More than 400 VCU students move out after freshman dorm closed due to mold

VCU Monroe Park campus.
VCU Monroe Park campus.(VCU Capital News Service)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 9:50 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2021 at 5:25 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Commonwealth University has shut down a freshman residence hall due to mold issues for the rest of the year.

On Nov. 23, the university shut down Johnson Hall to address the elevated mold levels with appropriate remediation and cleaning within the residence hall.

This past October, VCU sent an email to students, faculty and staff stating that the university’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety is bringing an outside contractor to complete an air quality assessment throughout the building.

VCU says that as of Nov. 23, they have inspected 228 spaces throughout the building and 41 of those spaces had elevated levels of mold in comparison to other samples tested.

Students were notified of the closing just before Thanksgiving break, and as many returned to campus, they say they were shocked the university only found the high level of the mold a few months into the semester.

“In the beginning, I was surprised. It’s kinda crazy how everything’s happening when they’re just right away, right after Thanksgiving break, just kicking people out,” Elliot Wickham, a Johnson Hall resident, said.

Over the next few days, 414 students will need to make an appointment to make their way inside Johnson Hall one last time.

The university has hired movers to help families move items out of the dorms. They say a majority of students moved out on Sunday and expect a few dozen the rest of the week.

Students needed to make an appointment to gather their things, leaving some students displaced over the first few days back.

“Yeah, well, I came here, and for two days, I was practically homeless. I was living in my friend’s dorms,” Wickham said. “I had to wear the same clothing for like two days and had nothing, but I got to my classes, and I was good, so.”

VCU has provided housing assignments for students who need them. That includes moving students to other dorms on-campus or off-campus living areas like an apartment or hotel.

Students will not be charged additional costs depending on where they live, but some families have already decided to end their housing contract for the semester.

Wendell Garner says his daughter will be commuting to campus for the rest of the semester since they already live so close.

He says while he’s unsure what she’ll do next semester, it is a disappointing way to end the year.

“I’m not sure if she’s going to finish up at home or if she’s going to be coming back and forth, you know, back to school,” Garner said. “I mean, she is pretty much disappointed about it because she wants to stay in the dorms, you know. She’s pretty upset by it.”

But for some students, they say the new living arrangements are an upgrade.

“Yeah, it is pretty weird, but I’ll get used to it,” Wickham said.

Students have until Dec. 3 to move out, and those students who end their housing contract will have their housing fee prorated.

For more information regarding this closure, click here.

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