In the past year, students have raised concerns about the presence of black mold in University of Wisconsin-Madison dorms. Just this past December, a Sellery resident posted a TikTok showcasing a mold test kit that was growing the dangerous microfungus — finally giving a cause for her months-long illness.
At first glance, this is a troubling trend. After all, exposure to black mold can cause symptoms such as rashes, sore throats and sinus infections. While not inherently deadly, mold poisoning is neither as trendy as COVID-19 or as war bonding as the frat flu.
However, UW-Madison Housing begs to differ.
“College is a special time in a person’s life when they’re supposed to embrace the awful things that are thrown at them with joy,” said University Housing director Jeff Novak. “Like bug infestations that powerful landlords refuse to take care of and apartments with floors that are about as level as a halfpipe, black mold is simply part of the experience.”
Novak does have a point. After all, sketchy frat parties, professors that would quit their jobs before agreeing to let their students go one week without an assignment-induced breakdown and — above all — beer that tastes like someone urinated on wheat and blended it with pond water are all pillars of the UW-Madison experience.
Freshmen, keep in mind that you will develop in such a way that things you once found revolting will simply become “silly.” Walking 30 minutes to class when it’s -20 degrees outside? Silly. Buying hundreds of dollars worth of “required” textbooks, only for your professor to never mention them outside of syllabus week? Silly. A homeless man locking eyes with you while masturbating behind a newspaper in a Starbucks? Now that’s worthy of a good chuckle and a handshake.
Look — this campus isn’t exactly a penthouse suite. Rather, it’s more like one of those iconic hotel rooms that people have to book really far in advance because a famous person died on the bed. One rarely gets the opportunity to buy peanut M&Ms from a vending machine, then walk 20 feet and sit on the freshly-laundered sheets that Janis Joplin overdosed on in 1970. That’s what you’re getting here.
But isn’t that more interesting? Would you rather have squeaky-clean floors, $10 bottles of water and high-class food for a little while, or some damn good stories that you’ll be able to tell for the rest of your life to the horror of your parents and the laughter of your other friends and loved ones?
If you’re smart enough to get into UW-Madison, but not nearly classy or intelligent enough for Yale University or that college just outside of Boston, you’ve found your place. Put yourself out there — make some good friends, have a great time and just try to get your homework in a few minutes before it’s due.
Also, buy some band-aids. You shouldn’t need them that often, but you’ll be so relieved to have them when you do.
Welcome to our historic, crunchy and beloved university, fellow Badger. Take care of yourself, but not too much. On, Wisconsin!