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Mold uncovered in Morrison dormitory

It will cost $90K to remove the mold from the residence hall.

Rick Bradley, associate director of the Department of Housing and Residential Education, said the mold was unexpected because the current HVAC system was installed as part of Morrison’s renovation in 2006.

“It isn’t a dated system where one would expect that,” he said.

Morrison resident Matt Wotus was one of the students who submitted a maintenance request. He said beginning in the fall semester, he noticed a dusty substance coming out of the air vent in his room.

“When I came back from winter break, my bed was covered in whatever was spewing out,” Wotus said. “It was just an annoyance.”

Wotus said several people came to investigate his request, and one of them expressed concern.

On Thursday, an email was sent to all Morrison residents in anticipation of this process. The email emphasized that all cleaning would take place during the day.

“He never got back to me. I guess that email this morning was getting back to me,” Wotus said. “I found out this morning that it was mold.”

Beginning Tuesday, all vents will be cleaned and new filters will be installed. This will require Facilities Services to spend 15 minutes in all rooms in the building. Bradley said this step of the process is expected to take four days.

“Students will be minimally inconvenienced,” Bradley said. “It’ll have very little impact on students that are here currently.”

Bradley said the ductwork will be cleaned more thoroughly this summer and is expected to take up to two months.

“You really need to have an empty building (to do that cleaning),” Bradley said. “There won’t be air conditioning in the building at that time.”

Resident Emal Wafajow said he appreciated the planned timing of the cleaning.

“It’ll be during the day, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

Bradley said in total, the work to clean the HVAC system will cost about $90,000. Housing will fund the process.

“It’s student rent dollars that pay for system repairs,” he said.

Bradley said the main source of the mold was built-up moisture in the HVAC system.

“Because the moisture wasn’t escaping the system, that caused the mold to attach to dust particles in that ductwork naturally,” Bradley said.

He said other dorms on campus have routine maintenance checks that normally discover issues like this. Morrison’s HVAC system is unlike any other on campus, which allowed the mold to grow unchecked.

“The preventative maintenance would not have discovered this until the students reported what they saw,” Bradley said.

Wotus said the mold hadn’t made him sick, but that it’s still concerning.

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“It’s just kind of freaky to think about it,” Wotus said. “Mold is not a good thing to have in dorms. Sickness can spread very easily on college campuses.”

Bradley said one resident had visited Campus Health for worsening allergy symptoms this semester. Other than that, no residents have visited Campus Health for respiratory conditions.

“We haven’t heard from RA staff or other staff in the community of issues of people having illness,” Bradley said.