EDITORIAL: Condemn DCL for their response to bedbugs on campus
Starting on the night she first slept in her East Quad room, Student A woke up to discover bug bites on her body. After her roommate, Student B, trapped and killed a bedbug, Student A reported the issue to the Department of Community Living in late October but was not able to fully resolve the matter until a month later because of a “lack of communication.” This board urges DCL to establish clearer lines of communication in order to minimize stress involved in such a situation.
In an email to the Justice, Student A recounted three separate occasions during which her room was treated for bedbugs, as well as a lack of communication on the part of DCL regarding when exterminators would be entering her room to treat it or how many treatments were necessary. “If they knew that one treatment usually doesn’t completely solve the problem, why would they let me sleep in a bed that likely still has bedbugs for a week?” the student wrote.
After the second treatment, Student A was assured that it was safe to stay in her room, but she continued to find bedbugs there. Student A told DCL officials that she had “nowhere to sleep, basically,” to which they told her that she was not allowed to sleep anywhere else on campus. In an email to the Justice, Student B wrote that “[DCL] expressed little remorse for our situation.”
The roommates received no reply after responding to an email from Anthony Manzi, the assistant area coordinator of East Quad.
On Nov. 8, the pair were put into contact with Paris Sanders, assistant director of DCL, who told the pair to wash and dry on high heat everything they owned, and provided them funds to do so. “Paris expressed genuine concern for our situation,” Student B wrote. Student A stayed at a hotel in Waltham for three days, for which DCL later reimbursed her, an action the board commends.
However, Student A continued to find bedbugs even after the third treatment, which this time included replacing mattresses and bed frames. After this failed to work, DCL decided to relocate the roommates to a new room in East, and there have been no issues since.
Student A wrote that while she realizes the bugs are “ultimately out of DCL’s control, … something that is within their control is communication and support.” People would come into her room without any notice, and “DCL personnel assumed we knew the pest company’s bedbug protocol even though we’ve never dealt with this problem ever before.”
Once, after walking into her room that had a “strong chemical smell,” Student B said that DCL “tried to insist” that the room had not been sprayed and that it was safe to go back, only to retract their statement to say she should wait before going back inside.
While DCL cannot control a bedbug outbreak, the department can notify students when their rooms will be treated, clearly explaining the process, and being more understanding if a student asks for new accommodations.
DCL has dealt with bedbug outbreaks before and should know how to deal with these situations and should tell students what the process of getting rid of the bedbugs entails as well as how long it should take.