DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Bethune-Cookman University’s interim president spoke to local media on Wednesday for the first time since students held rallies on campus calling for better living conditions after sharing photographs of mold growing in residence halls.
Interim President Dr. Lawrence Drake tells us the school will be allocating $10 Million for repairs to facilities on campus. While this is a big step forward, student leaders had questions for Dr. Drake so FOX 35 News brought those questions to him.
One of those was why did it take former football head coaching candidate Ed Reed’s comments about the conditions on campus to get funds allocated now. The answer was, "That’s a good question but who said it was Ed Reed," said Dr. Drake.
Reed’s comments had sparked protests at B-CU, but the issues were known by students and faculty long before then.
"I got sick from mold. I told my mom, my room is not in good condition they moved me out, but it took them a little while, and we shouldn’t even be living conditions where there’s mold around us," said a student during last week's protests.
Dr. Drake says the school heard those calls. He says they are actively looking at which buildings need to be addressed first. "We have over 100 facilities on this campus. We have at least 60 that we have identified that need some kind of work whether it’s structural or otherwise," said Dr. Drake.
Dr. Drake says the school had been looking into these issues for about six or seven months. He admits the problems were here long before Hurricanes Ian and Nicole but says the storms made matters worse. "Quite frankly, I challenge anyone to say all 2,400 rooms have mold and mildew. That’s just not practical, not realistic, and not true," said Dr. Drake. "Are there some rooms that were affected by the hurricane? The answer is yes."
Students have asked for more transparency from the University to make sure the B-CU administration follows through on its promises. Dr. Drake says he will be in attendance at four different student town halls during the month of February to discuss changes to the campus.
"Accountability works both ways," said Dr. Drake. "We certainly are going to publish a progress report of our major projects going on. We can do that by video. We can do that by newsletter. Those are important elements. We’ve also asked student government to do the same."
Dr. Drake says repairs have already started on some buildings including the School of Nursing building. He said that the building is closed for repairs. He says most of the work on the dorms will happen this summer. He says the students can expect to see changes when they return next year.