A disturbing growth has been detected around Georgetown, and for once it’s not the neighbors. The contamination has worsened in several of the University’s older, run-down buildings. Mold poses serious health risks to students, and the school’s failure to eradicate this problem suggests that it is not equipped to continue bringing students back on campus during the timeframe stipulated by the Campus Plan.
In the last two years, one student living in Kennedy and two students living in LXR have reported being sickened when their rooms were infested by mold. Over the summer and into the start of this year, mold growth in Henle caused apartments to be closed down and residents to be relocated. Additionally, resident of Magis Row have filed numerous reports of mold in living spaces.
Mold can pose a serious health risk to students. At best, exposure can lead to respiratory irritation and an allergic reaction. In the most serious cases, exposure can be fatal. If the University has the best interest of its students in mind, it needs to plan and finance extensive renovations of affected housing facilities as soon as possible.
Potential renovations, however, have been complicated by the requirements laid out in the 2010 Campus Plan. According to the Plan, Georgetown must move 385 students back on to campus by Fall 2015. This timeframe leaves little flexibility for the University to relocate students during renovations.
Unfortunately, the administration has so far opted to construct entirely new buildings such as the North East Triangle Project to respond to the pressure of the 2015 deadline for the Campus Plan’s housing requirements. When some buildings on campus are unsafe to occupy, the construction of new buildings such as the Intercollegiate Athletic Center seems especially ill-timed.
For the sake of student health, the renovation of existing spaces must be the University’s primary focus. Changes need to be undertaken soon to remedy mold problems in residential spaces across campus. Without significant adjustments in the administration’s current priorities, sufficient renovation and fulfilling the requirements of the Campus Plan likely cannot occur simultaneously.
When faced with the choice between assuaging the grievances of neighbors and providing healthy and inhabitable residential spaces for Georgetown students, the University needs to place student health first. Georgetown must strongly consider applying for an extension of the Campus Plan so that meeting its requirements will not jeopardize the well-being of current Hoyas.