Audit uncovers unsafe conditions on Southern University campus

Audit uncovers unsafe conditions on Southern University campus

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Several buildings at Southern University have been deemed unhealthy and potentially hazardous, according an audit released by the state.

Southern is made up of 140 buildings. There are 19 that are vacant and three that are only partly used. State Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said a lot of the ones that are being used are falling apart.

"It's bad. The buildings are deteriorating and we have to do something about it," Purpera said.

A recent state audit took a look at the conditions of the buildings on Southern's campus to see if there were any safety hazards that needed to be immediately addressed. The report lists several buildings that have been cited for safety code deficiencies multiple times.

According to the audit, the fire alarm in the library, John B. Cade Hall, has been broken since July 2004. It had been cited 20 times. Because of this, the State Fire Marshal put it on "fire watch."

JW Fisher Hall had been cited eight times for having unsecured gas containers and a large amount of debris among other things.

Purpera also pointed to a long list of buildings with leaks and faulty plumbing.

"There's situations where there's mold-like substances on the walls, there's sewage backed up in particular bathrooms, and that type of thing and those things need to be taken care of," Purpera said.

The auditor added that three frequently used buildings on campus including A.W. Mumford stadium and the F.G. Clark Activity Center lack handicap accessible ramps, handrails, and seats which make them non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The buildings are all maintained by Southern University Baton Rouge Facility Services, which has been hit hard from years of state budget shortfalls, according to the audit. For example, in the 2015 fiscal year, only two of 15 requested projects received money.

Purpera acknowledged that but said it is time for university leaders to prioritize.

"Sometimes it's some things that they have not been able to do anything about. Sometimes it's lack of management oversight over correcting the issues," Purpera said.

Southern University administrators were not available for an on-camera interview but released the following statement:

"As mentioned in our official response to the legislative auditor, the University takes seriously the health, safety, and well-being of its students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders. In the absence of capital outlay funding to address many of the issues cited in the review, the University will continue to implement mitigating controls as recommended by the Office of the State Fire Marshal to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. The University will continue to make capital requests to the appropriate state agencies for capital outlay and major repairs funding. Despite budgetary constraints in both state and university funding, the University has been and continues to be proactive in addressing all life safety code deficiencies, ADA noncompliance issues, and building conditions."

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