JEnnessee State University is the latest HBCU tasked with tackling on-campus housing for students. With the fall semester slated to begin in less than three weeks, some students say they still don’t know where they will be living. For now, students without suitable accommodation have been staying in a hotel until further notice, but a few say their temporary accommodation conditions are unsafe.
“Students who I’m sure found syringes in their rooms. Crackheads were sneaking into the building, and patrol cars were to start patrolling the actual perimeter after a while. It was bad,” a student named Tolesea Dyson told FOX 17, who was placed at the Best Western in North Nashville, a few miles from campus.
Parents are growing increasingly frustrated with the ongoing housing debacle. “It seems like it’s been a problem every year that she’s supposed to go back to school,” a TSU parent named Anthony Taylor told the outlet of his daughter’s unstable housing situation.
On August 1, the university’s student government association announced that TSU sophomores, juniors, and seniors would have the option of enrolling in online classes.
“You will get a free discounted rate,” tweeted the association’s executive chairman, Kenneth Rolle, II. In the letter, TSU’s SGA said it was “working diligently” to resolve the housing issue and that students who had already submitted a deposit for housing would receive a refund when registering for online courses.
In late July, a school representative claimed they had “no housing problem” despite growing complaints from students and parents.
“This is where we want to make sure we are clear. Again, we are not accepting students based on our housing capacity,” the TSU Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs said. , Dr. Carolyn Davis The school said it had an “unprecedented number of students requesting on-campus accommodation.
The Growing HBCU Housing Crisis
It’s a big step in the right direction, but TSU’s alleged housing problem offers a small window into the snowball crisis that many HBCUs have struggled to resolve over the past year. In 2021, HBCUs saw an incredible surge in applications, but many schools are struggling to provide enough on-campus housing to meet demand. Now some students are desperate for affordable housing. Recently, Florida A&M University announced that its on-campus housing was at capacity.
“Due to the overwhelming interest in attending Florida A&M University and the desire of new and returning students to reside on campus, we have reached our housing capacity,” said William E. Hudson. , PhD, vice president of student affairs in a statement. according to Ed Trust.
TB, a returning student at Texas Southern University, told ESSENCE GU that she was struggling to find affordable off-campus housing for the fall semester. Due to the lack of housing, the junior student said the administration decided to prioritize incoming freshmen for on-campus accommodation.
“I don’t have that luxury [to be able to] afford apartments for $2,000,” she said.
Lack of funding has worsened the housing problem
Capacity issues are only part of the growing problem. Historically, HBCUs have been underfunded, leaving tight budgets and little room to upgrade or expand student housing. In 2021, Howard University and Spelman College came under scrutiny for allegedly providing students with unlivable housing conditions. In the fall of that year, the Howard University housing problem went viral on the internet after students staged a sit-in to protest mold, rodents and flooding in their dorms.
Affordable off-campus housing could be a great solution for students, but gentrification has made it a difficult option for HBCUs. Typically, universities are located in expensive urban areas.
According to Ed Trust, “In North Nashville, students at Fisk University and Tennessee State University have been able to rent off-campus apartments for many years, but recently the migration of white urbanites to North Nashville increased housing costs and pushed HBCU residents and students out.
It’s a complicated problem with many moving parts, but hopefully the dots can be connected soon to ensure a safe and successful academic experience for black students.
What happened to Biden canceling student loan debt for HBCU students?
HBCU conservation projects get $9.7 million boost from National Park Service