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Cobb residents move out and forward

Students who live on the fourth floor of Cobb Residence Hall now have new housing assignments, but many say they are frustrated that they no longer feel at home.

In the two days following the fire that started in Cobb’s attic Tuesday afternoon, more than 350 UNC students have had to make alternate housing arrangements.

Damage to each floor is varied, with the worst occurring on the fourth floor — which could have housed more than 90 students.

“The Dean of Students’ Office has been extraordinary in reaching out to the residents of Cobb,” said sophomore Brittany Jordan Cole, a Cobb resident. “But as a whole, the school is putting the burden on the students, especially financially. The administrators don’t know the extent of the damage, and they’re understating it.”

She said the most significant damage to her room was caused by the fire hoses — dust and debris covered her walls and her floor.

Cole said she has been staying with friends. She was assigned a room in Manly Residence Hall, but said when she arrived, those living there did not know about the fire in Cobb.

“I can understand that it would be difficult for strangers to have an emotional person dumped into their living space,” Cole said.

To cover the costs of items like clothes and toiletries, the housing department has guided students toward resources such as the Student Emergency Fund, which provides funds for crisis situations.

In an email to Cobb residents, Bradley encouraged them to check whether their insurance policies would cover damaged belongings — those students with renter’s insurance were encouraged to contact their insurance agent.

“If you do not have renter’s insurance, please contact your family/guardian and determine whether they have a rider on their insurance policy that would cover your belongings while at college,” Bradley said in the email.

Ginny Brodd, who also lived on the fourth floor, said she felt frustrated with how the housing department has handled the situation. She said she and her friends approached the department about terminating their contracts so they could live off campus this and next semester.

“They said to email them and explain why we needed to be reimbursed and cancel our housing contract,” Brodd said. “I emailed the guy and received no response. When we went to housing this afternoon, they basically said no.”

Brodd said she didn’t understand the department’s unwillingness to change her contract, saying she and her friends haven’t even paid for the spring semester yet.

“We chose to live in Cobb and with each other. We’ve been split up all over campus, when we really just want to get an apartment together off campus,” she said.

Housing officials could not be reached for comment.

Support from social media has poured in for those affected by the fire. A Facebook group, Cobb Strong, is offering support and linking students together.

“Our lives have to continue,” Cole said. “We’re still trying to get our education at one of the most difficult institutions in the country.”

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