Abigail Helm

(Rock Hill, S.C.) – The facilities management team at Winthrop University has made a number of updates on campus in response to concerns students raised about the conditions at the school, especially in residence halls.

James Grigg, the associate vice president for facilities, outlined a number of improvement projects that were underway over the holiday break, in an email to the campus community in January.

Some of the work included prep work to address moisture and leaks in Lee Wicker and Phelps halls, Grigg said was related “to roofs in need of repair or replacement.”

He also said “some of our in-house teams used the break to assess plumbing, ventilation and door locks in Richardson (Hall).”

The moves come after students had raised concerns about the living conditions on campus, after a video went viral on TikTok in November that appeared to show poor conditions in student housing, including water damage and mold in the dorms.

Grigg responded to the video in a Nov. 23 email to faculty and staff and said “in some cases, the videos are misleading or there is more to the story than can be discerned.”

However, a number of students would disagree with that assessment.

Rod Gibson, a Winthrop graduate who was formerly a member of the Summer Winthrop Area Residential Maintenance (SWARM) crew, said he worked on maintaining and inspecting campus buildings during the summer of 2021. 

“Looking at the conditions of every single building on this campus, half of the buildings are a lot more worse than what people think,” Gibson said.

He said he lived in Lee Wicker Hall, during the summer of 2021 while working with the SWARN crew, which is a suite-style residence hall that was built in 1962.

Gibson said the mold in his dorm room was so extreme that it caused damage to the bathroom door. 

“The door was off of its hinge,” he said. “It was so bad, to where in fact, the doors and all my stuff in that room, as well as my suitemate’s room, were molded up multiple times throughout the course of the summer. I had to clean off mold off of all my clothes and shoes multiple times.”

Winthrop student Nevaeh Keitt said she also had trouble with mold, while living in The Courtyard at Winthrop, which the university describes as “deluxe suites.”

“My shower liner was molded. I had towels that were molded and I had to throw all of that stuff away. And I found out that I had to shower with my door open, I even had to open my window,” Keitt stated. 

WU Students for Change, a campus advocacy group, has called on the university to “immediately address the health risks posed by the widespread growth of mold in dorms,” in their latest petition for campus safety posted to change.org. 

Those working in Residence Life say they want students to know there are options to limit mold exposure.

“We do live in the south and these are some smaller dorms, so the circulation in the room isn’t that well. I would advise people to let their (resident assistants) know, or let the desk staff know if they have any issues with mold; or try opening some windows, keeping your rooms clean, that kind of stuff,” said Anthony Lisbon, a resident assistant for Richardson Hall. 

Breanna Gayle, a sophomore who says she has dealt with mold issues in two different dorms on campus, said she is waiting for things to improve. 

“Hopefully things will get fixed and better. It’s so gross and I’m tired of feeling sick at night, because of the mold,” Gayle said.