A protest occurred this past Friday on the steps of Penn Hall from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Students were protesting the school’s negligence and refusal to be forthcoming throughout #MoldGate.
Most of the students interviewed (around 2:00pm) weren’t first-years directly affected by the mold, but in fact, environmental studies majors who were concerned that a biological health issue could affect our campus. They held a sign reading, “When did the Biology Department move to Hanson?”
This protest is following the release of a campus-wide email that President Janet Morgan Riggs sent out last night regarding a new process by which the school will review environmental hazards for students in the future. The email also stated that Hanson basement students will in fact get priority housing over other sophomores as previously promised to them, as well as $250 towards housing credit.
This journalist doesn’t think it’s enough. First of all, it is absolutely insane that the school had a mold problem in the first place. I could understand something like a pipe bursting causing students to relocate, but this problem was completely avoidable.
Secondly, mold is apparently very common on college campuses. Google “college mold” and many articles come up. Considering how common this problem is, the school should have already had a mold policy in place.
Oh wait, they did. They just didn’t follow it. As detailed in Sam Genova’s scathing and completely accurate op-ed, the school is supposed to conduct visual inspections of college buildings every month for mold. If this had occurred, clearly the mold would have been caught before the school year started. In fact, many students assert that the school knew about the mold for months, maybe even years. At the town hall meeting, a girl who had lived in Hanson 2 years ago said that she got asthma from mold while living there.
That brings us to the health issues suffered by students. Students in Hanson were sleeping with their windows wide open in the middle of February in order to try to stave off mold-induced sickens, and it still wasn’t enough. Many students fell ill while living in Hanson and were forced to go to the Health Center, but of course, the school’s own doctors aren’t going to admit that kids are getting sick from mold in the school’s own dorms. #MoldGate came up in my Environmental Science class, and a girl, who lived in Hanson Hall last year, asserted that she had Strep multiple times while living there (presumably due to breathing in mold spores).
Students in Hanson not only suffered health issues, but also suffered property loss. Damages to property due to mold have been abundant. Many have asserted that the damage suffered to items is valued much over $250.
So has the school’s response been sufficient? Not at all.
Getting a response from the school about this widespread issue was like pulling teeth. After neglecting to apologize, or really even give any new information at the town hall, Dean Ramsey sent out an apology the next day in an email. But has the compensation to students affected been fair?
Again, I assert: no. First, Hanson basement residents were promised priority housing over other sophomores for their troubles. This ,of course, was seen as unfair to other sophomores, so they were given $250 in credit towards housing, which again seems unfair. Room and board is far more expensive than $250. Now, Hanson basement residents are being told that they will still get priority housing.
But why would anyone be ok with paying room/board for a semester in a mold-infested dorm — especially when these students were forced to vacate the dorm and move all of their belongings without help to the Gettysburg Hotel, and without a car? I was pretty mad when I had to move out of my dorm in order to consolidate room for students affected by the mold, but at least I have a car. Imagine how disruptive that was for students.
I’m not surprised that there’s been rumblings of a lawsuit. I’m not pre-law or anything, but there’s definitely a case for negligence considering the school ignored its own mold policy, or at least ignored the findings, and considering how poorly the students were treated in the aftermath.
Of course, there are more important issues in the world than mold, but we should be treated better by the place that we spend so much time and pay so much money for. Hopefully some of that Gettysburg Gives money will go towards mold removal.
#MoldGate Let’s get it trending, people.