RICHMOND, Va. -- Move-in day at Virginia Union University was rough for some frustrated parents and students who contacted WTVR CBS 6 when they arrived on campus and learned they did not have a place to stay. To complicate matters, some parents said the university would not respond to their concerns.
"We've been here over eight hours and still no one has given us answers as to why or what they're going to do about it," Adrian Seabrail said. Seabrail, whose daughter is a VUU student, said he was told student housing was overbooked after he paid his daughter's tuition.
"When I spoke to the president directly, his reply to me was 'you can take your student and your money and leave if you're not happy with the way things are going,'" Seabrail said. "Of course this came after I had already given them the money."
VUU student Kellie Johnson was also denied on-campus housing. She said she was told to report to the Clarion hotel near campus. She said she was told she'd be at the hotel for at least two days. During those days the university would go over housing to determine who registered at school and who did not.
"It's really inconvenient... almost everyone is frustrated by this because they want to move it," Johnson said.
Classes at Virginia Union begin Thursday.
On Wednesday, the President responded. They said it all boils down to more freshman enrolling at the school.
The University’s President and CEO, Dr. Claude Perkins released this statement to CBS 6:
Virginia Union University has been very fortunate to have met our enrollment goals over the past several years. Part of the reason for that success has been our ability to support our students at a time when many of their resources have been cut, especially Pell grants and Parent Plus loans.
We have often used several different methodologies to meet our enrollment goals and those goals always exceed housing capacity. As a result, the following practices are in place:
1) We make every effort to house freshmen on campus so that they may be properly oriented to the college experience. We then make spaces available on campus for all other students until all spaces are occupied;
2) We have a referral service for students wanting to live off campus; and
3) For students whose parents may not have resources, we have rented apartments to handle the campus overflow. This means that Virginia Union has been responsible for ensuring lease payments and it ensures our students an uninterrupted experience.
Enrollment in college is becoming an increasingly complicated process. We are always trying to improve our ability to communicate with our parents and constituents. When a student applies for on campus housing, he or she includes a small deposit with the application, but the application is only approved after a student is financially cleared to enter the university. Financially cleared means that the student has paid his or her bill in full or made financial arrangements with the Student Accounts Department.
Sometimes there is a misstep in the process and we understand because we work with parents every day to clarify these situations. We will seek additional ways to improve our process so parents and students can be clear when it comes to the enrollment process. We will also make sure that parents and students have access to persons they need at least 60 days prior to arrival on campus. We have been working on this matter for some time and will continue to fine tune the process so that we eliminate any misunderstandings in the future.
Fortunately for Virginia Union, we continue to be extremely viable and an important institution for education of our students and we are indeed thankful for all the support through the years. We are looking forward to another exciting and successful year for all of our students and we are proud to have the opportunity to provide the best in liberal arts education to each and every one of the families we serve.
As for Rhasheeda Dickey, she says knowing the university is taking steps to correct the problem means a lot.
"So, hopefully they have this all cleared up by the time students are ready to go to class by Thursday. So, there's not an inconvenience for them to go back and forth and figure how they're getting on campus," Dickey said.