78 students displaced due to hidden mold in dorms

By Samantha Vega-Torres & Josh Wolmer – 1851 Contributors

Lasell began a specialized cleaning of the Whalen heating and ventilation units in Bragdon, Butterworth, and Forest Hall to remediate mold on December 27. Air quality tests revealed hidden mold in Bragdon and Butterworth. 

Director of Administration and Operations Peter Hayes said at least 36 wardrobes from Bragdon and Butterworth Halls were replaced. 

The pipes in these dorms are on the side of the unit, according to Associate Vice President of Administration and Operations Diane Parker, meaning there was no proper insulation. The lack of insulation meant there was no airflow which is what caused the mold to grow. 

“We had to displace some…78 students,” Director of Residential Life Scott Lamphere said. “It was a bit of a challenge for those students. We had a lot of space available and set aside for isolation. Most of those students were able to move back…10 days past the move-in and all those folks were able to return, except for one suite in Bragdon that continued to have a problem that required some further investigation.”

Lamphere said displaced students received a $500 credit on their student account as compensation for being displaced.

Junior communications major Sam Roberts, along with other affected students, was notified of their displacement on January 16 via email from Lamphere.

 “If you had the information prior to move-in day [fall semester], that’s when you should have done the testing,” said Roberts.

Junior hospitality and event major Meghan McDonald reached out to Residential Life and Facilities and Sustainability Management about the mold last semester. 

“We had already contacted them about the mold in our room multiple times and didn’t really get help on it. It was frustrating,” McDonald said.

McDonald’s suitemate and junior psychology major Helen Bugaev discovered in the fall that the mold impacted her health.

“The bottom of our shower had black mold and there was a hole in the wall,” said Bugaev. “I started like dry coughing a lot, it was really hard to breathe. I told my mom about it, so me and my brother went to see our doctor. He was just looking at how our heart was and like how we were breathing…he was like, you’ve been exposed to black mold.”

In an email from Parker following up on Bugaev’s diagnosis, she said that SchoolDude, FSM’s work order system does not have record of three work orders asking someone to look at potential mold in this suite. 

Parker said that the first work order was dated October 31 and it was addressed the next day by FSM. The second and third work orders were both submitted on November 29 and addressed December 1. 

“I can confirm that the air quality tests conducted by the environmental hygienist do NOT indicate the presence of black mold in this suite,” Parker said in the email. “While I cannot comment on health issues due to privacy, I would encourage this student to reach out to Rich Arnold, Director of Health Services, so that any concerns can be addressed.” 

Lamphere sent an email to Bugaev on November 30 asking her to inform Health Services of the diagnosis. 

“I am concerned that the damaged floor and wall by the shower seems like an unlikely cause, for such a serious diagnosis…In the meantime, do you want to consider a temporary housing accommodation,” Lamphere said in the email.

“He told me that he wanted me to go to health services to get checked out by the nurses from here but I said no, because I was already diagnosed from my actual doctor,” said Bugaev.

“Very soon after he offered us the housing, they had sent out an email about how the mold issue would be resolved over break,” said McDonald.

Lamphere said in a follow-up email that there were some students throughout the process who had indicated they may have had medical issues related to mold exposure, and that in all of these cases the students were directed to report it to Health Services. 

“…I have no knowledge of any students providing any such medical documentation related to a diagnosis of mold poisoning,” Lamphere said. 

Junior fashion design major Sophia Mark said, “they didn’t tell us that there was actually work done to our rooms …I hope Lasell notices this and that they do better in the future.”

“We’re really appreciative of everyone’s patience and the massive inconvenience this has caused the students and the stress,” said Parker.

If there is an issue that needs to be looked at, students can submit a SchoolDude report as soon as possible through the MyLasell website under the university resources section.

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