Mary Chapman Court infested by bed bugs and cockroaches

Students have been told to try and catch them alive

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First years in Mary Chapman Court have been sharing their rooms with bed bugs and cockroaches.

Rumours of the unwelcome guests started around two weeks ago, when one resident found bites all over his body from bed bugs. The infestation quickly spread to several other flats.

Freshers were even told to leave their clothes behind by the university, meaning they’d be forced to wear their pyjamas to lectures.

When first years also complained of cockroaches, they were told they would have to catch a live one to prove they were telling the truth.

One fresher described his kitchen as “a jungle”.


One victim’s bed bug bites

First Year American Studies and Creative Writing student and bed bug victim Harry Bennett said: “Fuck Mary Chapman Court. Fuck the bed bugs.

“It was funny at first, but now it’s just a pain in the arse”

The halls, which costs nearly £3,000 a year to stay in, are also facing the threat of cockroaches.

American Studies foundation student Piers Irvine said: “We’ve spotted cockroaches a couple of times in the bathrooms, but downstairs is like a jungle.

“They have traps in half the rooms that keep filling up and they’ve had the kitchen sprayed.

“They had the fridge replaced before we arrived as there were dead roaches in it.

“In order to prove we have them [our housekeeper said] we have to give her a live, contained cockroach. We have to literally catch one.

“She did say it would probably be fine if it was a dead too.”


The hapless first years have been struggling with very little help from the university or the accommodation department.

One English Lit fresher said: “Last night I shared a room with a guy who had found a spare room in another flat. The university hasn’t told me where to stay.”

Some of the victims had to stay with friends on campus.

The uni have since promised to replace all the mattresses and paint the walls. They have also said they will reimburse any money spent on bite cream or laundry detergent.


In an email sent to the accommodation office, first year Humanities student Oscar Giasemidis complained: “We are all students having moved into a new city, surrounded by new people and for something like this to be ongoing is extremely uncomfortable to live with.

“Every night the thought of having cockroaches crawl around your room is not one that is easy to sleep with.

“You should not have to be concerned about this sort of a thing, especially in student accommodation I would have thought that extra measures would have been taken to ensure there were none prior to moving in.

“I would not have expected the university to allow students to live in such conditions.”

Despite the University being slow to react to the critters, the UEA Student Union has been taking steps to help out.

Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer Jo Swo said: “Although there’s a commonly held perception that poor quality student housing is a rite of passage, it is unacceptable that students should experience vermin and pest infested housing in this day and age.

“We’ve set up regular Uni meetings to ensure they prevent the problem, make sure students are safe and ensure students aren’t unnecessarily inconvenienced whilst treatment works go on. Any student that has been affected should get in touch with our advice centre.”


When contacted about the pest problems, Accommodation Manager Paul Bailey said: “A small number of residents made the Accommodation Office aware of bed bugs in the last few weeks.

“The University’s Estates Team uses a tried and tested treatment process which takes approximately 6 weeks and is ongoing in the affected rooms. A pest control process, using a combination of gel treatment, pesticide spray and bait traps, is ongoing to address a cockroach issue affecting three rooms in one flat in Mary Chapman Court.

“It is wholly untrue that students affected by bed bugs are left with nowhere to stay. All those affected are still residing within Mary Chapman Court, and residents are being issued an information sheet explaining the treatment

“There will always be occasional maintenance issues with any type of building and students experiencing issues should report them as soon as possible to the Estates Helpdesk. The dedicated Maintenance Team will respond as quickly as possible, and plumbers and electricians are deployed on a 24 hour basis where there is a serious leak or where students are without power.

“Mary Chapman will be used for student accommodation in 2016.”