UNL To Inspect Every Dorm Room For Bed Bugs

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

University of Nebraska-Lincoln leaders said Wednesday they plan to inspect every dorm room for bedbugs after finding them in 25 residence hall rooms.

"We are doing everything possible to address the problem," said Juan Franco, vice chancellor of student affairs. "We're encouraging our students to be partners in this situation with us."

UNL Housing and Facilities Department staff held a news conference to address the growing problem of bedbugs in student rooms and residence hall commons areas. The university has spent nearly $20,000 tackling the infestation since the first report, which came after students returned from Christmas break in January.

That cost reflects payments to pest control experts but does not include university staff overtime.

The cost is likely to rise as UNL staff plan to hire or buy more bedbug-sniffing dogs like the one that has inspected rooms in recent days. However, the university is struggling to find more trained dogs. University staff also has purchased eight "heat bags," at a cost of $400 each, into which they can place items to kill bedbugs.

The university also purchased a $7,000 carbon dioxide machine to freeze bugs. Staff estimated the cost of purchasing equipment, including heaters, to treat up to three rooms at a time at least $90,000 but offered no definite cost for eradicating bedbugs from all residence halls.

"Frankly, the biggest concern for us right now is to take care of the problem," Franco said. "We'll pay whatever it takes to get it done."

The university's student newspaper, Daily Nebraskan, called for Housing Director Sue Gildersleeve to resign Tuesday over reports that her office attempted to hide at least one incidence of bedbugs in a resident assistant's room. Franco said Wednesday that Gildersleeve has handled the bedbug situation appropriately and never had asked anyone to lie.

"She has my full support," he said.