Rutgers Apologizes For Substandard Living Conditions in Newells

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Since December 2015, Rutgers University students living at the Newell Apartments have been experiencing frequent disruptions to heating, electricity, and hot water.

According to a report on NJ.com, an electrical line under the Newells ruptured, which the University says it would take full responsibility for in the form of an "inconvenience credit" reimbursed to impacted students.

Frustrated by the poor living conditions, Clarissa Lopez, a Rutgers student living in one of the affected units, started a Change.org petition demanding that students receive refunds for their experience. 

"It is our intention, in some fashion, to compensate these residents for the inconvenience they've gone through," Antonio Calcado, senior vice president for institutional planning and operations at Rutgers University, told NJ.com. 

The Newells are located on Cook Campus, which spans across the border of North Brunswick and New Brunswick. They are apartment-style housing units which hold up to four students each.

The apartments cost more than $8,000 per student for a nine-month term, and were constructed in the 1970's.

"It came down to trying to find out where the failure was, and unfortunately that became more and more difficult to find because there are no longer drawings on (the apartment)," Calcado told NJ.com's Spencer Kent.

In order to keep the apartments running, maintenance staff brought generators to provide electricity. But still, the generators require biweekly maintenance and need to be shut off for several hours at a time.

"Considering the fact that students need these amenities to complete homework, study, eat, cook, and bathe, there is no reason to charge these students with a housing bill that has not provided the basic utilities and function it pays for," Lopez wrote. 

Daniel Machado, a 20-year-old Rutgers sophomore, told NJ.com that he and his roommate had to carefully ration hot water for showers, or just not shower during the days when there was no hot water. 

"It [the outages] happened during finals … It was an inconvenience; we had to move to one of the campus centers to not be bothered," Machado lamented.