Student creates petition following UC renovation complaints

By Olivia Deloian, Campus Reporter

Freshman interactive arts and media student Haley Phillips has created a petition asking for University Center residents to be compensated for stolen or broken items as well as for being displaced from their dormitory homes because of the building’s controversial renovations.

Many students returned to their rooms to damaged or stolen belongings, with paint, trash and grime left by renovators, as reported April 9 by The Chronicle.

The petition requests reimbursement of $211.17 from the UC to each resident. Phillips determined the reimbursement amount by calculating the average cost of living at the UC for four days—the average time spent renovating each unit, during which students were asked to leave their units. It also encouraged additional reimbursements on a case-by-case basis for damaged belongings or stolen valuables.

Phillips said she created the petition after experiencing inconveniences and damages as a result of the renovations and learning others had similar experiences.

“[The petition] started pretty small, and I just started by immediately telling my co-workers, friends in the UC, people in my classes,” Phillips said. “It wasn’t that difficult for it to take off quickly. In the second and third day that the petition was live, it ended up getting [about] 100 signatures per day.”

As of press time, there are currently 492 signatures with the goal of reaching 500.

Sophia Abbott, a freshman cinema and television arts major, said she signed the petition because she thought the renovations were inconvenient and were handled unprofessionally.

The UC management presented the renovations as a positive change, but Abbot said she did not feel the residents would necessarily be gaining anything from them.

“It really was just more of an inconvenience than anything, so that’s what drove me to sign the petition,” Abbott said.

Danielle Uppleger, a junior English and creative writing major, said she also signed the petition because of the stress the renovations caused her, and would like to see students receive the reimbursements.

“I’m hoping that with the money people will be able to replace stolen or damaged goods,” Uppleger said. “It’s just fair, especially if they let in a company that [residents] didn’t exactly trust.”

In an April 13 email to residents, Dean of Students John Pelrine said residents’ complaints have been brought to his attention, and the UC is not managed by the college.

“Columbia takes very seriously the living environment and customer service our students experience at the University Center, and we make it a priority to address issues with the University Center when they arise. I apologize for the disruption and aggravation some of you have experienced,” Pelrine stated.

The Chronicle requested an interview with Pelrine but was sent an email statement April 20.

Pelrine said studentsP remain the colleges focus, and discussions are ongoing with UC management.

Phillips said she met with the UC managers on April 18 to discuss the petition’s requests.

In an update on the petition, Phillips said, “It seems to me that the results of direct confrontation with the UC have been majorly underwhelming, and it remains to be seen whether or not we will see any changes in the PeakCampus approach into the future. I encourage anyone with claims of damage to or theft of personal belongings to reach out to as this is currently the only avenue for resolve.”

Phillips said if no resolutions can come from the UC directly, she would request Columbia to take action through the Residence Life Office.

“If [the UC says], ‘No, we’re not going to do anything’—that’s important to hold them accountable and for everyone to know that they’re basically denying complete accountability for these issues,” Phillips said. “And at that point, there’s going to have to be some additional action taken and that action will have to be taken with Columbia College.”