Disrepair Prevents Students From Accessing Basic Necessities

Escalator from the third floor out of service. | Photo by Ilvea Lezama

By Ilvea Lezama

Another semester has begun, but York College’s state of disrepair seems to have stayed the same. Students and faculty members were asked how they felt about various issues on campus. 

Construction Disrupting Classes and Services

The Women’s Center is usually open to everyone who wants to stop by for food pantry service, the Grab and Go, or other services provided. But on Feb. 7, the door was closed.

“Our door is closed today because construction is happening down the hall and above us on the roof,” said Ebonie Jackson, director of the Women’s Center. “It makes it difficult to work and see students and there is a weird and strong odor coming from it.” 

The construction on the third floor between the B and C corridor has disrupted not only the Women’s Center’s day-to-day but also classes, with the sound of hammer-drills resonating throughout the southeastern portion of the Academic Core building.

“I take politics class on the third floor and sometimes we have to cut in between lessons because we can’t hear our professor or each other,” said Wiltannick Joseph, a Nursing major.

The roof construction is far from ending, according to the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). The replacement of the 14 existing roof sections is estimated to be completed by March 2024. 

Sagging sheetrock in the men’s room adjacent to the Women’s Center. | Photo by William Hughes

Food Woes Plaguing York

The state of disrepair does not end there. Students and faculty members have been wondering when York would get a cafeteria. The cafeteria has been closed since 2019, predating COVID and the appointment of President Berenecea Eanes. There were promises of food trucks, pizza services, extended cafe hours and new microwaves to combat the lack of hot and healthy options. However, the food trucks lasted less than one semester and unfortunately, eating pizza every day is not healthy. The Starbucks cafe offers cold sandwiches and, as of recently, bento lunches. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something because your next option would be the vending machines. However, some of the vending machines have been taking students’ money. 

“The first day I came to campus, the vending machine stole my money,” said Abimael Deliska, a freshman. “So, I went to the security office, and they told me to send an email to the email that’s on the vending machine and I still haven’t received anything back. It’s a little shady if you ask me.”

There are food options outside campus, and some students and faculty members choose this route. However, there are problems with this option for some.

“How can I go out and buy food, come back, eat and make it on time for a class in 30 minutes?” asked Gina Choumi, a Biology major. “I have to spend a lot of hours on campus from Monday to Thursday and Saturdays too.”

Some students travel via public transportation to get to the college. However, the MTA frequently has delays which, in turn, has students running from other appointments to the campus for classes without being able to stop to pick up something to eat. Students who have been to other CUNY campuses are especially disheartened about York’s limited food options.

“You know the cafeteria at LaGuardia College has meals that are $12?” asked Brianna Britten, a Studio Art major. “The trays are big and keep people full for the whole day. I travel an hour and a half and have long days where I must wait until I get home to eat again.” 

With no cafeteria on campus, the Women’s Center has seen a rise in the services they provide, according to Jackson. “As the food pantry director, I see the effect of not having a cafeteria with the volume that we have been doing through the Grab and Go,” said Jackson. “It is especially evident with the Grab and Go, but it is also noticeable with our other services. We have talks with students who have food insecurities and it exacerbates an issue that has been there already.”

Accessibility Not Being Accessible

Escalator to the third floor out of service. | Photo by Ilvea Lezama

Since the first week of the semester, the elevator on the B-wing and the escalator in the F-wing have been erratically out of order. Registered CSD (Center for Students with Disabilities) students have had a difficult time with the unavailability of the two services. 

“The elevator really affects me with getting to places with easy access,” said Habib Olawa, a Music major. “If my class is in 2A and the A side elevator is broken, I have to go down to the F and then return to the A corner. The first day of class, when I came in, I was lost with nobody to help me, which really impacted my first week of school.” 

The F-wing has been a problem for years. 

“I was most affected by the escalator to the 2nd and 3rd floors not working, as I use it more frequently than the elevator,” said Nicele Arana, a Health Science and pre-Nursing major. “I tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2022, and although I have recovered from the worst of the symptoms, it has left me very short of breath doing basic physical activity like walking up stairs. Because the escalators have not been working right, it has been very stressful for me to take the stairs and walk farther than usual just to get to my classes. The ongoing construction in the parking lot has also affected me, as I must walk farther than usual to cross the street safely to reach the Academic Core building from my parking location.” 

The constant state of services has affected many students and faculty members around campus. They spend most of their day at the college and want access to basic amenities. York’s despair is not limited to the roof construction, the occasional elevator and escalator unavailability. In addition, there is a constant lack of paper towels and toilet paper in the ladies’ bathrooms. This has been an ongoing issue since the Spring semester started.

Tissue dispenser broken. | Photo by Ilvea Lezama

“There are no paper towels and then the hand dryers sometimes don’t work in the bathroom,” said Shaniar Clark, a Health Science major. “Nothing is being done about it. So where is the money going? We just want more help.” 

Pandora’s Box reached out to York’s Administration regarding these issues and as of publication, no response was received. 

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