Spilling the tea on USyd’s delayed maintenance of hot water facilities

Nobody wants a cold cup of tea.

Art by Faye Tang

Since Week 3 of this semester, hot water or ‘Zip’ taps in various places on the Camperdown campus have stopped working. Although some have been fixed during the mid-semester break, others still wait to be repaired. As a broke USyd student who brings their own tea bags to brew the crucial beverage to survive strenuous, gruelling hours of study, this delayed maintenance has tested my patience and endurance. 

Before mid-sem break, this situation reached a fever pitch with hot water taps in Fisher Library, Carslaw Learning Hub East, and the Social Sciences Building all being unusable. 

When asked, a University of Sydney spokesperson said: “Slight delays in repairing Zip taps in the Carslaw Learning Hub and in the Social Sciences Building were due to an unavailability of parts.”

During mid-sem break, the University got around to some of these repairs: “The tap in the Carslaw Learning Hub was reported as faulty on 6 April and was working again on 20 April. The tap in the Social Sciences Building was reported as out of service on 9 March and was returned to service on 29 March.” 

The University said that the Fisher Library tap has been repaired several times already and hence is due for replacement. “As there are many people using these amenities daily, Facilities Services are installing a second Zip tap in the kitchen to meet increased demand.” 

After receiving comment from the University, I did an audit of all the hot water taps I could think of on Camperdown campus to ensure no other hot water taps remain non-functional. I discovered that not only Fisher library, but also Abercrombie Learning Hub South were not working.

So far this year, University of Sydney’s Facilities Services have received a total of 9,732 maintenance requests across all campuses. The University claims that their Central Operations Services team carries out periodic scheduled maintenance check-ups of facilities, and that Library staff check on the facilities daily in Student Hubs to ensure all maintenance issues are “reported and resolved in a timely manner”. My empty cup of tea says otherwise about the alleged timeliness of these repairs.

Whilst hot water taps on campus may appear an insignificant issue, it cuts to the heart of student comfort and study conditions.  As a student who attends campus up to five days a week due to an inadequate study environment at home, I want to make my study space as comfortable as possible, for my productivity and mental health.

As students, we pay for these facilities and for study spaces. Waiting up to a month or until mid-semester break for maintenance is not a hallmark of a ‘world-class’ university.