Eastern Nazarene College: students cannot bring in ANY used furniture

by nobugsonme on September 4, 2007 · 4 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs and students, bed bugs in colleges, consumers, curbside, dumpster diving, furnishing bedbug-free homes, furniture, massachusetts, mattresses, usa

The Patriot Ledger of Southofboston.com (2/2008: link removed; no longer working) reports that even students’ own furniture cannot be brought into dorm rooms, say Eastern Nazarene College officials, who are trying to prevent bed bug outbreaks on campus.

That means no mattresses, no sofas at the school in Quincy, Mass. The policy only applies to upholstered or soft furniture. As such, it does not mean students cannot bring in potentially-infested items, and the school recognizes that:

The insects spread by hitchhiking on things like luggage, clothing, beds and furniture. Locations with frequent turnover – like hotels, apartments, shelters and dorms – are vulnerable.

“It does not insulate us,” [Robert] Benjamin [Director of Residence Life] said about the ban on used furniture.  “We are trying to eliminate at least one variable.”

According to this article, most colleges that ban upholstered furniture do so because of fire hazards. ENC is banning them not because they have had any known bed bug outbreaks, but because a sister school in San Diego has had bed bug troubles. They are trying to learn from the other school’s experiences. (Good to hear!)

The policy is not unproblematic: besides the enormous cost to students this fall, if the policy continues, students would be buying new items every year for four years. This is a serious hardship and will probably mean many simply live in a much sparser way than prior generations of students.

1 parakeets September 4, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Fox news in Boston covered this story.

Odd that the newspaper article said “Pest control companies who may have received one or two bedbug calls a year now say they are getting one or two a week, according to the National Pest Management Association.” I’m sure the statistics are much higher than one or two bedbug calls a week per pest control company. Even so, does this statistic from the NPMA mean that the number of bedbug calls are now 50 times what they used to be? Why isn’t that news getting out?

2 nobugsonme September 5, 2007 at 12:46 am

HI Keets!

You’re right–I’d missed that in the article. I suspect, as you do, that it’s many more, but even a 50x increase is terrible.

Word does seem to be spreading. Even the kids’ and parents’ reactions to this rule are proof to me that people are starting to get it. Luckily ENC did not have to experience bed bugs to start thinking about them, as so many other individuals and institutions have had to.

3 parakeets September 5, 2007 at 10:27 am

I feel hopeful college students and their parents will be vanguards in speaking up about bedbugs. They are a group exposed to bedbugs do not have to protect a financial infrastructure as people in the real estate and hotel industries do. They do not have to “deflect” when the subject of bedbugs is brought up.

4 hopelessnomo September 5, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I think this is smart. I imagine it’s very difficult to keep an infestation in a dorm room contained. And when it spreads it becomes so expensive to control.

There may be other common sense rules like this that would help elsewhere. I’d like to see airlines prohibiting passengers bringing their own pillows on board, for example.

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