Renovations on Minton Hall are continuing through the spring semester with a current focus on air circulation patterns for individual rooms and an air-balancing test for the building as a whole.
Minton was closed in November due to mold found in the mechanical spaces within the building. The 348 residents living in the hall were moved to other dorms across campus and were initially told the building would reopen for the Spring 2019 semester.
Less than a week before the semester began, former Minton residents were sent an email notifying them the building would not be ready, and construction would continue during the spring.
President Timothy Caboni said the university first learned of the issue a day before students were notified and made the decision for Minton to remain closed.
Lexington freshman MacKenzie Varble said she felt both surprised and unsurprised when she learned in January that Minton would not be open for the spring semester as had been previously promised by WKU.
“If the mold was as bad as they said it was, then they [HRL] had a lot of work to do,” Varble said. “I was expecting it to take longer than the 10 weeks they said construction would last.”
Varble moved with some other displaced Minton residents to Zacharias Hall, where she still lives. She said she was able to request a roommate, a friend in the same department.
While she has not personally noticed any mold in her new residence hall, Varble said she had friends from Minton who complained of mold in their new buildings.
“I don’t know if it’s as big of a problem in the other buildings,” she said. “None of them have had to close like Minton had.”
According to an email sent to Miton residents on Jan. 7 from HRL, ceiling tiles had been replaced with a PVC-based tile that does not hold moisture, venting tiles had been installed in each room, which allows increased passive circulation, new air filters were in the process of being installed and cleaning crews were working through the building.
That was the last update sent to students on Minton’s renovations before the January announcement the building would not reopen.
Mike Reagle, assistant vice president for student affairs, said in an email WKU is continuing to monitor Minton and the air quality in the building.
“Since the building is closed for the spring we have not set any ‘completion date’ for these additional projects but we want to ensure that when the building reopens in the fall we are comfortable with the operation of the entire HVAC system,” Reagle said.
The process of responding to maintenance requests shifted from going through the Department of Housing and Residence Life to the Department of Facilities Management. Caboni said this change was implemented at the end of the Fall 2018 semester.
Reagle described the transition for the maintenance staff as a “relatively seamless process.”
“They still report to a supervisor within HRL whose sole responsibility is the maintenance and cleanliness of the WKU Residence Halls,” Reagle said. “Aligning our program up with the University program has simply allowed us to be more efficient and effective in our response to issues within the halls. It will also allow us in the long run to be more proactive in our treatment of all HRL facilities.”
Justin Geilear, a freshman from Versailles, said he was upset with HRL after learning, like Varble, he would not be returning to Minton for the spring.
“The fact that they gave the anouncement so last minute really angered me,” he said. “I stayed in Bemis, but my old roommate had requested a new one, and I found myself room and roommate-less for a day until we were able to sort it out.”
Geilear currently lives in Bemis Lawrence Hall after moving out of Minton last fall. While Bemis is not where he wanted to be, he said he is trying to make the best of his situation.
“I’m a firm believer that home is where you make it,” Geilear said. “There’s a different group of people [in Bemis] for sure, but if you make an effort to meet new people, you can make the best of it.”
Assistant News Editor Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.