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Bethune-Cookman Students Protest Campus Conditions

January 25, 2023

Hundreds of students at Bethune-Cookman University gathered on campus Monday afternoon to protest what they said were unlivable conditions in dorms and facilities, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal. The unrest stemmed in part from the university’s decision not to move forward with a contract for Ed Reed, whom it had tentatively agreed to hire as head football coach last month, after he posted videos complaining about the state of the campus.

Students at B-CU, a historically Black university in Daytona Beach, Fla., said there was mold growing in dorm rooms, a lack of hot water and air-conditioning, and more—and that the B-CU administration had ignored such problems for too long. During the protests, students demanded the removal of the entire Board of Trustees and that the university rectify the facilities problems and resume contract negotiations with Reed.

B-CU reached an “agreement in principle” with Reed on Dec. 27 but never finalized the deal; he had been working on campus without a contract since. After Reed posted profanity-laden videos on social media last week complaining that the athletics facilities were in disarray and that he and members of the football team had had to pick up trash on campus, the university announced that it had “decided not to pursue contract negotiations” and was reopening the search for a new coach.

B-CU president Lawrence Drake II issued another statement Tuesday responding to the student protesters’ complaints—which he said would be addressed in meetings with university leaders—and elaborating on the decision to end negotiations with Reed.

“As we continued to observe him, we felt that his behavior was not aligned with the traditions of our founder and the university,” Drake wrote, adding that a new coach would likely be chosen in the next “week to ten days.”

Daytona Beach was also one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Ian in October, and Bethune-Cookman suffered more damage than most campuses in the state. It was closed for two weeks afterward, and cleanup efforts and reconstruction are still underway; Drake implied that this damage contributed to the dilapidated state of the campus.

“For some buildings and facilities, in light of two unprecedented weather events … and enrollment growth, we have begun renovation and construction immediately,” he wrote.

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Liam Knox

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