Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
BY JESSICA HARTLAND
You rarely hear that college is connected with one of the worst experiences of your life. Upon entering her freshman year at St. Peter’s College in 2009, student Kristen Mallon heard rumors of roaches and other pests that they liked to call “waterbugs,” but she ignored all the bug talk.
Now, if she could describe the bug situation at the college in one word, she says, it would be “disgusting.”
“Coming into the school my freshman year, the insects weren’t considered a very big issue. I heard about bed bugs or even spotted a cockroach here and there, but it was generally something I wasn’t worried about,” said Mallon.
But that outlook soon changed.
Kristen was looking forward to kicking off a new year as a sophomore late last summer. Loaded with suitcases and many other bags of luggage, she put the key in her new dorm’s door and the first sight set the tone on what she was to expect for the year.
“Sophomore year, I get into my dorm room for the first time and there’s a dead cockroach, a half dead one and a cheese doodle on the floor,” she said.
Still repulsed by the encounter, she thought that a good scrub would keep the dreaded bugs away.
“After a deep cleaning and my roommate and I were finally settled in, the second encounter occurred. One morning my roommate woke up with over a hundred bedbug bites on her body. The process of exterminating our room was torturous. We had to wash everything we owned and live out of garbage bags for two weeks. Easily one of the worst experiences of my life,” said Mallon.
Bedbugs are insects which feed off of blood and often hide in dark crevices and cracks. Once there is one case of bedbugs, especially in dormitory and apartment buildings, people need to be aware on how easily they are spread. They crawl and enjoy darting into dark, tight hiding places. Since bedbugs are tiny and are difficult to see, they can travel on clothes and other materials and cannot be removed until properly exterminated.
Insect related issues are immediately handled by the residence life staff followed by other safety precautions. Mallon, as well as her roommate, was compensated for new bedding that needed to be purchased as a result of her bedbug incident. The school is making more progress on attempting to increase pest control. Many exterminators are frequently knocking on doors of apartment buildings to verify the traps are properly working and to make sure there have been no sights of bugs lately.
Even the attempts of eliminating insects through pest control companies and traps are not a guarantee.
Now as a junior, Mallon still has other encounters with the unwanted guests.
“Sophomore year was by far the worst, but there was one encounter junior year. I’ve seen a few “water bugs” around the apartment and there was one we couldn’t catch in my bedroom a few months ago and we still haven’t seen it since, she said. I just try not to think about it.”
Being at a school where you share apartment buildings and dormitories, especially in the city, seeing a few bugs may be inevitable. The root of the problem starts with living in a city, and the second cause is the garbage piling up in the apartments and dorms. But there are many ways to prevent the creatures from choosing your space to invade.
“I keep my apartment very clean in hopes the critters stay by the dirty ones and away from mine. I encourage all to do this,” said Mallon. Since the lost cockroach a few months ago, I’ve been bug free so it hasn’t been too much of an issue for myself, but I have heard of many other problems around campus. More of an effort to keep the school clean should be made. I know it’s a city and bugs are unavoidable but the bug problems need to stop!”