7 ON YOUR SIDE

GW vows to make changes after ABC7 I-Team report

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - George Washington University is promising to make changes after ABC7's I-Team exposed filthy housing conditions in some of its dormitories.

Several students claim their rooms are full of mold and mildew with crumbling ceilings and rusted, broken appliances. They talk of damp and dirty carpets, hair, and stains everywhere. 

And on top of that, dorm residents say when they called for help, the housing staff was rude and dismissive and told them GW is not a hotel.

All of this, at one of the most expensive universities in the country.

Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the I-Team’s report aired, University spokeswoman Candace Smith called ABC7 and said, "We are taking a look at our housing maintenance practices and how we interact with residents. It's really regrettable and we're very concerned about it. This has reached the highest levels at the university, including the president."

Graduate students from across the country spent more than $3,000 for seven weeks of lodging and more than $4,000 for nine weeks of lodging in a GW dorm while interning at D.C. companies this summer.

Jennifer, a grad student from California, never imagined the toughest part of her summer internship in D.C. would be living in a dorm at GW.

She said the moment she walked into her dorm room in Aston Hall, she smelled mildew. Pictures she took show black mold.

She says clumps of wet ceiling in the laundry room would fall on her while she was trying to wash her clothes. Her air conditioning filter was caked in filth. It took 14 days to get a new one and Jennifer has asthma.

"My room was literally making me sick," she said.

Jennifer said she was not only miserable, but that instead of focusing on her internship, she was scrubbing down her room, mopping up leaks and trying to dry out her constantly damp books, clothing and shoes.

After many phone calls, emails and trips down to the university housing office, Jennifer was eventually moved to another room that she says was also filthy and had a broken refrigerator.

Another GW student, who didn't want to be identified, said her room was so infested with ants and black mold that she had to move, too.

"A couple of my friends and I were getting sick so we needed to leave," she said.

She's in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Hall now. In the lobby there, crumpled up in the corner under a portrait of the former first lady, is a stained mattress that was just left sitting there.

Another grad student in D.C. for an internship emailed ABC7 saying she paid more than $4,000 for nine weeks in a GW dorm that she called "filthy" with broken appliances.

She says the assistant director of summer housing told her that GW is not a hotel.

And when Jennifer went to meet with that same official, she says he told her, "This isn't the Ritz Carlton and it's not like it's a hotel."

Jennifer says she's stayed in dorms before and they were never like this.

"I'm not asking for a hotel," she says. "I've stayed in dorms before in the Summers. They were clean. Appliances were not broken. Ceilings were not falling."

There's even a Facebook page now called GW Housing Horrors.

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