ResLife draws criticism for concealing asbestos

The doors to the UVMtv studio remain locked – yet were found unlocked the day after the discovery of asbestos – while many students question the lack of communication from the university. “Many students have approached me about their justified concerns as to the lack of communication as it relates to the finding of the asbestos in Coolidge Hall,” DaVaughn Vincent-Bryan, vice president of the SGA, said in an e-mail. Removal of the floor tiles, containing asbestos, from the studio will begin on Nov. 19, when students leave for Thanksgiving break, Kevin McGarghan, UVM’s Risk Analyst, said in an e-mail. Vince Brennan, manager of the Physical Plant Training and Compliance Office, said that there is no risk of students breathing in any asbestos with the tiles in their current state. “Although we should’ve been called before the carpet was lifted, there was no re?lease of any sorts,” he said. “A student asking about the asbestos in the basement alarmed other students,” Brennan said. “There is no action going on right now and there is nothing to tell until the action starts,” he said. Exposure to asbestos can cause serious health problems, but there is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site. A notice will be posted on the doors of Coolidge and given to the resident advisors and ResLife when the removal process starts, Brennan said. Following the concern over the lack of communication regarding the asbestos, Vincent-Bryan said that he and SGA president Kesha Ram met with President Dan Fogel and Gary Derr, chief of staff and executive assistant to the president and provost. “Highlighted in this meeting was the importance of prompt notification sent to the SGA particularly on matters of student health and safety,” said Vincent-Bryan. Derr said he is not sure that all students should have been informed of the incident but that “there was a misstep in communicating to the SGA about the situation involving UVMtv.” “I am not sure that we need to keep all students informed of these types of issues,” he said. “We opt to inform rather than not, but not overly inform to avoid the risk of people ignoring critical messages.” The majority of messages to students come from his e-mail and many students already complain of him cluttering their mailboxes, Derr said. “It is difficult for me to expect that all students be notified, as there may have been concerns about alarming students or creating a situation that breeds misinformation,” Vincent-Bryan said. Some students may feel differently. “If there is something that could cause harm, like asbestos, I would want to be aware of it,” Mike Capuccio, a freshman resident of Millis, said. “The issue and the goal of creating stronger pipelines of communication to the students are being discussed and developed,” Vincent-Bryan said, regarding the meeting with Fogel and Derr.