Housing to do Preventative Bed Bug Sweeps, Focus on Education

Monday, April 9, 2012

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Housing will fund two sweeps of residence halls, in May and August, to help prevent bedbugs from returning to the residence halls.

Four dogs will search empty rooms before the summer conference season and once again before students return for the fall semester.

Housing Director Sue Gildersleeve estimates the sweep to cost between $35,000 and $40,000.

In an email, she wrote Housing was not planning on sweeping the halls in December.

Instead of focusing on searching and treating rooms, Gildersleevewrote Housing will focus more on the educational aspect of bedbugs.

"Along with making sure the rooms are clear when students move in, we will make sure that students have an awareness of bedbugs,"Gildersleeve wrote. "So in addition to providing educational materials prior to move-in, we'll do our best to educate students on the subject early in the fall."

No educational programs for resident assistant training have been developed yet.

Gildersleeve wrote the programs are developed during the summer months, along with programs for students.

Housing discussed the possibility of preventing students from bringing in used furniture or carpet, but it would be too difficult to enforce. Gildersleeve wrote that Housing will educate students about the risks, but not prevent students from bringing in used items.

The bedbug website, created by Housing in late January, will remain up and running for students to visit if they have questions. Links to educational materials, the UNL Extension-Lancaster County website and a PDF file of the daily updates from January to March are provided at housing.unl.edu/bedbugs/.

Daily updates will no longer appear on the website and Housing is looking into how other institutions notify students when bedbugs are confirmed, Gildersleeve wrote.

"In some cases, nothing is said to residents, but it's expected that students will talk among themselves, and when heat treatment occurs, it's pretty apparent what's going on to the rest of the floor," she wrote.

Sara Mann, a freshman psychology major, said students probably don't check the website that often.

"I think if more emails were sent or maybe if (Housing) posted on Facebook," Mann said. "A lot more people checkFacebook."

More education about bedbugs would be beneficial, Mann said.

"Maybe we can have no more bedbugs in Lincoln," she said. "That would be nice."

If bedbugs are found again, Housing will post a sign on the floor to let residents know and a heat treatment will occur.

"We may decide on another approach that makes sense in the future, but for now this is what students can expect if bedbugs are found on the floor," Gildersleeve wrote.

If bedbugs returned to campus, Gildersleeve said Housing is prepared and wrote that there is no question Housing will have to rely on residents to pay attention to provided information and be aware of what to look for.

"Vigilance on the part of all students - both on- and off-campus - will be important to help avoid this kind of situation in the future," Gildersleeve wrote.