JCC Residents and their “Forced Exodus”

The Troubling State of Earlham Facilities
March 28, 2019
Earlham’s Mental Health Crisis Will Hiring A New Counsellor Help?
March 28, 2019

JCC Residents and their “Forced Exodus”

In the fall semester of the 2018-2019 academic year, Earlham College called the students
residing in the Jewish Community Center (JCC), a theme house on campus, to say that there
were dangerous levels of black mold in it. The residents were given 24 hours to move out of the
facility with all of their belongings.
The residents of the cultural center and core of the Jewish community on campus set out on
what Emma Milner-Gorvine, a convener, coined as a, “forced exodus,” not once, but twice
because of the inadequacy, to say the least, of the housing provided by the college. I spoke to
Emma Milner-Gorvine and Cat Canino about their living situation last semester, and the effects
that it had on them physically, emotionally and academically as well as Earlham’s incompetence
in resolving the issue of its insufficient accommodations.
“Earlham College promises its students livable housing: we are here to learn, not to fend off
wasps, bats, camel crickets, and rats or develop upper-respiratory infections from black mold,”
Emma explained. According to her and several of her housemates, the response from the
college, specifically from Residence Life, was even more unsatisfactory.
In the exchange with emails and letters that the residents of JCC composed to the college and
Residence Life, with the assistance of a lawyer, several points were made. While the residents
moved to another house, that house was just as unclean, infested with pests including wasps,
camel crickets, rats and cockroaches, to name a few. In addition to dirty floors, broken
appliances, and the absence of functional laundry machines, was the lack of hosting and
storage space necessary for Jewish traditional holidays and activities. Cat Canino explained,
“We kept our religious objects and texts in bins in the living room (taking up precious space we
would need to host our Shabbat dinners) because we were told our basement flooded too badly

  • something that we can now confirm to be true.” Despite this and the request for financial
    compensation, the general response of Earlham Residence life consisted of expressions of
    sympathy but no monetary compensation and overall lack of action to solve the difficulties and
    complications faced by the Jewish Cultural Center.
    The conditions of Earlham’s houses, as described by alumni and father of a JCC resident, have
    only gotten worse. He explained to me, “while some facilities were also in need of updating back
    when I was a student, my sense is that the overall condition of housing now is much worse than
    when I was a student (1990-1994) – and in particular, that Earlham has not been able to
    adequately maintain the many campus houses that the it owns.” The effects on the students
    included health problems due to the toxic black mold, class absences, missed important Jewish
    holidays, and emotional stress, resulting in academic difficulties for all of the residents.
    Milner-Gorvine expressed that “there has been nothing more disappointing than the lack of
    regard for what we’re ACTUALLY here to do – go to college and learn.”
    Note: The Earlham Word website (http://earlhamword.com) has published the results of the
    Mold Tests, as well as, the response from Stacy Davidson (VP for Finance and Administration /

Chief Financial Officer), Hagi Bradley (Dean of Students) and Shane Peters (Director of
Residence Life) regarding requests for room charge refunds from the residents of JCC.

Comments are closed.