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Cruise Serves As Dorm For St. Mary's College Students Displaced By Moldy Housing

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More than 200 Maryland students will be calling a cruise ship home, after their dorms at St. Mary's College were evacuated because of mold.

The Sea Voyager won't be setting sail, but students will have full access to the ballroom, stateroom, shuffleboard, and other amenities, St. Mary's president, Joseph Urgo, told the Washington Post.

Dorms at the college became infested with mold toward the beginning of the fall semester. and officials think the rains that followed Hurricane Irene contributed to the problem, WBAL TV reports. A doctor declared the two dorms "uninhabitable" last week, sending school officials scrambling to find temporary housing for students affected by the mandatory evacuation.

The ship, which is currently docked on the St. Mary's River, seemed like an appropriate solution to the problem, considering the school "defines itself as a center of scholarship and sailing," the Washington Post points out.

Urgo told NBC Washington that using the cruise as a dorm made perfect sense: "One of the reasons that choose a residential college is so that they don't have to worry about housing and food, and they can concentrate on their studies. We want them to return to that."

Students who lived in the dorms reported experiencing health problems, including congestion and bronchitis, before the mold problem was officially determined, the Washington Post reports.

About 350 students were displaced because of the mold problem; Approximately 250 will be living on the ship; the others were relocated to vacant dorms on off-campus housing, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The school is working on a clean-up effort to get the affected dorms back up to par. Urgo says the cost of renting a cruise ship is less than paying for hotel rooms for all the students.

The Baltimore Sun points out it's not the first time a cruise ship serves as temporary housing. Students and faculty from Tulane University in New Orleans took shelter on the MV Dream for several months after Hurricane Katrina.

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