Elizabeth City State University Dealing With Mold Issues In Classrooms

By: Kay Young
By: Kay Young

The Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center on the campus of Elizabeth City State University is home to the school's creative arts and music programs.

However, the beautiful sounds that come from practice rooms on one side of the building are in stark contrast to the disturbing sights on the other side of the building.

ECSU officials let WAVY.com record video near the band entrance. We saw what appeared to be mold on the ceiling.

"We have to take classes outside on some days because the smell and the mold has gotten so bad," acting student Akeem Williams told WAVY.com.

He said he started wearing a mask when he can. "I wear it when I'm walking around the building, except when I have to perform on the stage," he explained.

University administrators say the masks are new. According to Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Ali Kahn, "The mask issue came to our notice maybe two or three days back.

We immediately approached that, and our leadership team has talked to faculty."

Students who spoke with WAVY.com were not aware of any solutions on the horizon, but they said they have fears about the building.

"Basically it's gotten to the point now our chests are starting to get congested, our throats started getting backed up," Williams said.

His friend and fellow student Damion Lamb added, "I'm in the band, and basically we have to practice outside now because of the facility, we're afraid it's going to fall on our heads."

Khan said there have been problems in the building all semester. "We had some leaking in Fine Arts and when it leaks there's moisture and there's the air quality. We've been trying to fix those on a case by case basis," he said.

ECSU leaders acknowledge conditions have deteriorated and warrant a full scale solution.

For years there were problems with the roof at the fine arts center. Administrators said there was a legal battle, and the school won.

According to the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance, Robert Gaines, ECSU will not have to pay for the materials to fix the roof.

The school will pay only labor costs of about $66,000 to replace the roof that now allows rain to seep through.

Gaines said the repairs should be completed by January.

Late Friday afternoon, school administrators met to come up with an action plan for how to handle air quality concerns while they wait for state inspectors to go through the fine arts center.

They tell WAVY.com moving students, faculty, and musical equipment away from areas damaged by moisture is a priority.

Other buildings are also getting attention. Across campus at Moore Hall complaints about air quality prompted officials to act last month.

Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Robert Gaines told WAVY.com, "We asked the state to come in and they did investigate and determined there was not any type of air hazard."

A representative from North Carolina's Department of Labor confirmed to WAVY.com inspectors investigated a complaint at the end of September, but did not cite the university for air quality problems.

However, Gaines said the state made suggestions which ECSU immediately implemented. "We used special agents to disinfect the entire area to make sure there weren't any health hazards here.... They also recommended we use dehumidifiers in the area, too," he said.

Story Courtesy Of WAVY-TV


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  • by sss Location: washington on Oct 13, 2009 at 12:12 PM
    I knew about this problem from way back in 1996 when I first attened ECSU. My sister became a student there about two years ago and her room was full of mold. I couldn't even stand to go and visit her there. She develope some chest and breathing issues, but nothing was ever done about it. I think that ECSU needs to address thsi problem asap. It's not like they don't know about it.
  • by Fellow Viking on Oct 13, 2009 at 09:49 AM
    I was sad that asbestos was a problem in the fine arts center. I happen to be an anlum from this university and experieced that ugly mold my first year. It wasn't there when I first moved into this particular doorm across from the cafe. But as the summer progressed (and mind you there was no a.c in the rooms of the building), I'm almost positive that the heat is what made reappear and spread in the bathrooms the way that it did. That year I had breathing problems but tried to ignore it. When I switched doorms the next year, I didn't have problems breathing. I just wished E.C.S.U cared more about their students, than to have to "pay" to live on their campus.
  • by bigdaddy Location: washington, nc on Oct 11, 2009 at 08:03 PM
    If they have not already done so, I would suggest that the university should notify the county's health department about the mold, since it is a public health issue. Until the leaky roof is repaired, and other steps taken to keep the humidity at a level that does not allow mold to grow, the university will continue having problems, with more complaints of illness from students and faculty. The health department has contact with the Division of Public Health, that can provide a certified industrial hygienist to investigate the conditions described in the article.
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