Bed bugs in The Buckingham

By Samuel Charles

Bed bugs have made their presence known throughout the city of Chicago in recent months, so much so that ranked Chicago fifth on the list of most bed bug-infested cities nationwide. Like other Chicago residents, students living in The Buckingham, 59 E. Van Buren St., found their home had unwanted guests.

The Buckingham, Columbia’s second-most expensive on-campus housing option, reported bed bugs during the week of Sept. 26 in one of its rooms. Actions were taken to remove the pests from the building, and the college hopes to raise awareness to prevent future outbreaks with an information page posted on Columbia’s website.

“It was treated in accordance with the best practices for eradication,” said Diane Doyne, associate vice president of Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising. “The pest control company is on top of it using the best heat and chemicals that are proven to be effective.”

Doyne said in an e-mail the report of a bite was received on Sept. 26 and visually confirmed by The Buckingham’s management the following day.

According to Broc Moran, a Columbia junior broadcast journalism major and resident of The Buckingham’s sixth floor, the bed bugs became overwhelming to someone living there.

Moran said one of residents of the room where the bugs were found moved out of the building, not only because of the bug bites but also the lack of response from Columbia and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“One of the girls was outside her apartment, and she was moving all her stuff out,” Moran said. “She said she had bed bugs. She had been bitten and couldn’t take it anymore.”

In an e-mail, Doyne did not dispute this claim and said “The Buckingham believes they were responsive and reacted immediately when told of the potential issue.”

Fumigation took place on Sept. 30 by Mid Central Pest Control Inc. The company is under contract with The Buckingham and was responsible for exterminating the insects. It sprayed the rooms between 1 and 6 p.m. After the fumigation was completed, the room where the bed bugs were found was heat treated.

The next day, Oct. 1, information was posted on Columbia’s website detailing how to prevent bed bugs from spreading and what should be done if they are found.

Doyne said the announcement was made in conjunction with the report from the 59 E. Van Buren St. residence hall.

“[The announcement] was planned,” Doyne said. “I think the timing was probably coincidental, but I think it worked out well.”

Mary Oakes, director of Residence Life, said the college takes measures each year to ensure rooms aren’t susceptible to bed bugs.

“We do your typical pest control [procedures] prior to students arriving on campus,” Oakes said.

Mattresses are one of the most common places bed bugs are found, but they can also hide in upholstery, door frames, dressers and other places.

Residence Life brings in new mattresses to the residence halls on a three- to five-year cycle, Oakes said.

“Mattresses have a lot of different components to them,” Oakes said. “Some of the mattresses we use come with protective covers on them that would prevent the hiding of these critters.”

Other colleges have also reached out to students, urging them to be aware of their surroundings and to report the bugs immediately.

According to DePaul University’s website, the university steam cleans its residence hall beds once a year to prevent insects

from spreading.

The informational page posted on Columbia’s website mentions “it is important to know that bed bugs do not carry or transmit disease. They are more of a nuisance than a health hazard.”