Beta residents receive free laundry services amid Bull Bucks card reader error

Housing and Residential Education sent multiple emails to residents between Saturday and Tuesday regarding issues they may face with a variety of other services. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF HOUSING AND RESIDENTIAL EDUCATION

Some laundry room Bull Bucks card readers around campus have stopped working, specifically in Beta Hall, so Housing and Residential Education made laundry free for Beta residents until Monday, according to Director of Housing and Residential Education Facilities Manuel Lopez.

Housing has sent residents multiple emails since Saturday about varying issues with residential services, such as the laundry room card readers, elevator “call” buttons and hot water supply.

The most recent email came Tuesday morning, announcing that many Bull Bucks card readers in laundry rooms across campus weren’t working. Lopez said the majority of them were located in Beta Hall. The reasoning behind why the issue is concentrated in Beta is unknown.

“Eventually there will be issues with connection between the machines [and the card readers],” Lopez said. “The machines work with coins. It’s only if you want to use your Bull Bucks that we have vocational issues with that communication, and that happens to be what’s happening now.”

Until Monday, Lopez said the laundry machines in Beta Hall will be free for its residents while the error is being resolved.

“In Beta for some reason, it’s affecting a lot of machines,” he said. “What we did is … we just bypassed the Bull Bucks. So we’re making the machines free for Beta residents, not for everyone, for Beta residents, until Monday.”

Students who don’t live in Beta but are experiencing the same issue were assured by Housing that coins can be used to pay for their laundry until the card readers are fixed.

Other buildings, such as the Magnolia Apartments and Juniper-Poplar Hall, have experienced similar problems, but Lopez said the number of machines not working in those locations are outnumbered by the number of those which are working.

“There’s a machine here and there in Magnolia and one or two in JP, but there’s so many machines out there that it’s not impacting people because there’s many other machines available,” he said.

Whenever there have been issues with laundry machines, Lopez said work orders or reports by the company who oversees the machines are usually submitted and Housing will address them. Since many machines in Beta were not working, the repair is a more in-depth process than usual. He said the machines’ company has been looking into the error and predicts it should be resolved by Monday.

“Every time it’s been an issue, it’s been addressed,” he said. “This one’s a little more involved because we have the machines in our location, but the payment side of it is not within our control. That’s on the IT side, with the Bull Bucks. So there’s more people involved in that, but since they are in our locations, we take the lead on resolving it.”

Along with the issues surrounding the Bull Bucks card readers, students were also notified of an active update to the elevator call buttons that could potentially temper its functionality, but would still allow them to operate.

Housing sent an email to all on-campus residents Saturday and Monday stating the elevator call button service was being upgraded and some may not be functioning. As of Saturday, a new dial coding procedure was implemented in Tampa as a result of the new 656 area code being introduced in February.

Lopez said the elevator call buttons were preprogrammed to call out using seven-digit phone numbers — excluding the area code. But now, to complete a call the number needs to have 10 digits, so include the 813 area code, he said.

The upgrade was expected to be completed within a few days, so in the meantime, Housing advised students to carry a cell phone into the elevator in case of an emergency and if the call button isn’t working.

Another email was sent by Housing on Monday reiterating the previous one, and it advised students again the upgrade would be completed within a few days.

Lopez said the call buttons never stopped working, but during the upgrade they all had to be checked to ensure they were dialing. The buttons were checked over the weekend and were confirmed to be functioning and dialing as of Monday, according to Lopez.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we just figured that it was better just to inform and send the notice out telling people that they can still do the call button,” he said. “But in case that didn’t work, they would then use their cell phone or hit the alarm just in case there was an issue.”

Just about 20 minutes after the elevator call button email, Housing also sent an email to residents about the possibility of colder water temperatures due to the recent cold weather.

In case a resident’s water temperature was lower than usual, Housing asked them to submit a maintenance request.

Associate Director of Communications Aaron Nichols said one of the boilers on campus went down, causing lower water temperatures in certain parts of campus. The location of the boiler was not known by the time of publication, but Nichols said it is actively being repaired.

Lopez predicts the water temperatures to return to normal on their own as soon as the weather begins to warm up.