Should dorms be moist?

Photo courtesy of Sewanee Residential Life

By Maren Johnson
Staff Writer
For many of us, humidity is nothing new, towels never dry, rooms smell musty, art falls off walls. Southerners live constantly with humidity. We expect our spaces to be humid, this is the South.

Yet there is something unsettling about a cold room where the moisture is palpable. According to Drew Smith (C’15), “Quintard’s humidity is really bad. If my air conditioning isn’t on then my room starts to smell like mildew and I can feel the dampness when I walk in. My towels NEVER dry and the clothes in my dresser sometimes feel damp when I take them out. My friend’s salt lamp is melting.” However, some think that perhaps the air conditioning could be what is causing the problem. Papers left near a working AC become limp with dampness.

For many, humidity can cause health problems, like flare ups in allergies.
One student was visiting her friend in Quintard and within five minutes began to sneeze. She says she is allergic to mold. According to the Mayo Clinic, living in high humidity can worsen mold allergies or even elicit reactions in people without sensitivity. Any school administrator will tell you that mold is taken very seriously, and students with mold in their rooms are moved. Even so, it is still unclear whether the school knows about, or intends to fix, the humid conditions in one of its biggest dorms.

For now I will continue to empty my dehumidifier twice a day. The first day it was plugged in, it collected 60 liters of water, approximately 15 gallons. Though emptying with such frequency is tedious and a little terrifying, my room is already so much better.