University Times

Roaches Continue to Raise Concerns

Housing Services assures that there isn’t a cockroach infestation; students are saying otherwise.

Kenneth Cyprian and Ricky Rodas

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Before students move in for the new school year, Cal State LA has received certification that their housing community is a pest-free environment. Students, however, are not the only residents living in the school dorms, as cockroaches have been consistently spotted throughout housing facilities.

Various students shared their experiences about dealing with these pests. Second year Cal State LA student Jessica Chavez had issues with cockroaches multiple times last year:

“I started to see them around winter break last year [2016]; there were quite a few of them. The roaches came again during spring semester, they were those nasty, big ones.”

Since the arrival of Assistant Director of Facilities Mark Facio in 2014, Cal State LA’s partnership with Isotech pest management has strengthened.

“We have them come four times a year to physically check activity levels of all pests, lay traps and do preventative spraying,” said Facio.

However, out of more than 30 work orders to fix cockroach problems that the University Times obtained, four were sent in by residents within the first 10 days of the 2017-18 academic year. The earliest one made was August 19. Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the names of the residents involved were redacted from the work orders.

The work orders listed the residents’ complaints; one resident described a particularly shocking experience:

“I found a cockroach in my room at 1 a.m. It was crawling on my shoulder and I woke up screaming. I did not sleep well and needed to be up on my feet early in the morning. Please help me safe-proof my room. I’m willing to do all that’s necessary.”

In an interview with the University Times, Cal State LA Housing Director Rebecca Palmer and her Director of Facilities spoke about the steps Housing Services take when dealing with pests; Palmer declined to be recorded for the interview.

According to Facio, setting sticky traps is the first level response to signs of pests, while the next step is closing off any potential cracks and crevices found in the living quarters. Sticky traps are used as monitors to determine levels of roach activity. However, they do not stop the roaches from coming.

Multiple work orders show that preventative cracks and crevices measures were taken as well as drainage pipes covered to combat the roach situation.

Another work order from a resident described their situation:

“The pest traps that were placed a couple days ago are not working.”

As current preventative methods are failing to control the situation, students still have to live and sleep in this environment.

Financially, living on campus is not cheap either; the average student pays anywhere from $6,169 to $9,883 to dorm for the full academic year. The price variance is determined by how many roommates an individual has.

According to Palmer, cockroaches are attracted to the dorms as a result of students’ sanitary habits. Though this may be a factor, students like Jessica Chavez keep their dorms clean. She and her roommates had to deal with cockroaches during her Winter 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters at Cal State LA.

“We were excessively clean from the beginning,” said Chavez.

When asked how many cockroaches constitute an infestation in housing, Palmer said that she refers to experts’ opinions and asserted there is no current infestation.

However, there are various signs that indicate that an infestation may be present. According to the Department of Pesticide Regulation cockroach fact sheet, they are nocturnal creatures and are mainly active at night; if they are seen during the day, there is an infestation. Five of the work orders sent in by residents detailed seeing cockroaches in the morning and afternoon respectively.

According to Penn State’s Department of Entomology page, Cockroaches are also usually found in dark, warm and moist areas of basements and crawl spaces, and are attracted to damp environments.

Cockroaches are resilient creatures; it is reported that they can live up to 3 months without food. Furthermore, work orders show that Isotech found American cockroaches. According to the cockroach fact sheet, this species typically lives in sewers and basements and come through drain pipes.

There are also health risks associated with being around cockroaches. “Disease-producing organisms such as bacteria, protozoa and viruses have been found in cockroach bodies,” the entomology department page said. “Different forms of gastroenteritis (food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, etc.) appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by these cockroaches.”

Due to these health risks, California legislature has health codes set in place in case an infestation is indeed prevalent. Section 12 of Health and Safety Code 17920.3 states that infestation of insects, vermin, or rodents can be determined by a health officer or code enforcement officer.

Correction:

In the April 2 issue of the University Times, the cover story was about an infestation of roaches in the Cal State LA housing units.

The article stated that “thousands of unwanted guests have moved into Cal State LA’s housing.” Although there have been a number of work orders requesting help in dealing with the roaches, the amount never reached a thousand.

One source used for the article was Miguel Mota and in the article his last name was spelled as Mata.

The article also stated that the dining hall was forced to close because of Gastroenteritis, when in fact the school voluntarily closed it because of Gastroenteritis.

Finally, ISOTECH Pest Management does routine spraying in housing. The follow-up article, in this issue, goes into more detail about their scheduled visits. However, the April 2 article stated that “In an attempt to control the situation, the University has hired exterminators as reinforcements.”

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