Four students were moved from their residence in Veterans Memorial Court last week after a mushroom was discovered growing from the ceiling of their apartment, according to testimony by two of the students and an email from Vice President of Student Life and Development Erin McCann.
Two of the students spent the past week temporarily living in Saint Peter Hall, and the other two chose to commute from home until maintenance services finished replacing the section of ceiling and wall where the mushroom had been. As of Wednesday, Oct. 27, all four have moved back into their VMC apartment.
According to the students, the mushroom grew from a paint bubble where the apartment’s bathroom wall meets the ceiling — directly under the bathroom of the residence above. VP McCann confirmed by email that the paint bubble was the result of a plumbing issue.
Senior English major Evangelia Vasilakis and junior marketing major NoElle Sprenkle, the students who elected to be rehomed in SPH, said in an interview that they first found the mushroom on the evening of Friday, Oct. 15 and that they immediately called maintenance to have it removed. They said that a maintenance worker did come to their apartment and remove the mushroom that same evening.
Sprenkle said that the maintenance worker who took the mushroom on Friday had expressed intention of informing their boss of the issue, but that this had apparently never happened.
“They came, they took it, and we didn't hear back from them all weekend,” said Vasilakis. VP McCann confirmed that the maintenance office has no record of a report from that Friday.
It was the following Monday, after the students again called maintenance, that the Residence Life Office informed the four students by email that they would need to temporarily move to another residence while the issue was resolved.
“Because of the location of the ceiling damage, maintenance was unable to fix it with students in the apartment (they would have no bathroom),” said McCann. “We wanted to make sure the work was done quickly, and having them temporarily relocated ensured that.”
The four were given the option of splitting up, with two moving to another residence in VMC and the other two going to SPH, or all four moving to SPH. Those who went to SPH in either case would be given $250 in Munch Money per week to eat at campus dining locations while they had to be away from their residence.
Vasilakis and Sprenkle opted to move to SPH while the other two students decided to commute for the duration of the repairs. According to Vasilakis, the commuters received parking passes.
On Friday, Oct. 22, the Residence Life Office sent out an email to VMC residents informing them that inspections of all apartments would be made the following Monday and Tuesday (Oct. 25 and 26) to look for “potential leaks or environmental concerns.” The same email also urged students to follow proper procedure for submitting maintenance requests and emphasized that the toilets of VMC are not equipped to handle the flushing of items other than regular toilet paper.
The Monday inspection occurred as scheduled, but the Tuesday inspection was postponed to Wednesday (Oct. 27) due to the rain storm which closed campus for the day.
According to both Vasilakis and McCann, no mold has been found in the VMC apartment, though the students were initially concerned given past incidents of fungal growth in other campus buildings.
Vasilakis and Sprenkle were particularly wary of a potential mold presence, having been moved from their dorms in previous years after it was discovered in their building. Vasilakis was displaced back during the fall 2018 semester when mold was found in Whelan hall where she had been living.
“It seems like a constant battle between [maintenance] and mold-esque stuff,” said Vasilakis.
Sprenkle had her own encounter with mold resulting in a temporary rehousing when she was living in Whelan in 2019. She considers the mushroom episode to be an unwelcome continuation of an unfortunate trend.
“It’s just kind of frustrating, because I wasn’t here last year because of COVID. Both years I’ve been here, I’ve had to up and move my things just because of a building situation,” said Sprenkle.