Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A:200 - The Mold Monster Returns? or "Faculty keep getting sick"

A-205: "a vague environmental issue"
Late this afternoon, denizens of the A-200 building learned of an announcement shared selectively through email and posted on A-205's classroom door. It seemed somehow eerily familiar and also the perfect capper to a doomed day. (Don't ask.)

If you were (Please note the past tense) teaching in A-205, generally occupied by the anthropologists and their skulls (well, not theirs, poor Yorick, but you know what I mean) but also loaned out to various Hum and Lang types (See, in A-200 we like to share what we got even if it isn't much, unlike some folks—sniff, sniffbetter yet, don't sniffat least not in the vicinity of A-205), well, you aren't teaching there anymore!

A-205 instructors were informed that their classes were no longer occupying A-205 due to a "vague environmental issue" which needs to be "corrected."

Most people, Rebel Girl notes, were moved to other classrooms in the aging A-200.

If you were not teaching in that room or taking a class you may not have noticed the flier taped to the door that forbade entry under any circumstance. Pretty strong language. Rebel Girl, rebellious and foolhardy as always, tried the knob. The door swung open (of course!) and she entered.

She didn't see anything out of the ordinary, unless you want to count the peeling vinyl floorboard near the door which exposed a gap or sorts, a kind of pocket between the wall, floor and floorboard filled with a tangle of hair and other detritus. But Rebel Girl doesn't really count that because as far as she is concerned, that is pretty much par for the course in IVC classroomspeeling floorboards, hair in the corners, you know.

She sniffed. Nothing out of the ordinary. She took inventory: same skulls, same maps, the usual collection of aging newspapers articles displayed when Clinton was president and another Republican, named for a small amphibian, was holding the federal government hostage.

She wondered what the "vague environmental issue" could be.

After she left, she asked around. Nobody knew. Of course not. (Cuz it was "vague"?)

Even though the whole building is serviced by the same air conditioning unit that blasts air in and out of nearby classrooms and offices, even though walls are shared by offices and classrooms, no one else except those immediately affected had been informed of an "environmental issue"or hazarduse the noun you prefer. And even those people were not told of what Rebel Girl discovered later as she went home and made a few calls.

"Instructors kept getting sick," one in-the-know faculty member reported, "Bronchitis. Finally someone noticed a pattern."

One wonders what, if anything, the students were told. And why workers (faculty and staff) who spend 20-45 hours a week in  the vicinity were not informedespecially those with existing physical conditions who might make them more vulnerable than others to the presence of the bacteria, mold and other particles that cause bronchitis and worse. Can you spell liability? Responsibility? Responsiveness? Transparency? Weren't some of these words included on that recent survey monkey of wish list values sent out by SPOBDC? (Yup, "spob-dick.")

Rebel Girl also wonders who made the decision that only A-205 was toxic. She hopes it was someone who knows something about the spread of mold and air conditioning units and shared walls, etc. Jeez.

This latest vagueness, of course, points to the pervasive absence of useful communication at IVC. What helicopter? What parking lot fiasco? What mold? 

And, of course, it brings to mind the mold monsters of yore:
Colonies of Mold  (November 1, 2005)
Mold Pie with Mouse Turd Topping (December 9, 2005)
Decomposed Materials of Organic Origin  (January 13, 2006)
There are other stories out there (don't ask), but Rebel Girl will leave you with an unlikely but relevant one:

Tuesday night, after a wretched day at the college (don't ask), Rebel Girl washed up at a meeting of the Inter-Canyon League, one of the local governing bodies in the hinterlands. (IVC's own Chris Riegle is on the board.) Officer Garcia from the CHP was a genial guest speaker, there to answer residents' concerns about speeding on the canyon road and the recent spate of high-profile accidents from such behavior. Rebel Girl listened as her neighbors asked for the impossiblea CHP officer every mile or so, pulling over the reckless and inspiring other to obey the laws.

The officer, she soon realized, was speaking the hard truth: few resources, stupid human nature, one cop for the whole canyon area. There is is no way we're going to stop the foolish and reckless. But you good people should not behave like them. We all need to be better than those fools, and that will make the difference, perhaps the only difference we can make.

A sobering tale for this morning carpool mother, her backseat filled with kids, who is often passed by impatient speeders happy to cross the double yellow line on Live Oak Canyon or Santiago.

An instructive tale for a teacher who wonders how deep the commitment is out there to real teaching, the real work of a real college. (Don't ask.)

Hey, wasn't "intellectually rigorous curriculum" on SPOBDC's wish list too?

Welcome, sulfur dioxide
Hello, carbon monoxide
The air, the air
Is everywhere

Breathe deep
While you sleep
Breathe deep



Anonymous said...

I think they have to tell us what is wrong, don't they?

Anonymous said...

7:12 AM Are you serious, if there is a problem, an issue, something the campus should be made aware of etc., I can assure you there will be no communication. They don't even tell faculty or students when the power is going off (huge safety violation by the way) even when they know hours in advance.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite. Don't ask about what?

Anonymous said...

I noticed that too yesterday and couldn't figure out what was going on. There's been something weird going on with the air conditioning in A-200 since last Spring. you really do notice it when you spend a long day in the building.

And yes, I've seen those hair balls in the corners. During class this week, I picked up some papers that had fallen from the desk in one of the A-200 classrooms. They fell and slid over to the corner and when i picked them up (somebody's xeroxed copy of a Flannery O'Connor story), a mass of hair came with the papers. I had to parade the whole thing past the students to the trash can near the door, trying to smile all the way. You'd think we kept cats and small animals in there. I've seen the same in the B-100 building. But I don't think hair balls cause bronchitis. Bacteria does.

Anonymous said...

rodent droppings=Hanta Virus, free floating asbestos, fiberglass=mesothelioma, etc..

Anonymous said...

There are laws about the obligation of employers to inform employees about workplace health hazards even if the cause has yet to be verified. Yes, some people with pre-existing conditions are particularly vulnerable.

There are more and different laws about the obligations of public education institutions to inform students of potential health hazards.

I am sure that the IVC admin is up on all of this. Relax. Breathe deep.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's the skulls.

Anonymous said...

Yes, employers do have to inform employees about possible health hazards once such a thing is brought to their attention.

But the fact they have not told us means that it is not really a hazard.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Mike Merrifield lead the charge against that sick building on Saddleback's campus some years ago? Wasn't it the BGS building?

Roy Bauer said...

I think we last reported on the BGS mold issue back in 2008: Monkeys build college But that particular controversy went back many years before that.

Anonymous said...

Bury the board with petitions: "Can the bastards!"

Anonymous said...

Good idea. Easy to start one at

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