The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Noala Heights residents unhappy with current living conditions

Whitney Veazey

Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this article, changes have been made to Noala Heights’ living conditions, such as a new oven/stove unit, Lion Lift being replaced with a new program, discussion of new ventilation systems and more.

Noala Heights, an international student apartment complex, has been leased by the university since August 1, 2022. The lease was in agreement with Meadow Hill Properties F LLC. The complex was previously known as Lion’s Den Efficiency Apartments.

Noala Heights is located at 402 E. Tennessee Street, 0.7 miles from campus. Monthly rent for one person is $405, which comes to $2,430 per semester and $4,860 per year. It is priced the same as Twin Oaks, which is located on campus and houses four people per apartment. Noala houses two people per apartment. 

The amenities offered at Noala are central heat and air conditioning, frost-free mid-size refrigerators, microwaves, a community kitchen, a community laundry room, outdoor patio, on-site parking, walking distance to campus, transportation via UNA Shuttle Bus and wireless internet. 

Jemeka Wilkinson is a resident of Noala Heights and an online graduate student at the university. Wilkinson reports of mold at the residence hall, which the university seems to be aware of. She has spoken with housing directly, and received a humidifier to help with the issue. Wilkinson alleges that other students requested a humidifier from housing and did not receive one. 

“There is mold growing on the walkways from dripping A/Cs that is slippery and someone can get seriously hurt,” Wilkinson said. “I do not see [these issues] when I come to the main campus daily.”

She also alleges that the university does not have someone come to clean the community areas of Noala, which further perpetuates the mold issue. Wilkinson has attempted to clean some areas, but feels it may be unsafe for someone who is untrained.

Along with the mold, she finds the community kitchen unsatisfactory. The oven is not properly working, as well as being unclean. Recently, it took her four hours to cook chicken in the oven.

Another person who has noticed the issues international students face at Noala is professional studies professor Dr. Craig Robertson. According to Robertson, Noala residents that take his classes often have to request extensions due to faulty internet connection. Wilkinson reports the same issues, especially as an online student.

Robertson sent emails to university officials regarding the problems the international students face. The emails led him to housing, who said that the owner of the building is at fault for sanitary issues (like the aforementioned mold). 

“Anybody with any common sense in Florence who has driven past [Noala Heights] knew that — prior to entering into the sub-lease — it was not the best [apartment building] in town,” Robertson said. “The university should have known that it had particular issues before they even entered into a contract with the owner of that facility.”

Both Wilkinson and Robertson feel that the university has been placing enrollment numbers over the quality of housing for students. 

“President Kitts has said in a joint faculty-staff meeting at the beginning of the semester that we’re going to slow down on our drive for enrollment goals and focus more on the quality of the programs and services that we’re offering,” Robertson said. “That statement on his part was long overdue.”

Wilkinson states that the agency that originally sent her to UNA is no longer sending students from her country to the university following complaints from students. To Wilkinson, there is a lack of assistance and care put into the students that reside in Noala, as well as international students as a whole.

Transportation is another issue the residents of Noala face. Due to Florence’s lack of public transport and the UNA bus’ strict schedule, it is difficult for students to find appropriate transportation in weather conditions such as the rain and cold. Furthermore, the bus that takes students to get groceries visits on-campus dorms first, so it is difficult for Noala residents to secure a spot.

“Lion Lift should be reinstated,” Wilkinson said. “They relocated the bus pickup stop a block away from the complex with no covered wait area. So if it’s hot, raining, snowing, we are in the elements.”

Wilkinson finds Noala very isolating and has requested to move out of the complex several times, with no success. She was told incoming students are prioritized for residence halls.

“We have created a very racially, ethnically, socially segregated environment at Noala Heights in which we have largely placed students of the developing world,” Robertson said.

Wilkinson also cites the fact that a majority of people placed there are black and brown students, with some Asian students housed as well. 

“To be honest, I wished I had not come here,” Wilkinson said. “I could have saved myself the money and hardship. As a working adult, I do not need to live like this. I left a three-bedroom to come to a place where people put me in mold and treat me as if I’m second class to others. [International students] are not invisible, and we deserve the same treatment as other students on this campus. We are paying too much to come here to be treated in this manner.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Emma Tanner
Emma Tanner, Editor-in-Chief
Emma is Editor-in-Chief of the Flor-Ala. She is a senior from Killen, Ala. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism and digital media. She was previously Managing Editor for the spring 2023 semester. She also served as News Editor from Jan. 2022 to Dec. 2022. She was previously a volunteer writer. Her favorite topics to cover are profiles and local news. Tanner has written since her childhood and grew a passion for journalism during high school. Aside from working on the Flor-Ala, she was also a research assistant for a psychological study at UNA and served as CASE ambassador president for the Fall 2022 semester.
Whitney Veazey
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

Comments (0)

All The Flor-Ala Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *