The Players: Student Government Association – Part 2

My last post (The Players: Student Government Association – Part 1) discussed how West Virginia University’s Student Government Association is involved with off-campus student housing. I spoke with the SGA’s Director of Off-Campus Housing, Earl Hewitt, to get his thoughts on what the biggest problems were with off-campus housing. This post, part 2, will cover more topics from my interview with him.

Hewitt said WVU holds an off-campus housing fair to address issues and hand out information, but many students don’t use the university’s resources.

There are a couple reasons students may not use these resources – 1) they may not be aware of them and 2) the housing database hasn’t been kept up-to-date.

Hewitt said the off-campus housing search hasn’t been updated, and has many apartments listed that are no longer around. WVU’s Information Technology department runs the Student Life website where the housing search is located. Hewitt said he would like to see the housing search site taken over, either at a city or university level, so that it can be updated and actually be a useful resource for students.

Another option to help with the search for apartments might be a barcode system. Hewitt said that Jim Hunt, of Sunnyside Up, had mentioned a system where barcodes would be placed on mailboxes or front doors of apartments. Students could then scan that barcode on their phones, it would take them to a database that would list who to contact about the apartment, number of bedrooms, amenities and if it had been rented for the next year, among other things.

So has Hewitt experienced any problems with a landlord? Well, his landlord is his father. When he moved to Morgantown, he and his father went into house after house, each one dilapidated. Some had see-through floor boards, some had slanted floors, others has poor roofing. They decided to purchase a property and fix it up, which was not that simple.

Hewitt said it was a “nightmare” dealing with the city to make upgrades to the property. He and his father had to replace the foundation, tear off the back of the house and put in new insulation and wiring. It took around 25 permits, totaling approximately $500, for the entire project.

That may explain why many landlords choose to let their properties go instead of making improvements.

“If I could change one thing, instead of getting upset about new construction, I think the city should worry about old construction,” Hewitt said. “There has to be a push for remodeling homes, or it becomes unsafe.”

Along with improving the condition of housing, Hewitt would like to see more cooperation between students and citizens.

Morgantown residents don’t typically consider students as part of the community, Hewitt said.

Neighborhoods like Sunnyside and South Park have students living next door to families, where loud parties aren’t tolerated like they might be in an all-student neighborhood.

“I wish the student body would be more respectful of children sleeping,” Hewitt said.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just a student problem, but it’s just an issue of people being inconsiderate. If you have problems with noisy neighbors, you might want to look into the City of Morgantown’s Noise Ordinance. A few interesting parts:

  • “Radios, Musical Instruments and Similar Devices Operating playing or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph, drum, musical instrument, sound amplifier, or similar device which produces, reproduces, or amplifies sound are not to be used between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance across a real property boundary or within a noise sensitive zone.”
  • Yelling, shouting, whistling, hooting or “generally creating a racket” on public right-of-ways or public spaces between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to annoy or disturb the quiet of any persons in any business or residence is a violation.
  • The use of drums in general within the city seems to be a violation – “Drums – The use of any drum or other instrument or device for the purpose of attracting attention by creation of noise to any performance, show or sale.”

As a drummer, that last one hurts my heart. But then I think about how loud my neighbors are when they walk up the stairs, so it may not be such a bad thing.

-Leann
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2 thoughts on “The Players: Student Government Association – Part 2

  1. What about “crowdsourcing” the housing registry? If the registry is stale, essentially the information isn’t useful. How is one to know if the information for any given location is, or is not accurate? If you at least open it up to the public so that anyone could edit the database, think Wikipedia, then you might actually have some useful information.

    To Mr. Hewitt’s point about barcodes, QR codes would be a better idea. Anyone can create a QR code (at this website, for example http://createqrcode.appspot.com/). Also, most smartphones have QR code readers. Additionally, if a QR code contains a URL, most smartphones will launch a browser and take the user to the URL. There’s no need for a barcode database or central system. It sounds like a good idea to me.

    • That would be an interesting way of doing it, but like Wikipedia, people might abuse the fact that anyone can edit it and write inappropriate things. Not that it shouldn’t be known if a landlord/property is subpar, but that wouldn’t be the place for it. Although, I do think there is a need for people to rate rental properties, kind of like Trip Advisor. There are some, but none are very well known and there aren’t too many entries for Morgantown apartments.

      As for the barcodes, I think he may have meant QR codes. It seemed to be in the early stages, but I’m hoping to talk to Jim Hunt soon and ask him about the idea.

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