Campus Renovations

Students Arrive at Ga. University to Unfinished Housing

On the campus of Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga., nearly 500 students arrived to move into their dorm last weekend—only to be told that the building was still under renovation.

Construction delays at CAU Suites and Heritage Commons left the university scrambling to accommodate 464 students with cars packed full of moving boxes and nowhere to unload them. University President George T. French released a statement on Sunday taking responsibility for the situation and asking for forgiveness.

“It is indefensible. As the ‘Buck stops’ with me, I prefer to acknowledge this dereliction and ask your forgiveness rather than making excuses,” said French. “Right now, we are speaking with students and families to listen to their concerns and to let them know we understand. We are working diligently to resolve this issue and are offering temporary housing and transportation solutions until the renovations are complete.”

The university has moved most of the displaced students to off-campus student housing at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, about 5 miles away. Others were placed in hotel rooms up to 20 minutes away from campus. In addition to paying for the hotel, French said that the university will pay for parking and shuttle service for students to go to and from campus for classes, meals and other activities.

The university said that affected students will receive a 50% refund for the entire semester’s room fee. According to local news, last year’s housing costs ranged from $3,000 to $4,750 per semester.

French also said that construction crews are working “around the clock” to get the building ready for move-in, but the university has not provided a timeline for when the work will be finished. Renovations include replacing damaged pipes, ceiling tiles, floors and water heaters, as well as adding new furniture for individual rooms. No explanation was provided for why the project ran behind schedule. The university declined to name a price for the renovations, but they did say that no federal pandemic funds were used.

Students and parents have expressed frustration at the lack of communication from the university more than the delays in construction. “It’s an error that Clark made, and they need to own it,” said Tewana Nelson, a parent who drove from North Carolina. “They never gave us the indication that the building that the dorms they were supposed to stay in were under renovation.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].