Students fight mold on campus

By Zana Pommier

This is the fairy tale without a happy ending. Once upon a time, Sarah Fuder, a past resident of Ballard, found that despite what her parents had told her in childhood, she did have a monster hiding in her room. It was black, puffy, and snuck in through her window. After battling it several times and calling in reinforcements to no avail, she took matters into her own hands. But no matter what she did, the hero could not prevail over the villainous mold.

After moving into Ballard in the fall of 2013, she first noticed the mold growing all along her dorm’s window. She called in the authorities and submitted a work order to get it taken care of.

“They came in and removed our window and resealed it and cleaned it, but within a week, mildew and mold had already returned,” Fuder said.

It seemed no matter what she did, the unwelcome guest wasn’t going to leave. She attacked it with bleach and tried to reduce condensation by her window to get rid of the environment it seemed to like so much. But nothing could prevent the fungus from returning to her window.

In fact, she learned that mold had been a problem in her room and others well before she even moved in.

“The heater below causes the window to sweat, and mildew and mold becomes a problem,” Fuder said.

Her residence hall’s area director offered to get rid of it whenever it returned, but she was tired of having to make recurring efforts to get away from it. She wanted a permanent solution to prevent its return to her room.

“We would experience headaches and often felt sick,” Fuder said.

Her response to mold exposure is not out of the ordinary. People sensitive to molds can experience nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation, according to the CDC.

And Fuder’s old room is not the only place on campus where mold is affecting students.

“Mildew could also be found in the bathroom in the showers,” Fuder said.

Grace Conway recalled her experiences with mold in Nelson’s third-floor bathroom.

“I noticed right away, but it became frustrating by October,” Conway said.

When she and other residents of her floor had finally had enough, they called in the authorities. To their disappointment, it wasn’t until mid-December that something was done, and the mold-slayer’s weapon of choice was a paintbrush. The fungus still lurked in the shower as a different color, and the resident’s had to endure it.

“The fact that two of our three showers didn’t work at all and the last shower that 40 girls had to share was moldy was incredibly frustrating,” Conway said.

Once she moved to Grantham, the environment the creature liked so much was gone, and she was free.

The same can’t be said, however, of the hundreds of peppy students who move into residence halls each year, only to discover they’re living with mold.

Fuder took the noble route and refused to move to a new room to get away from the problem. She decided to try to make the best of a bad situation.

“The problem would just be given to someone else in the spring; we endured the mold the entire year cleaning it,” Fuder said.

Ballard has not been renovated since Fuder lived there. The monster still nests and reproduces in its windows and walls. Past residents are still hoping for a happy ending to this fairy tale, for the sake of future students.

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