Mississippi Schools Respond to Jackson Water Crisis

August 31, 2022 / Athletic Administration
Many Mississippi college students are using portable showers and toilets as Jackson’s water emergency causes little to no water pressure on campuses throughout the city, forcing schools to move classes online and go without air conditioning.

A recent story from Mississippi Today outlined what the local colleges are doing about the ongoing water crisis.

Below is an excerpt from the Mississippi Today.

mississippiAdministrations at three colleges and universities based in Jackson – Belhaven University, Millsaps College, and Jackson State University – are not sure how long these contingency measures, like limiting dining hall hours and distributing bottled water, will last.

“The situation is fluid, no pun intended,” Michael Bolden, the director of campus operations at Jackson State University, said at a town hall on Tuesday. “Things are moving up and down depending on how the system is responding to what’s happening at the primary locations.”

Tougaloo College is not affected by the city’s water emergency, a spokesperson confirmed to Mississippi Today, because it has its own well system.

At Belhaven University, located a few blocks from the J.H. Fewell Water Plant, classes did not meet Tuesday. The administration has been closely monitoring the situation in meetings all day and hopes to have a better idea of how to proceed by the end of the week, David Sprayberry, Belhaven’s director of public relations, told Mississippi Today.

Currently, some buildings lack water or have low pressure on upper floors. The university has limited food service to residential students and is distributing bottled water for drinking and nonpotable water to flush the toilets.

“Because of the uncertainty, we are taking the following actions for TOMORROW ONLY,” Belhaven University President Roger Parrott wrote in a letter to campus.

Parrott wrote that he hopes to have more information for students by Tuesday night but that because Belhaven University is located “downhill,” he expects the campus to be among the first areas of the city to have water pressure restored.

“Thankfully, our campus location is ‘downhill,’ and we keep water running longer than other parts of town,” Parrott wrote. “We will likely be one of the first portions of town to have water pressure restored when the plant is fixed.”

Colleges and universities are effectively small municipalities, providing thousands of students in Jackson with round-the-clock housing, food, security, health care and utilities. The disruption in water service doesn’t just affect students’ learning, but all aspects of living on campus, from showering in the dormitories to buying hot meals on campus.

As for classes, Millsaps went virtual on Monday around 11:30 a.m. after the decline in water pressure was noticed, Mitchell said. Students and faculty have the day off today in case they need to travel home, and classes (except labs) are going to be virtual for the rest of the week.

Jackson State University held an hour-long town hall on Zoom on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the impact of the water emergency on the campus. Four top administrators at the university just west of downtown answered questions for students, including Brown-McClure, Bolden, President Thomas Hudson, and Alisa Mosley, the provost and vice president for academic affairs.

To read the full story from Mississippi Today, click here.