September 28, 2014

Lounge life: Campus living post Unitas mold discovery

by David Cecil —

Hastily packed boxes filled with everything Tanner Leonardo owned from Unitas were either crammed into his car parked in the Floyd Garage, or littered his temporary home in Threlkeld Hall.  Of course, when that space is the former lounge area for the fourth floor, the word home is a bit of a stretch.

On Friday, Sept. 19, Campus Housing had discovered various forms of mold growths in parts of Unitas tower.

Shannon Staten, director of residence administration in housing and residence life, stated that a small leak in the laundry facilities in Unitas’ basement was found, though other factors such as residence community lifestyles or the weather could be the reason behind the growth.

Staten ensured in an email that the mold posed no health risks except for individuals suffering from asthma or other respiratory afflictions. Nevertheless, to maintain student well-being, they decided action needed to be taken, and a schedule for cleaning out the affected rooms would begin immediately.

On Friday, cleaning began on the most affected rooms, all of which were on the fourth floor, while the rest of the affected rooms on the fourth floor followed suit on Monday, Sept. 22.

According to Tanner, he did not receive the email regarding the situation until Monday morning, though saw the clean up in action during the weekend.  “It looked like a haz-mat team,” he said. “it was crazy. They put plastic over the door and everything.”

The email informed residents of the situation, declaring a meeting would be open for everyone involved at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. at the Floyd Theatre. Before Tanner could plan for that, however, a second email came in, stating the rest of the affected rooms on his floor would be cleared for cleaning, and movers would come in to aid. Regardless, he was stuck personally carrying his belongings out to his car — save for his refrigerator and TV, which his roommate graciously stored for him.

The process would clean the men’s floors in Unitas of mold before fall break, with another inspection of the women’s floors during break to safeguard students from further growths. Inspections are done weekly by resident assistants, student facility officials and officials from the University’s  Department of Environmental Health. Dehumidifiers were placed within not only Unitas, but Threlkeld and Miller Halls to ensure constant awareness and stabilization of the housing, especially during the beginning months of the school year.

Housing provided students with options such as temporarily moving back into a parents’ homes, if they were close enough to the university, providing temporary housing until the rooms were cleaned, allowing students to change to different dorms or even opting out of dorm life for the remainder of the school year. If students decided the latter and could prove they were choosing to stay back at home and commute to the university, they would be allowed to opt out of housing agreement without a cancellation fee.

As Tanner would have around a half-hour commute if he decided to go back home, he decided to opt for the temporary housing. This landed him in the lounge-area-turned-bedroom-space on Threlkeld’s fourth floor.

The space was lit with motion sensitive lights, meaning any movement would instantly turn any dreams of a full night’s sleep straight on its toes. People having access to the space to cook their meals in the provided microwave also frustrated Tanner, though Housing resolved that scenario with a new key.

What wasn’t fixed, however, was the nonworking fob provided to him for access into Threlkeld, as well as the refrigerator in the space with unsavory growths of its own kind lurking inside.

Upon learning of the mold in the space, Staten apologized, “this was quick, and so we didn’t do a great job of going over to check those rooms.” She also stated Housing and  Residence Life would get in touch with Tanner to give him, “a little TLC.”

Besides the frustration of the situation, he wondered why he’s paying for a room he can’t use with no form of monetary compensation for the affair.

The remainder of Unitas’ schedule regarding the cleaning, has second, third, fifth, and sixth floors moving out on September 24, 26, 29 and October 1, respectively. They plan to have students back in their home dorms within two to three days of these dates.

While the initial schedule was quick for the fourth floor residents of Unitas, Housing assured residents it was doing its best to ensure student health and safety. They implored any student believing they had fallen ill or felt under the weather due to this situation to contact campus health services, and provided residence halls with posters regarding mold prevention.

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