Opinion: UTA’s decision to phase out and demolish Lipscomb Hall is long overdue

Students living in Lipscomb Hall had to deal with a variety of problems, some worse than others. Lipscomb Hall was not a quality living accommodation.

Recent Shorthorn reporting discussed the announcement that Lipscomb Hall is set to be phased out of use and demolished, a decision that in my opinion should have come sooner.

When COVID-19 showed no signs of stopping, Lipscomb Hall became a designated quarantine zone for infected students starting in fall 2020. This was a poor decision not only because it displaced regular residents, but because the mold and bed bugs were health hazards that recovering COVID-19 patients should not have had to deal with on top of their illness.

The demolition announcement made me feel both vindicated and disheartened because it confirmed my suspicion that I wasn’t just an unlucky resident; many students had the same issues.

One student spoke of the same moldy ceiling and repairs I experienced, and another had a quote that made me laugh out loud.

“If I was ever going to get axe murdered or possessed, this was the place that it was gonna happen,” said Jacob Denham, broadcast and communication junior. “It looks like something out of The Shining.”

While it’s certainly true that the hallways were scary, the doors were almost an inch and a half thick, very heavy and required both a card swipe and a passcode, so I did feel secure in my room.

I lived in Lipscomb from fall 2018 to spring 2020, and it was a downhill ride from the start. I picked it for the same reasons as anyone who lives there ― it was the least expensive dormitory option. Which isn’t to say it was cheap, at $4,030 a semester plus $1,662 for the cheapest required meal plan option.

I remember my parents’ disdain for the building when they helped me move in. The stairwells were dusty, and my dad said the hallways smelled like mold. But the room was bigger than the one I had back home, so I was happy at the time.

I’m the oldest of my family’s children, and I had no frame of reference when it came to housing prices in general, much less at a university. I was 17 at the time and had no idea how badly I was being ripped off.

Lipscomb residents dealt with constant bed bug scares and fumigations every few weeks. According to exterminators I personally spoke with, the problem stems from old washing machines and dryers that don’t get hot enough to kill bed bug eggs, thus spreading them from person to person.

This is just one example of the outdated and problematic aspects that made living in Lipscomb grating.

By some miracle, my roommate and I never had bedbugs, but we went through two fumigations in one month, which we had to prepare for by bagging up everything we owned and moving it to the middle of the room.

One day I woke up with bug bites all up my legs and ribs. When I went to the university clinic, the doctor said it looked like bed bug bites. It turned out they weren’t, but when I called my mom to get her advice I had my second-ever panic attack.

After that frankly traumatizing experience, my parents called the Lipscomb Hall director to complain. I was called to his office the next day and told why nothing could be done about the bed bugs and intimidated into calling off my parents.

I have no words for how awful the bathrooms were. During my first year, I almost burned my back because the exposed pipes in the shower got extremely hot with no warning. During my second year, we spent three weeks calling maintenance because there was a cantaloupe-sized patch of black mold on the bathroom ceiling due to poor air circulation.

Eventually maintenance came to “fix” it by tearing down the ceiling panels, but that left us with an ability to see into the building’s dusty, dark rafters for weeks before they replaced the panels. Every time I went to shower I was terrified that a bat, racoon or spider might emerge from the darkness.

Six residents shared a tiny bathroom, and as an all-female dorm, it was startling to have grown men coming and going while making repairs. I would state exactly how big the bathroom was, but the Lipscomb floor plans aren’t listed on UTA’s website like the other halls.

When combined with the faulty HVAC and seasonal gnat problems, the above issues made for a lackluster dorm experience that I couldn’t recommend to even the poorest person. This is unfortunate because I know so many students are forced into this living situation.

Although apartments are technically cheaper, if you can’t afford a car, then you have to live on campus, making Lipscomb the most “affordable” option.

Before it became a quarantine area, many students were stuck in Lipscomb because they couldn’t afford a better residence hall. If a dorm claims to be suitable for students, it should actually meet minimum health and safety requirements. I’m not a health inspector, but I agree with UTA’s decision to phase out and demolish Lipscomb Hall.

@Sam_Knowles00

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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