Finding a wild animal in her dorm is not something Celia Wekstein, ‘25, was expecting, yet she found a dead five-inch snake in her room in House 93.
This semester, some Lehigh students have encountered issues with their facilities and housing accommodations, including uncleaned and unstocked bathrooms, broken utilities and snake infestations.
When faced with these problems, students can submit a work order request or contact Housing Services. But some students, like Wekstein, have experienced slow response times from the university.
Wekstein said she and her housemates dealt with it themselves when they found the first snake, but they reached out to Housing Services when they found another dead snake hanging out of a radiator a few days later.
Because the housing office was closed, Wekstein said they then called Lehigh police who sent an emergency maintenance person to remove it.
Ozzie Breiner, director of Housing Services, wrote in an email to The Brown and White that there have been instances in the past where small ring snakes appear in buildings on the Hill. He wrote they are harmless and avoid humans but understandably can cause anxiety in the residents.
The Gryphon for House 93 filled out a work order form, but Wekstein said when representatives from Housing finally came to address the problem, they made the residents feel like they were overreacting.
Wekstein said even her parents, who called Housing Services after the second snake was found, were shooed off the phone and told it was being handled. She said Housing Services was generally unhelpful.
“There were six more (snakes) found,” Wekstein said. “I don’t think that’s taking care of it.”
Breiner was the representative from Housing Services to speak to residents of House 93 regarding the problem. He wrote it was not his intent to make the students feel as if they were overreacting.
“Problems need to be addressed and that was the message I was trying to get across,” Breiner wrote. “On some occasions, all students want is for the problem to be solved immediately, but as in the case of the baby snakes, we take steps to mitigate the problem but we can’t guarantee that it is immediately solved.”
Wekstein said a wildlife specialist was sent by Housing Services to examine House 93, and the specialist said there were at least 20 openings in the house where a snake could enter.
Breiner wrote the wildlife control professional is someone from the Lehigh Valley that the office has used on campus for years. Housing Services have sealed all small holes in the house to prevent snakes from entering multiple times, but because they are so small, it is difficult to patch all the openings they could enter through.
As of Sept. 25, Wekstein said eight snakes had been found in the house.
Maahi Zaman, ‘26, a Gryphon living in McClintic-Marshall House, said he has experienced a lack of urgency when it comes to fixing utilities.
He said there was water dripping from his ceiling onto the floor, so he called the emergency facilities number.
“They didn’t show up until like an hour later, and when they came, they didn’t even know what the problem was,” Zaman said.
Matthew Glose, business manager of LU Facilities who helps to oversee the Work Order Central team, wrote in an email to The Brown and White “work orders are assigned and addressed in combination of the priority and the order in which they are received,” which could be a potential cause for a lack of response from the Facilities team.
For after-hour calls, he wrote “technicians respond and triage at the scene,” while calls during regular hours generate records with more detail.
Evangeline Guttedar, ‘26, is also a Gryphon in McClintic-Marshall House. She said a smaller group of Gryphons had a staff meeting where everyone agreed the bathrooms were “disgusting.” The communal restrooms are often cleaned with dirty mops, she said, leaving them filthier than before they were cleaned.
“In Taylor House, it’s gotten to the point where people go to other floors’ restrooms or simply to another building instead of using the toilet there,” Guttedar said.
Glose wrote Facilities have not received any complaints about cleaning issues in the Taylor and McClintic-Marshall dorms. He wrote cleaning complaints are usually handled immediately with calls to ABM supervisors, a facility management company.
When initially asked for comment about work order requests, LU Facilities directed The Brown and White to an email sent out twice at the beginning of the fall semester, saying that work orders should be submitted to the Facilities Work Order Central website.
The website says LU Facilities is “dedicated to providing quality and well-organized responses to a steady stream of daily demands.
The Housing Services website says their office is committed to “providing safe, secure, well-maintained and attractive facilities for our students and guests.”
Glose wrote that some examples of emergency requests may include issues with toilets, sinks, showers, electrical or heating. The Facilities website says other issues, like cleaning concerns and extermination needs should be reported to Housing Services.
Housing Services wrote that they do not deal with work order requests.
Breiner wrote calling Facilities is effective for facility issues but the Housing office is “always an option for more complex issues.”
The beginning of the year is busy for Facilities and Housing Services due to an abundance of work orders, air conditioning requests — especially during this semester’s heat wave — and meal plan inquiries.
Breiner wrote that Housing Services had nearly 3,700 residents, not including graduate students, move into housing facilities within a 10-day period, leaving a high number of concerns.
“Requests (and) questions (are) always higher during that time,” Breiner wrote. “Most are minor, but we try to follow up as quickly as possible on all of them.”
Glose wrote that Facilities has responded to over 1,381 work order requests and over 85 after-hours calls since the beginning of the semester.
Guttedar said Facilities has been slow when processing work orders this semester.
“It’s hard to support the residents when basic needs like clean bathrooms aren’t being met,” Guttedar said. “It’s the bare minimum.”