OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Students at a State University of New York campus say mold in their dormitories is making them sick.

Despite a top-to-bottom cleaning over the summer, they claim the problem persists, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Students at SUNY Old Westbury shouted “We have mold!” loud enough to tell Albany. Dozens marched across campus Tuesday to demand funding to better control mold in dorm rooms, growing on their clothing, mattresses and ceiling tiles.

It’s persistent mold they fear is making them sick.

Students at SUNY Old Westbury demonstrated on Oct. 15, 2019, in protest of mold found in their dorms. (Photo: CBS2)

“I’ve had nasal congestion and everything, coughing in my sleep,” one student said.

“Me and my roommate, we had lung spasms,” another said.

“I get headaches still and it makes me feel sick in the room,” Deneika Patterson said.

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Patterson said she had to throw out mold-covered clothing last semester. This semester, she said it was on her suitcase.

And Kalief Metelluys said he twice went to the emergency room after his clothing was covered with mold spores.

“I feel they are doing the best of their ability, but the mold comes back every year. This is a recurring issue and we can’t keep putting students lives’ at stake,” Metelluys said.

College officials are well aware of the complaints, but said there is no widespread outbreak.

“The college invested heavily this summer to reduce the likelihood of mold occurring, including purchasing and installing 15 commercial dehumidifiers — one on every floor of each building, deep-cleaning every room and HVAC unit, and replacing filters in those units in every room with new ones manufactured with mold-inhibiting properties,” Michael Kinane, the college’s vice president of communications and chief communications officer, said in a statement. “This fall, student and staff reports have led to 22 confirmed findings of mold in a community of more than 800 residential students and each was cleaned within hours. We are working closely with state Department of Health and SUNY to continue aggressive action to eliminate any mold found in our halls. As we have since move-in day, we ask our students to monitor conditions in their rooms, keep their windows closed to defend against humidity and report immediately any circumstances they feel need to be addressed.”

President Calvin Butts, in his convocation, expressed the same desire to remedy the problem.

“I hear and understand your concerns,” Butts said.

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Over the summer, all dorm rooms and air conditioning units were deep cleaned, mold-inhibiting paint was applied and filters were replaced. And on every floor a commercial dehumidifier was found. Students were asked to keep all windows closed in air-conditioned rooms.

Since the start of school officials cite only 22 cases of mold in 400 dorm rooms, which were cleaned within hours.

Students said that’s still too many. They’re demanding dehumidifiers in every room.

“We feel we should get Gov. Cuomo to come in and help us,” Metelluys said.

Students said all of of this has been a distraction to their education and a drain on their limited budgets. Students have not be reimbursed for medical bills or ruined personal possessions.

CBS2’s request for comment from the governor’s office was not answered.


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