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EDITORIAL: IU should take greater measures to prevent mold in residence halls

As of Oct. 21, mold is still being cleaned out of Foster and McNutt Quads. Progress is being made as environmental contractors are inspecting rooms and taking mold samples, though 116 students have had to be relocated in the process.

Relocating is inconvenient, especially halfway through the semester, but the mold has made students with allergies or asthma sick. According to the CDC, mold is quite common and does not cause serious illness, but the fact that students are getting even a little bit sick just from living in their assigned residence halls is disturbing.

Perhaps this incident would be less concerning if it were the first, but mold in IU residence halls has become a common occurrence. McNutt Quad had a mold problem in January 2016 and Teter Quad suffered similarly in the summer and fall semesters in 2016

This is not just an IU problem, either. Currently, other schools such as University of Tennessee, Pittsburgh State University and University of Maryland are dealing with mold in residence halls.

Obviously this is not acceptable. Students should be able to live safely in their residence halls without having to face breathing problems and illness due to the mold, and they should not have to deal with the inconvenience of packing up and relocating to a new residence hall or even hotels in some cases. It is even worse considering the difficulties surrounding the accessibility of proper health care on campus and class absence policies.

The question becomes how to stop the mold problem before it happens in the first place. The first and easiest step would be making sure students are aware of the possibility of mold growth and what they can do individually to prevent it. This could be as simple as adding it to the residence information students receive from resident assistants on move-in day.

According to Mold Advisor, mold is common in college residence halls because dorm rooms and bathrooms may not have adequate ventilation, which leads to humidity. The problems may also arise in instances of leaky plumbing or a water spill that is not adequately cleaned. This is important information for students living in residence halls to know.

Students should also be prepared with the correct actions to take against mold growth. This includes wiping up water spills, hanging wet towels and clothing to dry and increasing ventilation while showering, if possible.

Ultimately, outside of individual cleaning and upkeep in rooms, the responsibility to prevent mold growth does not fall upon students. Great care should be taken by Residential Programs and Services staff in the routine cleaning and inspection of residence halls. It is necessary for the safety and well-being of IU students.

Much progress has been made and remediation, cleaning and inspection of the infected buildings is continuing with vigilance, so hopefully all of the mold will be cleared in the coming weeks and the students in McNutt and Foster Quads can go back to their daily lives.

If mold problems persist in the coming years after so many occurrences already, then it will be time for serious action to be taken in renovating the affected residence halls so they do not continue to foster harmful mold growth.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of dorm rooms in which mold had been found. The IDS regrets this error.

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