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Parents say students can’t get housing at Clark Atlanta University… again

Families reached out to 11Alive saying this is the second and third time they've had trouble getting student housing.

ATLANTA — Frustrated parents said their children arrived at Clark Atlanta University for the start of the school semester, only to find out housing wasn't available.

Classes start Wednesday morning and at least three families said their children are unsure of where they will live. 

“We have no clue what’s going on at this point," said Jalen Dennis, whose daughter is a freshman at CAU.  

Rosland Hawkins' daughter returned for her senior year. 

“I feel like I want to have a tantrum. That's how frustrated I am," said Hawkins.

Hawkins, Dennis, and a third parent reached out to 11Alive Tuesday, worried when they found out their children didn't have dorm room assignments. 

“My daughter gets to campus last week, excited to be a freshman and be with everybody and come to find out, they said that she didn’t have a room. Mind you the deposit was taken out of her account in April 11," said Dennis. "And there's no rooms available still."

Hawkins' daughter was sent an email with the promise a link would be provided to sign up for a room in the summer of 2022. However, her daughter said she never received a link. After Hawkins contacted the school, she was assured her daughter was on a waitlist.

"We were calling them probably about weekly, every few days," said Hawkins. "Now I call today, I call residence life today, like, 'What is going on? What is going on with her housing?' And so the person that answered her phone, she tells me that my daughter's name is not even on the waitlist."

Both parents are upset because it’s not the first time. Dennis said this is the second time his daughter arrived at the campus, and had no room waiting for her. As for Hawkins, she said, “This will be our third time.”

Their daughters were a part of the more than 400 students who didn’t have dorms ready at the beginning of the semester in 2021, because of unfinished renovations.

“And when they did give her a room, it was absolutely filthy, like it hadn’t been cleaned all summer," said Dennis, who shared video showing a leaky ceiling in his daughter's original room.

And in January of 2022, Hawkins' daughter was told she took the wrong COVID test. 

”They informed us that she would not be allowed to move into her dorm. My argument then was you had her test results for a week, you could not have informed us that she didn't take the right test so that we could go take the correct test," explained Hawkins. 

Now the parents said they're experiencing the frustration all over again, with very little communication from the school. 11Alive reviewed emails appearing to have been sent to Clark officials from Hawkins. Dennis said he's emailed and called the Dean and student housing with no clear-cut answers on if they'll receive a refund for their deposit or if they will have a room soon.

Dennis’ daughter is still waiting for a room assignment in Atlanta. Hawkins' daughter is back in Ohio, trying to get online classes but may have to sit out the semester.

“She’s in bed. She’s asleep. She’s been crying about it off and on,” she said. 

Hawkins said the main reason she decided to send her daughter back to CAU for her senior year is because she's afraid many of her credits won't transfer to a different school.

Both parents said the financial strain of trying to find housing last minute is not what they signed up for when choosing CAU.

“Clark has a few opportunities to do better by these students. This is bad. I wish they would do better," said Dennis. 

CAU paid for hotels for students in 2012 and gave students discounts on their dorm fees.

11Alive reached out to CAU to find out how big or small the housing problem is this semester and how the situation is being handled. 

We’ve yet to receive a response.

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