Student reports mold-like substance in Glades Park Tower South

The moldy substance was in the student’s shower, vents, and ceilings.


Alex Liscio

Glades Park Towers.

Michael Gennaro, Social Media Manager

A resident of Glades Park Towers South claims that black and red mold-like substances on her roommate’s ceiling and in her shower left her with coughing fits, strep throat symptoms that kept her from eating solid foods, and a rash that left a scar.

Isabella Enriquez, a freshman urban design major that lives on the third floor of GPT South, said that it took weeks for housing to address the issue sufficiently and that she received contradictory information about how to address the mold problems.

Housing denied moving her room or giving her a temporary address, even after she had to visit urgent care walk-in clinics twice for antibiotic treatments. Enriquez says she knows multiple other people who have also fallen ill on the third floor of GPT South.

She first noticed the mold on Nov. 20, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. She had been sick since the beginning of November and said she was having trouble breathing. She had to wait until Monday, Nov. 22 to visit the front desk to ask for a room change. Both Enriquez and her boyfriend, Jason Filler, a freshman medical biology major, fell ill before discovering the mold in the shower and vents.

“We never really looked actively for [the mold],” Filler said. “We were kind of just sick. And I was just like, maybe there’s mold or dust or something. I looked in the shower and noticed it there and on the ceiling,” Filler said. “[Enriquez’s] roommates were like, ‘oh, we have mold in our rooms too.’”

Neither the front desk at GPT nor Student Health Services provided Enriquez with a room change.  Enriquez said Student Health Services told her that they could not accommodate Enriquez with a room change unless she had COVID-19 symptoms.

In an email, Student Health Services director LeAnn Gutierrez wrote that students should contact FAU’s Housing and Residential Education Department for “questions pertaining to room assignment and environmental concerns.” She declined to comment on Enriquez’s situation specifically.

The UP reached out to Catherine Kellman, the director of the Housing and Residential Education Department, for comment about reports of mold in buildings and how reports of mold are addressed.

Lisa Metcalf, the senior media relations director for university news, responded in an email on Kellman’s behalf. Metcalf wrote that students that have mold concerns should report them on

“Once the work order is placed, a member of the housing facilities team will investigate the concern and follow up on any concerns present in the room. Where applicable, the team will also educate the students on preventive measures to assist in mitigating the concern,” Metcalf’s email said.

Enriquez decided to go home early for the holiday break, and housing inspected the room the following day, Nov. 23.

“In the shower, [the mold] was red and black, and they [the inspectors] told us it was mildew. I wasn’t here for the inspection because I had to leave earlier due to my health,” Enriquez said. “My roommates told me that it seems like they just painted over the ceiling, over the molds, and threw around mold killer.”

Corrine Dumas, a freshman biology major and Enriquez’s roommate, was present when housing came to inspect the apartment.

She felt the inspectors did not take her concerns seriously.

“I felt like they were brushing things off. They’re like, ‘Oh, it’s nothing.’ I felt like they were calling us crazy,” Dumas said.

The apartment has deteriorated since Dumas and Enriquez moved in in August, they said, and it now has black and yellow spots that were not there earlier in the semester. When Dumas showed the inspectors the spots, they told her it was a “paint job.”

Dumas said the inspectors were only in the apartment for roughly 10 minutes.

“They were beeping around [with their meters] but then they said it was nothing. They sprayed something and then that was it. They didn’t clean the vents. They told us to clean it but we can’t access inside of it,” Dumas said.

Dumas said there were roughly seven inspectors and that they said they were from the Housing Department.

Both Enriquez and Dumas say the inspectors called the spots on the ceiling and the shower “mildew.” Mildew is considered a mold by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Mildew tends to grow on flat surfaces in moist areas and can cause respiratory problems in those that are sensitive to it, according to FEMA. It can cause strange, musky odors in buildings.

“The building smells weird and whenever I enter it, I start getting allergic reactions,” Enriquez said. The antibiotic treatments from an urgent care clinic have not helped, she said.

