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Thursday, July 19, 2012 7:53 p.m.

Students overwhelmingly appeal furniture fees

GW Housing Programs added a new move-out fee this year, a much criticized revenue booster that charges students for damaged or missing furniture. Hatchet File Photo.

About 400 of the 500 students billed for damaged or missing furniture after move-out appealed the charges, a University spokeswoman confirmed this week.

GW Housing Programs charged students with fees ranging from $175 to $890, depending on the piece of furniture, for the first time in “many years,” University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.

Sherrard declined to comment on how many appeals have been granted or the total revenue collected from furniture-related charges.

Based on the number of students charged and the range for furniture-related fees, the housing office could have collected between $87,500 to $445,000. That number is in addition to the $225,000 GW accrued for dirty rooms that needed more than a broom job to clean up, fining nearly 900 students with a $250 fee.

Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel said those fees – a $50,000 increase from last year’s broom clean revenue – were used to clean the unkempt rooms.

“Many students have filed appeals of these charges and those appeals are being reviewed and handled on a case-by-case basis based on the documentation which was gathered during check out by GW staff,” Sherrard said in an email, referring to the furniture fees. “Affected students are being notified as promptly as possible regarding the resolution of their appeals.”

She called the fees “a standard practice for collegiate residential systems.”

Sherrard would not confirm or deny student reports that the housing office and maintenance crews did not log which pieces of furniture were missing or damaged.

“We are unable to generalize the reasons for appeals to be granted,” Sherrard said. ”Moving forward, we will continue to review and refine the process for both residence hall check-in and check-out to ensure that fines continue to be assessed appropriately and provide ample information to students regarding the items of concern, and that any appeals are resolved as promptly as possible.”

  • Angry Student

    She called the fees “a standard practice for collegiate residential systems.”

    A standard practice? Complete bullshit. I’ve talked to a number of my friends from other schools and they think the $400 I was charged with for my room is absolutely outrageous and they have barely heard of students at their school being charged housing fees unless something was extremely damaged. But leave it to the beauracracy called GW to take advantage of a student’s financial situation (even more than it already does) to try and pull more money out of their pockets and into GW’s money chest. It really is embarrassing that such a reputable institution has a department as shady as the housing department. It needs a serious revamp, starting with the resignation of Seth Weinshel. I have heard more complaints about the housing department than any other division of the university, and it is the one that is needed to survive here. They shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of students.

    For students paying for their own schooling, a $175 to $890 “furniture fee,” or a $250 “cleaning fee” could be weeks worth of groceries. Ever think about that, GW?

  • fakeUPDofficer

    All dem missin furnitures look good in mah house lol

  • GWparent

    I sure hope that GW sends in a cleaning crew each summer for a deep cleaning before students move into their rooms, and not depending on the kids who just moved out to clean! We’re paying top dollar for those rooms and the least the university could do is make sure they’re cleaned by professionals.

    And after the number of years the furniture’s been used, students who damage it beyond reuse shouldn’t be charged its original price, but a token fee. This will hurt the kids whose families can’t afford to pay these fees the most.

  • Carl

    I got a 60$ damage fee, but my appeal is being approved by GW Housing and they credited 60 into my account.
    Their check out damage fee lacks of evidence.

  • Law student

    This is “standard” across colleges, in the sense that they regularly rip students off. Now, don’t get me wrong — there are some students who create tons of damage and should be held accountable. But the University should also make an effort to properly document damages and accurately portray the cost to repair/replace them. At my undergraduate school, they charged me $20 to remove a garbage bag containing trash from my room upon move-out. The removal of a small trash bag doesn’t equate to $20 worth of labor. And therein lies the problem: the University can charge whatever it pleases, and students have little recourse, other than appealing and hoping the University is merciful.

    The best bet for students is to carefully document (with photos) the condition of their rooms and furniture upon move-in and move-out.

    Students should also look to move off-campus, when possible. Unlike college dormitories, off-campus apartments don’t have “joint and several liability,” in which an occupant can be charged for damages caused by another to common areas.

  • Eric Snow

    This sounds awful, but it’s nothing compared to what they overcharge you for rooms. GW got D.C. to force students to live “on-campus” for two years so that they can rip-them-off. My freshmen year, my roommates and I combined to pay over $6,800 a month for a room that would have been on the market for $1,200 a month. That’s just plain stealing 1000s and 1000s of dollars from students and their families. This is where complaints towards the housing department should be focused.

  • BEEP BOOP ROBOT

    Honestly, these kinds of money grabs are why practically no one who graduated or will graduate in recent years give back to the University. Hey GW, if you want to keep climbing in the rankings, you can’t treat your students like garbage for four years and then expect alums to open their wallets to not-fix Gelman/J-Street.

    The worst thing was that GW Housing really didn’t even try proving that these charges were deserved. They can’t just slap people with exorbitant fines and then put down “FURNITURE DAMAGE” without specifying either the piece of furniture damaged or any photographs.

    The housing department clearly needs some kind of overhaul, they’re fucking up assignments more often than ever and this is just the icing on the cake, really.

  • gw sucks

    You can always go to another school

  • @gw sucks

    Fair point. Alternatively, you can advocate for improvements, since the school does have a lot of positive things to offer.

  • @GWparent

    I can pretty much guarantee that no ‘professional’ cleaning crew goes through those rooms over the summer. As far as I can tell they just sweep off the floors (and don’t do a very good job). I had holes in my floor that were filled with skittles and dust, and who knows how long they had been there before I moved in. Not to mention my room was actually MISSING a couch when I moved in, so that there were only 2 chairs in a triple-occupancy room. The housing department really does need a serious overhaul, although I doubt it will ever happen considering how much money they pull in for the university.

  • Orton Gillingham Tutor

    The number of students who have charged for the furniture fees is actually quite large. It would have been good if the university disclosed how they react to such applications.

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