Mold Problems Bother, Displace Students in Residence Halls

Moving into a college dorm calls for organizational bins, new roommate conversations and sometimes, in Drake’s case, a mold inspection.

Written by Cheyann Neades | Published in The Times-Delphic Spring 2018

Drake University residence halls have so far experienced 15 reported incidents since the beginning of the fall 2017 semester, causing many students to move into other dorm rooms throughout the 2017-2018 academic year.

The growth of the natural fungi occurs when moisture, air and an organic matter (wood, paper or fibers) combine, said Drake’s director of environmental health and safety Chris Nickell, who has been in the position since August 2015.

“Our staff takes concerns over potential mold growth seriously. As part of our protocol, I am notified of any mold complaints and ensure a visual inspection occurs,” Nickel said in an email. “If present, the mold is removed using a special process for mold remediation that my office has approved. The appropriate treatment includes removal using a biocide, which eliminates bacteria, viruses and fungus and acts as a growth inhibitor.”

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.

The Office of Residence Life decides whether or not the student has the option to move rooms, whether that be to another floor or to an entirely different residence hall. The decisions are made on a case by case basis while a lot of factors are considered, Nickell said.

Photo courtesy of Aliko Sunawang via Unsplash.

In some cases, students have experienced moving dorm rooms at semester due to the mold in their rooms. First-year news and graphic design double major Nick Ellis is one of the few.

“It was cold outside, hot in our room and the curtain was down, so it was hot and cold with no air flow, so evidently that’s the perfect condition to produce mold,” Ellis said.

With black mold appearing in his window two weeks before fall semester finals, Ellis said he quickly reported the incident and received help from Drake to move up from the ground floor of Herriott Hall.

“The employee took a picture of it, filed a report to get it taken care of, and then I was told to move to the fourth floor for spring semester,” Ellis said.

Another student, first-year journalism student Ryan LeFort, has come in contact with mold growth twice, with the first time causing a move.

“Honestly, I don’t know where else I can go at this point, and I already moved once and am already settled in. … I just don’t think it’s a good idea to keep moving room to room finding places to go, because it looks like it (the mold) is just going to follow me wherever I got,” LeFort said.

With another incident of mold growth appearing on his window, LeFort said he is going to be reaching out to Drake to report it to receive a room cleaning.

“I honestly don’t think that the university is doing a bad job of handling the problem. I think it’s more so just a big problem that we’re not very well equipped for,” LeFort said.

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