By Rachel Levy, Sports Editor
Student residents of University Inn were told by Shenandoah University officials Thursday that they need to move into other quarters because of moisture problems in the residence hall.
Around 7:30 p.m. yesterday, resident director of the hall, Andrew Burrill, announced a hall meeting with University President Tracy Fitzsimmons, to take place at 9:30 p.m. in Hester Auditorium in Henkel Hall.
“At this point in time, we’re just not getting the results we want in the timeframe we feel is appropriate,” Fitzsimmons said after the meeting. “Because of this, I do not feel comfortable continuing to have you live at UI until we can pinpoint and correct the cause of the situation.”
“We all came…and [President Fitzsimmons said] that [it] was going well but all of a sudden it got worse,” said Nick Jackson, 18, a music education major who lives in the UI.
Students are being relocated to one of several local hotels, all within a 1.5 mile radius of campus. Moving is anticipated to begin “as soon as Friday evening,” and will continue into next week, according to Fitzsimmons.
She also assured students that moving and laundry costs would be taken care of, and a shuttle will be running “as close to 24 hours a day as we can get it” in a constant loop to campus. “All residents of University Inn will receive a $500 check to lighten any financial burden you may have,” she said.
Additionally, students will be able to opt out of their housing contracts and update their meal plans if they want.
“They are doing a lot for us,” Jackson said.
According to Director of Media Relations Emily Burner, the “increased moisture levels” in the dorms did not occur until after the school year began, as the residence hall “underwent standard repairs and cleaning” over the summer, including each air conditioning unit and carpet. When the moisture was first discovered, the University called in a professional clean-up crew, and they have been regularly monitoring the issue.
“We had hoped that the various steps taken over the past several weeks to alleviate moisture and test for microbial growth in the few UI rooms where issues have arisen would yield better results. In fact, the initial testing indicated that we would see positive results by following the advice of the independent industrial hygienist hired to advise us on the situation,” Fitzsimmons said. “For a while, it appeared that these solutions were working.”
The University anticipates students being able to move back in to the residence hall by the start of the spring semester.
The news was met with mixed reactions from students. Some have complained since the beginning of school about sore throats and respiratory issues after what looked like mold was found in their room air conditioning units.
Dance major Nikolaos Hartnett was sick for nearly two weeks, and said that he “had a hard time making it through auditions and class” because he could barely breathe.
“If we all pay 10K to live here, the living conditions should be better,” he said.
“This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Conservatory students…as some of us have concerts this weekend and Spring Awakening the next,” Brydie Kelly, 18, a music production and recording technology major said. “So while I appreciate the effort put into addressing the students, refunding us, and giving us housing options, I have the right to be frustrated.”
Athletes are also concerned as fall sports are in full swing.
Nursing major and lacrosse player MaKaylee Mann had to return home earlier in the semester because she and her roommate were too sick from what they suspected was mold. According to Mann, the University replaced her entire air conditioning unit. “They delayed themselves on reporting the actual issue,” and, as a result, she was sicker than she felt she should have been.
“Some people are negative about the situation,” Jackson said, “but it really isn’t that bad and they have done way more than they need to.”
Michelle Adams contributed to this report.