said.

And although the other universities did manage to stave off complete meltdowns until after their presentations, they've still got issues.

"Our average building is 40 years old on this campus. And, when you're dealing with electrical systems, heating ventilation, air conditioning systems that were installed that long ago, they're so antiquated that we pretty much have to out them together with bailing wire and gum," Emporia State University President Michael Lane said.

We caught back up with one of the students who helped deliver the postcards to the governor asking for help. At this point, she's still waiting.

"As we go to class we have to sit in one building where we're roasting and then we go to a different building for another class and you're freezing to death," Courtney George said.

According to Mark Runge with ESU facility maintenance, that could be easily remedied.

"Hope to replace these windows with double pane, thermally broke units that are very efficient at keeping the cold out and the warm in when you want it and the hot out and the cool in when you want it," he said.

The total cost for all repairs at state universities is estimated at $727 million, $663 million worth of that is considered high priority.

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