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Lawmakers Call For Action To Repair NCCU Mold Problems

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DURHAM, N.C. — There has been a call for action to fix the mold problems plaguing a Triangle university.

According to some lawmakers, finding money for the clean-up would not be an issue if North Carolina Central was not the school.

The university shut down two dorms because of toxic black mold in August, moving about 500 students to hotels and other off-campus housing arrangements. Three months later, the school still does not have the money to fix the problem.

Some believe the problems are bigger than just the mold. Rep. Mickey Michaux, for one, said he does not think this would happen at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Michaux said historically black colleges have been historically short-changed.

"You've been shortening them on repairs and renovations," Michaux said. "You've been shortening them on building funds and on programs, and the whole nine yards."

Some students interviewed by WRAL said they do not mind living in a hotel, with one saying: "it beats a dorm any day." But others said they are losing out on part of the "college" experience.

"We really do not have the dorm vibe, and everything is so scattered out," student Chianti Howell said. "We don't get to be near our friends."

Students also have complained about having to depend on a shuttle bus to get to class from their hotel.

NCCU Chancellor James Ammons said the school needs $26 million to fix the problem.

"We have a crisis," Ammons said.

Ammons took his case to the Legislative Black Caucus, which in turn passed a resolution asking Gov. Mike Easley to free up repair money.

The state could tap bond money, but Easley said wants to re-evaluate the situation first.

A spokesperson for Easley told WRAL the governor's first priority is getting the students back in the dorms. But before he commits to approving millions of dollars to fix the problem, he wants to make sure the fix is the right one and the same problem does not happen again.

According to Ammons, waiting could damage the university's reputation.

"For the last two years, we've been the second-fastest growins school in the (University of North Carolina) system," Ammons said. "If we don't get this fixed, and fixed now, all of that is in jeopardy."

The Legislative Black Caucus also will ask for $3.5 million to deal with mold at UNC-Pembroke. The members hope to meet with the governor in the next couple of days.

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