Letter to the Editor: Displaced Students Lack Compensation

I am writing as a student who has not been directly affected by the mold issues, but who has a number of friends who have had to deal with these problems. I would like to take the time to respond to the recent e-mail regarding the mold remediation housing credits. I feel that the solutions offered by this e-mail do not merely fail to adequately compensate these students for the difficulties they have experienced; the solutions that the Office of Residence Life has proposed are laughable and border on being downright dishonest.

The e-mail notes that the students who were displaced by the mold were promised – and the word “promised” is a direct quote – 15 housing credits in compensation for the inconvenience caused. However, the e-mail then goes on to explain how the original solution proposed is untenable given the large number of students who have been affected. To remediate this, Residence Life has decided to offer the 15 housing credits to ONLY those students in CD 1L and PG 1R who experienced extra inconvenience. The remaining students, in order to be justly compensated, will be entered into drawings for a pair of Senior Gala tickets (seniors only), two townhouses (rising juniors and rising seniors only), and four WC suites (everyone else). If I am interpreting the e-mail correctly, those students who aren’t lucky enough to win something in the drawing will receive NO further compensation.

I think that this solution is wrong. These students have had to deal with an extremely high level of inconvenience and stress associated with the mold. I can attest to this just from my interactions with friends who lived in the affected dorms. They were also promised compensation by the school. For the school to then take away any compensation for the majority of students represents gross dishonesty and ineptitude in dealing with this. Perhaps it is to be expected given the school’s history in dealing with mold-related issues.

In the e-mail, the reasons for this decision are outlined, and I wish to address them individually. First of all, it is noted that “with so many people getting the credits, it would eliminate the benefit being offered.” This is true, but I don’t see why this bars the possibility of alternate compensation. Secondly, “the remaining 425+ students in CH, DD, and QA would be unfairly disadvantaged because they were not assigned to a building with mold.” This should not be an issue here. If the school would like to speak of students being “unfairly disadvantaged,” perhaps they should consult with those students in PG and CD who had to deal with moving out of their housing into hotels, only to move again within a week, all while trying to cope with the stress of a full course load and, for many, of adjusting to being away at school for the first time. Thirdly, “the logistics of trying to coordinate 350 students getting additional credits would be unusually difficult to administer.” Perhaps the school should have thought of this before making promises that it couldn’t keep; this reason is nothing more than a lame cop-out.

If the school feels that the 15 housing credits is no longer a viable solution, I see no reason why alternate compensation cannot be developed. Merely entering students into a raffle is in no way sufficient compensation for the difficulties these students have had to put up with, and I for one feel as though the school should not be let off the hook for making false promises and then failing to adequately compensate students.

In the Resident Handbook there is a section entitled “Resident Rights and Responsibilities.”Listed among these rights are: the right to sleep and relax in your room; read and study in your room, free of interference; have free access to your room or townhouse; have a clean, safe environment in which to live. It seems to me that the school the school has failed to provide all of the above state rights.

In the terms of the Housing Contract, the college agrees to provide “a revocable license to live in the College’s housing subject to the terms and conditions of this contract.” The students living in PG and CD have not in any way violated the terms of their contract, although it would seem that the school has failed to uphold its end. I believe that these students should receive financial compensation totaling all or part of their housing payment for the semester. The school has failed on many fronts in its handling of the mold issue, but I hope that it will not be allowed to fail at fairly compensating all of the students who have been affected by the mold problem.

-Matthew Anthony

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