Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Students Voice Concerns Over Mold

In the wake of student reports about mold in Lakeside Housing, Facilities Services and Housing and Residence Life said in an interview with The Paladin that they are aware of a “mold-like substance” in buildings on campus but that they did not view the substance as a cause for concern, except in cases where the problem was caused by water leakage.
Courtesy of Furman Athletics

In the wake of student reports about mold in Lakeside Housing, Facilities Services and Housing and Residence Life said in an interview with The Paladin that they are aware of a “mold-like substance” in buildings on campus but that they did not view the substance as a cause for concern, except in cases where the problem was caused by water leakage.

Rick Schosky, Director of Maintenance for Facilities Services, said that the department has taken steps to prevent the growth of mold — namely by installing pressurization systems that keep out unwanted outside air and by cleaning carpets during the summer with a solution that prevents mold growth — and he said that the department would continue to evaluate risk by responding to student maintenance requests about mold on a case by case basis.

He added that mold is to be expected in moist places like bathrooms and that students are responsible for maintaining a reasonably clean living environment that does not facilitate growth of mold.

At the Student Government Association’s Sept. 23 meeting, which focused on housing concerns, several students claimed that they’ve suffered health complications as a result of mold in housing facilities and expressed their concerns about the lack of a university response.

Sophomore Joe Fretwell lives on Chiles base and said at the meeting that he’s been severely congested since the second week of school and has been suffering nosebleeds almost every other day.

“I had an allergy test done in July; I’m strongly allergic to mold and cats,” he said. “No cats live in Lakeside.”

An SGA class representative, who asked to remain anonymous, lives in Lakeside and reported similar symptoms.

“I’m from Greenville and have seasonal allergies, but after moving into my dorm my condition got so much worse that I had to be put on a steroid inhaler,” he said.

Schosky said students with mold-related health concerns should be prepared to take extra steps to cut down on allergens and prevent mold, and Housing and Residence recently posted extensive information on their webpage about how to identify and prevent mold with tips for allergy sufferers.

“We are in a facility that’s 50 years old. It’s a dormitory system that has students living on top of each other,” Schosky said. “If you have significant asthma, you need to help yourself and get an air purifier.”

Student symptoms are not confined to Lakeside Housing though. Schosky said North Village has presented challenges for getting rid of the mold because the apartments are located at the bottom of a hill where it is easy for water to pool — a prime condition for mold growth.

Senior Andrew Muller said he has had problems with mold in his North Village J apartment since moving in last May and has suffered health concerns as a result.

“As an asthmatic student with severe allergies, I have experienced reactions including, but not limited to: continuously bloodshot and watery eyes, constant wheezing, shortness of breath, rashes, nasal stuffiness, etc.,” he said in an email sent to Housing on July 23. “The symptoms I and my doctors initially categorized as unusually severe reactions to South Carolina nature seem less likely after finding mold under my NV-J bed as I vacuumed before move-out day.”

Muller said he sent the email after failing to receive notification from housing that they had addressed his concerns about the mold, concerns which he said he had shared with them several weeks earlier.

According to Facilities Services, more than 30 work orders come in from students about different housing concerns every day, making it difficult to respond immediately to all student concerns. Schosky also said the department saw an increase in mold-related maintenance requests after The Paladin reported on the issue in September.

But both Schosky and Ron Thompson, Director of Housing and Residence Life, admitted to a breakdown in communication with regard to how the university responds to student maintenance requests.

Under the current system, they said, Housing and Residence Life receives a complaint or maintenance request and, if the problem requires mending, sends it to Facilities Services. Students, however, are not alerted to the status of their requests and whether or not their issues are being addressed.

“That’s something we need to work on,” Thompson said.

Stephanie Bauer contributed to this article.


How to prevent mold

  1. Report any water problems (leaks behind a toilet or under sinks, dripping faucets, wet carpet, leak from a ceiling, moisture under tiles, drips heard behind the air intake cover, etc.) immediately by submitting a maintenance request.

  2. Set the air conditioning thermostat above 70 degrees and the fan on auto to reduce the amount of condensation on or around windows and to maintain proper airflow.

  3. Keep ceiling vents in all areas open to maintain proper airflow.

  4. Do not open windows when air conditioning is in use.

  5. Routinely clean bathroom areas, to include the shower curtain liner, with bathroom cleaner to prevent the growth of soap scum which is an excellent food source for mold. Always follow the directions and read all precautions before using any cleaning product.

