Living on campus can be a life-changing experience. Moving out for the first time and interacting with new friends can contribute to years of priceless memories.
But for Erika Smith this life-changing experience has turned into a nightmare.
A couple of months after several complaints were made about rat sightings in and around the CSUN dorms, Smith saw no other option but to move back home with her parents.
“I’m never living in the dorms again,” said Smith, sophomore special education major. “Fortunately my parents don’t live too far from campus.”
Smith said she was moved to another dorm in the middle of the spring semester and was not notified by housing officials about pest complaints from the previous residents.
What happened next was enough to shatter Smith’s expectations of on-campus living.
Within the first few days of moving to a new dorm, Smith and her roommates reported several encounters with rats in their dorm room in building 3201.
“We would wake up and notice that the trash was all over the place,” Smith said. “There were even holes in our cereal boxes where the rats ate through.”
Several sightings later, Smith requested to be moved to a different building. To her surprise, it was not an easy task.
Smith said her request was rejected because the dorms were packed to capacity due to large number of international students occupying various buildings.
Although Smith was able to move back home, her roommates were not as lucky.
With their parents living far from campus, Smith’s roommates had no place to go. Fortunately for her friends, Smith insisted they stay at her parents’ home until their living situation was resolved.
Although many CSUN students living in the dorms are concerned with the recent pest problem, not all students have had bad experiences.
Crystal Brooke Alforque, national communications coordinator of the Residence Halls Association and a resident at the dorms, said she has not had any encounters with rats in her building.
Alforque said she was aware of the problem, as it has been the subject of several RHA meetings.
While Alforque admits to never seeing rats in her building, she did recall seeing a cockroach in her dorm room.
But because it was not a recurring problem, Alforque felt it was not necessary to report the encounter to maintenance.
While there have been no more formal complaints about rats in the recent weeks, Stephen Reeves, Supervisor of Maintenance, urges students to keep their rooms as clean as possible to prevent potential pest problems in the future.
Reeves said that one way to prevent pest problems is to keep food in a centrally-located place, such as the kitchen.
Reeves also advises students to thoroughly rinse their plates and regularly take out the trash, as remnants of food could potentially attract pests.
He said rats are not the only pests common to the area.
“One bad thing about (the dorms) is it used to be a cornfield,” Reeves said. “The ants that once invaded the cornfields stuck around after the dorms were constructed.”
Reeves said Dewey Pest Control has been doing monthly routine services at the CSUN dorms, but because of university regulations, the pest control company cannot spray any chemicals.
Instead, technicians have been placing glue traps throughout the dorms – a strategy that Smith and her roommates believe has been ineffective.
Throughout her stay at the dorms, Smith does not recall seeing a rat in any of the traps, nor did she see any signs that the bait was tampered.
Smith is in the process of filing a complaint with the state. Smith and her roommates believe the university did not handle the problem in the best way.