Heat, hot water fixed at residence hall, Shaw University says

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Shaw University residence hall heat, hot water fixed, school says
Students aren't so sure the problems have been resolved.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Students at Shaw University told ABC11 that they have not had heat or hot water at Dimple Newsome Residence Hall since they returned from winter break.

Residence halls reopened on Jan. 2, and classes resumed on Jan. 10.

"It's cold. Everything is just freezing. People are showering by warming up hot water in water bottles," Michael, a Shaw University student living at Dimple Newsome told ABC11. "It's just treacherous right now."

Officials at Shaw said they've had ongoing issues with the heat at Dimple Newsome.

"Maintenance professionals were working to fix the problem during winter break while students were away from campus. In early January, the matter was resolved for several days, but the recent cold snap caused the issue with the boiler system to return," Shaw University's Interim Director of Communications and Marketing John McCann said.

We have problems and it's like we get tired of being tired of being tired.
- Justice Feaster, Shaw student

Late Monday night, Shaw said the heat was finally working and the "water temperature is rising" in Dimple Newsome dorm.

"Maintenance professionals are monitoring the situation to make sure the system remains stable," the university added.

Students weren't so sure the problem was resolved for good, though some told ABC11 that the water did seem to be getting a little warmer.

Affected students were being allowed to use the showers at a residence hall a block away, but amid the coldest temperatures Raleigh has seen in months, some students said it was not a reasonable solution.

"That's the best fix that we have. It's not ideal, and we want to do better by our students," McCann said, referring to the temporary shower solution.

In a statement to students and media on Monday, Shaw University said: "Students residing in the Dimple Newsome dorm are safe and warm. The extremely cold weather is compromising the ability of its boiler system to simultaneously heat the living space and consistently provide hot water. Students have access to another residence hall for personal care. Maintenance professionals are working to resolve the matter."

The students agreed that they were safe, but clearly, they disputed that they were warm. When ABC11 asked McCann about that portion of the statement, he told us that when it was sent out, school administrators were referring to the students not having hot water. McCann said officials were unaware that the heat had gone out again.

"It's something that we feel like there should be change for. We need advocacy because we've been living through this for a while," said student Justice Feaster, who lives at Dimple Newsome. "We have problems and it's like we get tired of being tired of being tired."

Students marched to Estey Hall on Monday to demand answers about the lack of heat and hot water. They met with university administrators about their concerns. Both staffers and students said the meeting was productive, but there is still no clear answer on when the repairs will be completed.

"It's a start because change -- it doesn't happen in one day -- but we have to start progress someday, and I mean, that day was today. That's progress," Feaster said.

McCann praised students for speaking up about their concerns.

"The great thing about our students -- they're showing leadership," McCann. "They're showing that they understand it's a process and things aren't going to happen overnight, but they made sure that they were vocal, and we want to let those students know that we heard them."

McCann said that by the time they met with students Monday afternoon, they had already instructed maintenance workers to stay on campus until the repairs were complete.

North Carolina landlords are required to provide heat and hot water to tenants. Students pointed this out, saying they're asking for some type of solution, such as hotel rooms until the repairs are complete, or rebates on their housing costs.

When asked about those solutions, McCann said all options were on the table as they worked to make those repairs.