Sophomore Liz Hinic was excited to live in Avery, which was constructed in 1958, because of its large rooms and its proximity to classes.
“I just didn’t ... predict that they would be putting us in an unsafe environment,” she said.
Sophomore Sasha Gombar said she remembers mold growing on an air conditioning unit in the suite and worried it was contaminating the air.
Hinic said several maintenance requests were put in, but did not receive a response.
“It started to get insanely humid in the room,” she said. “My shag rug felt moist. You could feel the water all around you. ... When I got into bed, my sheets felt wet.”
Hinic also noted a pair of her suitemate’s boots had been in good condition before they spontaneously molded.
“When she told the FixMyRoom guy that, he said ‘oh, well, if you leave boots in the closet sometimes they just mold.’”
The moldy smell got so strong that some of the suitemates began to complain of headaches and sinus problems. Hinic, who has asthma, found it difficult to breathe.
When maintenance came to investigate the situation, they found mold and elevated levels of humidity. The residents were given dehumidifiers.
Hinic said the dehumidifiers seemed to help until one of her suitemates, Alison Krug, who is an assistant copy editor at The Daily Tar Heel, had to go to Urgent Care for breathing trouble.
The community director of the Parker Community, Arienne Milkles, and the Department of Environment, Health and Safety got involved when it became apparent the problem was having a negative impact on the residents’ health.
“We received an email about 5:30 p.m. last Friday evening from the community director saying that we had temporary rooms available and that we could begin moving in at 8 that night,” Gombar said.
Six girls moved to temporary housing, but the problem is far from over.
“One of the rooms had been being used by the lacrosse team to store equipment, and it smelled awful,” Hinic said. “Another of the rooms had people still living in it.”
Four of the residents are permanently moving out of their Avery suite.
Rick Bradley, associate director of Housing and Residential Education, said the mold has been cleaned, and follow-up tests showed decreased levels of humidity.
“Unfortunately, this issue of mold does pop up around campus in some of the older buildings,” he said. “Environmental Health Services advises housing on how to proceed, but generally a cleaning resolves the issue.”