Fraternity members look up to mold The Daily Helmsman

Fraternity members look up to mold The Daily Helmsman

Fraternity members look up to mold

Overflowing trashcans and a laundry-littered floor tend to be common scenes in the home of a college student.

A bathroom ceiling spotted with black mold is more infrequent unless you live in The University of Memphis-owned Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house at 3609 Watauga Ave.

Three students currently live in the house, where the mold has been visible since fall 2009, according to former resident Nathaniel Coleman, vice president of Lambda Chi.

Coleman, sophomore accounting and hospitality major, said the mold, which is also in the attic, is «nasty.»

«I’m not sure what allergies I have to mold, but I could definitely notice a difference when I stayed (at my parents’) home over the weekend and when I went back,» he said. «Again, I don’t know if there is anything to that, but when you go into the attic, you can see it and smell it, and it’s kind of gross.»

The mold was first reported Dec. 21, 2010 in an e-mail sent to Linda Arnold, rental property manager in the Physical Plant department, who replied and told the residents that she put in a work order that day.

Arnold refused an in-person interview with The Daily Helmsman because it is against Physical Plant policy, she said. In an e-mail response, she said the regional energy and environment department at U of M scheduled remediation of the mold for Thursday.

Lambda Chi president Carlisle Jasper reported the mold 44 days before the scheduled remediation in an e-mail replying to Arnold, who told him a fence residents were building was a breach of their lease.

«I think that other situations in the house which make them unlivable, such as the mold in the bathrooms, would be a breach of the housing agreement and something that needs a solution,» Jasper said.

In the e-mail, he also told Physical Plant there was mold on his bedroom’s air vent, which he replaced at his cost.

«To look up while taking a shower and see mold (and I’m pretty sure no mold is good mold, except cheese) is something that I feel needs to be fixed,» he said in the e-mail.

Arnold said Physical Plant inspected the house when The University acquired it in May 2008. Lambda Chi fraternity members lived there before the house was University-owned and did not have to leave the house for the inspection.

«Based on the inspection by the Physical Plant, it appears that the mold issue reported to our office on Dec. 21, 2010, is a recent problem,» Arnold said Thursday. «All tenants were mailed a letter in August 2010 advising them to notify our office if they suspected mold on their walls or ceilings.»

Environmental Hygienist John Parker of Mold Inc. a mold testing and removal company in Memphis, said the growth was cause for concern.

«If you’ve got black mold, that’s always bad,» he said.

When Parker looked at photos of the mold from the fraternity house, he said his first thought was that «these photos look scary.»

He said he would need to test the mold to find out the type and severity. From looking at photos of the mold, he said it may be in the Stachybotrys family, which contains a species commonly known as «black mold» that causes poor indoor air quality and could be fatal to those overexposed to it.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website says any mold has the potential to cause health problems, and the severity of symptoms depends partly on the type of mold and ages of individuals exposed. It lists several possible health effects, including allergic reactions, asthma, infection and irritation.

Recently elected Student Government Association senator Matt Uselton, also a senior finance major and member of Lambda Chi, doesn’t live in the house but said he has seen the mold. Though he knows dealing with older homes can be difficult, he said the mold problem has been an issue for a long time.

«I would like to see work being done a little faster than it is going now,» he said. «I don’t believe any type of mold is sanitary, and as long as rent is being paid, we are legal tenants of The University of Memphis and their rental properties. Just as any landlord or maintenance crew would do in any other rental property, I would hope (the mold) would be fixed within a matter of days from the initial report.»

Arnold said that fraternity housing is inspected quarterly. During inspections, heating and air conditioning systems, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems were inspected, she said.

Residents of Zeta Beta Tau’s fraternity house at 3604 Midland Ave. complained to Physical Plant about property issues as well.

ZBT President Hunter Lang e-mailed Arnold the morning of Jan. 16 after moving in the previous night. In the e-mail, he said that when he opened his bathroom door after letting the water run for a few minutes, «a sea of water» leaked out of the walls, ruining two new rugs, which he had to throw away.

