Students Gather to Protest Campus Living Conditions
Change is in the air at Tennessee State University. Students and faculty gathered in front of Mary Wilson Hall on Jan. 25 and ignited a protest charging TSU’s administration to fix a myriad of issues regarding dorm conditions and other campus concerns.
Some residents complained of mold on the walls of their dorm rooms and also in their air vents. Another growing problem in the residence hall was the lack of hot water available for showers and unsanitary water dispensed from many sinks.
Wilson hall resident, Avery Alabi, experienced mold in her dorm room in four different instances before her situation was taken seriously. Often times, designated parties assigned to the problem would tell Alabi what she was experiencing was not mold. On several occasions, bleach was used to remove the mold without any further solutions. Alabi began to experience signs of illness and even fainted due to the living conditions in her dorm room.
“I’m my paying tuition to go here, I shouldn’t have to come out of pocket for anything,” Alabi said, “If I’m already paying the school, and I’m paying you for housing, I’m expecting hot water, heat, and clean rooms.”
Alabi developed the idea for the protest after her failed attempts to rid her residence of its condition. Though Alabi was the brains of the movement, the protest was a student lead initiative.
Student protestors began the protest at Wilson Hall then proceeded to the front of the facilities management building, and in “the circle” outside of President Glover’s office to continue the demonstration.
Students came equipped with megaphones, posters, and chants like,” Change TSU, Fix Big Blue!” and “No Water, No Peace”. Many gathered in the circle to formally address the administration about their grievances. Emotions ran high as students shared each of their experiences with their living conditions in Wilson.
President of the Student Government Association, Jermilton Woods, emphasized these notions when addressing the student body and others. Woods stood in solidarity with the protestors and listened to their concerns.
“Wilson Hall has lasted far too long with hot water” said Woods. “The pace we’ve taken to ensure that the hot water is restored shows we move too slow.”
Wilson Hall residents’ main concern is the extended periods they were deferred to before solutions were offered to their problems. Many of the conditions were reported but never fully addressed.
The facilities at Wilson were without hot water for approximately two to three weeks, causing students to have to have walk to Eppse Hall and other dorms to bathe. The water was later shut off completely for eight hours, leaving residents without bathroom access.
Many told of the inconvenience the shut off caused, having to walk to portable restrooms provided by the university. Residents also felt the situation was not only inconvenient, but also unsafe.
The protest had a strong finish, ending with testimonials and chants. But the protests did not end on the streets. Many students took to social media to express their concerns. Social media posts and hashtags also initially formulated the protest.
One student wrote in a Twitter post, “It’s not just the water that TSU students are upset about. This semester just started and many students are still unable to register.”
The issue has engaged the attention of many local news outlets and has caused an uproar on campus and social media. Students and alumni alike expressed their concerns and causes for change on campus.
Many of the university’s problems are being addressed promptly. Just hours before the protest, faculty and personnel filled Wilson while working to fix water conditions and various other issues.
“Now we have to fix the brokenness from how a lot of girls feel and how they feel disconnected from the university, so that’s is what we really want to fix”, said Residence Life Representative, Sonja Revell. “We want to come up with solutions to show how we’ll handle the problem and rebuild the relationship the university once had with these students.”