SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — With four days notice, students who planned to live in the Pei residence halls at New College of Florida will now be housed in hotels.
“It’s a couple of days now before kids are moving in, and kids are finding out they’re dorm isn’t habitable,” said Eliana Salzhauer whose son is a senior at the college.
A New College representative told 8 On Your Side that students with meal plans will still receive their meals, and shuttles will take students to and from campus.
But for students like Joshua Epstein, it’s not welcome news.
“That’s not what I signed up for. That’s not what my friends signed up for,” he said. “We intentionally got on-campus housing assignments. If we wanted to live in off-campus housing, we would’ve selected that in the spring. “
The decision comes after an engineering report that showed mold, a rusted HVAC drip pan and several areas with moisture damage in the dorms.
You can read the full report below.
New College of Florida’s Vice President of Communications and Marketing Ryan Terry said this is “an innovative approach to maximizing student comfort and college experience, especially after the four-year delay in addressing the mold report the previous administration failed to act on.”
Medical requirements, grade level, and access to transportation were factors in considering which students would be housed in the hotels.
The number of rooms at each hotel open to students at the time this article was written are listed below.
Hilton Garden Inn: 34 rooms (22 singles, 12 doubles), 46 beds in total
Hyatt Regency: 26 rooms (8 singles, 18 doubles), 44 beds in total
Home2Suites: 109 Rooms (85 singles, 24 doubles), 133 beds in total
“It’s not every school that would go to these lengths in order to provide this high-quality housing, which is certainly much nicer than any typical dorm,” Terry said.
Terry blames the past administration for not doing anything about the issue for years.
“The real story here is why was nothing done two and three years ago when those reports came out,” he said. “The real story here is, nothing was done two and three years ago, but everything has been done here recently to ensure this is a success in that students will have a safe comfortable place to come enjoy their years at New College.”
Some parents tell 8 On Your Side they’re upset students were given such little notice when engineers released a report back in May saying quote “these buildings should not be occupied in their current condition.”
You can read that report below.
Terry says between May and August, the college was working to fix the issues while preparing solutions in case the air quality problems persisted.
“Well, you have two options when you’re told a building needs repairs and remediation,” he explained. “You can work on that, which was done.”
“Efforts were made to remedy the issues, but at that same time these plans were already in play, that’s called being proactive,” he continued. “It is addressing immediate concerns or exploring what needs to be done, but while you’re exploring what needs to be done, working on another solution because you wouldn’t want to get to the end and not have a solution.”
“So the responsible thing is exactly what happened: acknowledging the situation, exploring all of the possibility and already pre-emptively working on solutions to each of those.”