Several students have reported that first-year residence halls, primarily McBride and Mather Residence Halls, are experiencing mold outbreaks and ventilation issues. According to maintenance workers, the presence of mold is a recurrent issue at Kenyon that has not been appropriately addressed by the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) or the Maintenance Department.
The College has previously responded to several reports of mold in residential spaces on campus. Last year, multiple residents of the New Apartments (New Apts) were forced to vacate their residential spaces due to the presence of black mold, which can cause respiratory issues and allergy symptoms. Similar events occurred in 2019 and 2003, when previous residents of the New Apts were required to temporarily move to other living spaces on campus. Recently, students living in McBride and Mather have reported comparable issues with their residential units, citing mildew and dampness in bathrooms and ceilings.
According to Mather resident Molly Hunt ’27, the lack of help she received from the College in handling her room’s condition has been frustrating. “Since I moved in, I have experienced a number of issues with mold in my room,” she said in an interview with the Collegian. “When we spoke to maintenance about the issue, they told us that the room was 65% humid air temperature. Additionally, both our maintenance [staff] and [my Community Advisor] told us that a fan would help the issue; however, that has not been the case.”
Indoor humidity levels should ideally stay below 60 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA adds that humidity above 60 percent is considered high, and increases the possibility of mold or mildew growth in residential spaces.
In addition to mold in her dorm room, Hunt expressed concern over growing mildew and increased mold in the bathrooms, which are shared between multiple students. “Not only is this an issue in the room, but several of us have noticed that in the bathroom, in particular the sinks, there is a huge excessive amount of mold and mildew growing,” she said.
Evie Holzhall ’27, another resident of Mather, expressed similar concerns. “I have found that the mold issues extend to a big problem of general dampness in the room. My clothes have turned green in some cases,” she said. “There is a general feeling of dampness in the rooms and bathrooms.”
Maintenance workers in Mather and McBride explained that representatives at the College have not made a clear attempt to notify workers of the mold, despite numerous student complaints. “We have reached out to Kenyon College Campus Safety team and have not been notified to clean the vents or tank usage in the rooms,” one worker, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said. “Additionally, we have reported the situation to Residential Life with little to no response about how our maintenance team should handle the situation.” ResLife did not respond to a request for comment.
CAs living in first-year residence halls expressed similar concerns regarding mold and dampness in their living spaces. One CA, who wished to remain anonymous for the same reason, highlighted that especially in light of staff turnover, many maintenance workers are unaware of the process of reporting mold in residence halls or not given the opportunity to communicate their concerns with authority figures in Residential Life and other departments. “I think that the issue is, in a lot of these buildings, because people are so new it’s like they don’t yet have the power to do something about a lot of the smaller things that are wrong,” the CA said in an interview with the Collegian. “Whereas the higher ups are higher ups, so they’re not really aware of it.”
Maintenance workers, residents and CAs alike expressed frustration with the lack of communication regarding the current situation. To the CA, effective resolution of issues such as mold could be improved by more effective communication between various levels of authority. “The issue, I imagine, comes mostly from that kind of chain of command that you have to go to make any sort of long-term difference at Kenyon,” the CA added.
Both employees and students emphasized that concern for the health of the student body is the primary issue at play when it comes to reducing the presence of mold in residence halls. “I know the increase of indoor mold can cause a lot of health issues,” a maintenance worker said. “And I am concerned about the health and wellbeing of the students that live here.”
News Editors Liz DeProspo ’25 and Rachel Botkin ’24 contributed to reporting.