Mold Spreads to AC Units in Jasper

by MARIA THOMAS, Staff Writer

On Oct. 8, The Quadrangle published a news story which detailed the many dorms in Horan Hall that had experienced the growth of black mold. Residents of these dorms had no other option but to move out of the affected rooms. In the true nature of mold, the problem has now grown and spread across campus to Jasper Hall.

Kailee Stephens is a sophomore and psychology major at Manhattan College. Unfortunately, it was only after Kailee and her roommate, Raashi Dev, suffered adverse health effects, that they found a large amount of spores growing in their air conditioning unit.

jasper mold
Freshmen Mia Brito-Karcher and Deidre Ballesty’s moldy AC unit in Jasper Hall. MIA BRITO-KARCHER/ COURTESY

“I was cleaning my room one day and I just happened to look in my AC and that’s when I saw it. There was a lot, and it was black,” said Stephens.

According to an article published by WebMD, “inhaling or touching mold spores can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. People with serious mold allergies may have more severe reactions, including shortness of breath. In people with asthma who are allergic to mold, breathing in spores can also cause asthma attacks.”

For Stephens, this description of symptoms could not have been more accurate.

“Two or three weeks ago, I got what felt like the flu. I had a really high fever, a cough and I was getting really bad sore throats every other day,” she said.

Stephens said these symptoms have been persisting for a month.

“I have really bad asthma too, so I’ve been having a lot of asthma attacks. I thought it was just my allergies at first, but it was way worse than it usually is. It was pretty bad,” she said.

The office of Residence Life took the situation seriously, as the girls were moved out of their afflicted room the same day that they reported the mold. Stephens and Dev only wish the situation was handled with more compassion. Once the room has been checked and the mold has been cleaned, they will most likely have to return to their previous room.

“We don’t want to [move back] because we live in the last room on the wing and it’s way smaller than all other rooms in Jasper,” said Dev.

Dev said they are still speaking with AJ Goodman, Director of Residence Life, in hopes of coming to a resolution.

Two other Jasper Hall residents, freshmen Mia Brito-Karcher and Deidre Ballesty, are having a similar issue to Dev and Stephens. They live on the floor that Stephens and Dev were moved to.

“We found the mold a month ago. I sent a picture to my dad to make sure, and he said it was mold,” said Brito-Karcher. “It smelled in the room, and we’re not dirty enough for there to be smells. We had a friend who knows about this stuff come look at it, and he said it was definitely mold, and showed us how to clean the filter.”

Sophomore Kailee Stephens and Raashi Dev’s moldy AC unit in Jasper Hall. RAASHI DEV / COURTESY

After cleaning the air conditioning themselves, Brito-Karcher filed a work order, which explained that there was mold in their air conditioning and that they needed a new one. After receiving no response, Ballesty filed a work order. With more time passing and no answers received, the girls filed a third work order and included photos of the moldy AC.

“Then they said they came here, but they never did. If we have a problem that is actually a health concern it should be fixed. We always have someone hanging out in here, and no one ever heard a knock, no one ever said someone came by, there was never a note left, and no one ever contacted us at all. RA Mike Kiely was here when we were cleaning it, and afterwards he said they told him they came, but they never did,” Ballesty said.

Even after cleaning the moldy AC with bleach, soap, water and sponges, the girls became ill.

“Mia has been sick since we got here. We had really bad headaches before we had seen the mold, and then when we got sick we had headaches, coughing, sore throat, and runny noses. We’ve been taking medicine for colds: Vitamin C, tea, Dayquil, Nyquil, Advil, things that should make a cold go away, but it has not,” Ballesty said.

For many students, going away to college is a scary thing. For the students affected by this dilemma, there are scarier things to think about.

“I pay a lot of tuition, which is probably enough to have people check for mold before students move in,” said Dev.