GSU students displaced for administration housing

During Tuesday’s town hall meeting between Grambling State University administration and students, tensions rose as GSU student Michael Meadows wanted to know why he was displaced from his pre-registered apartment in West Campus to make room for newly acquired administration members.
Two weeks before school started, Meadows said, he received a call that his room had been changed. He later learned the people who replaced him were members of the new administration.  Meadows was one of nine students forced to move to make room for new administrative hires.
“You moved me because you wanted your people comfortable,” said Meadows, 22, a junior business management major from Tallulah.   
Currently, Grambling houses nine members of the administration in four houses on West Campus, a recently acquired annex that offers academic buildings and residential housing.
Grambling’s interim president Cynthia Warrick said West Campus was a convenient place for some of the members to stay.
“It’s a hardship to have them living like students,” said Warrick.
The people living in West Campus include Authur Smalls, the director of athletics business, Robert Vogel, assistant athletic director of media relations; Claudette Smith; interim executive assistant to vice president; Tamara Marshall, executive assistant to the president; Tracey Wright, director of university communications, Eric Eaton; interim special assistant to the president; John Rosenthal; interim vice president for research; advancement and economic development; Damon Wade; vice president for institutional effectiveness and enrollment management and Otto Myers, interim executive dean of the College of Business.
Traditionally, residential housing is reserved for students. However, under the leadership of Warrick and other presidents in a similar position, she has opted to allow these members of administration to live in West Campus for free.
“That’s a nice compromise,” said Warrick. “They are getting paid less than they would normally be paid in their positions (elsewhere).”
According to Warrick, they were given an option either a $5,000 relocation stipend or living in West Campus.
She also added that all administration, including herself, are serving in an interim capacity. If she was granted the opportunity to serve as the permanent president, she said, her staff will invest in apartments or buy homes.  
“That’s an accommodation for the expectation for their jobs,” Warrick said.
This is not an uncommon thing, it happens at universities often. Earlier this year, head football coach Broderick Fobbs and some of his staff resided in West Campus also.
However, Meadows said his relocation made him feel like the administration did not care about his comfort.  
“It made me feel like I am not important to this university,” said Meadows, who was displaced along with his roommate, Nathan Lee, a junior engineering technology major from New Orleans.
Meadows also described the move an expensive “downgrade.” Meadows, who said he woke up at 5 a.m. last spring to stand outside the Tiger Village clubhouse to pre-register for a GSU West house, was moved to GSU Bungalows.
According to residential life, GSU West houses are co-ed houses with three or four private bedrooms, primarily with no roommate. GSU bungalows have five co-ed double occupancy rooms with community showers and bathrooms.
Due to the design of the bungalows, all five of the rooms have two beds, two dressers, two sinks, etc., similar to traditional style dorms. Meadows and his four roommates decided to make their rooms private by renting both sides of the room.
That decision makes the price increase. According to Meadows’ fee sheet, he was charged $3,125 instead of the normal rate of $2,200, when it is shared with a roommate.
However, the bungalow style housing is cheaper than the houses in West Campus. According to residential life, a GSU West private room with sharing bathroom is $3,034, and GSU West Private Room with private bathroom is $3,340.
Meadows said he is considering moving off-campus or back to main campus next semester.