Students: 'Unsanitary' conditions at UH-Manoa dorms pose safety risks

UH-Manoa students ramping up efforts to end unsanitary living conditions
Published: May. 4, 2016 at 1:31 AM HST|Updated: May. 4, 2016 at 3:35 PM HST
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(Image: Aikea at UH)
(Image: Aikea at UH)
UH Student Aina Iglesias (Image: Hawaii News Now)
UH Student Aina Iglesias (Image: Hawaii News Now)
UH Student Henderson HuiHui (Image: Hawaii News Now)
UH Student Henderson HuiHui (Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Students at University of Hawaii at Manoa are seeking to bring attention to what they're calling unsanitary living conditions at several residence halls.

Photos provided to Hawaii News Now show holes in the ceiling, mold on walls and dirty light fixtures at the Hale Anuenue dormitory. A video shows a rat scurrying around Frear Hall in April.

"For me to be living under these conditions and paying like $800 a month to be in there, that's ridiculous," said UH student Aina Iglesias.

Since 2008, UH student housing has spent $140 million on facility upgrades and improvements, including the complete renovation of six residence halls.

But students say several dorms remain in poor shape.

Iglesias says she has complained to student housing authorities four times, and feels her concerns are being ignored.

UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl says otherwise.

"The university responded immediately, hired a professional pest control company, sealed up all the holes, they set traps daily and they're going to set traps daily throughout the rest of the semester," he said.

Students say it's not just about the unsanitary living conditions. It boils down to accountability. 

"We want to bring light to these issues because I feel not a lot of people outside of UH know what's happening," said student Henderson Huihui.

Students of Aikea at UH, a student-run organization that focuses on empowering students, came together to draft a revised student housing contract. One change proposes at the start of every year, the university should be required to conduct a health inspection of every room.

"If we change the contract and make changes that way, the students that come after us who face these conditions again will just refer to the contract and say 'Hey, look this the contract we both signed and you have to follow it,'" Iglesias said.

Meisenzahl says it's not that simple.

"We know a lot of work has to be done and we're working on those," he said. "It's a good starting point to have a conversation about and it's definitely under review, but there are some parts of it that would be hard to work out."

There will be a student housing rally on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in front of Gateway Cafe.

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