EDITORIAL: WKU failed to deliver on its promise by closing Minton until fall

WKU announced Minton Hall would remain closed during the Spring 2019 semester due to necessary work to prevent mold. Residents were initially relocated in November due to mold outbreaks.

Herald Editorial Board

The Issue: After shutting down Minton Hall in November and forcing more than 300 students to move out mid semester in order to address mold issues, WKU said the honors residence hall would be ready to reopen for the spring 2019 semester. Last week, the university reversed course and announced Minton would remain closed until the fall.

Our Stance: WKU made the correct move in deciding to keep Minton Hall closed for the remainder of the spring semester in order to ensure the health and well-being of its students, but the lack of communication to Minton residents left room for improvement in handling the situation.

Imagine this: You’re more than halfway through your first semester in college, and just when you’re starting to get totally adjusted and comfortable to living away from home for the first time, you suddenly have to do it again. Your dorm is being closed so the university can remove excessive amounts of mold inside the building to make your new home habitable again.

To make matters worse, you have to move out over a weekend’s time and move into another dorm on campus. You’re likely to be assigned a new roommate, one you’ve probably never met before. Oh, and that new dorm you’ve been assigned to? Somewhere, there is probably mold inside of it too.

To ease your mind, the university ensures you your now old room will be ready for you to move back into by the start of the spring semester. To ease
your pocket, the university awards you a $1,000 credit toward your spring housing bill.

By the way, fall semester final exams are less than a month away when you first hear the news.

That’s a lot of shakeup in one month’s time for a college student, and the residents of Minton Hall lived through that chaos for the closing weeks of the fall semester. But the twists in the story don’t end there.

Now, the relocated Minton students will likely never step foot inside their once familiar, once cozy honors home on the Hill again after WKU announced less than a week before the start of the spring 2019 semester that Minton would remain closed until fall 2019.

A failed guarantee partially negates the goodwill of the university. WKU’s intentions are undoubtedly in the right place to ensure the health and safety of its students, but the communication process in this decision was hardly adequate.

On Monday, Jan. 14, volunteers were being rounded up to help move Minton residents back in. Less than two days later, those plans were no longer necessary. After the mold clean up was done, further tests revealed a living environment the university was not comfortable allowing its students to live in, so it opted to keep the dorm closed. This was the only correct move to make for WKU.

However, six days before the start of the spring semester is not the first time the possibility of necessary additional remediation efforts should have been recognized, especially given the complexity and potential depth of a mold outbreak.

WKU’s lack of foresight and failure to deliver on its promise was unfair to Minton residents and discouraging for any potential future Hilltoppers.

President Timothy Caboni said Minton students will continue to pay a discounted $1,245 rate regardless of where they are living this semester. This is the least the university could do, and it is the only compensation the 348 relocated residents have received thus far.

Situations like these can either build or erode the trust between a university and its students. While the university should be applauded for making an unpopular yet proper decision, it missed an opportunity to be proactive and cater to its misplaced students. A productive move was announced in an extremely unproductive way, ensuring justified frustration from all involved.