By Caleb Smith
Bedbugs were reported in two rooms in the undergraduate residence Toyon Hall earlier this school year, and the eradication process took nearly a month to complete.
“[T]he situation was limited to two rooms, and the insects have been eradicated,” wrote Rodger Whitney, executive director of Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Student Housing/CHO, in a statement to The Daily.
Bedbugs were first detected in one room of a two-room double. Both of the students in the double were evacuated for one night and stayed in Cottage A while the room was treated. However, shortly after the students moved back in, bedbugs were once again found in the same room.
After this second incident, a more comprehensive three-week “teardown” took place and involved replacing the drapes, the mattress and the carpet. R&DE also paid for the students to have their clothing washed and dry-cleaned.
During the three-week period, the students moved into temporary housing at Lasuen, the housing front desk for the row. During that time, bedbugs were also reported in the one of the rooms of the two-room double directly adjacent to the first.
The affected student living in the second two-room double that became infested chose a week-long procedure for eliminating the bedbugs so that the process would be less disruptive for her schedule. In addition, her roommate was not required to move out during the treatment.
“They were pushing for the three-week ‘room-makeover’ until I [refused],” said the student, who wished to remain anonymous.
However, the first pair of students expressed frustration at not being notified of the one-week process and of the option to allow the unaffected roommate to remain in her room.
“[R&DE] were ineffective at eradicating [the bed bugs] the first time,” said the roommate of the first affected resident. “It was extremely unprofessional and doesn’t reflect well on our housing system in general.”
Kyle Abraham ’15, an RA in Toyon, expressed concern about the communication between R&DE and Residential Education. Abraham explained that he had only learned that one of his residents was going to be moved out because he happened to run into the student the day before the evacuation.
Abraham said that bedbugs were not included in the RA training and that conversations about dealing with other pests had been delayed.
“Toyon is known for cockroaches and other types of pests,” Abraham said.
On the other hand, Toyon residential fellow Marie-Louise Catsalis expressed satisfaction with the University’s response to the bedbugs. She explained that throughout the process she had received a detailed explanation and updates about what was being done to eradicate the bedbugs.
“We feel very well served by the housing,” Catsalis said.
Foster Brusca, an exterminator with Clark Pest Control — which was not involved in the treatment of Toyon Hall — explained to The Daily about the variety of methods for eradicating bedbugs, including heat and chemicals.
Brusca explained that sometimes when a room is treated using the heat method, cold pockets can allow bedbugs to survive. He also said that taking down the drapes was “above and beyond” normal.
R&DE contracts its pest control to Crane Pest Control.
Whitney’s statement also provided students with advice and instructions on how to prevent and respond to bedbugs.
“If you discover or suspect bedbugs, immediately contact R&DE Student Housing,” Whitney said. “Do not attempt to eradicate them yourself. Successful treatment must be carried out by a trained professional. Contact your local Housing Building Manager or Front Desk Coordinator. After hours, please call our maintenance emergency line at 5-1602.”
Whitney emphasized the importance of inspecting one’s backpack, being careful while traveling and not bringing second-hand furniture items on campus.
“Seek assistance at Vaden Health Center without delay if you find a rash or marks on your body or blood spots on your sheets,” Whitney said.