Where is your mold hiding?

West Hall Dormitory given unwanted spotlight by the Virgin Islands Daily News


ST.THOMAS- On Sept. 25 University of the Virgin Islands President, Dr. David Hall sent an email to residents of West Hall Dormitory addressing a reported mold infestation.

Journalists with the Virgin Islands Daily News appeared on campus to interview students about the mold the week before. Dr. Hall reassured students via email that “the claim that there is a colony of mold is inaccurate and sensational.” The UVI West Hall dorm was featured front page with an interview that left many readers appalled.

The Daily News reported the mold infestation has left the bathroom ceiling crumbling. The mold conditions were so bad that it may have been what sent one resident to the hospital.

Matthew Eastman, a UVI sophomore, told Daily News “One of my suitemates had an asthma attack and had to go to the hospital.”

Virgin Islands Health Department website revealed, “In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma.”

Students on the first floor described their dorm room ceiling as covered in black mold. Bubbles of water caused from swelling dangled from above their heads and pieces of the ceiling were falling uncontrollably. The scent was unbearable as soon as you entered the front door.

“You could put your finger through it,”  Eastmant said to the Daily News. He said the walls were “mush.”

The first floor of West Hall Dormitory where one of the rooms reported mold
The first floor of West Hall Dormitory where one of the rooms reported mold

When a maintenance crew removed the crumbling ceiling, it became apparent that “the ceiling is all just black mold.” Eastman said the black substance had spread into and weakened an adjacent wall.

Aside from the mold infestation, students seem annoyed with the dysfunctional keys and doors. Students are unhappy since they pay a lot of money to stay in those dorms.

The room and board fee is $2,250 not including meal charges, which is also an additional $2,000.

The electronic doors constantly go offline for long periods of time. This can result in the building being wide open to non-residents.

Residents find themselves wedging open doors with rocks or other small materials that can hold open the door. If the door closes without something to stop it then it leaves residents unable to enter the dorm.

About two weeks ago, the air conditioning stopped working.

The building was built for air conditioning only. The position of the building leaves no access to natural air. Some suites had to endure the heat for one week without the housing department offering any fans.

“I talked to an RA and he said it seems like every day there is something else wrong with the building. He said they put it up in a year, and that it seems like they were really hasty to finish it,” said Eastman to Daily News.

Though Dr. Hall declined comment to the Daily News, he was able to reach out personally to the residents of West Hall. He wrote his concerns about media appearing on campus as “troubling.”

According to the UVI’s media guidelines, all requests for interviews and other public information should be sent to the Public Relations Office,” Dr. Hall said.

“I encourage each of you to utilize the processes that exist within the University to address your concerns. If you do not receive the appropriate response at the first level, please pursue it to the highest level of the University. We must all work together to ensure that UVI continues to move forward,” Dr. Hall said in closing.

UVI is light on its feet

Salsa Club works to promote Latin culture on campus


ST.CROIX — The counting of steps and Latin music could be heard from the cafeteria of the Albert A. Sheen campus on Tuesday afternoon, as the Salsa Club worked to promote Latin culture through dance.

According to University of the Virgin Islands graduate and president of the Salsa Club, Ismael Rosado Jr., Latin culture, especially salsa is underrepresented at the university.

“I was a part of the first Salsa Club in St. Thomas, and after three or four solid years over there I decided that since I’ve been home for about a year, let’s see if this could work out,” Rosado said. “There is nothing like that here, no salsa exposure.”

Humanities Professor, La Vaughn Belle teaching students how to dance Salsa
Humanities Professor, La Vaughn Belle (center in black) and  Ismael Rosado Jr (back center in grey) instructs students on dancing salsa

According to the listing of clubs and organizations on the university’s website, there are no clubs or organizations geared towards Latin culture. The closest organization would be the “Social and Cultural Committee.”

While the Salsa Club is led by Rosado, the class was taught by Humanities Professor La Vaughn Belle, and her husband, Rivert Diaz, which was the first time the class was taught by guest instructors.

The instructors were chosen for their background in knowing how to dance salsa, although their salsa style is more Cuban.

“I wanted to see how their teaching style was, and how the students received them,” Rosado said. “Hey, anytime you have a guest professor who knows salsa you take them up on it.“

Diaz and Belle are in the process of opening a dance studio called “House of Clave,” but are currently instructors at the Bailar Casino Social Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Comanche Hotel, and Saturdays at La Laguna.

