I-TEAM: Code enforcement issues notice to Paine College for dorm problems

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Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Pictures show the myriad of issues students at Paine College's Hollis Hall are dealing with throughout the year. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Paine College has a new president and a new outlook, but some old problems that keep resurfacing.

Students say some of the dorms on campus are in serious need of repair, and parents say it's becoming a health issue.

The college has a rich history in Augusta dating back to 1882. While the history written within these walls makes it so special, it's the history written on the mattresses at Hollis Hall that are raising one mother’s eyebrows.

“They were just really disgusting,” the mother, who wanted to remain anonymous, said. “Look like they've been there since the school opened. Stains, and just, really, really, really old."

It's not just the stained mattresses; it's the holes in the bathroom ceiling with exposed pipes. She says photos of mold and mildew in the bathroom point to a housekeeping problem.

“I looked in the showers and the toilets,” the mother said. “It just all looked nasty to me.”

It also points to a general lack of upkeep.

“I just felt as a parent, with the tuition we pay for our kids to get a better education, they could live a little better,” the mother said.

Paine's website says Hollis Hall was built in 1967, and it boasts a healthy living environment. But parents say with students paying over $6,000 a year for room and board, students deserve better.

“I think inmates are living better than these kids,” the mother said. “Seriously. A few updates I don't think would hurt.”

We found a complaint with code enforcement from 2015, alleging some similar problems with Paine housing. The complainant cited “moldy bathrooms and air conditioning vents, throw up on toilets and showers, and bed bugs.” But code enforcement was never able to track down the complainant to substantiate the claims, so the case was closed.

“It's just a health issue for me with the mattresses and then a safety concern with the pipes,” the mother said.

We reached out to Paine College last Friday to find out what they are doing about the dorms. They said they would do some fact checking and call us back, but we haven't heard from them since. We also reached out to code enforcement and shared photos. They are investigating.

“I get college life,” the mother said. “I know they're not supposed to live comfortable like they're at home, but I think the conditions could be a little more better than what they are.”

Code enforcement investigators went to Hollis Hall and confirmed the complaints. They say staff told them they were in the process of finding and repairing a leak on the second floor along with other issues.

Code enforcement issued Paine a notice and say they will follow up to make sure those issues are fixed.

Paine College's president responded to our investigation Thursday. President Dr. Cheryl Evans Jones sent out the following release:

Prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday break, representatives from campus departments convened to discuss ways to enhance and improve campus life. As a result of the meetings and during the week of November 18th, the Office of Student Affairs relocated some students to different residential halls. The relocation eliminated having three students to a room. In addition, the Physical Plant staff developed a check list of repairs and areas that needed to be addressed. The repairs commenced right after the students left the campus for the Christmas break.

“We were aware that there was a persistent leak in the plumbing system located in Hollis Residential Hall and decided to wait until the students vacated the facility for the Christmas break to address the problem,” said Dr. Jones. “The staff voluntarily removed the ceiling tiles to gain access to the pipes that were thought to be the source of the leak. Having convened with the Code Enforcement Agency on December 6th regarding the bathroom in question, we agreed to fix the plumbing leak within 30 days or before the start of the spring 2020 semester."

“Further, as we complete the checklist of repairs, the College will share the progress report with our students and with the campus community. For example, the College is working with external service providers to improve the air quality in our residential halls by replacing mechanical systems and/or exhaust fans. It is our desire to maintain a healthy and safe environment for our students and campus family.”

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