St. Mary’s College of Maryland students who had been relocated to area hotels while their residence halls were cleaned of mold will be moved to a floating residence: Their new home will be a ship docked at or near the college’s pier on St. Mary’s River. The ship, the Sea Voyager, an independently owned cruise ship, will arrive by the end of the week, and students will immediately start moving back to campus. They will all be moved in by Monday.
“When we first learned of the mold and experts advised we move the students as a precaution, we went with the hotel plan,” said Charles Jackson, associate vice president of planning and facilities. “We are running into transportation issues, with heavy traffic on Route 235, and other logistical issues as students try to get their academic work done. This way, students will be back on campus. This will improve the situation for them.”
A total of 350 students were relocated from two residence halls to vacancies on campus, to doubles converted into triples, to four-person townhouses into five-person units, and to area hotels. An estimated 240 will live on the ship. The cost to rent the vessel and house students is about the same as it cost for hotel rooms.
They were moved following testing from CEI, a professional environmental and industrial hygiene consulting firm, and advice from Dr. Hung Cheung, an occupational physician from Baltimore specializing in the field.
Remediation plans include removing all affected materials in both buildings. The rooms and furniture will then be cleaned and vacuumed following protocols established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rooms will be tested again by CEI. After the remediation is done, the buildings will be put back together by KBE Construction company. The students will be staying on board the ship until they finish their final exams.
In order to provide up-to-date information on the residence hall mold issues, the remediation plan, and to answer questions from the campus community, Dr. Cheung, mold experts, and senior administration have been holding town hall meetings with students and parents.
“To the students who must move again, I regret this second disruption,” President Joe Urgo said in a campus email. “However, I am asking you to move once more and then be relieved of the commute from your hotel to campus. While I am pleased to have this option, the choice was not made lightly. What prevailed in my judgment is the ability of our displaced students to maintain connection to the campus community.”