NKU’s East Village residents face mold, unreliable elevators

The Northerner
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Written by Evan Bales, contributor at The Northerner

Residents of NKU’s East Village tackle daily university life, among other obstacles, in their dorm halls.

NKU freshman Ethan Rice moved into Callahan Hall in the fall semester and encountered a grisly sight when entering his dorm room for the first time. 

“My mother almost cried when we walked into my dorm—and not because I was leaving,” Rice said.

Mold was growing on the ceiling tiles inside Ethan’s room on move-in day. This tile was eventually replaced.

Other students, such as sophomore Jon Franklin, faced similar issues during their stay in Callahan Hall.

“I did not feel safe in there,” Franklin said while talking about Callahan’s elevators.

Franklin alleged that one of the elevator licenses was expired by nearly three months and needed to be renewed in July 2022. He also described Callahan’s odor as musky, almost as if there is constant moisture in the air.

Marissa Vestal, a third-year student who served as an orientation leader, lived in Northern Terrace over the last summer. During her stay, Vestal encountered several instances that caused her extreme discomfort. It only took two weeks for her to start seeing mold.

Even after multiple complaints, University Housing reportedly brushed her off, as well as multiple other orientation leaders living in Northern Terrace.

“I was disgusted, because it’s supposed to be safe, and we were told to brush it off,” Vestal said.

By brush it off, they literally meant brushing the mold off with their hands. Vestal also explained that she and many other orientation leaders felt sick during nearly their entire stay at Northern Terrace.

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On June 8 of last summer, NKU found itself under tornado warnings. Vestal and other orientation leaders followed the standard evacuation plan and proceeded to the Northern Terrace’s basement in order to seek cover from the storm.

Once the storm had passed, they emerged from the basement and were told they should not have sought shelter there due to a risk of the basement ceiling collapsing on them had the tornado passed over. They were instructed to remain in their rooms if a situation like that ever arose again.

Both buildings in the East Residential Village have a troubled history. Callahan Hall was constructed in 1962, with its intended use being a senior living center initially known as Lakeside Place Nursing Home. 

Lakeside operated for nearly 44 years before being closed down due to a number of infractions, including health violations and the neglect of its residents. A FOX19 2007 article describes the living conditions as substandard at best. 

Another piece from Lawyers and Settlements states, “An annual review by state inspectors in Kentucky that found an extremely high number of serious health and safety violations at the Lakeside Heights Nursing Center in Highland Heights.”

Mold growing in Callahan Hall resident Ethan Rice’s dorm room upon move-in. The tile has since been replaced. Photo Provided | Ethan Rice

NKU acquired Callahan Hall in 2007 and completed refurbishments in 2008 before opening it that same year. 

Northern Terrace was another building constructed in 1969, acquired by NKU in 2013 before eventually being refurbished into another suite-style dorm hall. Formerly known as Lakeside Terrace Apartments, it was originally a federally subsidized independent senior living center. 

Following a lack of funding, which led to a lack of modernization to the building, the Campbell County Fiscal Court elected to sell the property to NKU in June 2013.

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With both buildings being over 50 years old, there are inevitable issues with their structural integrity. Realizing this, the University Housing department carried out renovations on Callahan Hall in the summer of 2022.

According to Callahan Hall’s home page, over the course of last summer, “Callahan Hall is in the beginning stages of a renovation that will improve the mechanical systems in the building, piping throughout the building, replacement of HVAC components, and updates and replacements for water heaters.” These renovations were scheduled for completion in August of 2022.

Following attempts to contact NKU’s Office of University Housing, administrators have yet to elaborate further on what improvements will be made to better Callahan Hall residents’ quality of life.

This summer, Vestal asked housing staff if they were considering renovations to Northern Terrace, to which they replied they would “keep Northern Terrace in mind.”

As of November 2022, Northern Terrace has no students residing in it; however, Callahan Hall still has around 400 residents.

This story originally appeared on thenortherner.com.

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