Senators hear update on mold situation in residential buildings


Tiger Media Network

Representatives from several divisions of Fort Hays State University spoke at the Student Government Association meeting Thursday night to address the mold situation in McMindes Hall and Victor E. Village.

Vice President for Student Affairs Joey Linn, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs David Bollig and Chief Communications Officer Scott Cason were present at the meeting to speak and take questions on the issue. The discussion came after the university released a statement Thursday afternoon. Students, faculty and staff received the statement in an email, and it was posted on social media as well.

According to Bollig, Residential Life received concerns from several students about possible mold in their rooms at the end of August. On Sept. 13, iSi Environmental — an environmental consulting company from Wichita — tested rooms in the two buildings the reports came from.

“For those of you who know a lot about mold, you know it’s already everywhere,” Bollig said. “So they did testing outside and inside, because really what you’re doing is looking at the comparison of those two numbers.”

FHSU received a report in October from the company. While some levels of mold were higher indoors than outdoors, Bollig said they were told none of it was toxic. The company also said the university’s response to reports was correct, including any cleaning measures that took place.

Bollig said no new concerns were reported or work orders placed after October.

“But a couple of weeks ago there were some social media posts that started getting put out there,” he said. “So we started internally talking about it again.”

iSi was contacted again to make sure the university still had the right approach, and to see if the company would come back to do more testing. According to Linn, they are looking to come back to campus next week.

Contact has also been made with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. When asked, Bollig said the state organization reached out to the university, but he had prior conversations with the Ellis County Health Department.

According to Cason, KDHE provided feedback based on their conversation, which reinforced what iSi said.

“They reminded us that the first line of defense is cleaning and hygiene,” he said. That’s the thing that you do. The core of the recommendations we got from iSi was to continue the cleaning regime and respond to work order requests for folks that have concerns about their room.”

Audience members in attendance at the meeting were able to ask questions after a few from the senators. One member asked about the results from the report done in October and from the upcoming test and whether or not students will have access to them. Linn said he would have to talk to Joe Bain, general counsel for the university.

“I don’t see why not,” he said. “But I think we want to make sure he’s OK with that, just so there’s not information in there that shouldn’t be sent out.”

Another audience member spoke about her experience with mold in Victor E. Village. Her room tested for 800 spores. She said before iSi came, she was told it was not mold but dirt. She was also concerned about other students in nearby rooms with mold that have serious health conditions.

SGA Vice President Emma Day and Treasurer Jackson Sinsel made comments after hearing all the questions from senators and audience members.

“As your student government, we represent the student body and we’re students ourselves,” Day said. “So if you have any concerns of any nature, you can come to a senator or an executive staff member, and our job is to make sure that your voices are heard by administration.”

Sinsel spoke more about the administration’s response.

“It’s not like they’re just sitting up there doing nothing,” he said. “They’re actively working. They’ve had meetings with others, and they’ve had meetings with us. We’re trying to remediate the situation. They weren’t placed in a great situation. Please, if you have issues that arise besides this, we need to go to leadership because, ultimately, social media is not always the answer.”

Overall, what Linn, Bollig and Cason said students can do at this time is fill out work orders for rooms that need cleaning and get tested if they believe they are susceptible to mold allergies. Work order forms can be found on the Residential Life webpage, and students can ask their Community Assistant for help if they have questions.

“If you’re not happy with the work order, let us know,” Linn said. “We want to make sure we get it right. We want to make sure we get things cleaned up the way iSi told us to do it. It’s important that we work together on this. We’re a team, we’re a Tiger family, and we want to make sure our students are healthy.”

The next SGA meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 15. The location is to be determined.