Suffocating in my sleep: The Black Mold Plague spreading across campus


It’s 3:55 a.m., and you wake up, lungs on fire, throat dry, as you stare up at the patches of black mold taunting you as you struggle to find a sip of water to moisten the growing desert lining your organs.

We all know and cherish the university communal pet of black mold lining our walls, windowsills and showers, but does the university really understand the potential magnitude of the dangers of plaguing our lungs with Stachybotrys chartarum?

Black mold poisoning leads to a number of health complications, including, but not limited to, congestion, coughing, throat irritation, sleep disturbance, brain fog and digestion irritation. The last on the list is particularly convenient when working in conjunction with the raw food making a frequent appearance in our dining halls.

As someone who is chronically asthmatic, it is especially pleasant to wake up already weakened in the lungs, the heavy weight of black clouds making it so that I cannot even sleep comfortably in the comfort of my own twin-XL-sized “home.”

Sick Building Syndrome is a coined term for those living in a building infected with the mold, who resultantly are trapped in a constant state of sickness. Students across campus, most notably in the Forest Hills apartment complex, suffer from this disease on an endless cycle.

It is coincidental how a four-week sick period, complete with morning headaches and throat aches and locked in with all-day congestion will immediately dissipate after sleeping off-campus for a week.

When you have to buy overpriced bleach from the convenience store to soak windowsills where huge patches of black mold align perfectly with where your pillow rests atop a disintegrating mattress, you know you’ve officially entered the trenches. Then again, inhaling bleach is the more reassuring of the two; perhaps the bleach that seeped into my lungs that night killed off at least some of the festering fungus.

The university clearly fears the acknowledgement of our infestation, which may just be the best part. From personal experience, it typically takes upwards of three weeks for a facilities repair request to be resolved, and in the case of my leaking ceilings, well over a semester of repeated reports. However, in the instance where I had discovered black mold lining multiple Westside washing machines last December, the order was filled and completed in a fifteen-minute window. The work order completion report held to the record that “DBS is wiping down the doors and surrounding areas. it is wet lint NOT MOLD,” on Dec. 13. The all-caps choice really emphasized the importance of this “distinction.”

In case this is my last article before the mold finally consumes me, stay safe out there Chargers, and maybe keep those masks on hand?