|By: Ramon Gordon
Faculty, staff, and students at Northern Caribbean University (NCU), are angered by the prolonged lack of functional sanitary conveniences at the Business Block and other quarters on the school’s main campus in Mandeville.
The bathrooms on the ground floor of the Business Block have been inoperable for close to a year. Reports reaching our news team suggest that in addition to the bathrooms not being usable, they also produce an odor. This, some say, has made learning in the neighboring classrooms, next to impossible.
“I remember we had a sectional for foreign news reporting. The classroom where the exam was scheduled was right next to the bathroom. Bredda, it was the hardest thing to concentrate with the stink place beside us,” shared Forth Year Journalism Major, Sutandré Brown.
Problems with bathroom facilities extend beyond the Business Block. Most of the student restrooms at NCU, including those at both Robinson Hall and Sorenson Hall (the school cafeteria), have had recurring issues with sanitation and water availability.
Student Supervisor for Custodial Services, Kemoya Williams, asserted that the department, which is responsible for cleaning and maintenance, should not be blamed for issues of infrastructure and neglect on the part of both management and students. Though she acknowledges the need for improved facilities, she says her department can do so much, and no more.
“There are times when the problems are not caused by us. We cannot stop the bathroom from flooding out if the sink needs to be fixed, and we cannot fix plumbing problems. Some students refuse to flush the toilets with the water provided in drums. They are saying it is ‘custodial’s’ job. Those who do flush the toilets wet up the floor.”
Williams also mentioned that there is a staffing problem.
“We have very limited staff. On a day to day basis, we usually have three students workers working full time, and they alone cannot cover all the bathrooms. We have a water problem too, and sometimes we don’t get the stuff we order to clean the bathrooms,” she said.
She says the reality is disheartening and believes that fact is the reason why students are unwilling to work for the Custodial Department.
“It is discouraging at times, especially for the student workers. When they go to the offices and when they go to the bathroom, there is no respect – they are treated ‘less than’…some students can’t handle that so they just resign,” she added.
Director of Facility Management at NCU, Jermaine Dixon, says he has been made aware of issues of staffing and sanitation since taking office in December. He says that it is the goal of his team to address existing concerns promptly.
“We’ve had talks with HR (Human Resource) regarding staffing concerns, both for students and full-time workers. Presently, we have scheduled walk-throughs at all the bathrooms on campus, and there are currently plans underway for restroom renovations here on campus,” he said.
Dixon assures all university stakeholders that issues relating to restrooms will be remedied in short order.