CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A day after an NBC Charlotte report aired, Johnson C. Smith University President Clarence Armbrister released a letter to students calling every dorm room to be tested for mold over Winter Break.
Armbrister wrote in the letter, “It is unacceptable that any student should live in a potentially unhealthy environment, and we apologize for any inconvenience or concern this has caused.”
Armbrister said professional third party contractors will inspect every dorm room for mold over Winter Break. If any mold is discovered, the university will remediate the mold in the room, and students will not be required to live in the room if unsafe.
Going forward, Armbrister wrote that the university will work to identify and rectify the cause of the problem contributing to the formation of mold.
The letter to students comes as group of college students said mold in their dorm rooms made them physically ill, and their complaints to the university were ignored.
Students at JCSU in Charlotte said they've vomited blood, their eyes have swollen shut and they've had blood clots in their noses.
"I was sleeping, and I hear a pop, pop, pop," said Xana Dove.
It started with a drip that turned in to what appears to be black mold.
"My asthma started messing up," Dove said. "I couldn't see my eyes were swelling up. My sister's eyes are swelling up."
Jazlynn Lambert said she had blood clots coming out of her nose.
"My asthma got to the point where I almost went to the hospital," Dove said.
Dove and Lambert, seniors at JCSU, said they first contacted school administrators about the issue in August, after noticing what they assumed to be mold in several rooms.
"If you were to guess, how many times did you reach out to someone about this problem?" asked NBC Charlotte's Savannah Levins.
"Oh phew! Over 100," Dove said.
Armed with doctors' notes, the seniors later asked to move out of New Residence Hall altogether. Email chains confirm their timeline.
JCSU communications representatives told me they were only recently notified of the issue and sent in experts to test the air and fix the problem.
Lambert said the crew hired to remove the mold in her room -- only painted over it.
"I watched them. I should have recorded it, but I didn't," Lambert told NBC Charlotte's Savannah Levins.
Several other students from other rooms offered their own photos and stories of new breathing issues, agitated eyes, and bloody noses.
"When it comes to people's health, we could've dropped dead at any moment, you don't know how bad our asthma is," said Dove.
DaJane Burnett said she moved into Greenfield Hall at the beginning of the semester. Within a few weeks, she said she started feeling sick.
A nurse confirmed she was having allergic symptoms related to mold and needed to be removed from the mold exposure for health reasons.
Burnett said she went home one weekend in September and returned to find items like her bedspread, hats, towels, and furniture covered in mold.
“I came to my bed. I saw my hat was covered in mold, my bedspread,” Burnett said. “I pulled up my sheets. My mattress had mold on it. My vent was black and gray."
Emails show her repeated attempts to reach JCSU leadership, which Burnett said never replied.
"I was upset because at that point, my safety was, my health was in danger and nobody cared, it seemed like,” Burnett said.
According to Burnett, she was eventually moved to the room next door to the one where she said the mold was found. She said she was only allowed to move residence halls after her parents complained in person.
Burnett now lives in New Residence Hall where Dove and Lambert said they also found mold.
The students pushed school leaders to test every room over the holiday break.
"Just go through every building and say, okay, this has mold, this is mold," Dove said.
"Your students on your campus are suffering," added Lambert.
Late Thursday night, NBC Charlotte received the following statement from JCSU:
In light of the record-breaking rainfall and unusual climate conditions, including the impact of two hurricanes this past fall, Johnson C. Smith University, like many universities in North Carolina, has experienced higher than normal incidents of environmental conditions such as mold. The safety of ourstudents, faculty, and staff is a top priority; therefore, we have made every effort to address these issues proactively according to our safety protocols. Furthermore, we take immediate action when a possible environmental substance is brought to our attention by a student or member of the Residence Life staff.
There has been continuous dialogue between Jazlynn Lambert and the administration regarding her concerns, and we offered her the opportunity to move to a different suite in the residence hall on yesterday. Meanwhile, JCSU enlisted an outside contractor to test the suite in question. Mold found in the suite appears to be isolated and corrective action will be taken to fix the problem.
University administration determined that it is in the best interest of Jazlynn and other residents in the affected suite to relocate them to another residence hall this evening. The relocation is in accordance with the university’s normal protocols to ensure that no student lives in an unsafe environment.