UT needs a maintenance request platform for students

Michael Lazenby, Columnist

Students spend a considerable amount of time walking on campus property or using on-campus equipment. On a sprawling campus such as UT’s, equipment naturally becomes damaged or faulty, whether it’s an inoperable faucet in a bathroom or a malfunctioning air conditioning system affecting a student’s dorm.

While these are unavoidable occurrences, students don’t have an easy way to report and resolve these issues. Currently, most students have to either send an email to the University or make a call to an automated phone line.

Whether a quick fix or systematic issue, the University should provide students a centralized, convenient platform where they can submit work order requests, helping streamline a currently lengthy, disorganized process. There is currently an online portal only for faculty and staff, but students should be able to submit requests as well. 

Arvind Rathnam, a computer science and business freshman, explained that while he hasn’t had any major maintenance issues living on campus, having one platform dedicated to filing requests would be very helpful for the future.

“The easiest thing would be having an app on my phone where I can take a picture and add a comment along with it so people can see what the issue is and they can address it as soon as possible,” Rathnam said. “As of now, it’s just like a portal where you’ll file your complaint, but without pictures there’s no evidence backing it or anything.”

Going through the procedure of calling an automated line, sending an email or going through a portal on UT’s website is a hassle. Students should simply be able to take a picture or video of the issue, add a comment if they’d like to further describe the problem and send this information to the relevant maintenance unit at UT.

While there are many issues that only certain maintenance groups can fix, the proposed platform would have categories that students could choose from. This would help streamline student requests to the proper team that could fix the problem in a timely manner.

“As long as there’s one single portal, they (maintenance) don’t have to go out and find the right department to report it to,” Rathnam said. “The portal would be so much easier because people can put in what issue it concerns and the platform itself can decide who to send the issue to.”

Veronica Trevino, financial and administrative services media manager, explained the steps taken under the current maintenance process after they receive a phone call or email from a student.

“Work control specialists gather the information and create work orders to address the issue,” Trevino said in an email. “I should note this email request route does not apply to residence halls; University Housing and Dining has their own system in place for facilities and maintenance.”

A substantial part of this system seems to involve gathering requests and creating work orders. This could cause delayed response times or even lead to the issue not being resolved at all. However, under the proposed system, these steps could be skipped by allowing students to select the category of their maintenance issue.

Categories could be electrical, plumbing, heating or other, allowing students to further specify the type of fix they need. This information would then be sent directly to the appropriate maintenance team.

UT’s current maintenance system doesn’t focus on fixing issues students and others face on campus. This current process is slow, inconvenient and leads to frustrated students, prolonged equipment damage and work orders piling up, perpetuating an unnecessary cycle.

While the University has modernized much of its equipment, maintenance platforms have been neglected. A centralized platform is long overdue and would not only benefit students, but also the many administrators who work to keep UT running. 

Lazenby is an economics junior from Chicago, Illinois.