by Dezmond Remington
Originally printed April 26, 2023
Pink, yellow, black and blue—these aren’t the colors of the rainbow, but they are the colors of bathrooms, kitchens and showers in dorms all over campus as residents attempt to deal with the mold that almost inevitably springs up in Arcata’s damp climate.
Experiences vary; when Environmental Science major Elizabeth Lachman moved into her dorm in Campus Apartments last year, she noticed what looked to her like spores in her ceiling that eventually made bubbles in the plaster.
“The ceiling was kind of rotting,” Lachman said. “It came from a leak above me, and it took a while for the school to come out and actually fix and make repairs to it.”
The side of Campus Apartments that faces the library, where Lachman lived, is particularly susceptible to being moldy. The only windows that allow the sun to get into the rooms are the sliding glass doors that only offer privacy when the blinds are shut. The small amount of sun that does make it to that side is often shut out by the blinds.
Lachman also struggled with food molding after only a few days in her kitchen, a problem she blames on the room.
“In no other occurrences have I gotten groceries and they’ve gone bad so fast,” Lachman said. “Not only [did] I feel like I was breathing gross air, but I felt like I was wasting money because I kept buying food and it kept getting all moldy and gross.”
Shower mold was also a problem for Lachman as well as many people in the dorms. Another student, Robyn Pedersen, lives in Creekview and often brawls with mold in the vents in the ceiling of the bathroom, as well as on the walls. No matter what product he uses, whether it’s the university-provided mold killer, vinegar, bleach, or any other chemical concoction, nothing gets rid of it entirely.
“It’s a daily task,” Pedersen said. “You get in there and you see different types of mold growing around the bathtub, so you have to get down on your hands and knees and scrub, but the stuff that grows in the tile and on the ground is a lot harder to get into, so you really got to really spray it down and get in there with a scrub brush. It takes a lot of elbow grease, but even that doesn’t get rid of it all.”
Mold in the lockers in shower rooms is also widespread. Business major Gino Grier, who lived in Tan Oak last year, said there was a lot of gray mold growing behind the paint in every locker in the shower room on his floor. It smelled like spoiled milk and despite his best efforts, as well as the toils of everyone else on his floor, it never went away. He also had to clean out mold in his bedroom, but that went away with some vinegar.
Almost universally, every student that has had to deal with mold has done it alone. Despite pleas to the Housing or Maintenance departments, students are left to their own devices when it comes to dealing with mold. When Pedersen, his roommates and even residents in other dorms in Creekview complained to the school, the only help they were offered was a flyer about mold prevention that Pedersen said was completely unhelpful.
“It’s really disappointing,” Pedersen said, “because you really wouldn’t expect this from college living when you’re paying so much to live in these dorms.”
Lachman had a similar experience. The only assistance she was given was a list of cleaning products that she would have to buy herself.
“I just felt like they didn’t really care,” Lachman said. “[They said] ‘these are the things you can do to help yourself,’ but it’s literally you investing into products to clean their room. I’m not going to get any of that money back. I just wish they would have supplied me with more help.”
Grier feels the same—cheated.
“I’d prefer it if they gave a shit,” Grier said. “I wish they weren’t seeing students as dollar signs. Mold isn’t very expensive to fix in the [beginning], but once it gets bad, it’s incredibly costly. And the fact that they ignore that problem and just let it do whatever is kind of concerning.”