Starting on January 15 all residents of Caroline (CD) and Prince George (PG) Halls were allowed to return to their previous dormitory rooms after having been displaced for the majority of the fall 2011 semester to various other residences on campus, hotels throughout St. Mary’s County, and the Sea Voyager cruise ship docked in Historic St. Mary’s City.
The first experiences of St. Mary’s life for many first-year students were filled with unpacking, repacking, cramming into new rooms, traveling miles to and from campus, and trying to figure out what was going to happen next and how they would be compensated for it.
President Urgo stated in an all-student email at the beginning of this spring 2012 semester, “Throughout October, November, and December, daily acts of kindness and determination typified the campus and allowed our displaced students to endure upheaval and in the end, prevail over this period of disruption.” Despite this positive view on the situation, many of the previously displaced students are still advocating for more compensation, saying that they have been unfairly treated.
Due to the large number of students on campus who have been affected in one way or another by this most recent outbreak of mold, which range from mostly first-years and sophomores but include even juniors and seniors, it soon became evident that it would be pointless to give every single affected student extra housing credits for next year. “It would eliminate the benefit being offered” and “the remaining 425+ students in CH [Calvert Hall], DD [Dorchester Hall], and QA [Queen Anne Hall] would be unfairly disadvantaged because they were not assigned to a building with mold,” said Director of Residence Life and Associate Dean of Students Joanne Goldwater in an all-student email sent out mid-November 2011.
Therefore it was originally planned that those students that were first affected (all of CD’s First Left hallway, PG’s First Right hallway, PG 224, and CD 112, 115, 116, 117, 118, and 211) would all receive 15 extra housing credits. For all others located in CD and PG it was decided that on Dec. 1 the seniors would be entered to win two non-alcoholic tickets to Senior Gala in May 2012, a townhouse would be raffled off to rising juniors and seniors (one townhouse being offered to CD residents and one to PG residents), and all other residents would earn a chance to win four Waring Commons (WC) suites (two available to CD residents and two to PG residents).
Various students complained about the compensation, pointing out that those that were displaced into forced triples and other on-campus residences were being financially compensated, while those placed on the Sea Voyager were not receiving anything, unless they won their respective raffle. Therefore, Student Government Association (SGA) President Mark Snyder, senior, sat down this past week with Assistant Director of Residence Life Kelly Smolinksy, Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Laura Bayless, Goldwater, and Interim Director of Campus Technology Support Services (CTSS) Michael Gass in order to advocate for better compensation on behalf of the affected students.
“We want the people who moved onto the ship to feel like they got something. We don’t want this to have a huge negative impact on everyone else,” said Snyder. As a result, it was proposed by Residence Life at the Jan. 24 SGA meeting to give all students that had been displaced to the Sea Voyager would receive four extra housing credits for the room selection process which begins within a month.
He states that two credits felt like not enough compensation, while anything more than four would leave all those not affected by mold in Calvert, Dorchester, and QA an unfair disadvantage in the upcoming housing selection.
According to Snyder, a large portion of the credit for this new batch of possible compensation should go to Gass, as this proposal would not have happened without his help and the help of his CTSS staff.
“Right now we are just trying to see how people feel about it,” said Snyder, who also stated that he has been having informal conversations with those affected and hopes to have some more formal conversations with others in order to “make sure that this is something everyone is cool with, not just people in PG and Caroline, but in Dorchester, Queen Anne, and Calvert.”