Bethune-Cookman University mold, rat issues gain national attention after student outcry
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Students’ outcries about conditions at Bethune-Cookman University are gaining national attention.
Journalist Roland Martin who is the founder of the Black Star Network, and the host of a show called Unfiltered flew in from Washington D.C. to host the town hall.
"This is not about tearing down Bethune-Cookman, this is not about trying to shut folks down. It’s about, ‘How do we improve our institutions to make it stronger for the students, the faculty, the staff, as well as the alumni?’" Martin explained to FOX 35 News.
Students at the town hall said there’s a lot to improve.
Dozens have shared stories not just of mold, but of rats, lack of AC, and conditions that have their parents telling them to get out while they can. Mia Walker, a Senior at BCU, said her mother fears for her health.
"Not only does the mold sit on our walls, but we also shower in it, we breathe it in from the air vents. It literally sits in every crack and crevice in the dorms," said Walker.
During the town hall, Martin also aired a pre-recorded interview with BCU’s interim president, Dr. Lawrence Drake.
Dr. Drake admitted communication between the administration and students needed to improve.
He said he’s been talking with the school’s third-party vendors to improve food service and that he’s been working things out with the alumni association.
But when Dr. Drake blamed housing conditions on the hurricanes, he was met with boos and vitriol from the crowd.
"The hurricanes did not cause the mold, the mold was there before," one student who spoke on the panel said.
"We didn’t get an actual AC unit, like a portable AC unit in our room until right before Hurricane Ian. And when we came back, it was gone," added Walker.
BCU announced earlier this week it’s allocating $10 million to repair facilities on campus. The school’s president said of the 100 buildings on campus, about 60 need improvements.