Mold, venomous spiders concern campus residents


Dennis Marshall

Paige Hatfield said she has a problem with brown recluses in her campus apartment at a meeting about housing issues Nov. 19, in the Fireside Lounge.

“I kill at least five of them a week,” she said. “Some of them get as big as a quarter, which is really scary. My roommate had to jump on our kitchen table.”

The university had a company spray the apartment after she reported the issue.

“They sent someone to spray, but they don’t spray often enough, and that’s why they keep getting in,” Hatfield said. “I’m terrified of waking up and having a hole in the side of my head because their venom will actually eat holes in your skin.”

No one has followed up with her since the company sprayed, Hatfield said.

Laurie Berry, housing and residence life director, said if students see something like that, they should put in a work order. The university has a contract with a pest control company that will come in and spray.

“I know we have had some black widows and brown recluse spiders, but that’s common wherever you go,” Berry said. “Spiders are a little more difficult to deal with than other kinds of bugs, but what we usually try to do for those kinds of things are if they (spiders) eat other kinds of bugs and those are present, we will try to kill some of those bugs and the spiders will leave.”

Brown recluses like to hide in shoes, boxes and dark places. Students should keep their living space clean and not have a bunch of boxes lying around.

“It’s the type of spider you just don’t want to have around,” Berry said.

Resident Assistant (RA) Aaron Gottman mentioned another dangerous issue facing the students who live on campus.

“I noticed my friend was a little sick and had been coughing a lot lately,” Gottman said. “We ended up pulling back his bed and looking into his vent and it turned out there was a little bit of black mold in there.”

Gottman’s roommate called the Physical Plant, and they came in and cleaned up the mold.

“There is not any more mold here than there would be if you were lying in the grass,” Gottman said Physical Plant told him. “What I don’t think the Physical Plant understands is that people are living in these environments where mold is present. Although it is the same consistency of mold as if you were laying in the grass, I don’t think they understand that you’re not sleeping on the grass.”

Gottman went to some of his fellow RAs to see if they were facing the same issues.

“It just all started popping up everywhere. So eventually I had to take charge with my position and get in contact with the Physical Plant and the housing office,” he said of his housing role in the Student Government Association. “They told me, ‘Hey, we are aware that this is happening on campus. There is mold everywhere, but there is nothing we can really do.’ I didn’t like that answer. There is a lot more they can do.”

Since then, Gottman has been working with the Physical Plant, letting them know where problem areas are.

“They have actually been improving their way of going about it and how they approach mold on campus,” Gottman said. “There is definitely a growth of what they are trying to do.”

As for mold – Berry said she understands it’s a problem.

“I will say that I feel like we treat mold at a higher level than I even treat it in my house,” she said.

Berry said she is seeing more of an issue with mildew in the reports.

One of the main reasons mold is an issue is because students are pushing their couches against air conditioning units, creating an airflow problem and condensation.

“You’ll start to see black stuff that grows, when they come and look at it, it’s not mold it’s mildew,” she said. “I feel like we have a good mold remediation, but a lot of it depends on students letting us know that (even) if we come and take care of it, and it comes back. Any time we have a water issue and we have anything that can consume water or it sits, there is a potential for mold or mildew.”

Similar to having issues with bugs, if students have an issue with mold or mildew, they should contact the Physical Plant and put in a work order.

“We have a bed bug dog that comes out and checks for those before students are here and while they are on break we’ll have the bed bug dog come through again,” Berry said. “We try to the best of our ability to control the pest issue.  The best thing students can do is let us know if they think they have a problem so that we can come in and take care of it.”