U officials address groups’ relocation

by Andrew Johnson

A sign underneath the elevator buttons cautioned those entering the basement offices of 720 Washington Ave. of “asthma, mold allergies … reduced lung function.”
The ominous warning suggested those sensitive to such symptoms avoid the basement home of the U Card office and several student groups.
Due to the reported outbreak of airborne mold contaminants, University officials addressed students’ concerns regarding the required move from their current home to their new spots in the Stadium Village Mall during a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Many of those using the basement space were displaced when Coffman Union closed for renovation more than one year ago.
Denny Olsen, associate director of the Twin Cities Student Unions addressed the timing, coordination and logistics of the groups’ move to the mall, which houses Perry’s Pizza and Subway. The groups will move during the next two weeks.
Those affected by the move include members of the Queer Student Cultural Center, Minnesota International Student Association and Disabled Student Cultural Center. Olsen indicated the U Card office, which is in slightly better shape than other areas of the basement office space, will be the last to move.
Neil Carlson, who works with Facilities Management on campus environmental safety, explained to the group the problem: fungal growth on carpets and elevated levels of penicillin spores.
“It’s a matter of human beings playing with water and it getting down to this space,” he said. McDonald’s, Dairy Queen and other restaurants run their businesses at street level above the basement offices.
Carlson said the move to the new location — about one block farther from the East Bank campus –was made with “sensitive communities of people” in mind, referring to those who suffer from mold exposure.
The approximately 25 students attending Tuesday’s meeting generally reacted to the logistical information with questions about how the move would affect their individual groups.
Specific concerns included how the University might help spread news of the move to the campus community, especially since they had already moved once when Coffman Union closed.
Some students also asked about the size of their new office spaces and requested a reduction in rent to compensate for the reduction in size.
Karen Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Student Unions office, assured the group that her office would be working “on getting the word out,” including a campus-wide e-mail and advertisements in The Minnesota Daily.
Students also raised concerns about security and bathroom keys.
In response to issues that could not be solved within the 45-minute meeting, Olsen apologized to the group of students saying, “Sorry, we don’t have definitive answers on everything.”
A tour of their new home is scheduled for Saturday and early next week. The groups’ move will officially start Tuesday.

Andrew Johnson covers facilities and Coffman Union issues and welcomes comments at [email protected]