Local News

Shaw students protest living conditions

Posted December 4, 2008 2:17 p.m. EST
Updated December 4, 2008 6:39 p.m. EST

— More than 120 students at Shaw University held a silent protest on Thursday to draw attention to poor living conditions on campus.

The students marched from the student union to the administration building. Taping their mouths shut, the students sat in President Clarence G. Newsome’s office for about an hour until he returned. Newsome discussed the issues with the students.

Sophomore Jessica Clark brought photos of her dorm to show how she and others are living.

The photos of an aging women’s-only dorm showed rusty, moldy air vents, missing floorboards and moldy shower curtains. Students said the dorm is the worst example of living conditions at the school.

“I can’t even believe it myself,” Clark said.

Students also took issue with the recent firing of a chaplain at the university, which was founded by a Baptist minister.

“You got rid of someone who was our life coach, somebody there for us 24/7 to go to him about everything, and you get rid of him,” Clark said.

Shaw Executive Vice President Martel Perry said the university is trying to “figure out how to balance cost with expenses” right now.

“We don’t have the resources to deal with all the issues at the same time,” Perry said.

"Shaw University completely supports student engagement and is pleased that the students are addressing their issues of concern with passion and commitment about their educational environment and their futures. This helps the institution to fully recognize that new ways and methods coupled with provisions for better living conditions need to be quickly formulated and developed,” Newsome said in release.

University officials said in a formal statement that the school, like many other institutions during this economic downtown, is “undergoing an intense evaluation of methods to reduce expenses that will result in providing the best educational environment and experience possible.”

Newsome said he will meet with students weekly to try to resolve some of the issues quickly. He has also offered to show the students written documentation of the progress being made.