Mold forces fraternity out

By Art Jester MCT

Residents of a University of Kentucky fraternity house say their forced move over the next three weeks so that UK can clean out an infestation of mold couldn’t come at a worse time because they’ll be taking midterm exams.

But at least some members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity agree the mold, a potential health hazard, has to be eliminated.

SAE members met privately last week with UK officials to discuss the mold, and the university’s offer of temporary housing in dormitories and the Greg Page Apartments.

“We’re convinced there is a problem, there’s no question about that,” SAE member Kyle Hettinger, a junior from Louisville, said after the meeting. “It’s a misfortune that we’ll be moving during midterms.”

UK officials have ordered the move by Oct. 23, the date when they expect repairs to start. Because the work will involve tearing out walls and ceilings, “it’s so disruptive that they wouldn’t be able to stay here,” said Ben Crutcher, UK associate vice president for auxiliary services, which operates UK’s residence halls.

Crutcher said the SAEs could expect to be back in their house in early January.

The SAE house, an impressive $7.5-million structure, opened in 1999 as a result of donations from and fund-raising led by the late William T. Young. Young was a UK alumnus and an SAE member. It is one of five Greek residences that UK owns and maintains.

Several SAEs said it was too early to know whether most of the 47 members still living in the house will stay on campus.

UK officials said they expect the repairs will cost at least $75,000 to $100,000 initially.

One of the biggest challenges is finding the source of the problem. Twice before, in 2002 and 2004, UK has had to address mold problems in the SAE house, but this is the first time SAEs have had to vacate the house.

David Acker, a senior industrial hygienist at UK, said the mold problem is not serious according to measurements of the air that residents are breathing in the house.

However, Acker said the mold buildup in the air ducts is the cause of concern. “It has to be taken care of or it possibly could get worse.”

Acker said there are no federal or state laws or regulations governing mold levels.

He said contractors follow a consensus of standards from three sources, including the Environmental Protection Agency.