WILBERFORCE, Ohio (WDTN) - Students at Wilberforce University have threatened to withdraw if campus living conditions and their overall academic experience is not improved.
Wilberforce University President Patricia Hardaway said she wants to make the change happen, but the University must operate within its means.
"Right now, Wilberforce is operating $25 million in debt," said Hardaway. "We have significantly improved our financial situation over the years; however, we need to be conservative in spending our money."
The student body held a peaceful protest on campus. More than 300 students marched to the Wolfe Administration Building and one by one to collected a withdraw form from the Registrar's Office.
"We asked for withdraw forms to let them know that we are serious about this," said Bria Clark, who is a freshman at WU. "We could go elsewhere and get an education that is quality, but we want to be here. This is supposed to be our home, we love Wilberforce, but things need to change."
President Hardaway held a press conference Thursday and acknowledged the biggest issue revolves around campus dorms.
Two of the four campus dorms are in ideal condition; Henderson Hall and the Living Learning Center. Jackson, an all-women dorm, and Valentine, an all-men dorm are in need of renovations. Both were built around the 1970's. There is another complex on campus where no one lives that is depleted and in need of demolition.
During the press conference, the President supported renovations to dorms Jackson and Valentine, but could not specify when these improvements would be made.
"We are not going to say to students, "Hang in there with us until Aug. 2013 and we'll have a new dorm or we'll have renovations in place," said Hardaway. "We believe in treating the students as young adults and helping them understand the framework and context in which we are all operating."
University officials said they could, however, made immediately changes to laboratory and library hours, security and food services.
2 News checked into the financial situation at Wilberforce University. The tuition for a full-time student living on campus is approximately $19,000 per year.
President Hardaway said when she was named president in 2009, the entire university was collateralized and in 2010 valued at $40 million. At that time university officials restructured its debt. Right now, only six buildings are being held as collateral.
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