Update: Friday, 6:22 p.m.
When Elon University senior Allie Dietz returned to her Park Place apartment, she expected to find her belongings the way she left them. Instead, they were blanketed in a gray-colored mold.
"It's insane," Dietz said. "[It's] literally everywhere."
Five Park Place apartments are experiencing humidity issues, according to University Communications. This leads to a large presence of Aspergillus molds, the most common type of fungi in the environment. Fifteen students have been displaced from their apartments, which opened less than a year ago. Junior Briya Ware said she experienced a similar issue when she moved into her apartment in June. As of Friday, 55 students have been displaced.
"I’m on five medications, and so I’m super sensitive to that," Ware said. "The first night I came here, I didn’t even sleep here. It was too hot, I couldn’t even breathe."
Extreme humidity and lack of circulation are common complaints among Park Place residents. Bathrooms collecting moisture that contribute to mildew is an example of this. Ware and her roommates said it can be dangerously slippery. When calling maintenance to correct issues, Ware said the response was disappointing."We don’t always get our requests fulfilled. We put a request in for our air," Ware said. "I did when I first got here, and no one came and fixed it."
MarQuita Barker, senior associate director of Residence Life, said the increased humidity is because of an over-chilled condenser on the roof of the building. A self-contained heating and air conditioning system equip each room, so there's no sharing of ductwork or air between rooms. Barker said it's still possible the moisture issue could affect other rooms. And being isolated to a few rooms doesn't minimize the damage. Mold and mildew covered items such as shoes, electronics and kitchen appliances when some residences returned.
Dietz said she immediately called Physical Plant and notified Residence Life after seeing the mildew. A cleaner came within a few hours attempting to scrub the physical damage off their belongings.
Residence Life and Physical Plant both brought in an outside contractor, First Call Cleaning and Restoration, to conduct air-tests and clean the apartments. The students displaced in the five apartments won't return until the problem is fixed. The outside contractor said the problem might take longer to fix than the predicted 10 days.
"They won’t move back in until the experts say that it is safe for them to go back in," Barker said.
Barker said the cleaning and testing process will take a few days, and in the meantime, the residents have been relocated to other on-campus spaces. Dietz and her roommates were relocated to a College Station apartment. Residence Life told Dietz and her roommates they had very limited space for even just her apartment, let alone four others. "I just feel bad for the other people," Dietz said. "Because we got there first and brought it to their attention, we were lucky enough to get an apartment that we can stay together. But other people are in apartments with people that just had an open room."
Dietz said she's expecting to be in that apartment for at least a month while her apartment is cleaned and tested. And in her last year of college, Dietz said this is a hiccup she didn't expect."It’s a weird feeling — to feel lost, but I do," Dietz said. "I don’t feel like I’m at home, which I normally do when I’m at Elon."
To assure that mold and mildew does not become a problem in other residences around Elon, students are reminded during the summer months to never set thermostats below 72 degrees, and not to prop exterior doors and keep windows closed while heating or cooling units are operating. This will cause condensation and may contribute to mold growth.
If mold or mildew is already present, call Physical Plant at (336) 278-5555 or send in a work order on the Elon FixIt website at: https://www.elon.edu/iservice/