Mold found in Schwartz Hall
Donovan Wilson – Reporter
Residents in Schwartz Hall found mold in their room last semester and thought it was taken care of until arriving back this semester and finding that they are still experiencing these problems.
Health and safety within residential dorms is a major place of concern for all colleges and Southern is no exception to that rule. Southern has their own environmental health and safety department which is run by Lisa Kortfelt. This department is employed to look into any environmental health and safety concerns including but not limited to mold in students’ dorm rooms.
“We found mold in our room last semester,” said biochemistry major Aleah O’Brady, a sophomore and Schwartz Hall resident, “it was sprayed last semester but it’s still there and nothing was said of it until we did.”
O’Brady and her roommate said they noticed the presence of mold in their room last semester and it was sprayed and determined not an issue in a timely manner at the time. However, after break and a presumed health and safety inspection, they returned to the room to find that the mold in both their room and their bathroom had persisted and had not been taken care of or accounted for. They have continued to fight against it as O’Brady’s roommate continues to get sick from the mold but rather than the mold be properly taken care of or removed, the two are just being moved into a new room as of right now.
O’Brady has properly informed the correct people. Her and her roommate have informed all of the issues to their RA who reached out to the head of their building as they are having their room moved. Anays Cruz-Alonso, director of Schwartz Residence Hall, at the time of writing this story, was not aware of the current extension of this situation.
“As Rob stated in the email, there was a suspicion but this was inspected by the Director of Environmental Health and Safety, Lisa Kortfelt, as well as a certified mold contractor determined that no mold was present,” said Cruz-Alonso.
The point of miscommunication between the students and the higher ups seems to happen with the persisting mold. Speaking with both Cruz-Alonso and Robert DeMezzo, head of residence life, and they both had all the information on the original complaint from last semester but had no idea about the current incident of persisting mold. It is to be inferred that some sort of miscommunication was happening between O’Brady and her Resident Advisor and any higher up that was supposed to be involved.
”It’s not me really that has the health concerns, it was more for [my roommate] because she has a bunch of allegries and stuff,” O’Brady said. “ It didn’t really affect me; she’s the one that sleeps underneath it – they sprayed some kind of paint onto it and it was falling onto her. So that kind of caused her to get sick and go home.”
While it would seem Kortfelt and her team had determined this mold did not pose significant health risks, mold exposure or mold sensitivities can cause rashes and respiratory concerns like wheezing and congestion.
According to the CDC, “those with allergies to mold or with asthma may have more intense reactions.” These intense reactions may include fever, shortness of breath, and perhaps severe illness such as pulmonary fibrosis.
Photo credit: Bria Kirklin