Illustration: Camila Kukulski

Bed bug discovery causing stress and lack of class attendance

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By Emma Sandri

The bed bugs in the Victoria Building are doing more than just biting—they’re affecting students’ focus.

Following The Eyeopener’s reports regarding bed bugs in classrooms last week, lectures in VIC205 and 203 were moved to conference rooms in the Bond Place Hotel and Holiday Inn. Students whose classes were in other parts of VIC were expected to continue to attend, as they were unaffected by the investigation.

In a statement to The Eye, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said the first, second and third floor of the Victoria Building have been treated with steam to kill bugs and the university has ordered new furniture to replace the pieces riddled with insects. An infested desk in VIC205 has been removed and the room is once again open for classes.

But in spite of the university’s assurance that dogs trained to sniff out bed bugs inspected the Victoria Building, many students still feel uneasy about attending classes in VIC, and some have decided not return to at all.

“It honestly makes me feel very uncomfortable and very paranoid,” said Antonia Heer, a third-year transfer student, who is currently pursuing a degree in sociology. She has a class and a lab in VIC.

“I really feel like [the situation] does affect my grades,” she added.

Bed bugs The Eye found. Photo: Alanna Rizza

Heer said she emailed her TA to find out whether or not her class on the third floor had been moved to another room—it had not. She said she was uncomfortable going to class.

“I just still don’t want to risk having bed bugs on me.”

Heer also said she sent a couple of emails to profs regarding her concern about the bed bugs in VIC. Their response was to forward her a post which acknowledged that there were bed bugs in the building, but that any affected areas had been treated.

The post also told students to contact Facilities Management and Development (FMD) if they saw any more bugs. “It sounds like they are saying there are still potential bed bugs in the building,” said Heer.

She said she would feel a lot more comfortable if the university would offer to reschedule her classes in different areas, or completely switch all the furniture in the building.

“It would be nice if something could be done right away, because I don’t want my grade to be affected any further.”

Jo Kornegay, a Ryerson philosophy professor, teaches a tutorial in VIC305. She teaches the same class tutorials in other locations on campus and in light of the bed bug problem, is allowing students to attend other sessions or send her answers to study questions for credit.

“Personally, I believe teaching in, and attending classes in the VIC building now is an acceptable risk … However, I respect the views of some of my students that the risk is unacceptable to them,” Kornegay told The Eye.

Jared Brookes, a third-year Ryerson graphic communications management student, said the bed bugs made him feel uneasy in class in VIC.

“I feel somewhat confident that they aren’t in my classroom, but at the same time I did catch myself … taking a look when I first got in.”

Brookes recognizes it’s difficult, if not impossible, for the university to move all classes out of VIC. To him, the solution is making classes more online-friendly for the time period, so students who aren’t ready to return to VIC can get all of the material they need via D2L.

In response to a question from The Eye regarding what students should do if they feel unsafe going to class in VIC, Lachemi wrote that the university “encourage[s] them to report any issue of concern to facilities management. If students are taking pictures, it would be more helpful to our team.”

“All rooms in question are in the process of being checked and cleaned by FMD and pest control and will continue to make sure that we will work very hard to eliminate any risks to our students.”

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