Apartment complex to move students in with soldiers

Captain Cynthia Williams got notice a college freshman will be moving in.
Captain Cynthia Williams got notice a college freshman will be moving in.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Several weeks ago Cynthia Williams received an email from her new roommate.

"[She] told me her name, that she was 18, this was her first year in college and first year away from home. So to me, she perceived me to be another college student."

But Williams is not a student. She is a 51-year-old year United States Army captain.

"My first thought was this has got to be an error, this must be an accident. She must have the wrong email address," said Williams.

It's not an error. Roughly 15 of the approximately soldiers living at Hattiesburg's primarily-student Eagles Trail Apartments say they've been blindsided by emails from their new roommates.

"He's 26, that's all I know about him and he's going to be majoring in engineering, but there again, I'm 40," said Sergeant Lawrence L. Battiste of his new roommate.

Before the soldiers of the 72 23rd U.S. Army medical supply unit out of Mobile moved into the complex, they say commanders were given a verbal guarantee that no civilians would be placed in apartments with soldiers.

"It's our job to make sure these soldiers who are going overseas and are coming home and are medically safe and secure and if they go over there and we've missed something, it could cost a life, and I feel like our job is that important where we shouldn't have to lose sleep or be worried about what's going on when we go home," said Speciality Ivory Streeter, who is getting two new roommates - both students.

Several soldiers said they went to the complex office to see what could be done and they all say, they were given about the same answer.

"Their basic response, and this was not their word, they said basically: It is what it is, it's gonna happen."

As of now, the new roommates are set to move in August 18. Management at the complex told us today they couldn't comment on the situation, and referred us to a public relations representative for American Campus Communities, the company that owns Eagles Trail. The representative got back to us late Thursday afternoon saying the company would look into it, but did not have a statement.