  6. If a bath exhaust fan is provided in your living space, be sure to turn the fan on when showering. After your shower, keep the shower door closed and the fan running for an extra 10 to 15 minutes to remove excess moisture from the air.

  7. Good housekeeping practices (vacuum floors, wipe down counters, clean up spills quickly, wash out refrigerators to include wiping the doors, etc) should be shared by all roommates to help reduce the amount of food sources for mold growth.

What you should do if you see mold in your apartment or residence hall room?

  1. If you see a little pink around the bottom of your shower curtain, a little black on your windowsill or other possible mold growth, don’t panic.

  2. Check the area to see if there is a leak or a maintenance issue causing the excess moisture and if so, submit a maintenance request on line immediately.

  3. If the problem is a result of condensation or a less than favorable housekeeping schedule, clean the area with hot soapy water as soon as you see the first signs of mold to prevent further growth.

  4. Keep in mind that cleaning just once will not result in your never having to clean that same area again. Regular cleaning is necessary to prevent mold.

What will be done by Housing and Residence Life?

  1. If you have followed the guidelines above and continue to have mold growth in an unusual area not typically prone to excessive moisture, submit a maintenance request on line and our staff will come to inspect the area.

  2. Housing staff will collaborate with Facilities Services to determine the cause of the persistent moisture issue and take measures to correct the problem as quickly as possible.

  3. Upon resolving the cause for the excessive moisture, measures will be taken to thoroughly clean and dry the area affected. This work may be completed by housing staff and/or an outside contractor specializing in water cleanup and restoration.

  4. If necessary, dehumidifiers, fans and/or air purifiers will be placed in the living space and will need to remain operational until they are removed to enhance the drying process to preclude future mold growth.

  5. Staff will return to check regularly on the progress until the situation has been resolved and may instruct residents in ways to assist in that process.

Tips for allergy sufferers during the Sneezin’ Season

As noted earlier, Greenville is rated as one of the top ten allergy capitals in the United States, which may be attributed to our strategic location downwind of the Smokey Mountains. This combined with our beautifully landscaped campus full of trees, bushes and other pollen producing plants can create havoc for those typically sensitive and even for some that may have never suffered from allergies in the past. If you experience sensitivity, as with all health concerns, please seek the assistance of our Furman Student Health Services and/or your physician. Below are also some suggestions to help cope during the high pollen seasons in this area.

  1. If medication has been prescribed to reduce your sensitivity, follow the instructions of your doctor and/or medical personnel.

  2. Track the pollen count at www.pollen.com and on the days that the count is “high” try to stay indoors as much as possible.

  3. Keep windows and doors closed to reduce the number of allergens entering your apartment or residence hall room.

  4. Vacuum and dust regularly to reduce the number of allergens that may have hitchhiked into your space on you or your roommate’s shoes or clothes. If you find you are extremely sensitive, you may want to invest in a HEPA Filter vacuum to capture as many allergens as possible.

  5. Avoid tossing your book bag or the clothes worn outside on your bed to prevent spreading allergens to your sleeping area.

  6. Consider showering and washing your hair before going to bed to also avoid introducing allergens to your bed linens.

  7. If all efforts above fail and you remain highly sensitive to allergens, you may consider investing in an air purifier for your area to remove as many allergens as possible from the air.

  8. If purchasing an air purifier, beware of ozone generators and their claims of being safe and effective in controlling indoor air pollution in occupied spaces. People vary widely in their susceptibility to ozone. Healthy people, as well as those with respiratory difficulty, can experience breathing problems when exposed to ozone.

As far as what residents can do in order to prevent the growth of mold-like substances in their own rooms, students are encouraged to make sure the air vents are not blocked and no damp clothing or towels are left out.

If a student has any concern of mold in their room they are welcome to contact the Director of Housing and Residence Life, Ron Thompson, at 864-294-2209.

An article published in the Oct. 1 issue of The Paladin about mold in student housing incorrectly reported that Facilities Services received more than 80 mold-related maintenance requests in the two days after The Paladin first reported on the issue in September. Rick Schosky, Director of Maintenance, said the department saw an increase in reports following the publication of the article on Sept. 10, but he referred to a recent Housing and Residence Life mold report that states that Housing received 16 mold complaints in August and September and has received a total of 28 mold complaints since January 1.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Paladin

Your donation will support the student journalists of Furman University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Paladin

Comments (0)

All The Paladin Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *