Palmetto South faces ongoing issues

Palmetto Phase III Residential office and community room. Photo courtesy: Kylah Thompson

Nearly a month after returning for in-person classes, students living in the Palmetto Phase III housing facility are forced to grapple with housing conditions including hot water outages and, in some cases, roaches for roommates.

Olivia Brown, a second-year residential assistant, expressed her frustration concerning these issues.

“I’ve received a lot of complaints personally about that stuff and it’s difficult because I’m not maintenance,” Brown said. “The reason some issues weren’t fixed at the time we believed they would be is because we immediately relay the estimated time that maintenance tells us to residents, but sometimes there is still a delay, so then we look unreliable.”

Brown went on to explain that these ongoing issues highlight the difference in how Phase III is prioritized in comparison to other housing facilities such as the Florida A&M University Towers and Polkinghorne Village.

“During the summer we didn’t have hot water for almost two weeks,” Brown said. “With us being one of the older facilities situated all the way in the back of campus, I do feel like Palmetto South and Phase III are put on the back burner a lot.”

Helen Williams, a first-year resident from Palm Beach, Florida, echoes Brown’s frustration with feeling neglected.

“When I first moved in there was no hot water, so I didn’t stay here,” Williams said. “It’s a continuous issue.”

As a freshman, Williams is not allowed to have a vehicle on campus and relies on the Venom shuttle for transportation, but finds she cannot always rely on it.

“I feel like the Towers are more prioritized,” Williams said. “It seems like the venom is usually at the Towers all the time, while we only get the venom once every hour. We’re paying full price and all this stuff is going on, so I don’t think that’s fair.”

In contrast, Mulleak Pitts, a fourth-year residential assistant, feels supported by housing staff despite some of the internal issues.

“Overall we’ve had a really good move in,” Pitts said. “Everything is not perfect but we’re trying to accommodate students as best as possible. We just have let maintenance do their part.”

Maintenance truck parked outside of Palmetto phase III. Photo courtesy: Kylah Thompson

When asked about frustrated residents who expect to see improvement, Pitts emphasized the need for prompt communication with designated residential assistants to ensure problems receive immediate attention.

Jennifer Wilder, the Director of Student Housing, explained that while maintenance works to address housing concerns in a timely manner, there are sometimes limitations to how quickly issues can be rectified.

“We address issues as they come up,” Wilder said. “Our maintenance team works from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. so if a maintenance request is submitted after 5 p.m. and it isn’t an emergency like a fire or a flood there isn’t anything we can do that day.”

Wilder also expressed that many improvements to Palmetto Phase III often go unnoticed by students despite the fact that they benefit the overall living experience.

“I have really worked hard in the four and half years that I’ve been here to improve the quality of our residence halls,” Wilder said. “ Sometimes it’s new plumbing, which students can’t see, but it does make your situation better.”

Wilder also expressed her desire to empower residents to communicate with staff about maintenance issues by including specific information such as full name, room number, and how long the issue has affected the living space.