‘It Was Joked About’: Metro State University Retiree Says Of Cancer And West Classroom

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A “Student Success” sign at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

More people connected to Denver’s Metropolitan State University have come forward with concerns since the school said it was testing a building for carcinogens last week. 

The school started testing four offices in its West Classroom building after employees who worked in the building were recently diagnosed with cancer

Debora Martin worked in the building for 20 years as an administrative assistant. She said she knows of at least eight people who had cancer and worked in West Classroom or the adjacent Central Classroom building, where she worked for an additional 10 years before retiring in 2017.

“We used to say, ‘Wow, what is it here that’s messing with us?’ And then we thought ‘Well, is it all this construction? Is it that the campus is old?’ You just don’t know,” she said. “Honestly, I hate to say this, but it was joked about because it’s not a joke."

Martin said an abatement for asbestos had to be done during construction when she worked in the West Classroom. When asked why she didn’t bring concerns up to officials sooner, she said she didn’t think about it. 

“That campus is old. There’s going to be problems in older buildings,” she said. “I’m not down on Metro by any means … and if there’s found to be some link, I hope they get it taken care of for the future.”

The university says it has no reason to believe the building is unsafe but was running tests out of an “abundance of caution.” West Classroom has offices, classrooms and computer labs in it. 

Four offices will be tested. Test results are expected by Aug. 8.