«On top of that, my shower still backed up,» he said in the e-mail. «This is a PROBLEM, and I am not very happy. I was under the impression that all of these things had been checked before we moved in. Obviously I was wrong.»

Lang said Arnold called him at 8 a.m. that morning and sent workers over to fix the problem.

«During our routine maintenance inspection repair, we replaced the toilet and repaired a faucet leak,» Arnold told The Daily Helmsman in an e-mail. «The issue in the guesthouse (where Lang lives) was not a leak but a stopped-up sewer line. A sewer line stoppage is hard to identify on a routine inspection. It usually takes repeated usage of the bathroom before the problem presents itself.»

In addition to the plumbing issue, Lang said he doesn’t approve of the on/off lock on the water supply valve of the indoor sprinkler system.

«If another fraternity wanted to play a prank on us, they could just come over and hold up a lighter to them (the sprinklers), and we couldn’t cut them off,» Lang said.

He added, «the plumber said, This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.'»

Arnold said the device was installed to meet state fire marshal codes.

«The lock is a safety feature to prevent someone from turning the system off,» she said.

Tom Battle, facility construction specialist at the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said the code demands the water supply valve remain permanently turned on but doesn’t regulate the means of doing so.

«The code requires supervision so you don’t have a closed valve,» he said. «As long as it is locked open, then that is good.»

Zach Namias, previous ZBT president and U of M graduate, said that installation of the sprinkler system delayed move-in to the ZBT house by more than three years. Lang said Physical Plant told him it was against codes for four or more unrelated people to live there without a sprinkler system.

Residents of ZBT pay an extra $292 per month on their $34,583 sprinkler system. Residents in Lambda Chi’s 3609 Watauga property pay an extra $221 on their $26,210 system and an extra $206 per month on the 3605 Watauga property’s $24,366 system. They all pay at an interest rate of 6 percent over 15 years.

From February to June 2010, while the house wasn’t equipped with the system, the athletic program rented the current ZBT house for newly hired football coaches, according to Arnold’s e-mail. She didn’t specify how many.

Fraternity members look up to mold

Overflowing trashcans and a laundry-littered floor tend to be common scenes in the home of a college student.

A bathroom ceiling spotted with black mold is more infrequent unless you live in The University of Memphis-owned Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house at 3609 Watauga Ave.

Three students currently live in the house, where the mold has been visible since fall 2009, according to former resident Nathaniel Coleman, vice president of Lambda Chi.

Coleman, sophomore accounting and hospitality major, said the mold, which is also in the attic, is «nasty.»

«I’m not sure what allergies I have to mold, but I could definitely notice a difference when I stayed (at my parents’) home over the weekend and when I went back,» he said. «Again, I don’t know if there is anything to that, but when you go into the attic, you can see it and smell it, and it’s kind of gross.»

The mold was first reported Dec. 21, 2010 in an e-mail sent to Linda Arnold, rental property manager in the Physical Plant department, who replied and told the residents that she put in a work order that day.

Arnold refused an in-person interview with The Daily Helmsman because it is against Physical Plant policy, she said. In an e-mail response, she said the regional energy and environment department at U of M scheduled remediation of the mold for Thursday.

Lambda Chi president Carlisle Jasper reported the mold 44 days before the scheduled remediation in an e-mail replying to Arnold, who told him a fence residents were building was a breach of their lease.

«I think that other situations in the house which make them unlivable, such as the mold in the bathrooms, would be a breach of the housing agreement and something that needs a solution,» Jasper said.

In the e-mail, he also told Physical Plant there was mold on his bedroom’s air vent, which he replaced at his cost.

«To look up while taking a shower and see mold (and I’m pretty sure no mold is good mold, except cheese) is something that I feel needs to be fixed,» he said in the e-mail.

Arnold said Physical Plant inspected the house when The University acquired it in May 2008. Lambda Chi fraternity members lived there before the house was University-owned and did not have to leave the house for the inspection.

