Water has always been intrinsic to the experience of attending St. Mary's College of Maryland, but that legacy took a new turn this week when hundreds of students learned that mold would force them to spend the rest of the semester living on a 300-foot cruise ship, docked beside campus on the St. Mary's River.
About 350 students had already moved to local hotels or reconfigured rooms last week because of mold in two dorms, which the Southern Maryland college blamed on damp conditions from Hurricane Irene and persistent rains. But on Tuesday, the public liberal arts college announced another move, this time to the Sea Voyager.
President Joe Urgo said he was distressed by having so many underclassmen living far from campus and was on the lookout for alternatives when the college's sailing coach passed along a suggestion from an alumnus. There was a cruise ship for sale that was on its way from Maine to Virginia, the alumnus said, and maybe the owners would like to make a little rent money on the way.
Within two days, the deal for a new floating dorm was signed. "The river is not incidental to our campus," Urgo said. "So to have this problem that was caused by too much water and find a solution in the river, it was really amazing."