“We’ve been teaching for a long time,” Belle said. “I was going to start a Salsa Club, but it just happened to be synergetic that he was starting one at the same time so it was perfect.”

Belle said that while she would not be able to attend every class, she would try to attend as many as possible.

According to Rosado the classes are scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.

One of the most challenging tasks with the club is attracting male students.

“Originally it was just girls and with some recruiting on the day, which is why I think 12:30 is a good time, you can kind of recruit guys,” Rosado said. “Generally, towards the beginning recruiting is a lot easier than later on because they already are exposed and they know what it is. So if they don’t want to come, they just don’t want to come. But I’m optimistic.”

Rivert Diaz teaching UVI students how to dance salsa
Rivert Diaz teaching UVI students how to dance salsa

With National Hispanic Heritage Month coming up in November, Rosado is hoping that with some practice, there will be a group that can represent the Salsa Club, even if it is only a small performance.

“It’s going to take some work, but ideally that would be great. Maybe if we can get La Vaughn Belle and some of the other instructors and students who are more skilled, we could do a simple performance,” Rosado said.

“I had fun,” nursing major and Dance Team captain, Deidre Dubois, said. “I knew Ismael for a very long time and he invited me to take just one day of classes and I decided to stick with it.”

One of Rosado’s ultimate goals is to get a worthwhile group that can participate in and bring awareness to the community.

“I’m hoping to get a solid group together that can learn gradually and develop their skills to potentially being able to perform and go outside into the community and participate in the social culture, which is salsa and Latin dance,” Rosado said.

Kappa Gamma’s Freestyle Fridays a success

Kappa Gamma’s Freestyle Fridays a success

Felicia Emmanuel|

ST. CROIX- University of the Virgin Islands students on Sept. 20 gathered around the Student Activities center to watch fellow students exhibit their freestyling talents during Freestyle Friday.

Freestyle rap is a spontaneous performance done without preparation.

Emulating BET’s 106 & Park segment, Freestyle Fridays allow UVI students to exhibit their rapping creativity, while allowing their peers to vote on the best performance. The winner would then defend his or her title at the next Freestyle Friday.

“The purpose of Freestyle Friday is to bring life and spirit to campus,” said Sheena Tonge, vice president of Kappa Gamma.

“We usually have a rap battle,” Tonge said. However, lack of contestants led to a decision not to have a match.

 Junior "Judah VI" and others participants look on as rapper drops his verse
Junior “Judah VI” and others participants look on as rapper drops his verse

Despite having no contest, students still showed their support.

This was especially encouraging to part-time UVI student and DJ Charles “Daddy Pollo” Goodings Jr. Goodings, 22, believes support from his peers helped make the occasion successful.

“I surprised myself,” Goodings said. “I really didn’t expect to see so many people come out. Just the fact that I’m playing, people came out to support.”

He has been a DJ at other Kappa Gamma events such as on-campus basketball games and Dancehall Cardio.

“Kappa Gamma supports students doing big things,” Tonge said.

In terms of participation, Kappa Gamma President Junior “Judah VI” Garcia was no exception.

Garcia dropped some verses to Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap.”

The occasion ended on a festive note as friends of Khalid Edwards held a surprise birthday celebration in his honor.

Overall, students such as Remah Asad were pleased with the outcome. She felt it brought the students together as one.

“The music and allowing everyone to be themselves in an environment that is not strictly professional is always fun and good,” she said. “It’s like an appreciation event towards the students.”

Students unfamiliar with Kappa Gamma should know it is a marketing and management group.

“Clubs and organizations on campus would plan events and the events would not turn out the way they would want to in terms of publicizing the event. Therefore, Kappa Gamma was put in place to help with the media,”  Tonge said.

Students look on to support peers as they participate at freestyle friday
Students look on to support peers as they participate at freestyle friday

By using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Kappa Gamma utilizes them all to the host club’s or organization’s advantage.

Their involvement, however, does not end with promotional work. Kappa Gamma secures volunteers to help with clean up.

Students interested in Kappa Gamma events can reach out to them.

“We always have flyers up,” Tonge said. “We have a [Facebook] page you can contact Mr. Garcia or you can contact myself.”

Students can also go to Mrs. Hedda Finch-Simpson’s office in the Student Activities Center for more information about the club.

Tonge added that interested students can speak with Kappa Gamma members at their events.

Once there, the organization can acquire contact information.