Stanford bed bugs: university fights back

by nobugsonme on January 12, 2007 · 3 comments

in bed bugs in colleges, california

The student paper at Stanford reoprts that the college continues to wage war on bed bugs (note permalink to article no longer works as of 2015):

Cimex lectularius, more commonly known as bedbugs, was confirmed plaguing three residences in the fall — Alondra, Granada and one Rains apartment. Stanford Student Housing is on a mission to inform students about these blood-feeding insects and has kicked off a comprehensive educational program about bedbug precautions and identifications.

“Since bedbugs are a worldwide issue that is showing signs of continuing growth, we want students to be aware of the overall problem and how they can help protect themselves and Stanford,” said Associate Director of Student Housing for Operations Imogen Hinds. “This phenomenon is occurring at most Universities around the country where students come and go and live in close-knit communities and share quarters.”

Stanford is unusually aggressive about treating bed bugs in student dorms. Compared with other colleges, whose administrators often do not fully understand bed bugs, their tenacity, and how easily they spread, Stanford really seems to be on the ball. This is just one example (search for “Stanford” in the search box to see more.) But despite their efforts, the bed bugs do keep sprouting up in different dorms, as they are at other colleges around North America. (Note to mom and dad: if the dorm has bed bugs, fast forward to the next vacation visit home, and you may have them too.)

Now Stanford is adding a proactive step to their bed bug war: they’re trying to educate all their students about bed bugs, because students who know about bedbugs have a better shot of recognizing the symptoms. Students who know there’s no shame attached, and that they won’t be blamed (or told it’s because their rooms are messy!) are more likely to come forward. And since Stanford’s PCO uses a pretty thorough plan of attack (including not just application of pesticides and mattress covering, but also having students wash and dry and bag clothes, and procedure that involves bagging and conviscating everything else in the students’ rooms and picking through the stuff bit by bit before returning it), early treatment may be very effective. According to another article in the San Jose Mercury News,

A Stanford housing official said the university takes evidence of the bugs seriously.

“When we discover bedbugs in a room, we proceed with ensuring that anything that can potentially have bedbugs on it is kept within the room until our pest control personnel can confirm that there is no risk of further infestation by releasing the item,” said Imogen Hinds, the associate director of student housing operations, in an e-mail.

Eighteen plastic garbage bags with everything one might keep in a college dorm room sat in the wide second-floor hallway of the Alondra dorm on the Stanford campus late Friday. A black Apple laptop was sealed in one bag. A sign on the door had a picture of a tree frog, beckoning visitors to “Come on in, Baby!”

They don’t just stick kids with stuff that may contain bed bugs in another dorm room, thus infesting other rooms and buildings. They’re also following up, post-vacation, with additional treatment for rooms treated before the break.

The information campaign included a bed bugs page on the student housing website. (Update 3/2009: Disappointingly, the page is no longer at the link we originally provided, but a PDF was accessible. In 2015, the dead link again now deleted, You may be able to find it on the Stanford site by searching for bed bugs.)

Other colleges might learn a thing or two.

1 jessinchicago January 12, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Can we get Stanford to hold a seminar for the NYC government? The United States Government? The President? SOMEONE?????

Well, it’s comforting to know at least ONE institution is taking awareness and education seriously.


2 Bugalina January 13, 2007 at 10:04 am

Apparently Stanfords infestation was too large for them to hide it. So kudos to them for taking the high road. Government officials know about this epidemic, but they are taking the low road, thus they are responsible for aiding a monster bug to continue on its devastating spread. People have to speak up, and call their local officials. The government is hiding behind the fact that “bed bugs don’t spread disease ” …This is how they justify their denial. Well that is very far from the truth. The truth will rear its ugly head in the very near future….Bugalina

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