Aug 22, 2023

Residence hall at Bowie State University closes over mold problems, displacing students

Students at Bowie State University moved back onto campus this week, settling in before the new school year. For incoming freshmen, that meant getting used to a new area away from home for maybe the first time, setting plans made months before into motion.

But incoming student Gabby Lanier had those plans interrupted, when she and her mother drove down to Maryland from Pennsylvania only to discover she didn't have any on-campus housing.

"We came with our car packed, as maybe you can see," said Gabby's mom, Melanie. "Ready to move in and we were just told, 'hang out, maybe something will open up.' It’s sad, disappointing, and it made me angry."

Mold had been discovered in the Harriet Tubman residence hall, which is now closed.

Gabby's mom, Melanie, told News4 about her frustration.

Rather than living on campus, Melanie says, Gabby was offered an apartment at The Nine -- which is in College Park.

"It’s 25 minutes away from campus," Melanie said. It’s an apartment building. My daughter’s a freshman and we are from Pennsylvania. We know nothing about this area, and I would never just throw my child on that situation."

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It's a less-than-ideal situation. According to Amani Jennings, dean of students at Bowie State, once the mold was discovered in Harriet Tubman Hall earlier in August, the university had to close the residence hall.

"When it comes to mold, our main concern is the safety of our students," Jennings said. "And we know this is a huge inconvenience for those students who were supposed to move in. We understand that, but there’s no way that we were going to house students there with those issues."

Work crews at Bowie State are cleaning up the mold. School administrators hope the work will be done, and students will be allowed to move back into the dorm, in January.

But for Gabby -- who was too upset to talk to News4 -- the mold and the lack of on-campus housing was such a big problem that she unenrolled.

On Friday, she arrived in Philadelphia, where she will attend Temple University, her second-choice school.

According to Melanie, Gabby bumped into a high school friend during her first day as a Temple Owl, and she already has her housing assignment for the year.

"We are excited to pivot to a new journey," Melanie said. "We're thankful to God that this opportunity was still open and available."