With the university’s recent address to mold problems in certain dorms, some residents affected by mold say they are not pleased with how facilities has handled the situation.
According to the university, they are currently dealing with five cases in The Village apartments. Students affected were given the option to relocate or to stay in their rooms.
Many students who found mold in their rooms say it has gotten them sick, including senior psychology major Samantha Lima.
Lima noticed mold growing on the ceiling and walls as soon as she moved into The Village in the beginning of the semester.
She and her roommates reported the mold multiple times since and claim that University Facilities’ response has been slow. Lima says facilities has been to their apartment to bleach the mold and paint over it.
Lima said she and one of her roommates were diagnosed with bronchial irritation because of the mold. They have been constantly coughing and have had trouble breathing ever since moving into their apartment. Lima also says that they have been struggling with a terrible smell caused by the mold.
“[The smell is] like a rotten animal in my apartment,” Lima said. “It’s disgusting, and it’s been there since day one. It was there before the paint, after the paint and during the paint.”
The living expenses Montclair State requires are not cheap. Therefore, it is not unusual for students to have high expectations for their living conditions. For the 2018-2019 school year, a single room at The Village apartments is $5,967 and a double is $5,272. The average cost for all of the single rooms in the other residential buildings (Blanton Hall, Bohn Hall, Freeman Hall, The Heights, Russ Hall, Sinatra Hall, Stone Hall, Hawk Crossings and The Village) is $5,808. The average cost for all the double rooms is around $5,038.
In an email sent to residents, the Office of Residence Life said the mold was caused by the summer rain, humidity and high spore counts from the summer.
“The university’s facilities team worked with an expert mold remediation vendor to expeditiously identify the source of the mold condition, and the rooms were promptly treated using standard mold disinfectant methods,” Vice President for University Facilities Shawn Connolly said in a written statement.
He said in cases where the condition returned, the university removed wallboard and re-insulated piping to cease the problem.
Another student, senior communication and media arts major Michael Pisauro also lives in The Village. Around mid-September he started to smell mold in his room and found it growing in his apartment’s air vents.
He filed a service request and was told it was just dirt and dust. After the email was sent to residents from Residence Life, Pisauro’s resident assistant (RA) checked their room and found mold and put in another service request for their room. Facilities came two days later and cleaned the mold.
Pisauro said he and his roommates are trying to prevent the mold from coming back by cleaning it whenever they see it.
“Overall, I’m pretty annoyed about this situation,” Pisauro said in an email. “I think the school should be doing a better job at handling it. Mold is very poisonous to our bodies…It’s very frustrating, and I really hope they find a solution to this issue soon.”
Despite, how many students are unhappy with the university’s response, others believe the university reacted the way they should have.
“The email was not really known to me,” said senior filmmaking major Alexander Monastersky. “I didn’t read it, but I thought it was the school’s best way of communicating the problem. I’m happy that they admitted that it happened instead keeping it a secret.”
The day Monastersky moved into his apartment in The Village, he saw that his bed was covered in a layer of mold and noticed a “moldy smell.” He made a complaint and had to sleep on his couch for one night. The next day he had a new mattress.
But Monastersky, still had mold on the walls, near his bed frame, under his desk and behind every dresser. He decided to clean it himself because he did not want to wait for someone to come do it, but the smell of mold remained.
“Since then its been fine. I still kind of have that smell [that comes] with it,” he said. “I think it’s in the [heater], but I noticed that one of my bags had mold on it after a couple of weeks. The mold went into the bag, so I couldn’t really deal with it.”
Another student, senior business management major Linda Mozdzen found mold all around her apartment at The Village when she first moved in. Contractors came to cut away the mold from the walls. She was given the option to relocate but declined because she said it would have been too difficult to relocate and then come back.
At first, tests were run and the areas with mold were wiped down with bleach and air scrubbers were brought in for each room. Yet, the mold started to show even more.
“Contractors were called in to cut into the wall,” said Mozdzen in an email. “The extent of the mold amazed me. Whole panels of my wall and the wall in the living room had to be cut away.
Mozdzen believes the contractors and the university staff were pleasant and accommodating about her situation.
Students also took to social media to share their experiences with the mold and the university’s response, including Aliya Forcer who lives in The Village apartments. She shared an article on Facebook from News12.com that says that mold was found at William Paterson University and at Montclair State.
Forcer mentioned that when she moved back to campus in August she found black mold behind her bed and was told it was just surface mold. She said it began to grow and spread throughout her apartment, and she complained multiple times but was told there was not any mold.
Forcer said that because of the mold she is extremely sick and was recently hospitalized. Forcer also mentioned in her post that the the statement of only surface mold in a few rooms is false.
Forcer’s post began to receive a lot of attention from parents and students. They expressed their concern and their frustration toward the university’s response.
Updated as of Nov. 6, 2018.