“Dirty South” is living up to its student-given name. Ohio University and Facility Management Services have recently become aware of serious issues with ventilation and mold growth. Several students in Dirty South have become sick with symptoms of mold allergies.

Unfortunately, I was one of the students who got sick. 

Last week, I became sick with symptoms that coincided with either COVID-19 or a serious cold. I discovered soon after that I was sick from mold growth on my ceiling and in my air conditioning unit. I was not alone. Several students in multiple buildings in Dirty South developed similar symptoms. 


Mold growing in Tre Spencer’s AC unit.


I missed a few days of classes, and I had to stay with friends in their dorms that had no mold: newer dorms, like Sowle Hall. Consistent mold inhalation can lead to serious lung complications like bronchitis or pneumonia. This is a serious issue.

I called Housing and Residence Life, and they gave me a spiel that they probably tell everyone, and no action was taken. Considering that my symptoms were getting worse, I became worried and frustrated. I worked with my RA and filed a work order, but it was still dangerous for me to breathe the air in my room.

Underclassmen students are paying upwards of $7,000 a year to live in mold-ridden dorms that are making them sick. Apparently, that $7,000 doesn’t cover any sort of maintenance to keep living conditions acceptable. This issue is exacerbated when you consider that students are required to live in the dorms for their first two years as students. They aren’t allowed to live off-campus, but the university won’t maintain safe living conditions for them.

This is unacceptable.

Students are paying thousands of dollars in room and board fees, and the living conditions on Dirty South are very poor. This isn’t a new issue to the university; it has been aware of it. The Post reported over the past five years several instances of mold growth, backfilled work-orders and student complaints. In the past, the university neglected this issue, just as it is continuing to do now. 

While the university has budgeted millions to spend on new student buildings regardless of its budget issue, it has left students who live in dorms struggling with mold growth in the dark and has neglected to give any resources to mitigate this issue. 

When prospective students take tours of the university, sure, they’ll see our shiny new facilities, but if they choose to go here, they’re in for a rude awakening when they move into their dorms. It’s obvious the university is dumping money into building upgrades that attract new students due to its declining enrollment. Those students won’t see the mold on their tours, but they will if they go here. 

Tre Spencer is a sophomore studying photojournalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Tre know by tweeting him @trerspencer1.

Editor’s Note: Steve Wood, chief facilities management officer of facilities management and safety at Ohio University, has responded to this column.