UPDATED: Minton Hall residents being relocated to combat mold

WDRB reporter Lawrence Smith reports on the mold problem in WKU’s Minton Hall. Students housed in the dorms are experiencing mold in the ceiling panels of their rooms, underneath their beds and even personal belongings. Students are told to move out by Sunday Nov. 11, 2018. 

Minton Hall will close down for the rest of the fall semester in order to address mold found in mechanical spaces within the building, according to WKU.

All 348 residents will be relocated to other on-campus housing. Students will receive their room assignments on Thursday through the WKU Housing Portal at www.wku.edu/housing/portal, director of public relations Bob Skipper said.

In an email, President Timothy Caboni said students moved out of Minton would receive $1000 credit to the Spring 2019 housing fee. Caboni additionally apologized for the inconvenience and disruption. 

“Our first and foremost concern is the health and well-being of our students,” Brian Kuster, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience, said. “Results of our air quality monitoring indicate that the type of mold present in Minton Hall is common mold and poses few health risks, but it can trigger problems in those who are allergic or who have respiratory issues.”

Minton Hall will close on Monday and will reopen Jan. 18, 2019.

WKU’s Housing and Residence Life staff are notifying residents of their new assignments for the remainder of the semester and will provide moving assistance. HRL will provide move-in dollies and boxes. Staff will be available Friday, Saturday and Sunday to assist with moving students’ belongings to their new rooms.

HRL will also provide these services when students move back to their rooms in January, according to WKU.

The unique mechanical structures within Minton Hall require crews to remove the ceilings in order to “appropriately remediate” the dorm. Kuster said this means the building will need to be unoccupied.

“We know this will be inconvenient for our students, but it is the most prudent and proactive course of action,” Kuster said. “We will provide all the support necessary to get students relocated and settled quickly.”

Caboni sent an email to faculty and staff Thursday afternoon explaining the efforts to remove mold from Minton.

“While this is disruptive, it is the most prudent and proactive course of action,” Caboni said in the email. “Our first and foremost concern is the health and well-being of our students.  

On Oct. 23, WKU’s Housing and Residence Life hired an outside contractor to complete HVAC unit inspections and cleanings in Minton Hall, after completing HVAC checks and cleanings in Bemis Lawrence Hall, Barnes-Campbell Hall and Pearce-Ford Tower.

The work will be completed by a private contractor.

Minton Hall was originally constructed in 1963 and went through significant renovations in 2004, according to the HRL website. 

WKU advised students and parents with questions can call HRL at 270-745-3143 or email [email protected].

HRL sent an email out to all Minton residents, saying free laundry will be provided for the remainder of the fall semester. Students will be required to wash all clothing and bedding immediately before or after moving to prevent the spread of any mold spores into the new living spaces.

Academic instructors were notified about the move and “have been asked to consider academic accommodations during this period,” according to HRL’s email.

“Our actions have been guided by the values of health, safety, academic progress, and transparency.  We will continue to support you as you pursue your academic goals. We hope that this action will end the disruption, and knowing the strength of the Hilltopper Spirit you will rise to the challenge and we will do everything in our power to assist and support you,” HRL said in the email.

Skipper said there has been a significant reduction in spore counts in other residence halls and the university is closely monitoring mold growth. He said they also anticipate a drop as the climate changes and humidity decreases. 

Resident assistants living in Minton Hall will be moved into RA’s rooms in other residence halls. 

WKU transportation sent an email Thursday, Nov. 8, announcing several lots will be reserved for Minton resident relocation from 12 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday. All of Minton Circle, McCormack Lot meters, Kentucky Building Circle, four Normal St. meters, Regents Drive meters, PFT meters, Avenue of Champions/Keen Hall meters and Poland meters will all be reserved according to the email. 

“We understand this causes added stress to students as they are assigned new living spaces and in many cases new roommates,” Caboni wrote in the email sent to faculty and staff. “Our HRL staff is working with each of the affected students and will be providing assistance with their moves Friday through Sunday. I want to encourage all of us to offer support to these students, including making reasonable academic accommodations during this time.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

News reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.