Campus Life has received multiple reports of bed bugs in dormitories
Augustana Campus Life has received three reports of bed bugs in campus dorms this fall, according to Corey Kopp, director of Campus Life.
All three cases were resolved after the involvement of an exterminator, though in one of the more severe cases, a student relocated to another on-campus room. In the other two cases, students remained in their rooms and were provided new mattresses and a futon.
Kopp said the office typically receives around three to five reports per year, although half of the time the complaints are something other than bed bugs.
“Knowing sometimes if it’s actually a bed bug and sometimes if it’s actually something else causing the bite is half the battle because we don’t always know for sure that’s what we’re dealing with,” Kopp said.
Sophomore Chelsea Felton said her roommate discovered they had bed bugs in their Granskou dorm room when they found a bug on one of their sweaters.
After bringing their concern to their hall director, they were told it probably wasn’t bed bugs, but they were convinced after finding another one on a bed a week later. The on-call hall director informed Campus Safety, who came to assess the situation but ultimately said the bugs were not their job, Felton said.
“The worst part about this was how long it took for them to hear me,” Felton said. “When they first told us it was nothing, we were like ‘we’re really panicked because it is just disgusting.’”
Frustrated and starting to discover bites, Felton took her concerns to Kopp who immediately called for an exterminator, which is the university’s standard procedure. The exterminator found a bed bug and signs of them, such as staining on the mattress, Felton said.
Felton and her roommate were then asked to leave their room for three hours while the exterminator sanitized the room. The exterminator told them to bag, wash and dry all of their sheets and clothing on high heat. They have not had issues since.
Felton said that once the problem was brought to Campus Life, it was taken care of promptly. However, she said she wishes it would have been taken more seriously after the first incident she reported to the hall directors and campus safety.
“It just took so long to get something to work,” she said. “Once I was able to talk to campus life, everything was fine. They were very helpful. It’s just that chain of command that [took forever].”
A possible reason for the delay is that incidents of bed bugs are not common enough to be at the forefront of Viking Advisor and hall directors’ minds.
“We certainly talk about it with our professional staff. I don’t think we’ve ever done a training with VA’s on [bed bugs], but that may be something that is worth considering,” Kopp said.
Senior Anthony Tatum said he woke up with at least 200 bites this fall while staying in the dorms for fall football training. A trip to the doctor confirmed his athletic trainer’s assessment that the welts were bed bugs bites.
“I was kind of freaking out,” Tatum said. “I looked up online. I saw a picture of a bed bug, to see what it looked like and some of the people that have bed bug bites, and mine were worse than most of the google search images. At first, I don’t think they really believed that it was bed bugs, but I was like ‘what else could it be. I have 200 bites on me,’” Tatum said.
Campus Life hired the exterminator, who, according to Tatum, said he found no signs of bed bugs, but exterminated the room anyway. Tatum followed the same steps Felton and her roommate did but woke up again with around 20 bites in mid-September.
After a second extermination, Tatum said he has not had issues but is still confused that there was no evidence of bed bugs despite his bites.
Felton said she and her roommate were similarly perplexed because they have a clean and tidy living style, and, like Tatum, found themselves asking how it had happened.
But, according to Kopp, bed bugs have nothing to do with the individual’s level of cleanliness and can be brought into rooms on backpacks or clothing.
“I think this is a stereotype that comes with bed bugs, this sense that it’s somehow that person’s fault, or it’s the fault that the space isn’t kept clean. The reality of bed bugs is that’s just not how they operate,” Kopp said. “It’s really not about the individual, this is just bad luck in many cases, and it just happens that wherever you happened to be, one found its way onto your clothing.”
Kopp also said that it is normal to have reports of bed bugs in a space that houses this number of students coming from so many different places. He said that he is surprised that Augustana deals with as few issues as it does, considering how many students are coming and going from home and abroad.
Kopp said he understands how challenging the process can be and wanted to stress that if students have any issues with bed bugs they should report them immediately.