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The Housing Crisis at Clark Atlanta University

Students line up at Clark Atlanta University to receive housing
Screenshot: Fox 5

the night before leaving for college, Malana Wells was excited.

Malana Wells was excited to leave her hometown in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, to study in the Black Mecca of Atlanta. I was anxious to become a student in a historically black university. As a graduate of the 2018 high school, Malana was even excited about the opportunity to continue her education.

But Shirelle Copeland, Malana's mother, was nervous.

Her anxiety did not come from the fact that she was sending her 18-year-old daughter to the middle of the country. She was not even nervous about the money she had spent on flights, hotel rooms and a rented car to take her daughter to start her freshman year at Clark Atlanta University.

Copeland was nervous because she had no idea what was happening.

Copeland did not know what he was supposed to do when he arrived at Clark. She had been trying to get in touch with the university's financial aid department for weeks, with no results, so she had no idea how much money she owed for her daughter's first year. She did not even know which part of the campus her daughter would live in.

According to Copeland and the documents provided to The Root, Copeland attempted to communicate with the financial aid and housing departments in Clark dozens of times for more than a month. month. Unable to contact anyone in the financial aid or housing department, he desperately began dialing numbers in all the administrative offices he could find.

Finally, he contacted a woman identified in emails such as Ms. Udley, who tried to help Copeland with the registration process and determine her daughter's financial position with the school.

"We finally discovered that there was a $ 4,000 gap between what was owed and what was due, which was what I expected," Copeland explained. to The Root.

Although it was not official, and she had not yet spoken to anyone in the financial aid department, Copeland booked non-refundable flights and prepared to take her daughter to Clark to begin her first year.

"They told me there was a housing problem but they assured me that they would handle it." Every time she called, they said, 'We're in meetings about it, do not worry, she'll be fine,' "Copeland said. "But the night before I left, I had the intuition that I should call again, and that was the day I found out that I had to get to $ 8,000 if my daughter was going to Clark.

They said that she was 'not financially enrolled,' "Copeland said." I had no idea what that means. I have a sophomore in college and I've never heard it in my life. How are you 'not financially enrolled' if you have accepted your financial aid scholarship? It just does not make sense and there was no one who could give you a clear idea of ​​what the procedure is.

"This was the first time I was dealing with an HBCU [Historically Black College or University] and it was not good at all."

It turns out that Shirille Copeland's last-minute call might have been a good thing after all because It could have been worse. Your daughter could have been left homeless.

Dozens of students at Clark Atlanta University were denied housing just 24 hours before classes were scheduled to begin in accordance with WSBTV in Atlanta. Like the Malana Wells situation, the university has resorted to blaming the problem on students and parents who did not complete the financial enrollment process.

To further complicate the disaster, there is no off-campus alternative because, according to the college's residence and living policy, "all students enrolled or accepted at Clark Atlanta University must reside on campus until they have obtained 58 or more credit hours. "

He read it correctly. is required to live on campus, even if they do not have a place to stay. While the university policy that forces students to use something that is not available to them may sound as contradictory as having Miley Cyrus touch or force Donald Trump to scan the brain, I have been told that the grass in Clark Atlanta it's really plush. It's so soft you can almost sleep.


Incidents like those of Wells are not rare in Clark Atlanta. Other parents have experienced the same problems with communication, clarity in financial aid and understanding what "financial enrollment" is all about. At least 150 students came to CAU only to discover they had nowhere to live.

In a story that sounds eerily similar to that of Copeland and Wells, Nicole Redd, another student's mother, described driving from Baltimore only to discover that her daughter "was not financially enrolled" and had no home, according to the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. Other parents contacted The Root and expressed frustration on social media.

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