AAMU Freshman says university hasn’t distributed donated funds to students affected by a dorm fire

NORMAL, Ala. - When WHNT News 19 first began looking into students affected by a dorm fire at Alabama A&M, we were told that donations collected on behalf of the university would go toward helping students impacted by the fire without renters insurance.

Friday, Alabama A&M said that's not the case and even after affected students were asked to submit an itemized loss form with their values, the school said those students may not be reimbursed in full.

Bailee Redus was directly affected by the fire.

Move in day 2018 was a surreal moment for Redus but she said as soon as she got comfortable in her new home things started to go wrong.

The new Alabama A&M freshman noticed a strange object sticking out of an electrical outlet.

"We reported that, nobody came," said Redus.

There was more to come. Their thermostat was broken, as was the fridge, they had a leaky shower and discovered mold in their bathroom.

Redus said everything but the outlet was fixed over time.

On February 18th, Redus said that same outlet caused a big problem.

She was gone but her roommate was home was in the room then. 

"She said she started hearing a popping noise in the room, but she didn't know what it was," explained Redus. "So, she said she looked over and that's when she saw her mattress on fire."

A&M faculty evacuated the students and placed them in temporary assignments. Redus and her roommate decided to go home instead.

A couple of days later students were allowed to retrieve things from their rooms.

"Me and my roommate, we went early," added Redus. "Because it was our room and we needed to know first."

Their dorm room once pretty in pink was now charred black. 

"I was heartbroken because for one so many people have invested in me and to get me off to college knowing I was the first in my family," explained Redus. "To see my freshman year go down like that, I felt like I had no hope left."

Redus said she lost all her textbooks, her laptop, smart tv and smaller items in the fire.

Student organizations then stepped up to raise money for those affected. 

AAMU later told students they could not raise money on behalf of the university and that people should only donate to a specific disaster fund.

Redus said she was told by student housing to submit a list of what she lost in the fire. 

"She emailed me that document on March 8. I turned it in two days after and we still haven't heard anything back."

She said the experience has left her feeling disappointed in her school, discouraged and unmotivated.

"If I could be done with A&M right now, I would," said Redus. "But I'm trying to be a strong person and just get through this year.

 Bailee was able to get replacements for two of her textbooks although the university could only offer her older editions which don't have current material in them.

Alabama A&M issued WHNT News 19 a statement regarding the matter:

 

Last month, Alabama A&M University experienced two fires in one of its main residence halls.  Although the fires were contained, students were temporarily relocated to other residence facilities prior to returning to their rooms.  As a result of the initial fire, the University Foundation purchased toiletries and other items for students that were impacted, and these items were readily available within 12 hours of the initial fire. 

Additionally, several individuals provided donations to the Alabama A&M University Foundation to support students who were impacted.   These funds were intended to provide assistance to students who may have experienced damage to other items beyond toiletries.  A total of three students have officially requested additional support—one prior to and the remaining two during and after Spring Break.  The requests are being evaluated and financial support will be provided to each of the three students to assist them with their damages.

Redus received a check from the school's "Hope for Tomorrow" fund on April 10.

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