Concerned letters from Florida A&M University students to President Larry Robinson are rolling in.
This time the missive is a four-page letter from Palmetto Phase 3 Apartment residents who were notified by University Housing in an email Wednesday that their undesirable hotel stay was extended to Friday, right before the Labor Day weekend.
The letter to Robinson, which was signed by freshman Sydney DeMar and about 30 other Palmetto residents, started off by saying “FAMU has to do better.”
The students moved out of Palmetto Phase 3 and relocated to hotels on Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 following a cockroach and spider infestation, and they were told by University Housing staff that they would be able to return to campus Thursday.
But after staff and maintenance completed a walk-through of the apartments to ensure the treatment was a success, the results required them to “address some minor areas of attention," such as vent cleaning, according to University Housing Director Jennifer Wilder.
"It wasn't big stuff," Wilder told the Tallahassee Democrat Thursday. "We just want the rooms to be in the best shape possible when our students return."
In the meantime, residents have had it with their experience off campus, stating in the letter that the reality of the relocation plan has been "a nightmare."
“We feel as if our concerns are being ignored, as the University has yet to acknowledge our concerns privately or publicly regarding our current unlivable living situations,” the letter said.
The letter included complaints and concerns about unclean hotel rooms, safety, unreliable shuttle services, not being excused from classes when moving back onto campus and an "unacceptable" lack of communication.
“Being in this situation has made me feel extremely overwhelmed and confused,” 18-year-old Cynthia Frage said, a sophomore from West Palm Beach, Florida. “In the near future, I’m hoping to see change in the way that FAMU’s administration and President Robinson handle situations with the student body.”
In a Google Forms survey the residents created about their experience, results indicated that 58.3% of them did not receive their hotel room key while moving out Friday until 9 p.m., which was their deadline to be out of the residence hall.
One of the reactions to the pest issue that a student described in the survey said, "I didn't know what to think and since I'm an out-of-state student, my parents were upset because they couldn't even help me. They are all the way in New Jersey."
“You have downplayed a situation to preserve your image at the expense of your students’ health and safety,” DeMar said in the letter to Robinson.
— Princess G ❣ (@gabster_1224) August 31, 2022
Wilder is aware of the residents' letter but said it's not her place to speak on it.
"University administration will address the letter. I'm not authorized to do that," Wilder said to the Democrat when asked for a comment Thursday. "I would have to provide information to the administration, and then that's where the response will come from."
It is unknown if Robinson or any members of his leadership team plan to address the residents directly, but the students are hoping for some form of acknowledgement about their concerns in the same manner afforded the football team.
After recently receiving a letter from FAMU's football players, where the team pointed out their dissatisfactions about compliances and staff shortages, Robinson met with them Tuesday to discuss the concerns.
Suggestions listed in the residents' letter include demolishing and renovating outdated residence halls, improving customer services and "compensating students" who were affected by the move-out process.
A release from the university stated that daily shuttle services would be provided on a two-hour rotation from each hotel to campus and that housing officials would provide a meal plan for any student who needed one during their time off campus.
But the letter says that some students were left to use their own money to buy food when shuttles never arrived to their hotel.
Knowing that the students may have travel plans for the Labor Day weekend, University Housing arranged for them to drop off any items in their unit beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, but they will not be allowed to stay in their apartment. Residents are allowed to move back to the Palmetto Phase 3 Apartments Friday starting at 1 p.m.
Wilder said the expenses for the week-long efforts of resolving the pest infestation issue are estimated to be about $500,000, including costs for hotels, shuttles, security and food. Final bills have not been received yet.
"We apologize for the inconvenience this might cause for each of you and thank you for your patience as we look to return your living spaces to acceptable standards," the University Housing email to students said.
Contact Tarah Jean at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @tarahjean_.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FAMU Palmetto residents write letter to President about 'nightmare' move