Mason students continue to find mold in dorms

Mold spores like this one have been found in dorms in the Commonwealth building (photo by Nicole Lewis).
Mold spores like this one have been found in dorms in the Commonwealth building (photo by Nicole Lewis).

In December, George Mason University dealt with students’ concerns about mold growth in some of the Fairfax campus dormitories.

Although Mason’s Office of Housing and Residence Life attempted to resolve mold growth in the dorms, some students are still experiencing issues with mold.

One resident of Commonwealth Hall, who wished to remain anonymous, reported mold growing in her bathroom in December. Over winter break, she said, the university attempted to remove the mold.

“They got a lot of it, but there is still more,” she said.

The only effects she has experienced with the mold so far is its odor. However, she is concerned this daily exposure will cause health problems in her future.

She said that neither she nor her roommate have reported their mold since Housing and Residence Life attempted to remove it because they believe that the university isn’t willing to accommodate their problem.

“It would be nice if [Mason] would do more than just send us an email saying everything’s ok, and not to pay attention to the black stuff on our wall,” she said.

She and her roommate conducted their own mold test through Pro-Lab. After sitting for several hours, the test showed there was mold growing. The two roommates have since sent the test results to a professional lab and are waiting to hear back. Altogether, they have spent $70 testing the mold.

The two roommates hope that this test will push Mason’s Housing and Residence Life to take more action against the mold in their dorm. One roommate said it would be nice if Mason would move them to another room or put a fan in the bathroom to help with the humidity from showering.

As of Dec. 6, Housing and Residence Life had four reported cases of mold in three dorm halls, Commonwealth, Dominion and Liberty Square.

Housing and Residence Life responded to these reports by sending the Environmental Health and Safety Office to investigate the mold. EHS reported back that the mold found was harmless.

“We are pleased to report that all spore concentrations were below levels naturally occurring outdoors and no results indicated the presence of fungus in the genus stachybotrys, commonly referred to as ‘black mold,’” Housing and Residence Life said in an email to Commonwealth residents.

Housing and Residence Life also suggested in that email that residents submit a work order whenever they have concerns about the condition of their rooms. This was their final statement to residents about the matter.

Mason’s Student Senate reacted to the mold concerns by sending a resolution request to the university that requested Housing and Residence Life emphasize mold inspection. They also requested more available information for students to learn how to identify mold.

Student Senate Speaker Matthew Short said Rachel Grimesey, Student Senate’s secretary of University Life, met with the Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life to discuss the issue. To their knowledge, there is no longer a risk and the problem has been handled.

L’Erin Garner, the executive assistant to executive director of Housing and Residence Life, said students should report further issues with mold in a work order. Once the work order has been filed, the Facilities and Maintenance management will assess and clean out the mold. Garner said the turnaround takes less than a day.

Meanwhile, the two Commonwealth roommates claim the lack of continual concern from the university is why they felt the need to handle the problem on their own. They plan to present their lab results to Housing and Residence Life in hopes it will push for more action against mold. 

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