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‘Am I Going To Have To Pay The School for Their Own Problems?’: Students Express Disappointment With The New Francis Hall

Isabella Draxler | The PhoenixAfter investing $47 million into constructing Loyola’s newest residential building - Francis Hall - some students say that the conditions of the building don’t align with the university’s promises.

Students are reporting multiple maintenance issues in Loyola’s newest residence hall, which cost $47 million dollars to build.

Francis Hall was built to relieve first and second-year students from crowded on-campus housing and also encourage more upperclassmen to live on campus, The Phoenix reported

The rehousing of honors students from Campion Hall to Francis Hall began last school year, when students could return to campus, and the residence hall now houses just over 300 honors and non-honors students.

Since it’s approval in September 2018, Francis Hall took over two years to build and experienced a name change, as well as opposition from the Edgewater Historical Society.

With the construction of Francis Hall, Loyola boasted full laundry rooms and kitchens on every floor, as well as a small cafe.

However, Francis residents have reported issues with the laundry rooms, elevators, and the cafe in the lower lobby.

Only four of the seven laundry rooms in the building were functional from Aug. 28 to Oct. 18 due to a card reader error, according to director of Residence Life, Deb Schmidt-Rogers. This only left 12 washers and 16 dryers for the 341 residents for nearly two months.

“I felt disappointed because it took so long [to fix the laundry] only for the machines to go out on our floor again,” Aisling Heaphy, 18-year-old first-year said. 

“It took a team of four different Loyola departments as well as our laundry vendor to get them back on line,” Schmidt-Rogers said in an email to The Phoenix. 

Schmidt-Rogers also said there’s “no explanation for why they stopped working, as they had no issues in the spring.”

Despite the several departments at work to fix the machines, students still faced difficulties doing laundry. 

“I got the email saying they were fixed, but the machine I tried still wasn’t working,” Richa Patel, a 19-year-old biology major said. “I tried to do my laundry on a Friday night when no one else would be but I stayed up until midnight to have clean clothes.”

With only certain floors having working laundry, students had to travel to different floors to clean their clothes.

“Every time I had to go to a different floor, I felt weird because I didn’t live there.” Natalie Silva, 18-year-old first-year said. 

“I felt inconvenienced,” said Juliana Hanson, 20 year-old political science major. “But at least a couple machines worked at all times.”

The ineffectiveness of certain machines also caused some students to lose money doing laundry.

“I’ve ended up spending close to $10 on one load because the machines seem to just spin the clothes around,” said Guilianna Larson, a first-year molecular cellular neuroscience major. “Am I going to have to pay the school for their own problems?”

In addition to the malfunctioning laundry machines, students have expressed frustrations towards issues in the elevators. Only one of the building’s two elevators was functional from early September until early October. 

“It’s a new building,” Larson, 18, said. “The elevators should work better than Mundelein’s [elevators].”

“The elevators were annoying,” Hanson said. “With only one working it was super slow, and I live on a higher floor.”

Residence life declined to comment on the elevator malfunction.

Loyola also boasted Francis Hall would house a cafe in the lobby, though it hasn’t opened yet, which is a symptom of the nationwide labor shortages, according to University Spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach. 

“The Francis Hall Dining Location was completed just prior to the pandemic shutdown,said Shymanski Zach in an email to the Phoenix. 

Both Schmidt-Rogers and Shymansk Zach said there are “plans to open the cafe for Spring 2022,” but cannot provide an exact month at this time. 

Harper Stewart, a 20 year old junior in the honors program, expressed frustration upon learning about Francis’s construction, as she never got the chance to live in it. Before 2020, honors students were housed in Campion Hall, which has had issues with mice, The Phoenix reported.

“[The issues in Francis are] so surprising considering how much money they put into it,” Stewart, 20, added. “I can relate to them now though. The freshmen are getting a taste of Campion after all.” 

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