Physical plant: masters behind the mayhem

By Grace King, Layout Editor

When living in Old Oak 469 last September, senior Bradley Speakman walked into his apartment and noticed a slight zig-zag crack in the ceiling. He put in a work order, but not before waking up to a crashing sound in the middle of the night.

Speakman’s ceiling had partially collapsed on his Lego set, destroying the Legos and creating a mess. Physical Plant, the maintenance crew at Olivet Nazarene University, came the next day and repaired the damage quickly in Speakman’s apartment.

In emergencies such as these, Physical Plant will come and take care of the issue right away. They even have a third shift crew if the emergencies happen after hours, Dean of Residential Life, Phil Steward, said.

“Physical Plant does a tremendous job in the never-ending effort to respond to work orders and building and maintenance needs. They go above and beyond and work countless hours to make sure codes are met and the students have everything they need,” Resident Director in Grand, Drew Benson, said.

The most common issues Physical Plant addresses are clogged drains, water stains, pipe bursts and mold problems, according to senior Griselda Guzman, who is in her second year as a resident assistant in Grand. Junior Sydney Hyde temporarily moved out of her apartment in University Place 500 because mold was found in her room. “The school is working very hard on getting the UP apartments back in order,” she said.

According to Steward, Physical Plant found the mold while addressing a water leak issue. They took down the drywall and treated the wet wood. Because the maintenance was “a little invasive,” Hyde and her roommates were given the option to temporarily move out, according to Steward.

“We gave [the students] in Grand 500 the option to temporarily move out because of the amount of dirt and dust that would be created during repairs,” Steward said.

All work orders are put into a website called by either the resident director or resident assistant. The site asks for the building, area, room number, area of Physical Plant responsible for maintenance and a description of the problem.

Physical plant receives work orders, reviews them and prioritizes the requests, said Coordinating Purchaser at Physical Plant, Tammy Potoski.

For example, an area of ceiling that needed some repairs had been cleaned and treated by Physical Plant, but is still on the maintenance list because they still have to paint it, Steward said.

While speaking with Steward, the number of requests on the website was 43,186 for all residents halls, apartments, and Ludwig center.

“This is my fifth year and I am so impressed with the level of care that Physical Plant uses. You have probably seen their shirts say ‘PFI: Protect the First Impression.’ I’m just impressed with how they live that out,” Steward said. “They’re really cautious about what people see when they walk on campus and what students experience, and ask ‘how do we make that as positive as possible?’”

Guzman said that during her time as an RA, she has noticed there are limited people designated to each building for maintenance. According to Guzman, the work order process slows down when students file maintenance requests for squeaky doors or loose towel rods.

Recently, the campus was divided and Physical Plant employees were assigned to certain buildings because work orders get done faster when maintenance becomes more familiar with their building, Potoski, said.

A lot of the maintenance problems are caused by students, Guzman said. “We had an outlet catch fire in the girls’ room last year because of a flat iron cord that was torn a little. They just pulled the plug from the socket and I flipped off the electricity,” she said. “A lot of the issues we have are preventable.”

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