ORL denies mold problems in River halls

by Rebecca Cress | 12/3/08 4:03am

There is no excess mold present in the River residence cluster, despite residents' beliefs that mold is making them ill, Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman said. The College's Office of Environmental Health and Safety took between nine and 12 samples from the basement of French Hall in response to requests from several residents, Redman said. None of the samples showed evidence of mold, he said.

"We even took the radiators off the wall and tested the tubes inside of them, and they were fine," Redman said.

Kendall Weikert '12 and Jennifer Williams '12, who live together in the basement of French, agreed that there is no way to prove there was mold in their room, but said they had both been feeling ill for most of the term. Both are athletes, and at one point both had to stop practicing with their teams. Other residents on their floor had similar complaints, they said.

Williams moved in temporarily with a friend who lived in the Fayerweathers residence cluster. She and Weikert subsequently moved to single rooms on the upper floors of French and began to recover as soon as they moved, they said.

"We've just been sick for far too long," Williams said.

Although Weikert had been feeling sick when she arrived on campus, she said she thinks mold may have exacerbated her symptoms.

One day, Weikert went to pick up the box for her hard drive, which she kept under her desk. When she pulled it out, she said, the bottom half of the box was wet, leading her to believe there may have been excess moisture in her room.

Both students said the Office of Residential Life was quick to respond to their concerns, and has placed them in a room in Bildner Hall for the Winter term.

"We'll be moving to an upperclassmen floor, which [ORL] didn't exactly want, but they worked with us," Weikert said.

The presence of mold is not the issue, according to Redman. Mold becomes a problem when it exceeds standards set by the government, he clarified, adding that low levels of mold may be present due to moisture in the air. If there were a mold problem, it would have been clearly visible, and it was not, Redman said.

Another student in the French basement thought she saw mold under her carpet, Weikert said, but added that ORL informed Weikert that what the girl had seen was not mold.

"One woman called the office, she had ripped up a corner of the carpet and saw black stuff and assumed it was mold," Redman said. "It was the glue we used to put the carpet down.

Redman added that he is confident in the safety of the rooms in the River cluster, he said.

"We're very satisfied with the space and will continue to house students there," Redman said.

ORL has found mice to be a much greater nuisance than mold, he added. Last February, several students told The Dartmouth about infestations of mice in their rooms in Butterfield and Mid-Massachusetts Halls. There have been no major incidences this term, according to Redman.