Officials conduct weekly bathroom wipe-downs in Thurston

Media Credit: Camille Drury | Photographer

Housing officials said bathroom walls and ceilings in Thurston Hall will be wiped down once a week for mildew and mold prevention.

Thurston Hall residents can now expect their bathroom walls and ceilings to be cleaned once a week to prevent mold from developing.

The University originally employed a maintenance company in 2017 to conduct cleanings every other week in Thurston Hall bathrooms to prevent mold created from excessive humidity. The new weekly cleanings are a “proactive approach” to curb students’ concerns about mold and mildew, officials said.

Robin Laird, the residence hall’s senior property manager, sent an email to Thurston residents last week informing students of the updated cleanings.

“Just to clarify, they are not coming to clean your toilet, floors, etc.,” Laird said in the email. “This service is to assist us in cutting down on the humidity which collects after showering!”

University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said housing staff will continue to monitor how effective the weekly cleanings are before implementing updates to the new system. She declined to say which officials were involved in the decision to add the weekly cleanings.

“To enhance our preventative maintenance efforts this academic year, the University has increased preventative maintenance visits to weekly, which will allow us to identify and resolve issues in residents’ rooms promptly,” Nosal said in an email.

In interviews, students said the weekly ceiling and wall wipe-downs likely won’t curb humidity issues because Thurston Hall bathrooms lack ventilation.

Fourth-floor resident Delaney Lucas said she submitted a FixIt a few weeks ago for the mold and mildew in her bathroom. FixIt workers came to her residence hall room about two days later and painted over the affected areas.

“I feel like if we had fans in the bathroom to take the humidity out when we are showering, that would help,” Lucas said.

More than 10 residents said they have submitted FixIt reports to remove mold from their bathrooms this semester.

Maxine Fuselier, a sixth-floor resident, said officials aren’t fully addressing mold issues because the building will be gutted at the end of the year.

The University announced plans in February to expedite the complete interior reconstruction of Thurston Hall. Students will still incur fees at the end of the academic year for any damages made to their rooms.

“The once a week thing definitely will help,” Fuselier said. “I think it might be too far gone at this point.”

Lexie Pupil, a sixth-floor resident, said a maintenance worker almost walked in on her roommate while she was showering earlier this semester to clean the bathroom. She said housing officials should give students a heads up about the days and times the workers will conduct the cleanings.

“They straight up walked into our room,” Pupil said. “I was lucky enough to walk out to warn her because, if not, they wouldn’t have heard her.”

Fifth-floor resident Grace Mittenzwei said the toilet in her four-person unit started flushing on its own during Thurston Hall’s scheduled water outage in September.

She said FixIt workers instructed her to alert them when the toilet started flooding so she called back two hours later when water started to leak onto the floor. She said that FixIt workers repaired the toilet and placed a dehumidifier in her closet to address the moisture in the floors.

“When FixIt did come, they were great, but just the whole experience and communication of it all was frustrating and seems like it could have been prevented,” Mittenzwei said.

Mittenzwei said the University credited her and her roommate $75 on their GWorld for the damages and gave them the option to move rooms. She and her direct roommate moved to a room down the hall on the same floor.

“I know they did move girls into that room, but I know I would not want to move back in there because I am allergic to mold and I am already having issues because it is kind of everywhere,” Mittenzwei said. “But possibly living in an environment that has even more mold would be terrible.”

Fourteen students said that because Thurston will undergo major renovations at the end of the academic year, officials’ response to Thurston mold outbreaks is too late.

Sixth-floor resident Natalie Castonguay said officials don’t appear to address mold issues seriously because the building is slated to be torn down at the end of the academic year.

“People don’t really care about Thurston this year because they know it’s getting torn down next year so no one is really listening to our complaints,” said Castonguay. “Take it seriously because the whole building is coming down next year, but 900 kids are living here.”

Chanler Miller contributed reporting.

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