The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: University should quickly notify students of safety, health concerns

Bed bugs are on the move, with infestations reported throughout the state and in several major U.S. cities. And recently, bed bugs have bitten at Marquette, in a Campus Town East apartment unit.

Kathy Wierzchowski, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and a resident of the infected unit, said she and her roommates reported the bed bug presence to the university last Monday, Sept. 20.

An e-mail notification was sent only to Campus Town East residents, and it took three days for the university to notify those students. Dan Bergen, area coordinator for the university apartments, sent the e-mail circa 8 a.m. Thursday.

And although the infestation was “a single, isolated incident,” as Bergen said in the e-mail, it is enough of a health and safety concern for all students to be informed of the case as soon as it is reported and officials have assessed the situation.

In Thursday’s paper, the Tribune published a story on the bed bug issue. The article included a confirmation from Bergen, obtained Wednesday, that there was one bed bug case in Campus Town East.

While the paper hit campus newsstands around 9 a.m., the story was published online early Thursday morning, before the bed bug notification e-mail landed in Campus Town East residents’ inboxes.

The e-mail also said, “We urge all residents to exercise caution when traveling and returning to campus.”

The creepy-crawly nuisances latch onto clothes, sheets and mattresses. Although bed bugs do not usually carry diseases, they leave a few red, itchy marks on the skin and remain in fabric until they are eradicated through washing, cleaning and pest control treatment.

This, along with Bergen’s advice, seems to relay the important health and safety concerns the bed bugs presented. Thus, students should have been informed sooner, closer to when the case was reported.

In an e-mail to the Tribune yesterday, Bergen said, “It is generally not our protocol to inform students every time we have an isolated pest incident.” He said the university confirmed the bugs had not spread to other apartments before informing Campus Town East residents about it.

But in this case, by not telling students soon after the case was reported, rumors could be spread and unnecessary alarm could be created. A university-wide health notice, confirming the presence of one case and that the isolated infestation is currently being taken care of, would properly inform students.

This is not the first time the university has failed to inform students about important health and safety concerns.

On April 30, one man was killed and another injured in a shooting on 18th and State streets. The university did not alert students of the crime because, as the Office of Marketing and Communication said at the time, there was no obligation to notify students because the crime’s location was outside Department of Public Safety patrol boundaries and the persons involved were not affiliated with Marquette.

Yet, the location was close enough to where many Marquette students live or walk — some students heard the gunshots and saw the victim’s dead body. This crime was clearly relevant and important for students to know about.

Although the bed bug incident is not of the violent caliber the shooting crime was, it is also a safety and health concern students should be informed of as soon as the case was reported and the situation fully understood by the university.

Marquette needs to keep its students in the know, even if it’s one isolated incident and the immediate health and safety concerns have passed. Not informing them will only give rise to rumors and potential problems that could easily be avoided.

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