OPINION: Housing & Res. Life, clean up after yourself

After winter break, Linda Phan PO ’24 returned to her room in Oasis, Pomona’s off-campus housing, to find it trashed. Housing and Res. Life offered her a solution — clean it up herself. (Chase Wade • The Student Life)

The hair scattered all over my bathroom sink wasn’t mine. Someone else’s sheets were on my bed. A mountain of trash bags rested on top of two trash cans pushed together. A used towel was hung up nearby. Someone else’s razor was on the counter.

At the start of this spring semester, I found my room completely trashed. 

Dear Pomona College Housing and Residential Life: the blatant disrespect from your office isn’t exclusive to Housekeeping — it’s directed at students, too.

I live in Oasis KGI Commons, a student apartment complex about a mile from Pomona’s campus. Despite the trek, when my roommates and I were faced with a triple in Clark III, the basement of Wig or Oasis during housing selection last spring, we opted for the lesser of three evils. However, I was not prepared for the obstacles we’d face as a consequence.

For those who may not know, Pomona College allows students that live on campus over winter break to live in Oasis instead of their own dorms. As with most decisions made by the housing office, as an Oasis resident, I felt I had no choice but to comply. 

On Dec. 23, students received an email from Dean Steven Jubert, the associate dean of campus life and director of residential life, stating, “We will have bathrooms and apartments cleaned between Jan. 7 and the return of students to Oasis the following week.” 

Oasis students like me were courteous enough to allow a stranger to stay in our personal space under the impression that we’d come back to a room cleaned by both the student and Housekeeping. Clearly, we were wrong. The student who stayed in my room did not merely leave their belongings behind — they fully did not bother to clean up after themselves. 

Immediately after seeing the mystery sheets, I assumed the student who stayed in my room must not have moved out yet. In a state of panic, I emailed the student who stayed in my room. No response. I went to the Housing Office. To no avail. 

I had explained my situation to one of their staff members, who called the student and demanded they accompany me back to Oasis to clean my room. As if the situation couldn’t get worse, I heard the staff member say to the student, “You took a leave of absence and can’t come clean the room?”

The staff member informed me that he would be fined accordingly, but where did that leave me? Sure, Pomona profits off their students, an all too repetitive trend for the administration, but hat about the violation of my space? Housing’s answer: Housekeeping wouldn’t be able to clean the room for another two days.

The negative interaction I had with Housing is part of a pattern of complacency among Pomona’s administrative ranks. During the heat wave last fall, students were expected to sleep in academic halls just to access air conditioning. When asked to accommodate for their discomfort from the extreme temperatures, the school only gave students measly fans and set up a couple of cots in dorm lounges. During the flooding of the laundry room in the basement of Mudd Hall last spring, students were left to fend for themselves. 

While I acknowledge that the Housing Office is extremely busy, I still felt ignored, unprioritized and disregarded given the urgency of this issue. I don’t think it’s an overstep to say that you would have felt this way, too, had you been in my shoes — in fact, I’m sure some of you have been in my shoes. That’s a problem. 

There are two clear issues with Housing’s response to this crisis. One: Housekeeping was supposed to come before I got back to campus. Not after. Two: Housekeeping should never be expected to clean up a mess as extreme as the one that was left in my room. The fact that Pomona expected this of Housekeeping makes me angry and confused and grants me a transparent understanding of the level of disrespect with which the Housing Office treats Housekeeping staff.

Even when I finally did get a meeting with Dean Jubert, who was out of the office at the time and was not available until two weeks after arriving back on campus, I suggested canceling the fine sent to the student so they could compensate me, as opposed to paying the College for the time I spent cleaning the room. However, Dean Jubert claimed that this was not possible due to the Housing Office’s policy. He failed to send me said policy to review, even upon asking. The implication? This policy does not exist.  

Time and time again, Housing fails to provide students with the help and support that we deserve. What’s more, they treat Housekeeping with blatant disrespect. There is neither initiative to prevent problems from happening, nor proper infrastructure to address problems when they arise. 

Will Housing do better? Probably not. But their wrongdoings won’t go unnoticed — I’ll make sure of it. 

Linda Phan PO ’24 is from Seattle, Washington. She loves frisbee and music.

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