By Stefanie Phillips
Last semester, Ksenia Chpak was listening to her professor lecture inside room 205 of the Victoria building when she noticed small brown bugs crawling on her sweater.
The third-year media production student quickly removed her sweater and looked around for more. To her surprise, more of the same bugs were burrowing around in the crevice of her desk. She could not identify what type of bug, but said they looked like termites.
Chpak didn’t think more about it until later in the day when the skin on her hands and arms started to itch.
“I would wake up at night scratching and they would burn,” she said. “The bumps were red … some were big and some were small. I had them all over, on my arms, on my back, on my stomach.”
She said she went to a doctor and he prescribed some cream which cleared up the bites and swelling.
Chpak said a few other students in the class noticed the bugs and told the professor, Robert Osborne. Chpak said he told the class he would report the problem to the university, but Osborne did not respond in time for publication, so The Eyeopener could not confirm if a report was made.
Chpak and her classmates remained in the same room for the remainder of the fall semester.
This semester, during an 8 a.m. lecture in that same room, I noticed a termite-looking bug on my right hand. Like Chpak, I brushed it off only to find more of them in the desk.
A few hours later, in the same place the bug had crawled, several itchy, red bumps appeared on my hand. After a day, the bumps swelled, covering the better half of my hand. Several days later, the swelling subsided and the bumps reduced to tiny scabs.
After the incident, I reported the bugs to Ryerson’s department of facilities, management and development (FMD). On March 6, FDM told The Eye pest control has been commissioned “to look for and eliminate any activity in this room” on March 9.
Dasha Pasiy, media relations officer at Ryerson, said the room in question and the Victoria building had been “investigated multiple times,” including with a K-9 unit trained to sniff out termites, but all results came back negative. She could not confirm what an investigation entails or exactly how many times the procedure was conducted.
Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said the university has not hired exterminators to remove bugs from the Victoria building. He said the university has only hired termite exterminators once in the last five years, the last time being in September 2014 when there was an infestation in the theatre building on Gerrard Street.
“The issue with termites in the theatre building was not hidden, everyone knew there was an issue with termites,” he said.
Chpak said she hopes the problem is solved so that other students don’t have to go through what she did.
“It affected my willingness to go to class,” she said. “I still went … but I would focus more on the bugs than on my lecture.”