Mackintosh-Corry, Jeffery Halls see custodial issues

Department of Geography, history professor report separate problems

The ceiling in Jeffery Hall room 115.
The ceiling in Jeffery Hall room 115.

Over the course of the last year, more than one building on campus has found itself battling an infestation of flies, mice or bats.

Criticism has come from the Queen’s University Faculty Association, United Steelworkers Local, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Department of Geography’s Graduate Student Council (GSC).

In a letter to Principal Daniel Woolf, the GSC said the new waste collection plan that Queen’s implemented in the summer of 2014 is a hazard to the health and safety of students, staff and faculty.

Since the summer, 27 custodians have been laid off, and several others have had their work hours reduced to almost half of what they once were.

The GSC also complained about that the fact that the non-administrative personnel who were hired to cover some of those hours are only paid minimum wage and aren’t trained to carry out waste-collection tasks — which is against the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The complaint added that in the geography wing of Mackintosh-Corry Hall, there are overflowing garbage cans, fruit flies, odours and stains. The washrooms are cleaned less often and often lack soap and paper towels.

As a result, some department members have resorted to purchasing their own garbage bags and cleaning equipment.

Sean Arruda, a Master’s student in the department, said his office has been neglected since the new plan was implemented.

“Since I’ve been here in September, I don’t think anyone has ever come into this office to take garbage, or swept and mopped or anything,” he said.

“That’s just in my office. I’m sure it’s going on in all the other offices in this hallway.”

Issues of lack of waste disposal and cleaning aren’t only faced by the geography department.

History professor Harold Mah told the Journal via email that he was teaching a class in Jeffery Hall room 115 that was infested with small flies. The infestation disrupted the classroom to the point where he had to find an empty room to teach in.

He said he assumes the flies came from a large hole in the ceiling surrounded by water marks.

Mah also said Watson Hall has mould and a mice infestation.

“It clearly disrupts my teaching and I find I always have to check the physical condition of class rooms to ensure that any mould or a loud quaking air conditioner for example might present a problem,” he said.

“Let’s just say it’s not a really optimal situation.”

John Witjes, associate vice-president of facilities, told the Journal via email that the flies are unrelated to the maintenance problems that have arisen from the new waste collection plan.

“With regards to fruit flies in Jeffery Hall, our area maintenance manager did become aware that some food waste had not been picked up in a room in Jeffery prior to the Christmas shutdown,” he said.

“This incident is not related to the central waste collection program as this program only applies to individual offices. Custodians continue to collect waste and recycling from classrooms, laboratories and other common spaces.”

Dan Langham, director of Environmental Health and Safety, told the Journal via email that it’s common to have an increase in pest-related calls during the change in seasons, adding that they’re working to fix the problem.

“The Department of Environmental Health & Safety has been alerted to the mouse situation in Watson Hall and has been working with the departments affected and our contractor to resolve the situation,” he said.

Langham later said that mouse activity in the building continues to decrease.

Recently, fourth-year statistics PhD candidate Josh Pohlkamp-Hartt posted a picture on social media of a bat in Jeffery Hall drinking water from a leaking hole. Pohlkamp-Hartt declined to comment regarding the bat.

Langham said to his knowledge, this incident wasn’t reported to Environmental Health and Safety.

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