November 5, 2012

Summit with a case of the bedbugs

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Written by: Meher Mohsin
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A room on the third floor of The Summit was emptied and fumigated in October because of a bedbug problem on a bed in one of the suites.

The student, who will remain anonymous for fear of being ostracized in any way, complained to the staff on the morning of Oct. 19 and had transferred all her belongings to the laundry room by the afternoon for two thorough cleanings. Her belongings, alongside those of her two roommates, were put into garbage bags and stored in the shower until the following Monday, for a total of two days. Meanwhile, two of the three girls stayed in their rooms — their beds covered in garbage bags —while the third girl chose to return to her family home, permanently. Two girls are freshmen and one is a sophomore.

“All of this was a huge disturbance. I spent hours dealing with this problem leaving me with little time to deal with midterms,” said the student who found the first bug while taking off her bed sheets to do laundry.

All laundry costs as well as fumigation costs were reimbursed by The Summit.

According to Theresa Walsh, director of housing and resident life, this is not a recurring problem and this incident was the first confirmed this year. But incidents in the past have been confirmed by multiple sources including current and former residents of the dormitory.

Student and former resident Catherine Thomas recalled a chaotic time in spring 2011 when all of the residents had to laundry all their belongings and follow the same procedure of putting their belongings in the bathtub while the entire residence hall was fumigated.

The Summit’s resident handbook states The Summit, in an effort to stay clear of this problem, educates its residents on methods of identification, prevention and remediation. Students are given a Bedbug Information Pamphlet alongside their initial move-in information and are not allowed to bring in furniture that has been discarded by someone else. They are told to carefully inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it into the building.

The Summit, contracted by Capstone Companies On-Campus, which is also the developer of the dorms in City College, is not run by QC. All employees are Capstone employees and the residence halls function independently of QC’s administration.

Bedbugs are parasitic insects that feed on human blood and are mostly active in the night and are capable of feeding on their hosts without being noticed. Health effects of being bitten by bedbugs include skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. They are commonly found in places of residence like hotels, cruise ships and dorms.

In 2011, 3-1-1 reported slightly less than 2,500 bedbug reports from Queens alone, out of a total of 13,140 city-wide.

The Summit uses beagles, a canine with a renowned ability of smell to track down the smell of live insects or viable eggs. The beagles are brought in before fumigation to find the bugs in the apartment so it can be dealt with by the exterminator. Adjoining suites were put to the test with the beagle as well.

The Summit’s rules say all residents’ belongings must be free of bedbugs at the time of term start dates. However, the girls, whose suite was the site of the latest incident, said one of them had been feeling like she was being bitten since she arrived the weekend before classes commenced. The bites did not cause itchiness, though, and so none of the girls suspected bedbugs.

The Summit does not provide students with anything except the furniture they find in their room upon moving in. This includes a bed, mattress, chair, desk and two sets of drawers. In the living area, a couch, singles couch, a side table, a storage cabinet, a kitchen table and four chairs are also provided. Mattress protectors, shower curtains and the like are not provided. Some students choose to bring their own mattress protectors while others choose to cover their mattresses with just sheets.

Both girls from the once-infected room who still reside in the suite plan to find off-campus housing for the upcoming school year.


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