Published November 17, 2014
Hundreds of students in Maryland will get a crash course in water-borne living when they are moved onto a cruise ship this weekend to escape the mold that has overtaken their college dorm rooms.
The students from St. Mary's College are being forced off-campus by wet weather that has dogged southern Maryland since Hurricane Irene swept through in August.
The public liberal arts college, which is situated on the banks of the St. Mary's River, moved hundreds of students to nearby hotels last week in a bid to escape the damp.
But the school's president, Joseph Urgo, wanted to find a solution even closer to home. An empty cruise ship on its way from Maine to Virginia happened to be passing by, and Urgo convinced the owners to rent it to the school for a few months.
"The river is not incidental to our campus," Urgo told the Baltimore Sun. "So to have this problem that was caused by too much water and find a solution in the river, it was really amazing."
Urgo said the students would probably stay aboard the ship for the rest of the semester. The total cost of relocating the students was expected to be $1.5 million, with another $1 million being spent on cleaning up the mold.
Most students seemed enthusiastic about the move. "It's a very St. Mary's way to handle it," Caroline Jackson, a freshman, said. "For the president to say, 'Hey, I heard you needed a place to live, so I got you a boat' -- how much cooler can you get than that?"
Urgo said that a night patrolman would walk the ship from 7:00pm to 7:00am. "We're very much aware of the safety concerns, and we're addressing them," he said.
But Jackson did not seem concerned about the potential hazards of living on the water. "You have to be pretty stupid to fall off a boat," she told The Sun.