When WSFA 12 first met Varnee Deramus before the start of fall semester, she didn't know where student housing had assigned her to live. After two weeks of living in a hotel downtown, she's back on Alabama State University's campus, but living in a run down dorm previously closed for upgrading.
"It's livable in some ways. In others, it's not" replied Deramus. Her opinion, she admits, is shaded by the university's failure to renovate her residence hall by the date it said it would be completed.
Deramus says, "The living conditions here are not worth what we're paying to live here."
Hers is among two residence halls taken offline during the summer for repairs. Now, as a money-saving measure, the university is reopening the female dorm and asking the women in the hotel to pack up and move in.
Dr. Charles Smith, Vice President of Student Affairs at ASU, says,"The initial project for one of our residence halls will probably not begin until January. Therefore, we could reopen that one to accommodate those who needed space."
Many students returning to campus were hoping to move into renovated rooms; but since the work hasn't been done, many are wondering if it's safe to move.
"My second room, the foundation was crumbling," recalls ASU sophmore, Ebony Brown. She moved from three different rooms in Bibb Graves Hall last year because of what she considered hazardous conditions.
Dr. Smith says he toured the building with inspectors recently to make sure it is safe for students to live in this semester.
Deramus says she's only experienced minor inconveniences-- like no hot water-- but the creature comforts she's traded away don't outweigh the convenience of being within walking distance of class.
Alabama State University declined WSFA 12's request to take a look inside the re-opened residence hall, citing privacy issues, but we're told 26 female students currently staying in hotel rooms will move to campus housing this week. There is no new housing available on ASU's campus for male students.
An update on the housing dilemma will be brought before Alabama State University's board Friday. Last month, it asked university president, Joe Lee, to make immediate changes to solve the problem.