Some residents of Taylor Hall will be temporarily placed in alternative housing in the coming days due to high levels of mold spores and visible mold in dorm rooms. The student engagement team has been working with independent cleaning companies to find solutions to the issues of the mold, which has increased in the past months since students moved in at the beginning of the school year.
“During preseason (early move in), we had some students who moved in. Then the air conditioners got heavy use and there were a couple units; the condensation was dripping so we’re getting mold,” said Lisa Smith, dean of student engagement.
After an increasing number of maintenance requests starting on Sept. 3, the student engagement team started looking into possible causes of the matter. They contracted a cleaning company who brought in a microbial consultant to run air quality tests within Taylor Hall and Bronc Hall, which also received reports of mold.
Students have reported mold growth in dorm rooms in past years, however, the student engagement team attributes this year’s increased reports to recent weather in the region, showing “record rainfall and related humidity.”
From the tests, which have been ongoing within the past week, the results showed that four dorm rooms in Taylor Hall contained visible Aspergillus/Penicillium mold spores. In addition, the results showed various parts of the building containing high levels of mold spores. Three of these rooms currently house students with the fourth vacant at this time.
Results in Bronc Hall showed that one dorm room contained mold, which students were removed from. Results also showed that air flow in certain parts of the building needs to be increased due to mold growth, a problem to be fixed by the maintenance department.
Taylor Hall residents were invited to a town hall briefing by the student engagement team on Oct. 2, in the lower level of the Robert B. Daugherty Student Engagement Center to talk about the most current updates on the status of the mold growth.
“What we have learned from the professional cleaning crew is when you start trying to abate mold and get it out, the cleaning process actually puts it in the air… We’re moving you (Taylor Hall residents) out because during the abatement process is what stirs it up all in the air. And then they take these big machines, called airscrubers, and they suck it all out,” said Susan Meeske, executive vice president of enrollment and student experience, during the briefing.
Taylor Hall residents were told that the student engagement team will set up alternative housing for those that will need to move out sooner rather than later, starting with honors houses which had been offline starting this year. Students were also told that this move will be of no additional cost in their housing fees and that cleaning expenses, including detergent for clothing and soft goods, will also be covered.
As of this time, 15 residents and two Resident Assistants will soon be moving into honors houses due to the status of mold in their dorm rooms.
An informational letter, that was also sent to resident’s parents, was handed out during the briefing in order to inform on the student engagement team’s ongoing plan to resolve the issue.
“While we have been assured that overall air environment in Taylor does not require immediate attention, we have decided to act on the side of caution and will be remediating all of Taylor Hall. We are currently seeking a second opinion on the appropriate time frame,” the letter stated.
While safety has been the primary concern of students in the dormitory, results showed that a gradual moving process will be in effect.
“Our microbial consultant has said this is not something (that we need to) get them out this second but this doesn’t go ‘till Christmas (winter break),” Smith said.
While an official time frame is still unclear and testing is ongoing, the student engagement team is in the process of making accommodations for students while taking steps to resolve mold within the buildings affected.