Bethune-Cookman University is in the hot seat with their students over allegations of savage living conditions in the dorms, among other issues. According to Fox35 Orlando, several students have complained about rats, lack of hot water and air conditioning, and mold.
In an interview with Roland Martin, the university’s interim president, Dr. Lawrence Drake, responded to the recent complaints–which sparked a protest on Monday (Jan. 24).
Interim President Drake said:
“What I say to them is what I’ve been saying to them as I walk the campus everyday when I’m on campus. What I say to them is that we’re working on the issues. I just invested a quarter of a million dollars in one of our buildings for remidiation of mildew.”
He added that hurricanes and the constant 80-90 degree weather contribute to issues while comparing conditions in cities like Chicago and those on the east coast. The show aired images of bed sheets, a cap, and other dorm areas covered in mold as he spoke. The photos seem to show raised dark green spores.
Additional photos from dorm rooms. Students and alumni I spoke with say mold has been an issue for years. They say Reed’s comments about cleaning up the University gave them the strength to standup. pic.twitter.com/fntqcU5DjS
— Dave Puglisi (@DavePuglisiTV) January 23, 2023
Still, the president insisted:
“That’s mildew, that’s not necessarily mold by the way. Some of that, that you’re showing on the screen is a function of things sitting in water for a period of time. So they’re not showing you everything. Yes,there are some of those kinds of things,but you might also see that those proportions of the building aren’t even being used. So, again, we are working very diligently to clean up a lot of these things.”
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Student Protests Also Call For The Reinstatement Of NFL Hall Of Famer Ed Reed
While the focal point of Monday’s protests was living conditions, students also demanded the reinstatement of Ed Reed. Some cited Reed as the inspiration behind demanding more from their private university.
In December, the university tapped the former NFL player for the head football coach position. But, over the weekend, Reed revealed the university decided not to ratify his contract. He emotionally explained how much he cared about the team, students, and their needs during a press conference.
Reed wrote on Instagram alongside a video statement:
“I am NOT withdrawing my name as the Head Coach at Bethune-Cookman. The administration and the AD are forcing me out. Thank you to all that supported me and my staff through this process.”
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As a result, the university released a statement to its students addressing the living conditions, Reed, and his pending replacement. The statement, written by the interim president, claimed Reed’s “behavior was not aligned with the traditions of…founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, and the university.”
Bethune-Cookman plans to announce its new Head Coach between a week and ten days. The statement also revealed that a football player had joined the search committee as a representative so that the players have a say in their next coach.
Students have shared this statement with me sent from BCU’s Interim President. Students tell me they have been hearing similar claims for years and feel their voices aren’t being heard. Right now the are holding a sit in at White Hall to get their message across. @fox35orlando pic.twitter.com/JZcoWoBoT0
— Dave Puglisi (@DavePuglisiTV) January 24, 2023
The “behavior” cited by the university likely includes Reed’s comments on Jan. 15 about HBCU programs needing a revamp, per Sports Illustrated.
“We’re going to try to help y’all too, man. Because I know a lot of HBCU’s need help. I’m just here to help first. I see it all too clearly. All of our HBCUs need help. And they need help because of people who’s running it. Broken mentalities out here. I’m going to leave you with that.”