After noticing strange bites on their bodies, several students in South Campus Commons 7 discovered they had bedbugs in their apartments.
Bedbugs have plagued Commons apartments for the last couple of years. They became such a prominent problem that Commons officials added a bedbug clause to the lease in May 2011, which states students must prove their rooms are bedbug-free when their leases end. While the addendum also requires tenants take certain precautions against bedbugs, such as not bringing in furniture from off the street and notifying management if they believe there may be an infestation in their apartment, students have still found themselves facing the same problems this year.
Commons Director Gina Brasty could not be reached for comment. Brasty sent an email to Commons residents at about 10:45 p.m. last night to let them know there have been reports of bedbugs and to submit a work order if they suspect a problem.
Joe Oudin, a junior criminology and criminal justice and government and politics major, said he and his roommates first realized their room was infested during the second week of school, when they discovered mysterious bites on their bodies.
“It was kind of shocking to think that we could have this problem,” Oudin said. “I didn’t feel comfortable being in my own apartment.”
He and his roommates immediately reported the problem to Commons staff, but were disappointed when they did not receive a response until three days later. Once the staff sent in an exterminator, Oudin said he was discouraged when the worker refused to answer questions regarding the extermination, instead referring the students to Commons staff for answers.
“I think there has been a big lack of communication between the students and Commons,” he said. “They haven’t really been able to tell us anything.”
Senior physiology and neurobiology major Raevathi Ramadorai had a similar experience in her Commons 7 apartment. She said she reported the problem Sept. 17 after her roommate had been noticing bug bites since the beginning of the semester. After exterminators failed to find anything in their first two inspections, Ramadorai later found and captured a bedbug in her apartment to prove it was infested.
“I was really mad when I first found out,” she said. “I still don’t understand why it took Commons staff so long to discover this; I’m really surprised at how poorly they dealt with it.”
Once a bedbug problem has been confirmed, Commons staff schedules three exterminations — each one to two weeks apart. For exterminators to carry out the extermination, all clothes and linens must be packed, furniture has to be moved away from the walls and residents must vacate their apartments for five hours, Oudin said.
“The exterminators were pretty much on their own schedules,” said Evan Schroeder, a junior architecture major whose apartment was also infested. “It was very inconvenient — my roommates and I basically had to live out of garbage bags for three weeks.”
Students also said they had never directly been told the cause of the bedbugs and Commons staff members have blamed students for the problem, saying they were bringing pests from their homes.
“They have tried to play this issue down as isolated but I really don’t think it is,” Oudin said. “The staff just doesn’t want to accept any responsibility.”
Students said they have been trying to receive compensation for the problems the bedbugs have caused, but staff has maintained it will not receive any, students said. Students were not required to pay for the exterminator.
Since bedbugs spread quickly, students said they hope the exterminations will end the outbreak before they’ve spread to other Commons apartments or campus buildings. The tenants who have seen exterminators said the situation has improved in their apartments.
“Since the ending of the treatments, we have not had any more bedbugs — knock on wood,” Schroeder said.