By KELLY EMMRICH
The “Black mold in Alvey creates concern for its residents, staff responds with investigation and advice” article in the Oct. 29 issue of The Blue & Gray Press received a lot of attention from students, parents and administration. This caused more residents to start coming forward about their own mold stories.
One Eagle Landing resident, Jenna Gray, a senior psychology major, came forward and spoke about how her first floor apartment became a living petri-dish.
It all started when Gray’s roommate, Karlin Hoffman, a senior English major, started developing respiratory issues by the end of move-in day. While doing some residual cleaning, she discovered an alarming leak and large amounts of mold behind the kitchen cabinets. Hoffman, Gray and their roommates found that the mold had been cultivating for quite a while and had simply been patched up with plumber’s putty.
Plumber’s putty is used for covering up the problem, not fixing it. It is still possible for the mold to release toxins after being covered, making this solution ineffective.
After realizing that the mold had been there for a long time under withering plumber’s putty, the four girls put in a work order. However, as soon as they reported it to maintenance, they ran into problems with the administration.
“When I called to ask for somebody to come out and check the leak/mold, because I was having issues with my allergies, the best I got was ‘we’re swamped, we will get to it when we can, it might be a day or two before somebody gets there,’” said Hoffman.
The girls were forced to wait for their turn on the list because maintenance had a lot on their plate. Administration expects the students to act like adults, and subsequently the students expect the administration to treat them like adults, so, when Gray and Hoffman were forced to involve their parents to receive any action regarding the mold problem, they were very frustrated.
“Four women were knowingly put in a unit that had a mold and leak problem and it took our parents getting involved for administration to begin to take the issue seriously. Before this point we had been brushed off by maintenance and disrespected and lied to by the area coordinator, Margot Jebb,” Gray said.
When administration finally assessed the situation in the apartment, it was decided that the four girls would be moved out of the unit for two weeks so the apartment could be gutted and repaired.
When the four roommates were talking with Jebb about where they could temporarily live, they were first given two options.
One option was that all four of the girls could live in Russell together, but Gray does not have a meal plan due to a special request and needed a full functioning kitchen, so that option was off the table for her.
Eagle Landing had three openings. However, they were all spaced throughout the building and one of the girls would have to live in Russell Hall regardless.
With parental persuasion, and the help of the assistant director of housing, Brittany Harper, the girls were allowed to live in the Hyatt for two weeks.
“By the time they allowed us to move our stuff I couldn’t be in the room without a mask for more than ten minutes or my allergies would start acting up again,” Hoffman said. “The University did not offer us any protection against the mold, and did not even offer help to us to move our stuff or give us another place to put it. Every precaution we did prior to the university housing us at the hotel was our own ideas and doings.”
The Eagle Landing unit was properly fixed, and the four girls could resume living there after the two weeks were up. However the process of getting there involved a lot of “run-around, a lot of being brushed off, and a lot of ignored calls from us and our parents to administration,” Gray said.
The residence life office and facility services recently sent an email regarding the growing awareness of mold in campus housing.
“Turn your bathroom exhaust fan on during and after taking a shower and open your bathroom windows and doors,” was their advice to students living with mold problems.
The email states that, “the university takes the health of its residential students seriously and, to that end, responds to the reports of mold and works to resolve any identified issues in a timely manner.” The University is saying that they are concerned with the wellbeing and health of their on campus residents, but, according to Gray, Hoffman and their suite-mates, that is not the case.
In fact, Gray reported that the administration gave workers the go ahead to open up the walls of the unit and ceiling without telling the students beforehand. All of the students possessions were still out in the room and Gray noted that they had to throw away a lot of their property because mold spores accumulated on everything in the common areas.
The workers had failed to cover the room in order to protect it from debris while they cut into the walls and ceiling. Almost all of the kitchen utensils, along with anything left out on the counters, had to be thrown out and replaced.