Deteriorating stairwell at Waialae dorm closed off from students


Jolica Domdom

Stairwell boarded up for future renovations.

By Jolica Domdom, Staff Writer

To add to Chaminade’s long list of renovations, fixing the staircase at the off-campus Waialae dorms is a top priority.

Major concerns regarding the damaged staircase have sparked the attention of residents at the hall. With the dorm having just two main stairwells at each end of the building and one of them being closed off for reparations, this has forced students residing at Waialae to walk well out of their way when entering or exiting the building.

For psychology major Elyssa Barja Lim, moving into the dorms at the beginning of the semester was more stressful than usual.

“Moving in was hard because I actually had to enter through the staircase on the other side of the building,” said 19-year-old Lim. “I live on the third floor and on the opposite side of the staircase that I had to enter through. If the stairs nearest to my dorm was not closed off, it would have been so much easier for me to move my things.”

The staircase began deteriorating toward the end of August at the peak of hurricane season in Hawaii, just a week before student residents were expected to move into the dorms. It is believed that the staircase began crumbling due to harsh weather conditions such as the humidity and heat, but also the fact that the building is old and run down.

Students must now use the staircase at the opposite end of the building to access the Waialae Hall. 
Jolica Domdom
Students must now use the staircase at the opposite end of the building to access the Waialae Hall.

“We don’t take this lightly,” said Venus Ituralde, the director of Residential Life. “Within two days of the staircase falling apart, people were already over there putting up things and making sure that the building was safe.”

One of the major concerns of the hazardous staircase is the implementation of a new emergency evacuation plan that residents must now follow. Now, all residents in each floor of the building must evacuate by using only one stairwell instead of two.

On Saturday, Sept. 5, at 9 a.m., all residents of the dorms were required to participate in an emergency evacuation drill. For the residents at Waialae, the drill gave them a chance to implement the new evacuation plan.

“What we did was that we worked with Brandon Afong, who is the environmental safety officer, and we came up with a new safety plan in case of any fires,” Ituralde said. “We basically put up new exit plans and made sure that it worked by having the students participate in the evacuation drill. We changed the exit plans to fit our needs as of right now because my biggest issue is making sure that we can get everyone out of the building as soon as possible.”

The burning question that the Waialae residents have been asking themselves is when the construction process for the staircase will begin? Though the stairwell has been closed off since the start of fall semester, no work has been started on the repairs.

“The timeline for the renovation depends on the permit, which we are still waiting on,” said Ituralde. “I know what they have done was made sure that the building is secure and they have enough re-enforcements. But I don’t know the exact time that it will get done.”

Despite delays, some positives have come out of this inconvenient situation. In an interview with a resident who would like to remain anonymous, he stated, “I think that it’s good that they are doing renovations even though it does not affect me personally. I live on the opposite side of the building so it does not bother me. It might be a hassle for residents living on the other end of the building to use the staircase but in a true sense, it’s for everyone’s safety.”

Although safety concerns are an issue, the staircase has posed no threat to the students. ResLife and Facilities are continuously working to ensure that the renovation process will begin as soon as the construction permit is approved by the state.

“I want students to know that we would never put them in a building that we did not think was safe,” Ituralde said. “I have my residential assistance there and all my residents. The minute that they would have told me that it was not safe, then everyone would be out of there.”