Enriquez was tested for strep throat and COVID-19 at an urgent care facility, but both came back negative.

“It’s clearly just allergies toward the [mold and dust],” Enriquez said. “I’ve never had allergies in my life. They just started now.”

Filler lives in Heritage Park Towers but spends a lot of time at GPT with Enriquez. He said he noticed a “100% difference” in how he felt when he would leave her dorm.

“At first I was thinking it was allergies or strep, but when she [Enriquez] went home and I went back to my dorm, I was like ‘I can breathe so much better.’ I didn’t go over there to [GPT] anymore and I felt fine,” Filler said. “I would go outside, like to the dining hall, and it’s like my chest would just open up.”

Filler said he knows of multiple people on the third floor of GPT South with similar symptoms to the ones he and Enriquez had.

“We have one friend [on the same floor] who is constantly sick. Her and her roommate are sick all the time.”

Filler also said one of Enriquez’s best friends on the same floor has been on antibiotics “two or three” times since she’s been in the building. All of the friends have similar symptoms, according to Filler, and most of them have mold in their rooms as well.

“I know a lot of people on that floor that have mold in their shower or their room,” Filler said. According to him, many of them complain about the smell of the building.

The entire process of getting the room cleaned left Enriquez frustrated. According to the Department of Housing’s website, a shared double room in GPT like the one Enriquez stays in costs $3,050 for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters.

When Enriquez first took her concerns to Housing on Nov. 22, a housing employee told her not to clean the vents or to take any action.

“They told me that was Housing’s responsibility,” she said.

However, the next day, when the inspectors came to look at the room, they told Enriquez’s roommate that it was her and her roommate’s responsibility to clean the vents and clean the room better. Enriquez says she already cleans the room every week.

“I don’t know why the cleaning crew, or whoever these people were, why they said that we were the ones that were supposed to [clean the room],” Enriquez said after housing had already told her not to open the vents or clean the moldy substance.

Eventually, Housing did come and clean more thoroughly on Nov. 30, Filler and Enriquez said. This time, they cleaned the vents, replaced her showerhead, and told Enriquez to move her bed farther from the vent and to leave the bathroom fan on.

Her symptoms have improved, but “it’s annoying how I had to spend two weeks contacting them,” Enriquez said.

“The guy that was there [at the most recent inspection], he said that it wasn’t mold, it wasn’t dangerous mold or something. He said it was just like mildew and could be easily removed,” Enriquez said.

The inspector said that all mildew has been removed, but there are still “black spots all over my roommate’s ceiling,” Enriquez said.

Mold is not a new problem in GPT. Emma Frazier, a junior studying neuroscience and behavior, lived on the third floor of GPT North from October 2019 until the pandemic sent students home in March 2020.

She said that GPT North had the same types of mold problems that Enriquez encountered in GPT South.

“My roommates got more sick from it than I, I had terrible allergies from it for months. We put in two maintenance orders and they said it wasn’t mold, but we saw it in our vents,” Frazier said. “Two of us were sick for months. I have a bad allergy to mold, so I really knew that it was mold in the vents.”

Frazier said she and her roommate had the same strep throat symptoms Filler and Enriquez described.

Like Dumas, Frazier said the inspectors immediately told her the problem wasn’t mold. The problem persisted, and Frazier requested another inspection two months later. The inspectors told her the problem was not mold-related both times.

Frazier said it took days for the inspectors to look at the problem, similar to what Enriquez reported.

Enriquez plans to stay in GPT South in Spring 2022 since she says it’s difficult to get out of her housing contract.

Filler described it as a nearly impossible task to get out of a housing contract at the university, saying he looked into doing it for himself in the past. He said the university only accepts “major reasons, like you can’t afford it or you’re dropping out of college altogether. But other than that, you can’t get out of it.”

Michael Gennaro is a staff writer and social media manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message him on Twitter or Instagram @mycoolgennaro