Hunter West Room 424, from the "Holes at Hunter" Tumblr
This summer, Christina Nadler became fixated on a particular hole in the wall.
An adjunct lecturer at Hunter College in New York City, Nadler watched in frustration as the hole - untouched by the maintenance staff - started filling up with paper waste.
"Once I started to notice holes, I noticed they were everywhere," she says. "So I would just snap a few pictures of them and I started tweeting them at first."
Last month, Nadler turned her collection of pictures into a blog called #HolesAtHunter, which now has close to 50 pictures of holes, cracks and dents in the school's infrastructure.
"Definitely it's a great way for the people who use the facilities at Hunter to raise awareness and to start a discussion," says freshman Gordon Zheng.
Nadler says she started the blog to express her anger over higher education's poor treatment of adjunct faculty, who often get the worst office and classroom accommodations.
"I spend a lot of time in the hallways because I don't really feel like there is a space in the building that's for me," she says.
Former tenured professor Karen Kelsky shares Nadler's concerns, which is why she started a similar blog this August called Classrooms of Shame.
The site features crowd-sourced pictures of run-down classrooms and cramped office spaces at colleges across the country.
"I think it's shameful that the wealthiest country in the world is allowing its institutions of higher [education] to crumble," Kelsky says.
Between 2007 and 2012, infrastructure project backlogs increased 15% at American colleges and universities, according to a new report from Sightlines, a facilities management consulting firm.
James Kadamus, vice president of Sightlines and author of the report, says two things are happening at once: buildings are getting older and budgets are getting tighter.
There were two construction booms on college campuses in the last half-century - one starting around 1960 and another in the early 1990s, Kadamus says. But as structures built in the boom years approach 25 and 50 years old the economic downturn has left many schools struggling to keep up with the maintenance and renovation costs.
Susan Schultz, a tenured professor at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa, sees social media sites like Classrooms of Shame and #HolesAtHunter as good ways to start a conversation about poor college facilities, particularly at public schools.
"In the humanities, we don't need cutting edge labs, or a whole lot of money, but to work in classrooms with moldy carpets and computers that are at least 10 years old ... doesn't give anyone confidence that the state thinks our work valuable," Schultz said in an email.
However, these blogs, while valuable, should be taken with a grain of salt, cautions Ryan Carey-Mahoney, a senior at George Washington University, where the Facebook page GW Housing Horrors, claiming to show "the true state of GW campus housing," has gained popularity.
"Pictures and posts are only half the story," Carey-Mahoney said in an email. "For me to believe something, I need both sides."
Schools are not staying on the sidelines as professors and students take to social media.
In fact, official GW Facebook pages have commented on the GW Housing Horrors page multiple times, pointing out instances where problems have been fixed.
GW spokesperson Candace Smith says the school has incorporated student feedback into its maintenance request system and developed a new Residential Bill of Rights for on-campus students.
"Feedback from our residents is important whether it's delivered in person, online or via social media," Smith said in an e-mail.
Despite the struggles in higher education, many schools are investing wisely and substantially in their infrastructure, Kadamus says.
"We found many campuses that systematically are bringing down their project backlogs," he says. "They are looking to set clear priorities based on programmatic needs, and made progress on this."
Jonathan Dame is a senior at Boston College.