What’s up with Heights?

Have you ever seen a tour heading up to The Heights to give prospective students a look at dorm life? That’s right, you haven’t. 

Apropos of Jamie Schwartz ’18 in her article, “Colby’s Dorm Crisis,” I wanted to draw attention to the fact that the College seems to be content with allocating limited funds to the upkeep and repair of Heights while spending extravagantly on a new dorm. Just last week, the College announced a new off-campus housing policy that bans students from living off campus – unless they live in the new downtown dorm. This really wouldn’t be an issue if the College’s current housing was up to par. But just take a look at Heights. The bathrooms are a disaster; the showers are constructed out of crudely poured concrete, and it isn’t uncommon to see shower heads falling off. Each floor is allocated one washing machine and  one dryer, which is a major hassle given the number of students in the dorm. The rooms themselves aren’t any better. Large exposed concrete walls are omnipresent in each room, and the design of the windows allows very little natural light into the space. The walls are remarkably thin, allowing anyone in the dorm to hear conversations in the next suite. On top of this, the linoleum flooring is often waterlogged and looks as if it has not been changed since the  construction of the building.

A student placed in Heights is, at least to some degree, already predisposed to feeling marginalized when the campus announces the creation of a $25 million dorm in downtown Waterville. It’s frustrating to read about the kind of “state-of-the-art” facilities currently being constructed downtown when Heights is lagging behind every dorm on campus in most metrics. Why wasn’t even a tiny portion of that money allocated to bringing older dorms up to speed over the summer? Major renovations to the dorm would be fantastic, but even minor changes to the interior would create a far more livable environment for students. It’s all too easy for the administration to claim that the present state of Heights is a result of dorm damage, but with the exorbitant fees Heights residents pay as a result, it’s difficult to understand why this damage hasn’t been fixed. Recently, I overheard a non-resident student who had broken an exit sign in our dorm say, “Whatever, it’s Heights, it’s a dump anyway.”