When junior Keala Rusher discovered off-campus property management company Mosaic Student Community wasn’t going to reinstall safety bars on her windows, she had concerns.
She posted a screenshot of the email exchange between her housemate and property manager Courtney Jurasko in the “USC Memes for Spoiled Pre Teens” Facebook group.
“Security bars are not promised anywhere in the lease and as a property management company, we never imply or promise the safety of our residents,” the email read.
Rusher, who is majoring in international relations global business, said the email dismissed the safety concerns of Mosaic residents. In the Facebook group, the company’s statement was met with harsh criticism. Rusher’s post accrued over 180 comments from students, many of whom shared similar experiences. The post was removed from the page Thursday.
The post was taken off of the page Thursday. Rusher alleged Jurasko reported the post for harassment and it was subsequently deleted.
Students encouraged Rusher to contact the Department of Public Safety with safety concerns and legal counsel for representation.
According to Rusher, the incident began when her housemate, Alejandro Gonzalez, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering, asked for security bars to be replaced on the window after they were taken off for renovations and repairs to the building.
“Mosaic built a small house in the backyard of the house that we are currently leasing and … they re-painted the exterior of our house and in order to do that they had to take off the security bars that were already on the windows,” Rusher said.
Rusher said that following the recent death of student Victor McElhaney during a robbery attempt near campus, security and well-being became an important concern for her and her housemates.
“I think the email was hostile and unnecessary for one, just to say that they don’t ensure the safety of residents with … but especially callous, insensitive given the recent incident,” Rusher said. “Even though I don’t know the specific details, I feel like it was understandable for us to request safety measures, especially those that were included when we first signed the lease, such as safety bars.”
In the email screenshot posted to Facebook, Juraso said the property owner was “well aware” of the incident, and “their stance remained firm.”
In the comments, many students wrote that they experienced difficulty with Mosaic’s maintenance of utilities, including the air conditioning, and other residents complained of being forced to live in smaller “closet-like” rooms.
“They almost moved me into a literal closet-sized room despite the floor plans suggesting otherwise,” one student commented.
In response to the allegations, Mosaic released a statement addressing the renovations and student concerns.
“Part of the scope of this [renovation] project included removing dated security bars from the property and replacing them with a Ring Doorbell and Floodlight camera system on the exterior of the property, giving residents more knowledge and control over who has access to their home when they are not there,” the statement read.
In addition to a new security system, the housing company said it is installing new fences to replace the original security system.
“Renovations include … [a] repainting the exterior of the home and adding security fencing between the front of the house and the back of the property,” the statement read.
DPS Assistant Chief David Carlisle said that students should consider the safety measures in place before deciding to lease with certain off-campus housing companies. Carlisle said checking the location and security amenities of properties can help students feel safer.
“If a student feels unsafe, we would be happy to do a quick security assessment of the facility,” Carlisle said. “But, if it is a privately owned properly, the owner has no obligation to conform to what we recommend. But, students can make recommendations.”