Students living on campus rail against hasty dorm move

Usually, a student who finds him or herself living in Paddyfote wishes for a better housing assignment. Several of them, along with many residents at Polkinghorne Village, got their wish Friday evening.

Claiming the decision was part of a plan by the University to make the atmosphere “more conducive,” more than 400 students in the Paddyfote complex and Polkinghorne were given eviction notices.

They’ll be moving into University Gardens and the Palmetto Complex Thursday.

Students were informed in a letter that the University needed to consolidate residential facilities for the 2004-2005 school year.

President Fred Gainous said this was the best utilization of the University’s housing resources because of the vacancies.

Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Green-Powell and housing officials said they plan to close down Polkinghorne and Paddyfote and told students to be ready to move out beginning Thursday.

Those affected by the move say they are confused and have questions about the sudden decision and students need to speak out against this decision.

Keith Farmer, 20, a junior English student from Atlanta who lives in the Paddyfote, said students need to demand more from the administration. He criticized students who complain about the situation, but do not take a stand on issues like this that he says keep recurring at the University.

“The reason for the empty vacancies in housing is because of unprofessional business like this. I am concerned about myself but just think of the freshmen who have been here for a week that might not be familiar with Tallahassee and what it takes to live off campus,” Farmer said.

Because the housing offices are closed on the weekends, concerned students were forced to wait until Monday morning to have their questions answered. At about 8 a.m., students were lined up outside to speak with a housing official. Assistant Director of Housing Bernard Kelly did not arrive in the office until around 10:30 a.m. and was greeted by a frustrated group of students.

Seeing the crowd, he decided to have a dorm meeting to answer any of the students’ questions.

Kelly opened the meeting with a quick overview of the situation. He said there was a 20 percent decrease in enrollment this year that left a lot of vacancies in the dorms.

“These vacancies are going to cost the University a lot of money and Vice President Green-Powell and housing feel that this is the best move to make right now for the future,” Kelly said.

Kelly said Paddyfote and Polkinghorne will be closed and renovated in hopes to provide future Rattlers with a better living environment. The students that live in Paddyfote will pay no extra cost or be held accountable for the 12 month lease at University Gardens and Palmetto because of their prior contract with housing.

When students asked about breaking their lease to move off campus and getting their deposits back, Kelly replied by pulling out the housing agreement. He said section 7A of the agreement states that the only way a student can cancel their housing agreement is by withdrawing from the University, or for medical reasons, graduation, academic suspension, being denied admission or obtaining authorization from the director of housing. He said all students who break their leases will have to pay the full semester’s fee.

The letter, which was also sent to parents and guardians of those affected, apologized for the inconvenience that the students would endure, but said that volunteers and boxes would be available to assist students in their move.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Henry Kirby said housing was put in a tight situation because of Hurricane Charley, which hit southern and central Florida. Freshmen were scheduled to move in between Aug. 14 and 15, but several students could not get here in time.

FAMU officials decided to hold the rooms for students, which caused a problem with letting other students on the waiting list know if they had a housing assignment because of the prior commitment to the other students.

“We hope people can see the big picture in this move and that we were compassionate to the students in South Florida, cost efficient in our decision making and tried to minimize the disruption for the students,” Kirby said.

contact Keith Jones at