by Maddi Dolan
Although on-campus residents at The University of Tampa settled back into their dorms for the spring semester, 18 students were unable to return to the McNeel Boathouse due to unsafe living conditions. The students were forced to relocate to other residence halls on campus. The Boathouse will remain empty for the semester until repairs are made to the flooring.
Problems with the McNeel Boathouse began in mid October when a male resident noticed small indentations in the flooring on one half of the men’s room. He informed the Resident Assistant, Emily Lanning, a senior biology major, who was quick to call facilities about the issue.
“Facilities came and looked at it, and they said they would be back to make an assessment. In the meantime the boys who lived on that side moved their stuff to the other side of the room,” said Lanning. “A couple of weeks later we noticed it getting significantly worse and I knew it had become a safety hazard. Facilities came back that night.”
The next day, Residence Life sent out an email to the male residents stating that they would have to temporarily move out of the Boathouse so that the flooring in their room could be replaced. They were asked to relocate to the Barrymore Hotel until after winter break, when they could return to the Boathouse.
“My roommates and I were unpleasantly surprised by the news and were only given a week to move our stuff to the hotel,” said Cole Berry, freshman international business major and previous Boathouse resident. “We stayed in the hotel for about five weeks, and saw little progress being made on the Boathouse.”
Weeks after the boys left the Boathouse, the girls started to notice a few spots in their room where the floor was starting to sink as well.
“We told ResLife and someone came in and checked our floors. We were told everything was fine and that there’s nothing to worry about,” said Michelle Kotch, freshman marine science and biology major.
A week before fall semester finals, the remaining residents got an email saying that facilities had to do a complete assessment on the Boathouse to see what needed to be done. ResLife asked the students to start packing up their belongings in case they would have to move them out over winter break to make repairs.
During finals week, another email was sent to the residents stating that the assessment had been completed and that repairs will be made through winter break and into spring semester. Students were asked to move out permanently. They would not be returning to the boathouse in the spring and would have to make other living arrangements.
“One day I came home from class and there were just boxes and labels and rolls of tape everywhere. They sprung it on us,” said Grace Iverson, freshman marine biology major. “It was frustrating because they told us everything was okay, and then very poorly communicated what we had to do to leave the boathouse.”
Many former boathouse residents said that ResLife handled the situation inadequately and unprofessionally.
“Personally it was really stressful and irritating because Reslife told us during the worst possible time,” Kotch said. “And they didn’t give us much information for what was actually wrong and what is going to happen.”
While this experience has been an inconvenience, Berry said that positives did come from it.
“Moving all around for the first semester of my college experience definitely had a negative impact, but I made some great friends while going through it and I’m more appreciative of being settled into a dorm finally,” Berry said.
Maddi Dolan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org