Hanson mold complaints spill over into heated Student Senate meeting

The Senate Meeting on February 26 was highlighted by a Q&A session with Associate Dean of College Life Keira Kant, where students from Hanson and others attending senate were allowed to ask questions pertaining to the housing situation and extenuating mold. Ms. Kant began with a short summary of the issue — finding mold in the basement, eventually finding mold on the other three floors of the building, and then hiring two outside consulting firms, the Compliance Management International and INX Technology Corp to assist with the mold and clean the buildings respectively.

Kant was adamant that the current compensation for residents that will not be changing; each resident of the building will receive $250, despite earlier promises to only basement residents that they would receive priority housing. Kant cited the changing scope of  Hanson Hall as the reason for the rollback of the earlier promise.

One student’s comment earned an applause from the rest of the students in attendence. 

“I’m a bit more concerned with the school going back on its promise.”

Several Hanson basement residents also raised the issue of not consulting them before the change was made; they found out through The Gettysburgian and were emailed only after that. Kant maintained that the residents were notified at the earliest point possible, but a later comment noted that mold testing only started on January 12th, when complaints had been received much earlier.

Emily Keyser ’19 asked if previous basement residents would be compensated; Keyser is highly susceptible to lung infections, and never had a problem until living in the basement, when she submitted a facilities inquiry about mold. Miss Keyser has used a daily inhaler since then.  

Much of the rest of the Q&A dealt with procedures surrounding mold on campus. Currently, mold is responded to on a report-by-report basis. Ms. Kant was adamant that the current procedures are working. When President Frigon called for student concerns at the end of the meeting after the Q&A, a long litany of student complaints pertaining to both the mold in Hanson and other problems in residence areas around campus called that certainty into question.

The discussion spilled over into the open Board of Directors meeting afterwards, where students discussed possible actions to take after what Nick Arbaugh ‘20 called “f–cking b-lls–t”.

President Frigon maintained throughout both meetings that he was concerned with the lack of an apology, even after he mentioned that an apology would at least help students feel recognized and listened to. Since then, Dean Ramsey has issued an apology through the Gettysburgian.  

After the Q&A with Keira Kant that dominated the meeting, the Gettysburg Student Senate heard more student complaints, discussed the College’s Freedom of Expression Philosophy and passed a budget.

The Student Concerns section of the meeting raised concerns with buildings across campus, not just in Hanson. The Student Senate was notified of Education House’s laundry room being flooded for two weeks, as well as the multiple Facilities Service requests submitted before microwaves were fixed. Students said that Colonial’s washers are also not working and that there is current cockroach problem. Concerns about the operation of Paxton’s fire alarms were raised, and another student claimed that bathrooms on the second floor of Patrick were unusable for two weeks. President Frigon suggested that someone from facilities should come talk to the senate.

The Freedom of Expression Philosophy was agreed on and tabled without much discussion, except for a concern raised about how exactly the college will define “disruption”, which is the condition for regulating student speech. The Richard Spencer incident was called on as something that certainly caused disruptions to the campus, and yet was allowed to go on. It was clarified that while this is not technically a policy, the philosophy may influence policies and enforcement in the future. The philosophy is scheduled to being voted on by Student Senate next meeting on Monday.

GASA received their full requested amount of $1452 to cover various events including Umoja, a bead-making workshop, an artistic expression event and a uniform for their dance group.

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