Renovations cause disruption for Oak Street Hall residents

Cierra Howe

Alex Fulton

In Oak Street Hall, 180 bed lay empty and loud noises vibrate through the walls.

The residential hall has undergone several renovations in the past two months.

The construction comes after UMKC decided to evaluate the buildings following previous issues with housing on campus.

The renovations have interrupted the lives of many Oak Street residents.

Freshman Sarah Storm said it’s dreary to walk throughout the halls with the surrounding renovations.

Cardboard and tape cover the halls throughout building, and there are several rooms hidden behind plastic sheeting.

UMKC recently moved some students out of their rooms for renovations.

The cause of the renovations remains unclear. UMKC Director of Residential Life Sean Grube said rooms are taken offline if they do not meet the university’s standards.

Possible issues Grube mentioned include caulking around bathtubs and cracking in tile, creating an uneven floor.

UMKC decided which rooms to renovate from late July to the end of August. The rooms are renovated in order of how fast the university can get them back online with minimal disturbance to students.

“We have a batch of rooms that we are working on right now that we think will be back on by mid-October,” said Grube.

Workers are routinely coming in and out of the building, but Grube estimates the crews finish up around 3 p.m. every day. Their trades can range from drywall, paint, tile and plumbing.

Grube did not answer whether students are aware of the cause(s) of the renovations, but he did say he’s “not aware of anything that would be harmful to students.”

One student noted having an empty suite next door upon moving in. Despite being empty, the suite housed the typical set of furniture and appliances found in the dorms.

“No one told us the rooms weren’t going to be used,” said medical student Fahd Malik. “We tried not to use [the other suite] in the beginning, but then one of us had to get up to get ready, so we’d go in the other room to not be too loud.”

The two students were fined a $60 cleaning fee after construction workers discovered they were using the empty room.

“We looked in the student handbook before and didn’t see anything that would get us in trouble, so we thought it was okay,” said Malik. “[The university] said there is something in there saying you can’t use a room that’s not yours or live in a room that wasn’t assigned to you.”

The renovators said there was nothing wrong with the empty room, but they needed to close it off to access the rooms next to it.

Once the suite was cleared of the two’s belongings, the renovators put plastic sheets on the doors, including the one to access the room from the connecting bathroom.

“I was happy that we didn’t have suitemates, and I’m still happy that no one’s sharing it, but I want to know what they’re doing in the room,” Malik said. “They did tell me it wasn’t mold and to not be worried about it.”

Martellaro said Chancellor Agrawal is looking at a variety of ideas for short and long-term improvements to housing.

“We want people to talk about residential life at UMKC in a positive way,” said Martellaro. “We don’t want people walking around saying, ‘Oh, I was very disappointed in the rooms.’ We want people saying, ‘Hey, hey! These rooms are great!” That’s what we’re shooting for.”

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