Alleged George Washington housing horrors recounted by summer residents

It’s one of the most expensive colleges in the country but some students say the housing conditions at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. are disgusting.

Jennifer, a grad student from California, never imagined the toughest part of her Summer internship at a D.C. company would be living in a dorm at GW.

She said there was mold and mildew everywhere. The moment she walked into her dorm room in Aston Hall, she smelled mildew. Pictures she took show black mold.

She says clumps of wet ceiling in the laundry room would fall on her while she was trying to wash her clothes. Her air conditioning filter was caked in filth, she says. It took 14 days to get a new one and Jennifer has asthma.

"My room was literally making me sick," she says.

And she’s not the only one. Several students and Summer interns complained to ABC7 about “revolting,” “disgusting” conditions at GW’s dorms, conditions that are costing them a pretty penny.

For seven weeks lodging Jennifer paid $3,292 up front.

After lots of complaining, she was eventually moved to another room that she says was also filthy and had a broken refrigerator.

Another GW student, who didn't want to be identified, says her room was so infested with ants and black mold that she had to move too.

"A couple of my friends and I were getting sick so we needed to leave," she says.

She's in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Hall now. In the lobby there, crumpled up in the corner under a portrait of the former first lady, is a stained mattress that was just left sitting there.

Another grad student in DC for an internship emailed ABC7 saying she paid more than $4,000 for nine weeks in a GW dorm that she called "filthy" with broken appliances.

She says the assistant director of summer housing told her that GW is not a hotel.

And when Jennifer went to meet with that same official, she says he told her: “This isn't the Ritz Carlton and it's not like it's a hotel.”

Jennifer says she’s stayed in dorms before and they were never like this.

“I'm not asking for a hotel,” she says. “I've stayed in dorms before in the Summers. They were clean. Appliances were not broken. Ceilings were not falling."

There's even a Facebook page now called GW Housing Horrors.

In response the university said The Princeton Review this month ranked George Washington University #10 in the country on a list of colleges with the best dorms. The university also sent ABC7 this statement:

The university regrets any inconvenience that may have been experienced by summer residents. The George Washington University offers a variety of housing options for summer interns. About 4,700 interns stay in GW housing over the summer.

Summer residents can make repair requests and a campus maintenance employee is dispatched to evaluate and resolve the request as quickly as possible. The university's standard is to immediately dispatch staff to respond to emergency items. Routine requests are handled based on their nature with a target of completion of not more than 5 days. The average time to complete all routine requests this summer was 5 days, including requests that require multiple tradesman and parts to be ordered, factors that generally increase response time.

Buildings in such high use as university residence halls require constant maintenance, and we have a preventive maintenance program for university buildings. The university also consistently invests in upgrades to its residence hall infrastructure to improve the overall campus living experience. The number of maintenance requests for repairs this summer decreased by approximately 20 percent than the same time last year, and we served a slightly larger number of intern residents this year than last year.

In the event campus maintenance staff is not able to resolve a request in a timely manner, we explore other ways to remedy the situation, including relocating residents to other spaces if issues persist.

Regarding Ms. Tarnowski's case, a campus maintenance employee was able to address all but one of the repair requests within the standard response time of five days or less. However, because one request was not able to be immediately addressed within this response time, she was offered and accepted relocation to another residence hall room. After the relocation, she submitted additional maintenance requests, and all but one was resolved within five days or less. She also was offered a refund equal to roughly one-third of her total charges.

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