By Tosin Fakile
Frustration builds as some Tennessee State University students are unhappy and anxious about not having housing assigned with the spring semester starting in a few days.
TSU sophomore Zavian Carter said he has been waiting for his spring semester housing assignment since last semester.
Some TSU students have reached out to News4 about not having housing sorted out on the brink of the semester starting for the second semester in a row.
“We’re at the point where they’re telling me you’re going to have an assignment before the weekend. They said three weekends ago,” Carter said. “Every day, I wake up. I have to check my housing which is the most stressful part, and I just see a blank, not knowing where I’m about to lay my head at before school even starts.”
Tennessee State’s Dean of Students said about 3,200 students had been assigned housing, and 40 are still waiting.
“We graduated some seniors in December. We needed to transition that space. Some of the spaces needed touching up and some other things that needed to be done to transition the space before we could assign students,” Frank Stevenson, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, said. “We got a little delayed in that process but again we understand that some students may have some anxiety but it’s a very low number of students, again less than 40, and we’re getting all of them assigned.”
“Multiple students like me are still having to stress about where we’re laying our head at. Yet we’re paying thousands of dollars for housing,” Carter said.
In the fall, students reached out to News4 with similar housing issues. Stevenson told News4 that the university had a last-minute surge in students who needed housing. News4 asked if the university has a housing problem.
“I would absolutely not qualify our issue as a housing crisis. Do we have an uptick in demand for housing? Absolutely,” Stevenson said. “Are we meeting that demand? We’re working very hard to meet that demand.”
Meeting the demand includes a new housing space in the works that will have 700 beds in addition to the 2,950 beds the university said it currently has on campus.
“I shouldn’t have to feel like the students have to keep going to the news to make something change at the university rather than they could just listen to their students,” Carter said. “Other than the housing situation, my experience with TSU has been perfectly fine.”
Carter and other students also complained about the lack of communication from the university.
“It feels like I’m just talking to a brick wall and most of my updates have been coming from classmates actually, and we’ve been using multiple phones to call, different emails and we’ve been getting nowhere. It’s just like a dead end,” Carter said. “I love the school. It’s just the biggest roadblock with the school is communication.”
“We’ve tried to be very intentional and creative in terms with how we communicate with students, and we are certainly open to new ideas,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said that students like Carter should receive housing assignments by Thursday.
“I believe all our students will be assigned by this time tomorrow,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said the school has been trying to accommodate the uptick in demand for housing.
“We’ve noticed a trend of students who have moved back to campus. Students can’t afford to live in the city, which is different from every other public institution in the state,” Stevenson said. “There’s no other city like Nashville that has this type of housing demand. We’ve been very intentional about trying to accommodate students.”
“I really think TSU should invest in more housing,” Carter said.
The university said the new living space with 700 beds is behind schedule but should be ready to go in five months.