Editorial 12.19.12: Mold issues appear again; dorms need revamping

At times, the dorms on this campus seem like a joke. Entire floors reek of mold, furniture is outdated and bathrooms are dark and dingy. In today’s article titled “Mold in Lovelace Raises Student Health Concerns,” an empty room in Lovelace Hall developed patches of mold on the carpeting.

Even though that room underwent intense cleaning and other empty rooms were evaluated for mold, residents said the air in the building still feels damp and musty.

Regardless of if mold exists only in minimal amounts throughout Lovelace, it is apparent that the building needs serious work. And it’s not the only one.

Last year, Bradley brought in an outside company that works in planning university residences to draft up a report for a long-term housing plan.

Thousands of students were surveyed, a preliminary plan was drawn up and now, the plan has been shelved. According to Executive Director for Residential Living Nathan Thomas, the university can’t afford to move ahead at this time.

Admission is down for the second year in a row, and money is tight. However, this isn’t just a problem because many of the dorms are ugly. This is a health concern, too.

A couple years ago, representatives from administration, Student Senate and the Scout took a tour with University President Joanne Glasser around some of the residence halls to get an idea of what kind of state they were in.

On that tour, a couple students came forward to share their stories, and one student even said she thought the mold in her Williams Hall dorm was making her sick.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, some people can react to mold with symptoms like “a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, skin rash and itching.”

And for people who are allergic to mold, exposure to it “can trigger asthma attacks…causing wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.”

We know that following the tour, some improvements were made. The carpet on a Geisert Hall floor was removed due to mold, bathrooms were renovated and, most notably, all of Heitz Hall was transformed.

But there is a stark contrast between walking into an improved Heitz room and a room in Harper Hall, or Lovelace. There is a tangible difference in the quality of the air, and the circulation.

And for students paying just as much to live in one residence hall or another, or even more to live in a singles dorm, they should be able to expect that they will have a clean, healthy living environment.

Unfortunately, this poses a difficult situation for the university. If money is tight even for band-aid improvements, more Heitz-like overhauls are seriously unlikely. But dorms are important to future students, and to their parents. And it can be a major deterrent when weighing the decision to go Bradley or somewhere else.

Beyond that, students paying thousands of dollars to live on campus should not have to worry about there being unhealthy amounts of mold under their carpets, in their furniture or even in the vacant room next door to them.

If the dorms continue to be updated with quick fixes, it is unlikely these issues will go away. Moving forward with a long-term plan is a good step, but the university needs to find ways to make the students here now comfortable, too.

This is an issue that seems to come up again and again, and for the sake of the students who pay to live and work in the residence halls day after day, their health should come first.