JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A school leader is speaking out after an I-TEAM investigation looked into complaints from some Edward Waters University students who said campus conditions are unsanitary and unhealthy.
News4JAX first reported on Tuesday that several students at the Jacksonville private, historically Black university claim the school isn’t keeping up with on-campus housing, telling us they’re dealing with mold, leaks and a dead mouse.
But the school’s president said this week that all issues have been addressed and the complaints are dated.
He wants to set the record straight claiming the I-TEAM’s portrayal of the university isn’t fair or current.
Videos and pictures EWU students sent News4JAX made claims they’ve found mold leaks and a dead mouse. They said conditions on campus are often subpar.
“The administration and the president has been aware of these issues numerous times and they are still present,” said EWU senior Na’im Brown.
Brown created the Campus Activism Coalition, a group of about 15 students who want to bring changes to the university.
He provided the images, many of which he said were taken within the past two weeks.
But university president Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr. said some images showed conditions from last summer as the school was repairing and renovating buildings. That’s the case with one video, which we’ve learned was from July. Now, the president points out, that’s been fixed and the building is in good shape.
Faison took issue with the I-TEAM’s story. In an email to WJXT management, he contends the report was “unfair” and “inaccurate.”
Faison said a third-party contractor keeps up with campus facilities including housing, as he explained in an interview.
“Where there have been any reported issues anywhere, they’ve come out and directly been able to ameliorate those issues,” he said. “They’ve gone in, cleaned coils, wiped down areas, and again, this is not something that is new. It’s something that is an ongoing part of maintenance for the campus on the whole.”
When we told Dr. Faison students complained of mold he said there have been cases where microbial growth or mildew was present but the school has been on top of all the problems.
He said an exterminator took care of that rodent — and there was only one.
Faison asked the I-TEAM to also talk to the student government president. She said any issues to buildings have been dealt with right away.
“I noticed microbial growth that was reported the same day and he came out that afternoon to clean it and it never came back,” said N’Aaliyah Jno.Baptiste, Student Government Association President at EWU.
Administrators also brought in Miss EWU to share her positive experiences.
“I think the problem is how to solve the issue by reporting. To report it you can’t just take a picture and post it on social media and expect for it to get solved, you contact your RA, put in the request and that’s when it gets solved,” said Brianna Pendergrass, Miss EWU.
We went back to Brown for more details about student complaints and told him Faison said the complaints are months old.
President Faison emailed us current pictures which he said show the problems were no more. But Brown sent us more pictures with timestamps from this month as students returned to campus for the spring semester. He said the pictures are legitimate and were taken Jan. 12.
School leaders also took issue with the I-TEAM airing video that shows temperatures in the 80s but the system is off. That means there would not be any control of the thermostat. Brown responded with more documentation of air conditioning issues where the system is on but temperatures are still uncomfortable.
After we started investigating, EWU administrators did allow News4JAX cameras on campus for a tour of three residence halls. They said the school has done a lot of work to improve the campus.
News4JAX was escorted into selected areas and did not notice any problems. However, we were only in each room for about a minute.
“If action would be taken going forward because of this, I would be very thankful,” Brown said. “We’re not here to make the school look bad or run a smear campaign. We just want this stuff fixed.”