Clark Atlanta University freshman and sophomores must live on campus to ensure they "receive a strong foundation and create a path of success," the school's website says.
But for many students, campus living served as a distracting stressor instead of a stabilizing element on the first day of the fall semester. Sophomore Asma Alamin spent Wednesday morning in Augusta, where she lives, seeking information about temporary housing instead of going to class like she’d planned.
The 23-year-old received an email from CAU in April that included her housing assignment and roommate's name. When she got to campus on Monday, there was a "huge line" of students waiting for dorm keys.
The students were eventually asked to sign in and wait for a call with more information, Alamin said. The school later told her no dorms were available.
“I feel like Clark needs to be there for their students,” the pre-med student said Wednesday. Alamin said she feels let down, having had higher expectations for the Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
A CAU spokesman said in a statement Monday that students who hadn’t completed the “financial enrollment process are being offered temporary housing.” Alamin said that option wasn’t presented to her.
Many students and parents took to social media to gripe about the situation, and have said schools officials have been unresponsive to calls and emails.
CAU officials did not respond to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s questions Tuesday or Wednesday about the temporary housing, how many students require it or when they may get into regular housing.
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The 126-acre university has an undergraduate enrollment of 3,093, according to U.S. News and World Report.
"They're saying that there's no housing available and that everyone will have to resort to off-campus housing, which is a problem," student Kerrington Griffin told Channel 2 Actions News reporter Rikki Klaus earlier this week. The station, which received photos and video showing crowded lines at the student center, said about 150 students were awaiting information on Monday.
Nicole Redd, the mother of a would-be student, said she felt “bamboozled” after driving last week from Baltimore, Maryland, to a CAU event welcoming the new class. Her daughter did college tours in high school and “something sparked her interest” in CAU, Redd said.
The mom and daughter came to Atlanta knowing housing was an issue, but Redd said they were reassured it’d be taken care of. Once here, Redd said she was told there was a discrepancy with her daughter’s financial aid and that they didn’t have housing for her.
Unable to get the issues straightened out, she and her “devastated” daughter returned home. Redd said her daughter, Trinity, is now looking to enroll in other colleges.
The housing issues come as CAU participates in a year-long celebration of its 30th anniversary, an event that includes a $1.25 million scholarship fundraising campaign and a national tour by CAU President Ronald A. Johnson to discuss the university's vision.
The tour kicked off last weekend in Martha’s Vineyard, and was attended people such as journalist Gayle King, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who recently won the Democratic nomination for Georgia’s top office.