Bethune-Cookman students continue protests over living conditions on campus as university responds

Students at Bethune-Cookman University are keeping the pressure on as they push for better living conditions on campus. They protested for a second day in a row hoping to have their voices heard at the Daytona Beach, Florida campus.

The protests were sparked after head football coaching candidate and NFL Hall of Famer Ed Reed was critical of the school’s facilities. Students backed those words saying those issues have been going on for years.

"This is beyond athletics. This is beyond sports. This is our lives," said Sophomore Tyra Dunnaway. 

Students conducted a quiet protest inside White Hall. They are calling on the school administration to speak with them directly about their concerns.  

"We aren’t trying to tear the University down. We’re not trying to tear anybody down. We want this university to stay," said Senior Jada Thrower. "This is what Mary fought for. We just want them to keep her legacy alive and live by what she was fighting for."

Bethune-Cookman released a statement to students and staff from Interim President Lawrence M. Drake II. He applauded the students for raising their voices and says the school is conducting a complete review of its facilities.

The statement said they have hired CTG Construction to assess, renovate, teardown, or construct new buildings on campus. They hope to have repairs done by next school year. Although, the students say they have heard this all before.

"There’s been alumni all the way from 16 years ago. They say it was like this when they were there," said Thrower. "If you all are working so hard, why 16 years later is it still the same?" 

The students have shared images of mold or mildew growing on walls, ceilings, and bedding. They feel that Reed’s comments about the University were right. 

Reed posted on Instagram in support of the students telling them to keep going. 

"Our protest is not centered around Ed Reed. Our protest is centered around preserving the legacy that Dr. Bethune left for us," said Dunnaway. 

Students said they are appreciative of Reed’s support and wish the school would reconsider him for the job. In B-CU’s statement, they doubled down saying they have moved on from Reed. 


Read the full statement from Bethune-Cookman Interim President Lawrence Drake II regarding student concerns over housing and the recent departure of Ed Reed below:

"First, let me begin by saying that I was very proud of the manner in which our students handled themselves during yesterday’s student gathering. It was orderly and represented the best intentions of students sharing their voices. While social media and media outlets have seized on not continuing negotiations with NFL Hall of Fame player Ed Reed, many of our students chose to use this moment to voice their concerns. This administration takes no issue with this. In the coming days, I will meet with student leaders to ensure that we address many of the students' concerns and answer their questions as honestly as possible.   

"To close the chapter on Mr. Reed, he was a tremendous player. Still, as we continued to observe him, we felt that his behavior was not aligned with the traditions of our founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, and the university. We have over 50+ inquiries concerning our Head coaching position and are very excited about our candidate pool. Many of them possess not only knowledge of the game and the ability to assist in raising funds for the program. Still, they are disciplined leaders who have demonstrated their steadfast commitment to our Christian values. They also have the leadership skills to mold successful young men who are also student-athletes.  

"We’ve also added a football player representative to join the search committee, giving the football team a stake and a voice in choosing our next Head Football coach.  

"We hope to announce our selection of a new Head Football Coach in the next week to ten days.  

"Next, Issues and concerns: Over the last year, Bethune-Cookman University has begun a complete assessment of all its facilities for fitness, renovation, and teardown, as well as the construction of new facilities to enhance our campus. We’ve enlisted the assistance of CTG Construction, an Orlando-based firm with extensive HBCU campus experience, our facilities partner Sodexo, and several environmental and architectural engineering firms to continue the assessment of over 100 buildings.  

Simultaneously, we have begun to prioritize necessity and cost, as financial resources are limited. For some buildings and facilities, in light of two unprecedented weather events, Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole, and enrollment growth, we have begun renovation and construction immediately. As with any process, facility age, building conditions, time to remedy, weather impact, and expense are paramount. To ensure we are thorough, this phase will likely not be complete until late summer or just before the FY23-24 school year. Once school begins in the Fall, we will work around student movement and will likely require moving students around, which could be disruptive to their living and learning. Student logistics, campus housing, and instructional classroom spaces are keys to the university meeting its academic requirements.     

"While I believe the truth and transparency are always the best courses, some "facts" are not always friendly"! However, we have to do what is right even when it’s not popular. Our Founder Dr. Bethune once remarked," The progress of the world will call for the best that all of us have to give." 

"We will continue to move to be the best version of ourselves and truly appreciate the patience of our students and all concerned as we work to improve our community."