Benedict dorm dilemma unresolved

Benedict students living in a hotel-turned-dormitory remained in limbo Thursday, waiting to hear whether they would be moved out after county fire officials ordered an evacuation.

Rumors were flying, but no information about a move came from officials from the college or Richland County.

"We're looking at alternative housing as well as trying to see if we have an understanding of a deadline or a timeline" for improvements, said Benedict spokeswoman Kymm Hunter. "It's not quite clear."

County officials have declined to discuss the significance of the fire marshal's evacuation order, issued Wednesday evening, or to say whether they will impose a deadline for Benedict to move students.

County spokeswoman Stephany Snowden said the county was "reviewing some requests for information" from Benedict.

The first week of August, the college moved 251 students into the renovated hotel despite warnings 1539 Horseshoe Circle did not meet fire-safety laws.

Since then, the county has cited the college four times. The fire marshal is requiring sprinklers, as well as more basic fire-safety improvements.

Student Hilkiah Williams said he doesn't feel safe at the dorm but doesn't have anywhere else to go.

"I believe that this right here should not be happening at all," he said. "We need to go ahead and fix whatever problems we have."

Senior Mickalyn Metcalf said she spends as little time as possible at the dorm, instead staying on campus or hanging out late with friends.

"You go over to USC's campus, and you're like, 'This is so nice. Why can't we have this?'"

Some said there is talk of a student petition drive or "sit-in" to protest conditions.

"There's a group of us that want to stay involved," student Nya Cadogan said. "We want to get the people in the community to support us."

Benedict's board of trustees met all day Thursday. Hunter said she expected the meeting to continue through dinner.