Illustration: Camila Kukulski

Editorial: Study tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite

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By Sierra Bein

On a particularly snowy Monday evening, us Eyeopener folks ventured off to the Victoria Building to investigate the claims that bugs were crawling (and biting) in some of the classrooms.

In VIC 205, where students said they were getting bitten, we found the bugs. And oh boy did we find them. On one desk we found bunches of bugs in clumps of four to eight (I would recommend not sitting at the back right corner of the classroom).

It took us less than 10 minutes to find them. It took us 20 minutes to phone four pest control companies to identify them, who unanimously stated they were bed bugs. Since then, two more have also confirmed.

“Those are definitely bed bugs,” the first one said immediately. Today I learned that there are 24-hour pest control services in Toronto that you can call for help. Probably because last year Toronto was rated the worst city in Canada for bed bugs, according to Orkin Canada.

The bugs we found in VIC 205. Photo: Alanna Rizza

Starting back in the winter semester of 2017, I had heard chatter about bugs in the building. A close friend who had dealt with the mental stress of bed bugs stopped going to class because he noticed them in the desk. He reported it to his professor, who said it was taken care of. It’s hard to forget what a bed bug looks like when they’ve been in your nightmares.

Earlier this year, The Eyeopener wrote about the psychological impacts of living with bugs. Originally published in January, we spoke to Stéphane Perron, a physician who works at Montreal Public Health and specializes in public health and preventative medicine.

“Bed bugs are a stressor,” explained Perron. Even if someone has no history of mental health issues, “a bed bug infestation will lead to some form of anxiety symptoms in most people, and sleep disturbance.”

But what about when bed bugs are in the space where you are supposed to be focused on learning?

It wasn’t until our writer brought us photos of her bites that we started looking further into this. Soon, more people started coming forward with their own bite marks and commenting on our social media posts.

Ryerson told us they had investigated the room multiple times, and the university says the company they hired didn’t find evidence of a bug problem. But now, even other students on social media are saying that they have reported this to their professors, and it feels like we haven’t been taken seriously.

The bugs were found in this desk. Photo: Sierra Bein

Apparently exterminators, a K-9 unit and a full institution dedicated to taking care of its students couldn’t identify these bugs, but a student paper could.

Bed bugs are hard to take care of, I think everyone knows this. Even after multiple treatments these things might not go away fully. It’s a tall order to ask Ryerson to make sure they’re gone this week—but why hasn’t Ryerson done a better job examining this problem earlier? Why did it take a student newspaper to figure out this was such a big problem?

Somehow I can’t imagine that if Ryerson’s administration had bed bugs in their offices, it would take so long to take care of the problem. But that’s just one girl’s opinion.

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