Numerous reports of mold in residence halls filed since move-in
Photo courtesy of Francesca DeCara
Since the beginning of the fall semester, multiple reports of mold in undergraduate residence halls have emerged leaving students “disgusted” and skeptical of the efficiency of Hofstra’s work order system.
In residence buildings like Colonial Square and Vander Poel Hall, issues like mold and rust have affected students, some since the day that they moved in. Francesca DeCara, a junior STEM and early childhood and childhood education major lives in Colonial Square and reported that mold in her room had ruined some of her clothing. She said that she noticed her room smelled strange when she first moved in.
Maintenance workers instructed DeCara to turn on the air conditioning unit. “We had it on for a month and it started smelling worse, like sweaty socks or armpits,” DeCara said.
The week of Sept. 16, three weeks into the semester, DeCara began to notice her belongings were being affected. “Our bedding was always damp, and it was also damp and cold in our room,” she said. “I noticed my shoes had green stuff all over them and so did my roommate’s and suitemates’ [shoes].” DeCara said she was “disgusted” when she discovered that it was mold.
In Vander Poel Hall, Becca Lo Presti, a sophomore history major, said she was not made aware that there had been mold in her room prior to move-in day.
“The [Resident Assistants] had marked my room as containing mold when they did the pre-move-in checks,” Lo Presti said. “I was not aware that they thought there was mold in my room.”
On the same floor in Vander Poel Hall, roommates Madie Mento, a sophomore public relations major and Maddy Oldham, a sophomore drama and early childhood and childhood education major, also found what looked to them like orange mold on their wall. These orange spots appeared during the same timeframe as DeCara, about three weeks into the fall semester.
“We put in a work order, but no one has shown up to take care of our mold issue,” Mento said. “I just don’t want it to get worse, but no one seems to be helping us.”
“We were not given a timeline and there didn’t seem to be high concern,” Oldham said. She explained that they had done research and found that, though it was not imminently dangerous, it needed to be taken care of.
“I just felt that it was handled very casually and poorly since I don’t actually know what’s going to be done,” Oldham said. Mento, Oldham and DeCara lived with the growing issue of mold for weeks before the University arrived to check their rooms.
The University gave a statement regarding procedures in such cases, writing that, “The University conducts repeated inspections of all rooms in the weeks leading up to move-in. If there is suspicion of mold, the affected area is cleaned and remediated immediately, usually the same day.”
For many of the students who have faced this problem during the semester, the timeframe was much longer than one day.
“In very rare instances in which cleaning and remediation cannot be completed the same day, a student may be temporarily moved to a different room,” the University stated.
Hofstra’s website lists instructions informing students on how to file work orders for emergency and non-emergency maintenance requests. For non-emergency work orders, students should fill out the WebTMA Work Request Form, found on the Hofstra Portal under the applications tab.
Emergency maintenance requests, defined as “repairs that are necessary to eliminate a clear threat to personal and residential safety and facility damage,” can be filed by calling the Office of Facilities and Operations at (516) 463-6619.
Mento and Oldham said that two weeks after filing a work order the substance found in their room was identified as rust rather than mold. After the rust was cleaned with bleach, Mento said that she was told the University would put in an employee work order. “They have not done that and now we have more rust,” Mento said.
DeCara and her suitemates did receive new air conditioning units for their rooms after weeks of the problem persisting. However, when following up in the first week of October, DeCara explained how the problem had not gone away. DeCara and her suitemates are still waiting for the University to attend to the growing issue. “Now it’s a problem in our lounge,” DeCara said.
The University encourages students with concerns or suspicions about mold to file an online report on their student portal.
The Chronicle was made aware of ten additional residential students who have dealt with mold issues in their room this semester. The students were not willing to speak about these issues on the record.