UH Hilo student frustrated by slow response to dorm’s hot water problems

Local News
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A dormitory at the University of Hawaii at Hilo had no hot water, but that’s not all that’s frustrating some students.

Nani Smith-Arke says she watched our story about students living at Frear Hall without air conditioning, and it hit close to home.

“That’s why I emailed you directly, kind of hoping to get some help, because I wasn’t getting much progress trying to contact them directly,” Smith-Arke explained.

Her son, Keanu Arke, is a senior at UH Hilo. He lives at Hale Ikena residence hall and says he’s had hot water issues since he moved in last month.

Smith-Arke says her son emailed and called school officials, but didn’t hear back until one month later.

“I thought they were there for the students. Am I misunderstanding what their role is? I’m not sure,” she said.

“Are you frustrated with the responses from the school?” KHON asked.

“That’s funny you say response. It’s more like lack of response,” Smith-Arke responded. “I would like accountability, number one.”

University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl confirmed Hale Ikena’s hot water issues. Six rooms affecting 24 students have had hot water issues since early September.

We’re told the water heater was finally fixed Thursday.

“Have you received any complaints of the timeliness of response times?” KHON2 asked.

“I think we receive complaints about all kinds of things. In this particular instance, the students were notified every time the hot water was down, because we let them know where they can get hot showers,” said Meisenzahl.

He says 5,000 students live on campus system-wide.

“What is the average response time from a school official when it comes to issues like this that students have?” KHON2 asked.

“I think that’s too broad a question. There’s all kinds of issues that can affect an entire building or affect one particular room. There’s so many different ways to communicate with the student housing office, whether it’s a phone call, whether you walk right into the office, whether it’s your RA, whether it’s the online system here at Manoa. Sometimes things do slip through cracks,” Meisenzahl replied.

We called Arke and told him the school’s response.

“Though they do exist, their system is severely flawed and provides an inconvenience like no other. I shouldn’t have to invest so much time in getting stuff that I paid for,” he said.

Smith-Arke says the family pays $2,800 per month each semester for housing at UH Hilo.

“This student says it’s been over a month since getting a response about the lack of water at his dorm at UH Hilo. He finds that unacceptable. Is there a reason for a delay? Why did it take so long to get back to him?” KHON2 asked.

“We sent an email. Students are notified every time. We let them know where to take a hot shower,” said Meisenzahl. “We constantly communicate and we’re always looking to get better.”

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