GLENVIEW MODULAR RESIDENCE HALL – After Hamilton identified mold in Glenview’s wall cavities – not the toxigenic kind – the school is moving most residents of the modular “temporary” housing this Friday and Saturday to the already-cramped Bundy residence halls (and some to other accommodations) for the remainder of the semester “out of an abundance of caution.” Hamilton officials said they have received occasional reports of mold in the building for years, and that failing other measures, they hired a consultant to test the building using more destructive methods. Hamilton has offered some limited compensation to residents, but some are hoping for more.
Hamilton installed Glenview in 2020 on the southeast corner of the Root parking lot, nestled against the Glen, for ~$3 million to fit unexpected additional students due to the pandemic and over-enrollment. Planned to be removed in 2022, Glenview still stands and houses first-year students. Lafayette College experienced issues with mold in its also-overstayed modular housing last year, causing protests and changes to the school’s policies and programs.
“While experts have assured us the situation is low risk,” Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Chris Card wrote to the community on Tuesday, January 30th, “we are relocating students out of an abundance of caution and because remediation is not practical while students remain in the buildings since the source of the mold is inside wall cavities.”
VP Card and officials from Community Living, Facilities Management, and Environmental Protection, Safety, and Sustainability (EPSS) met with residents inside Glenview Tuesday night. According to an audio recording obtained by the Monitor, Card told students, “We're not seeing this as a catastrophic issue that puts all folks at risk, but we want to be better safe than sorry.”
Brian Hansen, Director of EPSS, told residents he has investigated as many as thousands of mold-related issues in his 24 years at Hamilton, most being minor. Recent efforts in Glenview included lowering the humidity to a very low 30%, but when that did not fix the problem, Hamilton resorted to its first “destructive sampling.”
“We finally found the reservoir, and the reservoir is basically these voids in between the sections of this modular unit. And it's an area we could never see it, we could never crawl to it.” Hansen said, “To get to it, we basically have to tear down all the walls,” and that the mold was impacting rooms via electrical outlets.
In an FAQ posted with the announcement, Hamilton said they hired the Colden Corporation, an occupational health, safety, and environmental consulting service, to test Glenview air and surfaces for mold on Friday, January 19th. SGS Galson, an accredited analytical laboratory, returned the results to Colden and Hamilton on Friday, January 26th. Officials told residents the results of the testing will be made available.
Hamilton officials said tests identified Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus in the building. In an email to Glenview residents sent shortly before the broader announcement, Card wrote that while most are unaffected, “some people – such as those with allergies, asthma, immune suppression conditions, or underlying respiratory diseases – may be more sensitive to mold than others.”
Safety and Compensation
“I have had a persistent cold throughout the year that disappears when I go home,” said resident Drew Niewinski ‘27. “However, I have had no visible mold in my room, but I know that my friends who had visible mold had worse sicknesses.”
Some students have questioned the timing of the move, particularly given periodic mold reports in the building, and many have been frustrated by the inconvenience. Others hope for more compensation than the $100 Hill Card deposit to continue Glenview’s free laundry policy, moving assistance, preferential housing lottery numbers for next year, and goodie bags of candy, snacks, and cleaning supplies offered by the College. Of particular concern has been the cramped nature of Bundy Residence Halls, long criticized for their inaccessible location down the hill and the dreaded “forced double” – where two students share a room built for one at full cost.
During the meeting, one resident asked Card about the potential for additional compensation, and he replied, “We'll handle those on a case-by-case basis,” encouraging students to reach out.
Isaiah Franco ‘27, who, like other students, said he first heard rumors of mold toward the start of the year, will be moving into Bundy, where he hopes he won’t have a roommate to avoid a forced double. He told the Monitor, “It sucks, it really really sucks, but these things happen, and I don't need any more compensation. Many of my peers do not feel the same, but it's only a disappointing inconvenience, not the end of my life.”
Niewinski, who said he and his roommate were able to obtain singles in Bundy, remains frustrated by the ordeal. “First, we all get put in Glenview, which they knew there was mold in - already isolated amongst ourselves. Then, they move us together to Bundy, into even worse housing conditions, just to keep us all together - but still isolated. I appreciate the administration's answers to me and my roommates' emails, but I know that not everyone has been as lucky, and the situation we have been put in is not excusable.”
“Our challenge has been that there are no universal guidelines on this issue,” Hamilton spokesperson Vige Barrie told the Monitor. The offices of Facilities Management and EPSS assess any reports of mold and determine a response.
“In most instances, standard mitigation and remediation measures are successful. In the case of Glenview, many changes were made to address the complaints. We followed available guidance but the problem persisted. We realized that we needed to take additional steps, including destructive testing, to gather additional information to address the issue. Those steps necessitate that residents move.”
Asked about the future of Glenview during the meeting, Card told residents, “That's to be determined.”