Roughly forty Penn graduate associates were relocated to Sansom Place West from the freshman quad, Kings Court English House, and Du Bois College House in late May due to construction and renovation work. However, many GAs said Penn Business Services handled the move poorly due to a lack of flexibility and communication.
Construction and renovation work scheduled for the summer includes insulation and pipe work in the Quad and air conditioning installment in Kings Court and Du Bois.
The move which happened between May 22 and May 24 was handled by movers hired by the University. GAs are required to stay in their respective college houses until all other students are moved out. This year, that date was May 21, explained third-year Ph.D. candidate and Riepe College House GA Hector Kilgoe.
Kilgoe said many GAs were off campus during the moving period for vacation before summer programs or work began. When GAs asked for different moving dates, however, Business Services denied their requests.
“I was told that for safety reasons, I wouldn’t be able to move my things over early because they would be unattended, or something like that,” Kilgoe said.
Kilgoe said Business Services moved his belongings to Sansom Place West on May 24 while he was in London. Kilgoe added he booked his plane tickets for the trip before he was informed of the moving date in late March.
Paul Forchielli, the senior associate director for building operations at Penn Business Services, said the relocation was necessary to improve insulation and prevent leakage in rooms occupied by GAs.
Forchielli, however, agreed with GAs who said the move-out process needed better planning. He said transporting GAs' belongings to Sansom Place West took movers longer than expected.
“The mover really underestimated how long it was going to take to move a lot of the folks, so they did get really behind on that first day [of moving],” Forchielli said.
While GAs returning to Penn this fall receive summer housing, the University requires graduating GAs to move out of housing by June 1. This policy forced some GAs to move twice within the span of eleven days.
Toshitha Kannan, who received a Master of Biotechnology in 2019 and had to move out of university housing by June 1, said moving for a week was inconvenient.
Kannan added she could not find a housing option besides Sansom Place West in the last week of May because off-campus housing leases typically start on June 1. She now lives in off-campus housing, which she said she preferred over Sansom Place West in the last week of May.
Kannan echoed Kilgoe’s sentiments, agreeing that Business Services did not give students flexibility in the moving process.
“No one really knew what was happening until the very last minute,” Kannan said.
Prateekshit Pandey, a third-year neuroscience Ph.D. candidate, said the process went smoothly for him.
“I personally didn’t have any issues," Pandey said. "It was well done.”
However, Pandey said GAs did not have access to their rooms in Sansom Place West prior to the move. He added that many GAs did not know which items they could leave in the Quad for the summer.
When Kilgoe returned to campus, he was surprised to find his new room unlocked, though he said all his belongings were present. Despite this, Kilgoe also said the move was “relatively smooth."
“Everything sort of worked out in the end," Kilgoe said. "But along the way there were a bunch of hiccups that definitely could have been prevented."
Forchielli said Business Services will hire a different company to handle the moving process when GAs return to the Quad in August. He added Business Services will potentially coordinate with GAs to allow movers to walk through their residences in Sansom Place West. Forchielli said this will help the movers better estimate how many items they need to transfer back to the Quad.
“You always want to get better," Forchielli said. "I can’t say we’ve ever done this size of a move before."
Summer News Editor Gianna Ferrarin contributed reporting.