Duke students at apartment complex told they can't host large parties due to structural issues

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke University officials sent a note to students living in an off-campus residence hall this week, warning them that large gatherings of students have damaged the floors and some apartment support structures.

The email was sent from Brandin Howard, the Campus Dean for East Campus and Apartments, on Thursday to students living at 300 Swift.

It said that parties that exceed unit occupancy limits and include jumping or dancing could "damage the underlying trusses that reinforce the floors."

The building was not built by Duke but it was bought by the university to fulfill a need for more student housing.

The Duke University student newspaper, The Chronicle, reported on some of the floor issues last year.

The report said that, back in 2018, Greystar, the company managing the apartments at the time, restricted balcony access due to potential problems with the support railings.

"300 Swift was never intended to be a long term option for undergraduate housing, but is unclear how long we will need to use it as such," Joe Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean for residential life, told The Chronicle at the time. "Different possibilities exist for the long term use of the facility, but nothing has been decided yet."

Now, students living at 300 Swift are limited to having 10 people in an apartment to try to prevent a more serious issue.

"In extreme cases, this can cause a structural issue that poses risk to students and staff -- in which case we would be forced to immediately relocate residents," the email from Duke to residents said.

While the email said the building is safe, some students are still concerned.

"I feel if it's unsafe to have more than 10 people in an apartment we shouldn't be expected to live here," resident Vaneesha Patel told ABC11 on Friday.

The City of Durham said the apartments were constructed back in 2012.

A city inspector told ABC11 that, if load factors are exceeded in apartments due to high volumes of people, isolated structural or cosmetic issues aren't uncommon.

"I'm not really concerned for anyone's safety because I think if that was actually something they were concerned about they would probably have evacuated us but it is a little irritating in terms of not being able to have people in the dorms," student Peter Alfonsi said.

The 10-student limit is in effect immediately.

Violators could be held responsible for the cost of repairs or removed from the apartment.

Duke officials said in the email that contractors and engineers are addressing the damage.
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