University Press

On-campus residents battle mold in their bathrooms

Students believe housing isn’t doing enough to take care of the mold present in their dorms.

Trevor+Creamean%2C+Saint+Paul+Allen%2C+and+George+Naranjo%E2%80%99s+bathroom+in+Algonquin.+Violet+Castano+%7C+Staff+Photographer
Trevor Creamean, Saint Paul Allen, and George Naranjo’s bathroom in Algonquin. Violet Castano | Staff Photographer

Trevor Creamean, Saint Paul Allen, and George Naranjo’s bathroom in Algonquin. Violet Castano | Staff Photographer

Trevor Creamean, Saint Paul Allen, and George Naranjo’s bathroom in Algonquin. Violet Castano | Staff Photographer

Mackenzie Guiry, Contributing Writer

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Every year, FAU encourages students to live on campus to make their lives easier.

But some residents maintain that living in the dorms has only made things worse, like Erin O’Donnell.

The freshman education major lives in Glades Park Towers and has been struggling with mold since last semester.

Glades Park Towers. Violet Castano | Staff Photographer

“Oct. 29, 2017 is when I was cleaning the bathroom and realized that there was mold on our ceiling, and … that night I put in a request for the bathroom to be looked at,” she said. “They came back the next day and painted over it.”

But her issues with mold were far from over. Two weeks into the spring semester, O’Donnell noticed that not only was the mold back, there was more.

“Now there was new mold growing underneath the paint, and new spots all up on the ceiling,” she said.

She then went to the housing office to request help with the mold and specifically asked them not to paint over it.

O’Donnell said that after she put in her request, two men came by her dorm to look at her ceiling.

“Maintenance came by the next day and painted over more of it,” she said. “Now there are three layers of paint, and mold underneath the leaking light socket.”

She added that she’s allergic to mold, saying, “I was sick first semester because of it, and now I’m sick this semester because of it.”

She said her doctor told her that if she was exposed to mold for too long, the spores can make their way into her lungs and cause health issues.

“If I’m paying $3,000 a semester to live on my own in a dorm room, I would expect maintenance to be serious about disgusting black mold growing in and through the ceiling,” O’Donnell said.

And the education major isn’t the only resident who claims their health is affected by the mold.

Freshman Eliza Miller lives in Heritage Park Towers and maintains that the mold has made her sick since the new year.

Freshman Eliza Miller. Violet Castano | Staff Photographer

“I’ve had a cough since I moved in in January,” Miller said. “It’s not gone away and it’s been three months, and I’m pretty sure that’s the main cause of it.”

The freshman said the mold has been growing in her shower.

“It’s gross, it’s unhealthy, it’s unclean, and it’s making me sick,” she added.

FAU biology professor Herbert Weissbach said, “Mold spores can cause allergic reactions and I believe even infections in highly sensitive individuals.”

According to Student Accessibility Services, FAU does accept requests for housing accommodations for students with food allergies, but they can not provide a mold, dust, chemical, animal, or allergen-free accommodation for students with allergies.

Mia Younger, a freshman studio art major who lives in Glades Park Towers, said that it took housing around a month to respond to her work order.

“We reported it to maintenance our first semester a couple of weeks in and it took them around a month for someone to come, and by that point we already cleaned up and everything,” she said.

She said that the mold had spread from a corner of her shower and a section between the shower wall and toilet to halfway up the wall of her bathroom. Younger added that there has been mold in her bathroom since she moved in.

“I think that there are steps that can be taken to prevent it from spreading as bad as it gets. And I think that if they take it seriously we don’t have to live with it,” she said.

Saint Paul Allen, a freshman political science major who lives in Algonquin, said that he and his suitemates have reported the mold in their bathroom to housing three times.

“After the third time, they finally responded,” he said. “They only fixed certain parts of the bathroom.”

“They’re not really doing their job, we’ve asked them several times to help us out,” he said.

He added that the mold was in their bathroom when he and his suitemates moved in.

Allen’s suitemates George Naranjo and Trevor Creamean all expressed similar frustrations with housing’s response to their mold.

“The mold is evident upon walking into anyone’s bathroom,” Naranjo said.

Trevor Creamean (left), Saint Paul Allen (middle), and George Naranjo (right) stand in their shared bathroom that houses mold. Violet Castano | Staff Photographer

Creamean, a freshman biology major said that in addition to the mold, Algonquin has been plagued with both insect and rat problems.

“Sometimes I’ll actually hear scratches on the wall, it’s concerning because the bacteria they bring in can really contaminate stuff,” Cremean said. “Lower the price if you’re going to keep it like that, but if you want to make a change then you better do something before something happens.”

Freshman Devon Christenson lives in Parliament and said she has mold all over the inside of her shower curtain.

“It doesn’t come off and I’m a little grossed out,” Christenson said.

“There was no mold when we moved in, it appeared to be a brand new shower curtain then,” she said.

Phillip Badaszewski, FAU director of residential education, said that facilities will check residents’ rooms within 24-48 hours of a work order being submitted.

“Complaints about mold are going to vary semester to semester,” Badaszewski said. “More often than not, what a student reports as mold is actually mildew and they have not cleaned their shower.”

“They’ll assess what is going on and then address what it is,” he continued. “If mold is identified by maintenance, they will identify what the problem is, they’ll fix the problem, they’ll clean the mold that’s there, they treat it with a problem that prevents future growth and paint over it if needed.”

Badaszewski said that protocol is typically successful and that the mold is typically caused by leaks from bathrooms above them.

“We really don’t have that many issues with mold in our buildings, and there’s no trend in, ‘Oh this one building has way more than this other building,’” he said.

Sophomore nursing major Laie’Danielle Ohwovoriole lives in Indian River Towers and said that it took housing three weeks to fix a damaged pipe in her room that led to mold in her bathroom during fall 2017. 

Laie’Danielle Ohwovoriole. Courtesy of Laie’Danielle Ohwovoriole

She added that during the spring semester, housing didn’t deal with the mold in her bathroom for two weeks after she submitted a work order.

Laie’Danielle Ohwovoriole’s bathroom wall. Courtesy of Laie’Danielle Ohwovoriole

“Dealing with housing is the true definition of talking to a brick wall. You say what the problem is but no one listens to you,” Ohwovoriole said. “I want them to know that people live here and we are individuals that love to breathe in a healthy environment.”

Mackenzie Guiry is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].

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