Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Bedbugs Found in University Residence Halls

    They strike in the darkest hour of night, crawling, creeping, shifting through the rooms in residence halls across campus. No, there aren’t vampires stalking our halls—there are bedbugs.

    There were confirmations of bedbug infestations in Campion Hall roughly three weeks ago. Two rooms of Seattle University students were affected by the bugs and through little fault of their own, students were covered in tiny bites from the pests. Seeking answers, the students contacted Housing and Residence Life, demanding a change.

    “Through this process, we ended up changing our procedures,” said Tim Albert, Associate Director of Housing and Residence Life.

    According to Albert, there has been a long history of bedbugs in the dorms. He stated that the school takes all complaints seriously and that changes were made to improve the effectiveness of on campus extermination.

    This time, students came directly to the Residence Director in order to notify them of problem. The bugs were primarily found in wooden bed slats from the beds in Campion Hall according to Paratex, an extermination and pest control company. This became the focus of the change for facility staff. The new process calls for the complete removal of old wooden bed posts, to be replaced with new, bug-free posts.

    Albert said that it typically takes two days to completely analyze and investigate if bedbugs are actually present. What can be more confusing is that some reports made are not due to bedbugs.

    “15 reports have been made, but only two were bedbugs,” Albert said.

    When there is suspicion, facility staff come up to inspect the room to recognize any predictable and behavioral problems that are present. Facility staff can then use interceptors, which are put into corners of the bed posts to help trap the bugs. These are usually left in the room for three to five days.

    Chuck Nerger, Associate Director of Building Services & Grounds, tells students that bedbugs are not as harmful as one would think.

    “First off, don’t panic! Although bedbugs can be annoying, they can be removed safely and successfully,” Nerger said. “Bedbugs do not pass disease and are considered less dangerous than some common insects such as the flea.”

    He explained that students should not apply pesticides on their own, because this would run the risk of harming others and spreading the bugs. To prevent further spreading, it is important to eliminate any opportunity for bedbugs to cling on.

    “Anyone can pick bedbugs up from a location where they presently exist—someone’s apartment, other dorm rooms, movie theatres, etc.,” Nerger said. “Bedbugs are equal opportunity pests—they will infest anyone, anywhere.”

    These bugs like to find places that don’t move which can be tucked away in either cracks of rooms or wooden frames of beds. Bedbugs “pick up” from one object to another; for instance, they can jump from the bed to the floor, where students then throw their backpacks at the end of the day.

    “The Resident Halls house conference guests who could have brought them in during the summer,” Nerger said. “Students, too, could have unknowingly brought them in.”

    Once the infestation is confirmed, they request the students locate a temporary place to stay immediately. That is when a professional extermination company is called upon to thoroughly examine the area.

    “What is important is to know is that it is none of the student’s fault,” Albert said.

    For the Student Health Center (SHC), the signs of bedbug infestations are easy to notice. Firstly, bedbugs strike at night, leaving bites to exposed areas such as the face, neck, or arms that last for several days. Though painless, the bites appear as small punctures that disappear after about a week.

    SHC also warns students that the existence of bedbugs are difficult to detect. Some signs that students should look out for include: pecks of blood or bedbug feces found on linens, mattresses, or behind wallpaper; skins from molting bedbugs may be found as well; and, under certain circumstances, there might be an odor present when the infestation is widespread.

    Reacting to student concerns and the long history of these infestations, HRL is taking steps to better avoid these issues in the future.

    “The Facilities department will step up efforts even more in regards to our inspections and treatment of rooms before they are occupied by students,” Nerger said. “We are committed to educate our personnel and students about bed bugs and improve our practices when dealing with them.”

    There are hotlines provided for students who suspect that they may have bedbugs. First, they can contact Housing at 206-292-6305, or after regular business hours there is a non-emergency line at 206-296-5990.

    Editor may be reached at [email protected]

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