«Based on the inspection by the Physical Plant, it appears that the mold issue reported to our office on Dec. 21, 2010, is a recent problem,» Arnold said Thursday. «All tenants were mailed a letter in August 2010 advising them to notify our office if they suspected mold on their walls or ceilings.»

Environmental Hygienist John Parker of Mold Inc. a mold testing and removal company in Memphis, said the growth was cause for concern.

«If you’ve got black mold, that’s always bad,» he said.

When Parker looked at photos of the mold from the fraternity house, he said his first thought was that «these photos look scary.»

He said he would need to test the mold to find out the type and severity. From looking at photos of the mold, he said it may be in the Stachybotrys family, which contains a species commonly known as «black mold» that causes poor indoor air quality and could be fatal to those overexposed to it.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website says any mold has the potential to cause health problems, and the severity of symptoms depends partly on the type of mold and ages of individuals exposed. It lists several possible health effects, including allergic reactions, asthma, infection and irritation.

Recently elected Student Government Association senator Matt Uselton, also a senior finance major and member of Lambda Chi, doesn’t live in the house but said he has seen the mold. Though he knows dealing with older homes can be difficult, he said the mold problem has been an issue for a long time.

«I would like to see work being done a little faster than it is going now,» he said. «I don’t believe any type of mold is sanitary, and as long as rent is being paid, we are legal tenants of The University of Memphis and their rental properties. Just as any landlord or maintenance crew would do in any other rental property, I would hope (the mold) would be fixed within a matter of days from the initial report.»

Arnold said that fraternity housing is inspected quarterly. During inspections, heating and air conditioning systems, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems were inspected, she said.

Residents of Zeta Beta Tau’s fraternity house at 3604 Midland Ave. complained to Physical Plant about property issues as well.

ZBT President Hunter Lang e-mailed Arnold the morning of Jan. 16 after moving in the previous night. In the e-mail, he said that when he opened his bathroom door after letting the water run for a few minutes, «a sea of water» leaked out of the walls, ruining two new rugs, which he had to throw away.

«On top of that, my shower still backed up,» he said in the e-mail. «This is a PROBLEM, and I am not very happy. I was under the impression that all of these things had been checked before we moved in. Obviously I was wrong.»

Lang said Arnold called him at 8 a.m. that morning and sent workers over to fix the problem.

«During our routine maintenance inspection repair, we replaced the toilet and repaired a faucet leak,» Arnold told The Daily Helmsman in an e-mail. «The issue in the guesthouse (where Lang lives) was not a leak but a stopped-up sewer line. A sewer line stoppage is hard to identify on a routine inspection. It usually takes repeated usage of the bathroom before the problem presents itself.»

In addition to the plumbing issue, Lang said he doesn’t approve of the on/off lock on the water supply valve of the indoor sprinkler system.

«If another fraternity wanted to play a prank on us, they could just come over and hold up a lighter to them (the sprinklers), and we couldn’t cut them off,» Lang said.

He added, «the plumber said, This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.'»

Arnold said the device was installed to meet state fire marshal codes.

«The lock is a safety feature to prevent someone from turning the system off,» she said.

Tom Battle, facility construction specialist at the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said the code demands the water supply valve remain permanently turned on but doesn’t regulate the means of doing so.

«The code requires supervision so you don’t have a closed valve,» he said. «As long as it is locked open, then that is good.»

Zach Namias, previous ZBT president and U of M graduate, said that installation of the sprinkler system delayed move-in to the ZBT house by more than three years. Lang said Physical Plant told him it was against codes for four or more unrelated people to live there without a sprinkler system.

Residents of ZBT pay an extra $292 per month on their $34,583 sprinkler system. Residents in Lambda Chi’s 3609 Watauga property pay an extra $221 on their $26,210 system and an extra $206 per month on the 3605 Watauga property’s $24,366 system. They all pay at an interest rate of 6 percent over 15 years.

From February to June 2010, while the house wasn’t equipped with the system, the athletic program rented the current ZBT house for newly hired football coaches, according to Arnold’s e-mail. She didn’t specify how many.


Leave a Reply