Do something extraordinarily… moldy

By Allie Jeter
September 22, 2011

Cabrini students were recently evacuated from Dixon House (above) due to a mold infestation. 66 Dixon House residents were quickly moved into other campus housing.

The college responded to a serious problem of mold in Dixon House (House two) by requiring all the residents to move immediately. Sophomores who resided in the house had to evacuate by Friday, Sept. 16 due to the infestation of mold. The Residence Life office made it clear that students were to move quickly into new residences but the way they supplied the information to all those affected campus wide was questioned.

All around campus, students heard the news from various sources and the news spread like wildfire. Upperclassmen were also affected by the abrupt change. Many didn’t want the “refugees” taking residence in their rooms. One upperclassmen that greeted a new guest in her room in McManus House (House four) was junior criminology major Janel Leader.

She was “irritated” by the sudden change because she didn’t have time to react to it. “I was informed by Sue Kramer in a letter on Tuesday night,” said Leader.

“It stated that I had to move all my things by that night because my new roommate was moving in Wednesday. I was so confused and stressed out because I didn’t have time to move everything before she got there and I knew this for a fact.”

Her new roommate, junior education major Aubree Oswald, felt the same way and felt bad about barging into a room that wasn’t originally hers. Oswald was moved multiple times throughout the week.

“I just didn’t know where to move everything and the people who were moving into my old room were moving at the same time as I was moving out, which was a sight to see,” Oswald said.

Students who lived in Dixon House were not too happy with the decision. This included Tim McCann, sophomore history major,  Christine Guthrie, sophomore exercise science major and  Stephanie Toomey sophomore undecided major.  McCann was moved to Infante House (House three) and had an easy move in unlike Guthrie and Toomey.

Guthrie and Toomey had been moved three times since arriving on campus.

“We originally moved to Dixon House and then the mold hit and then they placed us in house six,” Guthrie said. “But then they moved us to a room that was supposedly made for three people but it couldn’t even hold any of our stuff much less Steph [Toomey] and I. Our parents complained and were pretty upset about the situation so then they finally moved us to the apartments.”

“We also had to move our stuff twice and they really rushed us to leave,” Toomey said. “I’m just glad facilities helped us this time.”

Adding to the stress was the health of the students. Toomey and Guthrie both suffered from allergic reactions to the mold in their room.

“The vents in our room were covered in mold and it smelled so bad,” Guthrie said. “Also our air conditioner’s control system had caked-on mold. It was just disgusting. It just makes me sick just thinking about it.”

Guthrie also had to deal with mold growing in other places. “When I took down my posters from my room in House two, the wall had like bubbles in it. It was just awful.”

McCann had friends tell him about the mold in their rooms. “The corner of my room had black mold in it and I thought my roommate and I were the only ones dealing with it but people down my hall had it bad too,” McCann said. “They told me how it was growing and making them sick. I’m just glad everyone moved out before it got out of control.”

Non-students were also hit hard by the mold evacuations and the new living accommodations. Roxanne De La Torre, Cabrini’s Mission Corps Missioner and a  volunteer at the Wolfington Center was also forced to move.

“The housing changes have been a little abrupt and it has been difficult because me and the other missioner Katherine had to move as well,” Torre said.

“We lived in the Infante house [three] and now we’ve moved off campus to Havertown, so it’s been a transition for us and it has been difficult.”

“We found out the night before we had to move. So they gave us five hours to move all of our stuff out of the house,” Torre said.

Many resident assistants declined to answer any questions saying it was “their policy to not answer any questions about residential problems.”

On the Tuesday Sept. 20, Susan M. Kramer, Director of Residence Life office forwarded an email from the Dean of Cabrini College George Stroud explaining the cause of the mold.

It states, “To Students and Families of Students Residing in Dixon House, Due to mold colonies detected in Dixon House, 66 students, almost all of them sophomores, will be relocated to other residence halls on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Residence Life will provide students with a list of rooms available, and will accommodate requests as best they can.

The mold is due to an unprecedented amount of rain over the past six weeks, including Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee; the house’s HVAC system was unable to cope with this amount of moisture. Students first reported the issue late last month, and while housekeeping responded immediately to clean affected areas, continuing rain exacerbated the problem.

Cabrini’s Facilities Department called in a remediation specialist who confirmed the presence of mold, and brought in a certified industrial hygienist consultant, who will test the house and determine how best to address the issue. As always, the safety and concern of Cabrini students is our priority. Students will be relocated until the issue is resolved.”

The future of Dixon House remains uncertain. There has, as of yet, been no word on when it will reopen. Despite the confusion and difficulty for all those effected, some do not see this a mark against Cabrini.

“I still love Cabrini,” Torre said. “I mean I’ve been only been here for three weeks and just started this job and just started my service here.”

Torre still wishes she was living on campus again and doesn’t want the move to “hinder work with the students and being available for them.”

Residence life declined to comment.

A student’s guitar was found to have mold growing on it in Dixon House.


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Allie Jeter

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