Communications building finds mold, faces its effects


Emmory Bridges

Mold is drawn as it might appear on clothing. Loyola’s Communications and Music complex has had issues with mold, specifically in the Wolfpack Wardrobe, which provides free clothing to students.

Sam Ufkes, Staff Writer

Starting this past summer, multiple school personnel noticed mold and mildew in Loyola’s Communications and Music Complex.

This caused the university to shut down a student service beloved by many, Wolf Pack Wardrobe, which provided students with free clothing and was open daily, according to Caleigh Flynn, executive director and founder of Wolf Pack Wardrobe. Flynn added that the service was staffed almost entirely by students.

But because of issues with mold, Wolf Pack Wardrobe has been almost wholly absent to students, including first-year students or transfer students to Loyola this year, who may not even know its presence on campus. Flynn said that, as of Sept. 16, members of the service are just now able to wash the damaged clothing because of health concerns regarding the mold.

“We didn’t want any (student staff) touching anything potentially harmful,” she said.

Charles Marshall, Loyola’s director of physical plant administration, said that the central plant experienced an equipment failure several weeks ago which required his team to temporarily raise average temperatures slightly across campus, and that doing so may have caused existing mold issues to become worse.

“We live in a low-lying…extremely humid climate…incidents appear even in the cleanest of environments,” Marshall said.

Loyola has been made aware of Wolf Pack Wardrobe’s issue, and active measures are happening, according to Flynn. But Flynn added that regardless, some of the damaged clothing was beyond saving.

This cleaning has made a huge dent in Wolf Pack Wardrobe’s involvement with new students, Flynn said, because it has forced Wolf Pack Wardrobe to miss student events that previously informed students of the service.

“We were hoping to start off…with those early events,” Flynn said.

But Wolf Pack Wardrobe is not the only area of the building that has experienced issues with mold and mildew. Katherine Duncan, an associate director for the school of music and theater professions, said that mold and mildew are present in the vocal studios, and even in her office.

The mold and mildew present a health problem for Duncan, who said she has severe allergies and asthma.

“As a singer (who) is required to breathe deeply, it is a challenge,” she said.

Nick Volz, an associate professor of music, noted that the mold posed an unexpected issue which has taken a lot of time to clean up right at the beginning of a new semester.

Both Volz and Duncan said that the music and communications building generally has a particular problem with mold due to temperature regulations and the daily rain New Orleans experienced this summer. Additionally, Flynn said that her office can be incredibly cold, while Duncan said that some classrooms on the fourth floor of the building feel hot and humid.

Marshall added that all areas affected have been documented but that it is still important to remain aware of these issues. Students should tell faculty or staff immediately if they notice any further issues, he added. Flynn said that the Loyola administration has provided resources for Wolf Pack Wardrobe to get back on its feet by paying for carpet cleaning and helping Wolf Pack Wardrobe hire workers to clean the clothes that were affected by mold.
“Had it not been for (the staff of Wolf Pack Wardrobe), I would probably have closed the service for the entire semester, but they are committed to seeing it through,” Flynn said of the students working on the project.

Flynn said she hopes that Wolf Pack Wardrobe will be operational within the next few weeks.

“Once we’re operational again, we want to be out there for students and networking opportunities,” Flynn said.