College cleanliness problems include bed bugs, ants, and mold

Cleanliness issues including bed bugs, ants, and mold manifest themselves in surprising places at Biola.



Over the past year, two incidents of bugs beds in Hope Hall have been reported, although no bed bugs were found. Similar complaints regarding complaints of bugs and mold in other Biola dorms remain. Katie Juranek/ The Chimes

Community showers and toilets, dirty clothes piled high waiting to be washed and the combined smell of hundreds of people living in one building are nothing new for any college; however, besides the typical college grime, complaints of bugs and mold are circulating at Biola.

Throughout the nation, households, hotels and dorm occupants have reported bed bugs snuggling into their living areas. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene stated on its website that bed bug infestations are on the rise in New York City, and, as a result, they have issued new bedding regulations.

Bed bugs head to college

According to a report from Inside Higher Education, bed bugs have been found this year on many college campuses including Texas A&M, Pennsylvania State University, Missouri State University, and California Polytechnic State University.

There have been two bed bug scares in Hope Hall this year, although Facilities Services said they found no evidence of it.

Freshman Samantha Plump said that she began to feel bites on her feet in September.
“I had inspectors come, but they didn’t see anything,” Plump said.

Although Facilities Services found no bed bugs, Plump’s mattress was changed. But Plump said she still prefers to sleep on a blow-up mattress on the floor to escape the burrowing sensation she felt on her skin while in her bed.

Just down the hall from Plump, junior Michelle Miller found bites on her legs that she described as red and itchy. Miller said she saw a bug in her sheets so small that she poked it with a pen because she thought it was lint.

Identifying the culprits

A fact sheet put out by the global cleaning company Ecolab, described bed bugs as being similar to an apple seed; they are approximately one-fourth of an inch long and dark brown.

Both Plump and Miller spoke with their RA, senior Kinlee Schlick, and revealed the bites on their legs.

“Facilities wasn’t super helpful,” Schlick said. “They said maybe it was fleas.”

Jonathan Rowley, assistant manager of Residential Facilities, said Facilities Services takes bed bugs very seriously. If bed bugs are found, Facilities must spray not only the infected room, but the rooms above, below and on either side of the infected room with pesticides. Those rooms must also be evacuated for more than 48 hours.

Rowley said there have only been two reports of actual bed bugs in the history of Biola. One was last spring in Hope Hall and the other was several years ago in the Stewart suites.

Ants a universal college problem

While bed bugs remain few at Biola, ants still infest dorms like Hope Hall. “Ants are a pretty universal problem,” Rowley said.

“Ants, ants, ants everywhere,” Hope hall resident junior Kendall Robins said.

Robins said the bugs are in the corners of the rooms in Hope and in the bathrooms. She once had ants infest her baking utensils which she had to throw out. Freshman Abigail Chua, who lives on the third floor of Hope, said ants will also crawl up her arm while she is studying.

“It’s that bad,” she said.

Chua said she has seen ants streaming in a trail between trash cans in the bathroom.
Rowley said Facilities Services has been notified about cockroaches, rats and spiders, but most calls made to Facilities concern ants. In response to these reports, Rowley said Ecolab enters the campus every Friday to spray long lasting chemicals and to set bait outside of the dorms to try to control the bug invasion.

Mold haunts Biola

Meanwhile, bugs are not the only issue students have reported. Students say mold also makes occasional appearances.

“There is mold in the bathroom on the ceilings,” sophomore Hart resident Jennifer Nguyen said.

Junior Megan Daley reported a greenish black mold in the bathrooms of Thompson. Neither Daley nor Nguyen said that theirs was an extremely bad case.

“There is more danger to the building being compromised than there is for being sick,” said Chris Reyes, manager of Environmental Systems with Facilities Services.

To prevent mold, Facilities Services changes the exhaust fans in school bathrooms three to four times a year, and when mold is found on the walls, a one-foot area around the mold is removed.

Reyes said a more serious issue than visible mold is when a room smells musty, like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, but no fungi can be seen. For such cases, Facilities calls in an outside company, Forensic Analytical, who runs tests comparing the amount of mold in the air to the normal amount found. Reyes said these procedures cost over $2,000. During the fall semester, Forensic Analytical tested an office in McNally.

“Mold is everywhere,” Reyes said. “It’s in the air we breathe. Mold can be reduced, but it can never be eliminated.”

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