Bedbugs bite students

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By Steve Petrick

Some students living at Neill-Wycik are bugged by management’s delay in cleaning up critters that appeared this summer.

Bedbugs were spotted a few months ago in a unit of the cooperative college, which houses around 400 Ryerson students.

The infested unit was fumigated, but no further action was taken.

Now the bedbugs have returned, appearing in five other units on three different floors. At least five people live in each dormitory-style unit.

The quarter-inch creatures come out at night, bite a person and inject saliva.

Some Neill-Wycik residents have had allergic reactions to the bug saliva, causing large red spots all over their skin and itchiness.

The bugs hide in seams and folds of mattresses and bedcovers. They can travel easily by hooking onto clothes or luggage.

As a result, Neill-Wycik has decided to spray the entire building beginning this week.

“It’s only popped up in a couple units, but we want to make sure it won’t pop up anywhere else,” manager Michelle Walker said.

But students say the action comes too late.

Breya Skinner, a second-year RTA student, has not been to school in a week after being infected.

Skinner and her roommates noticed bugs in their unit on the 21st floor Sept. 20. It was the start of a hellish week for her.

The bites caused an allergic reaction in one of her roommates. Now red spots cover her entire body.

A fear of a further infection and the lengthy fumigation process forced Skinner and her four other roommates to flee their new home.

They slept on friends’ couches and then in hotels.

Their room was first fumigated Sept. 23. But once was not enough, nor twice. Their room was fumigated a third time earlier this week.

“They fumigated twice,” Skinner said, “and then I woke up with one crawling on my wall [Monday] morning.”

She is angry because exterminators tell residents to leave their units for four hurs and wash all their clothes.

But Skinner’s unit-mates are more frustrated with Neill-Wycik’s reaction to the problem.

“I think they handled it poorly because after being a hotel in the summer, they didn’t fumigate again” Rebecca Webster, a third-year RTA student, said.

But Walker said the pest control company told management there would be no more problems.

“The company was telling us that they have gone into other places in Toronto and sprayed the infected unit, and that’s been the end of it,” Walker said.

But residents are still spotting bugs, even after several fumigations.

“The magnitude of the problem is hard to determine” Walker said. “We don’t know it, because bedbugs can be dormant for a long time.”

She sympathizes with the residents and said Neill-Wycik will help them.

Neill-Wycik paid the laundry and dry-cleaning bills for people in infected units. A meeting to arrange compensation was scheduled for Sept. 28.

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