Berea College’s Mould Problem and Why it Keeps Happening

By Haythem

On their website, Berea College claims that residence halls exist to “foster a strong spirit of community.” Unfortunately, this is not the only thing being fostered in the halls of Berea College. Mold has been a common problem in multiple dorms, including far-away Blue Ridge and the often forgotten Ecovillage. In the fall of 2023, the home of the first-years, Kentucky-Talcott, has become the latest victim of the green scourge.

A student, who chose to remain anonymous, reported their experience with the mould. They said that it took them three months, a doctor’s note, two rounds of antibiotics, and a very expensive allergy test to convince Berea College Housing to move them out of their infested room in K-tal. When the problem was reported to staff, the proposed solution was to simply wipe the mould down, after which it promptly grew back. The student reported that their entire floor was infested to the point that a small mushroom had grown in one of the vents. They had to file for disability through Disability and Accessibility Services in order to be moved to a different dorm. Hall staff reportedly told them to just move in with their friends down the hall if they could not move to a different dorm. Their ex-roommate still lives in the badly infested room. 

Photos of the mould can be found below:

Mould is not an entirely uncommon issue, especially during the damp winter months of Kentucky, but that does not make it any less harmful. According to the CDC, exposure to mould leads to “upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.” It is also reported that early mould exposure can cause children to develop asthma, which is particularly prevalent in Eco village, where many residents have kids of their own. 

The issue of the mould, as damaging as it is, is not unsolvable. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that getting rid of mould in buildings is entirely reliant on proper cleaning procedures and fixing water leaks and other plumbing issues. While this would overextend facilities management during the two semesters, the college has been lethargic at best when it comes to implementing proper cleaning operations when school is out. It has relied almost entirely on the few students who stay over the summer and winter breaks to work in facilities management to clean the buildings thoroughly.

When interviewing Lyric Jones, the K-Tal Area Coordinator (AC), it became obvious that there isn’t a long term plan to solve the mould issue in the various buildings and residence halls. According to her, Mould is treated on a case by case basis and while there are yearly inspections of mould, it has not entirely disappeared. There are a few cases of mould every year in dorms and buildings, and the procedure to combat it remains the same. Though the ACs are doing their best to combat this issue as it comes up, the lack of a campus wide plan to solving the mould problem will likely only lead to the problem persisting.

The story above demonstrates that Berea College is much more keen on curtailing the problem in the short term instead of spending the necessary resources to solve it long term. It seems that they would much rather risk the well-being of students than use resources to fix a persistent issue.

Republished from Berea Torch.