By Austin Geisinger
There were 28 reports of bed bugs in university dorms over the past six years and 12 of those were confirmed, according to records obtained from the KU Facilities Department.
The records, obtained through a Right-to-Know Law request, showed two reports in 2012, three reports in 2013, eight reports in 2014, and seven reports in 2015. They also show three reports in 2016, three in 2017 and two so far this year.
Of those reports, there were eight confirmed cases in 2014, two confirmed cases in 2016, one confirmed case on 2017, and two confirmed cases in 2018, according to the records. There were no confirmed cases in 2012, 2013 or 2015.
In 2013, work order reports from Home Paramount Pest Control—the company used by KU for bug extermination—show two reports of bed bugs in Golden Bear Village South Building 80. In 2014, Rothermel Hall had three confirmed reports, University Place had one, and Dixon Hall had one, according to a work order report from the Facilities Department.
The work order reports further show that in 2016, Deatrick Hall (renovated in 2017), had a confirmed report of bed bugs along with Dixon Hall as well. In 2017, Golden Bear Village South Building 10 had one confirmed report of bed bugs in addition to a confirmed report in Dixon Hall.
Kutztown’s Director of Housing and Dining Services, Kenneth Dahlquist, stated that department officials “… take bed bugs extremely seriously.”
“We go above and beyond the standard set by Home Paramount, our contracted exterminator,” said Jason Garcia, Associate Director of Housing and Facilities at Kutztown University. “Usually they ask us to move out the resident of the one room; we actually go over their standard. We’re very quick at responding. I’ve done research at what other schools do and they don’t come close to what we do here.”
Dahlquist said the reports mostly have occurred well into the semester.
“We never had a case at the beginning of the semester,” he said. “It’s always been pretty much into the semester. This leads you to believe they were brought in by a guest or somebody in the room.”
Several students who reported complaints about bed bugs to the university declined to comment on the record for this story.
Housing officials said they make it a point to clean every room after students leave and then once more after summer conferences and camps before students come back in the fall. Students who need to clean their clothing are given $40 each to go to an off-campus cleaning location, Garcia said.
“Dry cleaners are at a much higher heat then the ones on campus because they are industrial,” he said.
When students report a bed bug infestation or possible bites, they are asked to report to their building director, who in turn gives them a survey sheet to be taken with them to KU’s Health and Wellness Center. There, the Health Center examines if the bites are from bed bugs and reports the findings to Housing.
According to William Lendzinski, Assistant Director of Clinical Services at the Health and Wellness Center, bed bug bites may cause allergic reactions, but he has never seen an allergic reaction from a student on campus with a bed bug bite. Those with a bug bite may find an “L-shape” on their skin, Lendzinski said.
“There has been no documentation from the CDC about diseases from bed bugs,” he said.
Garcia and Dahlquist explained that they take into consideration the surrounding rooms when they have a confirmed report in a room. They may decide on cleaning all the rooms next door, or above and below the room. They said it all depends on what their contracted exterminator says.
“We have done nine rooms before in a tic-tac-toe direction,” said Dahlquist
Another PASSHE school, Bloomsburg University, had 49 reports in a seven year span from 2011 to 2018, according documents obtained from Bloomsburg Housing via a Right-to-Know Law request. Millersville University had four confirmed cases from 2014 to 2016, although the dormitories that contained bed bugs are either not currently in use or have been demolished prior to 2018, according to documents obtained from Housing Department at Millersville.
According to Garcia, bed bugs are a “sensitive subject.” Kutztown does not want to create a panic where one confirmed report turns into 30 false reports.
“We don’t want a spread of false rumors going around,” said Garcia
Dahlquist stated that Housing does not ask that students don’t talk about their reports of bed bugs, but they caution that it’s a sensitive subject.
“We talk to students about the importance of really trying to keep the information localized the best you can. But they wouldn’t have to listen to us,” Dahlquist said. “The main reason is because of the misunderstanding and misconception of bed bugs in our society.”